Every pharma, healthcare and wellness program seems to have baked digital ideas and executions into its DNA these days. But back when the field wasn't so crowded, those early-to-the-space firms became accustomed to working on a project-by-project basis, completing one web site or optimized-search endeavor before moving on to the next. Those days are long over.
Case in point: Eveo, which has been innovating in digital and mobile for nearly a decade now. Hoping to become more than a project partner to its clients, Eveo shifted gears in 2011. While it still embraced one-and-done project opportunities, the firm set its sights on AOR-type status. As a result, the last 12 months have proven “transformative,” according to founder and CEO Olivier Zitoun.
“It was a true maturation,” he says. “We finally went from being a teen to being an adult.”
Prior to the U-turn, about 40% of Eveo's business was AOR work. By year end, the firm hopes to be at 60%, which Zitoun calls “a meetable goal.” To that end, the agency has been reaching out to its existing clients, asking them if they'd like to expand the scope of Eveo's role.
Zitoun says the shift was prompted in part by client demand. “They weren't happy with their existing agencies, who were mostly doing print work,” he says. “They asked, ‘Can you do more?' Well, of course we can.” At the same time, he stresses that Eveo will always accept digital or mobile project work.
“I'm not saying we need to be AOR for all our clients,” he continues. “But it makes a lot of sense for brands that already have a clear plan and have a big focus on digital. For those brands, we can do a great job driving innovation.”
To help foster this shift in organizational mindset and ambition, Eveo imported a pair of well-regarded former McCann Erickson execs, Jeff Nemy (as COO/CFO) and Bob Ellis (as executive vice president, director of client services). Still, as the changes took hold, Eveo dropped headcount into the 120-125 range; at this time last year, the firm sat at around 150. “It was necessary and difficult, but rewarding,” Zitoun says, admitting that “we had some budget reduction on key accounts, too.”
The amount of business Eveo picked up in recent months should push the firm back into staff-growth mode. It scored its first win in the medical-device space from Medtronic and expanded into the diagnostic/prognostic medicine category with business from Caris Life Sciences. Shire tapped Eveo for a handful of professional-side assignments, while both Abbott Laboratories and UCB added Eveo to their agency rosters.
Zitoun heads into the second half of 2012 more optimistic than he's been in a while, owing primarily to his belief that Eveo is now positioned perfectly to take advantage of market conditions. “Everybody finally understands that everything is digital,” he says. “It used to be that we'd go into every meeting with statistics about digital adoption and about how many people were using smart phones. Now, there's no need to train or educate.”