AgencyRx's leaders say its financials are stable, with business up for the 12 months to May. “We continue to grow at a reasonable rate,” reports Michael Schreiber, president of the professional conflict shop, part of Omnicom's CDM Group.
The numbers themselves tell only part of the story. “The agency is doing incredibly well,” Schreiber says, when it comes to morale, relationships and creative.
The operative word is “morale,” because by mid-2011 the agency faced three sizable losses: Bayer Animal Health, the global assignment for Pfizer's pain brand Embeda, and the global brief for Pfizer's Phase III leukemia hopeful bosutinib, due to a host of reasons.
The challenge was “how do you maintain morale and business…when you have some tremendous losses?” recalls Wendi Goodman, managing partner, director of client services.
The agency bounced back, first winning a pitch for a new, yet-to-be-named menopause patch from Novogyne slated to launch this year, then expanding into digital project work for the drugmaker's Vivelle Dot, a patch for menopause and osteoporosis.
Another pitch won the US and global launch of investigational schizophrenia drug bitopertin for Roche's Genentech unit. AgencyRx is now a roster agency for Roche; before it had only serviced Genentech (it has a team on the West Coast). Next, the Incraft stent-graft business, from Johnson & Johnson's device unit Cordis, came thanks to holding company Omnicom.
AgencyRx this year extended its relationship with Teva to win a thus-far unnamed oral contraceptive from the company. The agency has been doing a lot of positioning and creative messaging work for the drug this year, as well as work on global Seasonique (contraception) and global projects for Copaxone (MS).
More organic growth came from Celgene for multiple myeloma drugs Revlimid, for which AgencyRx added global project work to its existing US business, and pomalidomide, for which it landed US and global project business (without a pitch). Novartis oncology handed over global brand and digital assignments.
And with no 2012 losses, the execs consider themselves back to form. One key, they say, has been their LAB team model (Leading Accounts and Brands). Deployed right after the merger with Lab9 two years ago, LAB mandates digital, strategic services, creative and account management on every brand team.
“When clients embrace those four, we have the richest relationships,” says Schreiber. With Matt Goff's promotion this year to associate partner, AgencyRx has representatives at the partner level from each discipline: Goodman (account), Fred Kinch, managing partner (creative), Goff (digital) and Marina Jean, MD, managing partner (strategic services). Schreiber recently was promoted to president.
The agency also houses digital art directors, development and project management teams and video capabilities. “You don't have to out-source anything from the digital perspective,” says Goodman.
On the personnel front, last year the agency lost two SVPs but added a few others: SVP, group managing director Katie Brunner, from ICC Lowe NY; Julie Yoon, SVP, managing director, from BioLumina; and Jude Uzonwanne, SVP, business strategist.
Execs recognize that with the FDA getting more restrictive, a lack of blockbuster launches, and clients continuing to monitor budgets closely, the best defense is to have a diverse mix of brands in pre-launch, launch and established phases. “Because,” says Goodman, “you never know.”