Navicor Group founder and president Garnett Dezember cannot reveal anything about revenue, but he does characterize 2011 as “excellent” year for the inVentiv agency that's tightly focused on the oncology and hematology markets.
“In 2011 we were able to recognize some of the synergies with inVentiv, which has a very large talent pool of oncology expertise,” Dezember says. “Applying that talent pool to current clients and future clients, I can't imagine any other company could deliver better solutions.”
Last year also saw such launches as Seattle Genetics' Adcetris for Hodgkin lymphoma and Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company's Velcade for multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma. The agency also prepared this year's launch of Omontys, a treatment co-marketed by Affymax and Takeda for anemia due to chronic kidney disease in adults on dialysis.
It was a good year for new business as well. AOR assignments came in from Sigma-Tau (pipeline treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia), NovoCure (TTF therapy for brain cancer), and OncoGeneX (pipeline product). Project work on EMD Serono's vaccine Stimuvax was won and completed.
The greatest challenge last year, which Dezember says is ongoing, is ensuring prudent growth given the tremendous potential in oncology and hematology.
“In oncology alone there are 600 or more products in clinical research,” he explains. “Only a portion will make it to market, but it's a great opportunity.”
About 50% of work is digital, and the agency has a host of digital engineers, interactive developers, strategic planners, and web site designers on staff. “Digital has become a key focus,” Dezember says. “It's such an important channel, but content must be impactful.”
Headcount went from 52 to 60 in 2011. Dezember expects to hire another six to eight this year and hasn't had trouble finding good people.
“Our mission is to transform products into brands and patients into survivors,” he explains. “Though we have high standards, there's a talent pool of passionate people who gravitate to what we do.”
Senior hires last year included VP account services Damon Owens, formerly of Bristol-Myers Squibb; account director Frank Lescas, who joined from Dardine and Associates; and SVP/account director Brent Bernstein, who joined from Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Advertising. Incumbent Rich D'Ginto was promoted to SVP, creative director.
The agency is involved in several pitches right now, and Dezember expects to continue to bring on board new clients this year.
“Whenever you have as much activity in the oncology marketplace as there is right now, more agencies are going to focus in that area, but certainly not as exclusively as we are,” Dezember says. “From an industry standpoint, I think we'll see product education come full circle to more personalized outreach. In the old days, the only way you had personalized contact with HCPs was through sales reps. Increasing access restrictions for reps is a challenge, but as we see more personalized medicine, we'll probably see more personalized outreach to HCPs, caregivers and patients through digital channels.”