When we last checked in with the trio of agencies that once bore the ICC brand — ICC, Pace, and Trio — they were in a state of semi-limbo. After Interpublic eliminated the third of its health networks (ICC Lowe), the agencies under its aegis were moved into the FCB Health network. For a while it looked as if they would retain their brand identities. “We certainly don't see a reason at this point to rename something that has a strong legacy and reputation with its clients,” FCB president and CEO Dana Maiman explained to MM&M last May.
So when news broke late in 2015 that ICC and Pace had been united as FCBCure (this April, it would absorb the ad and promotion components of Trio's business as well), the industry reacted with surprise — at first, anyway. Once newly appointed co-MDs Christine Finamore and Tom Millar articulated their vision for the newly merged agency, the question became: Why hadn't this happened sooner?
Millar, who arrived in June, and Finamore, who joined three months later, don't have a ready answer to the question, so let us respond in their place: because it takes time to lure leaders of this caliber and even more time to process the change that comes with any such core infrastructure reinvention.
After sitting down with existing staff to sort out and answer questions and ease concerns and erase any doubts, the new leadership team reached out to clients, none of whom jumped ship. Once the decision to merge agencies had been made, the new name came quickly — “in maybe 45 minutes,” Finamore says.
Through it all, the newly reinvigorated company moved aggressively on the new business front, achieving a breakthrough win in November from Novo Nordisk (for NovoSeven and Novoeight, as well as for another as-yet-unnamed hemophilia compound). Other new client additions include Celgene (in the oncology space), Amgen (for multiple myeloma), and Johnson & Johnson Vision Care (branding for the Acuvue contact lens franchise).
Finamore and Millar are exceedingly respectful when it comes to discussing the era that preceded their tenure, stressing that they can only comment on what they've personally seen since arriving. Still, when asked how the internal changes played with the existing client base, Finamore responds, “This is only my interpretation, but I sense that for a lot of [clients] it wasn't about services or offerings. It was more about execution,” she says. “Execution is the one thing that will drive clients crazy — like when something doesn't come in on time and on budget,” she explains. “Tom and I have made it clear that we're available at any moment. Maybe that's a little different than what [happened] here before.”
That sentiment holds for creative- and strategy-related client concerns. “You can either basically respond to what you're asked to do, or you can go beyond that even before you're asked,” Millar says. “I've never met a client who didn't want more ideas.”
Up next: More hiring (60 people joined between November and April, driving overall headcount to 190) and, as Finamore puts it, “Trying to survive the next six months while we do construction.”