100 Agencies: McCann HumanCare

Share this article:
Andrew Schirmer, EVP/managing director
Andrew Schirmer, EVP/managing director

More than even deep-sea fishermen and NYC cab drivers, the frenzied execs who sell drug advertising have the most chaotic workdays. “Often times, consumer funding is something that the brand has to fight very hard for,” only to see it get yanked overnight, says Andrew Schirmer, EVP/managing director, McCann HumanCare.

One of HumanCare's biggest engagements last year was on Novartis gouty arthritis drug Ilaris. In August the FDA issued a complete response letter, a setback for client and agency alike. And at the end of last year, dermatology client Galderma decided to put broadcast advertising on hold for roster brand Oracea (rosacea).

On the plus side, this year HumanCare landed the AOR assignment for consumer advertising and communications on Merck's respiratory franchise, which includes Nasonex, Singulair and Dulera. It was part of a larger win by Interpublic Group in November, off a pitch led by Draftfcb Healthcare's Area 23.

Singulair, which had $4.5 billion in US sales last year, is set to lose patent protection in 2012, and its commercial budget will likely decline. Nasonex is due to follow in 2014. Still, the Merck win is a bright spot on an otherwise dismal new business front.


Business, “as we're tracking right now,” is up for 2012, and 2011 revenues beat the prior year, thanks in large part to organic growth. Work the agency has been involved with this year includes TV creative for GlaxoSmithKline's Lovaza, for lowering triglycerides, and the digital properties for Boehringer Ingelheim's Tradjenta type 2 diabetes product.

The spate of blockbuster meds hitting patent expiry—not to mention rising digital connectivity, the empowered patient, and political scrutiny—has slackened demand for the kind of pricey TV and print campaigns that this shop cut its teeth on. “Over the last few years, we've seen budgets come and go fairly rapidly,” says Schirmer. “We've been retooling our business to better manage through that.”

The result is a more holistic offering that doesn't depend on DTC broadcast advertising. Today, 60-70% of the agency's revenue is driven by digital relationship marketing and direct-to-patient.

“Our model has become, ‘We will help you with all of your patient-engagement programs, and we will work with you to determine a viability of DTC for your brand,'” he says.

Unlike the other five US McCann Health agencies, McCann HumanCare did not need to change its name to distinguish the McCann connection. It's already positioned that way—literally; HumanCare resides within the offices of its larger sister agency, McCann Erickson NY. (Note: For a full description of the branding changes that took place across the other five agencies, see the profile for McCann Torre Lazur, p. 131).

Headcount stands at 45-50 and counting (the agency is hiring). Suzanne Piehl rejoined this year as group account director, while last year digital project-management lead Renato Taralli came onboard, making this a discipline within the agency.

In conjunction with the branding changes announced last month, McCann Health affirmed its intention to go deeper into public health, a space where Schirmer says HumanCare can play a prominent role, as well.

“If we're connected at the patient level,” he says, “we're going to be a more viable and valuable partner to help determine what the broader consumer offer might be.”
Share this article:
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Next Article in Features

Email Newsletters


Patient access to pharmaceuticals is a tale of two worlds—affordability has improved for the majority, while the minority is hampered by cost, distribution and red tape. To provide marketers with a well-rounded perspective, MM&M presents this e-book chock full of key insights. Click here to access it.

More in Features

Read the complete September 2014 Digital Edition

Read the complete September 2014 Digital Edition

Click the above link to access the complete Digital Edition of the August 2014 issue of MM&M, with all text, charts and pictures.

Medical marketing needs mainstream Mad Men

Medical marketing needs mainstream Mad Men

Agencies must generate emotional resonance with the target audience, not unlike Apple, Pepsi or Nike

Are discounts cutting out co-pays?

GSK's decision to cut Advair's price spurred some PBMs to put it back on formulary. Will drugmaker discounts diminish the need for loyalty programs? How can these programs stay relevant beyond giving co-pay assistance?