Top 100 Agencies 2015: The Navicor Group

Thinking of oncology as an entire platform

A Sunesis Pharmaceuticals ad
A Sunesis Pharmaceuticals ad

Navicor had a big year. The Columbus, OH–headquartered inVentiv Health agency won business from eight new clients and continued to broaden its scope of business within the oncology market. Revenue was up 30% over 2013. 

Last year also marked two significant ­changes: passing the reins to president Dave Querry after founding CEO Garnett Dezember retired and the opening of a Philadelphia office. 

“The end of 2014 was a seminal point from the standpoint of the official handoff of the agency,” Querry says. “A lot of thoughtful planning went into the decision to expand into the East Coast market. We opened the Philadelphia office in a very staged and methodical way.” 

Executive creative director Marvin Bowe III was named managing director in Philadelphia. SVP Rich D'Ginto moved into the executive creative director role in Columbus.  

Incyte, which joined Navicor's roster in 2013, is the flagship client in Philadelphia. The relationship expanded last year to include AOR status for brand and disease awareness on two indications of Jakafi. 

All other wins were from new clients. They included brand and disease awareness AOR assignments from Sunesis on Qinprezo (acute myeloid leukemia), from Clovis Oncology on one indication of lung-cancer treatment rociletinib, and from Tesaro on rolapitant, which treats chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Tesaro also awarded corporate work and Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals awarded digital AOR status on Ofirmev (acetaminophen injection). 

The agency landed project work on exciting products—Sirtex's Sir-Spheres (a device used in liver tumor treatment), Amgen Oncology's BiTE immunotheraphy technology, Durect's post-surgical pain treatment Posidur, and DiaDexus's PLAC Tests.  

“We continue to work primarily on the professional side of the business,” Querry notes. “That said, we look at oncology as an entire platform that includes drugs, diagnostics, devices, supportive care compounds, b-to-b and academic institutions. All are extensions of areas of our expertise and areas into which we can diversify.”

A management change at Seattle Genetics resulted in loss of an AOR assignment on Adcetris (lymphoma). It was the only loss, and it was tough. “We'd worked on that business for nearly five years,” Querry says. “We did award-winning work on the account that was highlighted in The Wall Street Journal and all industry trades. It's always difficult to deal with that type of loss and decision-making process—I've been on both sides. It was disappointing.” 

Staff was up six last year to 56 and head count is expected to hit 73 this year. Querry notes being in Philadelphia has expanded access to talent. 

“In healthcare advertising in general, recruiting good talent is difficult,” he says. “It's even more challenging in a specific area like oncology. It's not an easy job in terms of the depth and breadth of the science and the deep appreciation and compassion required for patients.” 

This year is off to a fantastic start. Five more big accounts were won as of June—three from brand new clients—and the agency continues to pitch. Another 30% revenue increase is expected. 

“It's very exciting,” Querry says. “[The 2015 wins] are all innovative compounds. It's a great time for the agency and a lot of fun.”