The Top 75: LehmanMillet

LehmanMillet repositioned in 2009, expanding from its historical D&D focus and asserting its dedication to working with “companies that are seeking to change the standard of care.” President and CEO Bruce Lehman says 2010 was an “invigorating” and “rejuvenating” year in which the 32-year-old Boston-headquartered agency reaped the benefits of the repositioning and enjoyed a 20% jump in both revenue and headcount.
“Every 10 years we ask ourselves if we're still relevant,” Lehman explains. “If the response is anything but ‘absolutely,' it's time to reposition. We began seeing signs that the repositioning was resonating in the market as early as 2009. We believe it's very much in alignment with the fundamental change taking place in medicine itself.”  
Having offices in Boston and Irvine is advantageous, giving the agency greater presence where the “innovator companies” they seek as clients operate. All told, the agency landed 10 new AOR assignments and a number of strategic, project-based assignments last year. AOR assignments included PixelOptics' emPower! lens; Abbott Medical Optics' global cataract franchise; and CardioDx (molecular diagnostics). The agency also won all professional and patient communications worldwide for Thoratec, the first company to win approval for an artificial heart. And it picked up pre-launch brand development and market conditioning for Ariad Pharmaceuticals' compound ponatinib (leukemia).
Other new wins included a launch (traditional and digital) assignment for Spectrum's Zevalin (non-Hodgkin's lymphoma); pre-launch and launch responsibilities for Abbott Vascular's MitraClip Mitral Valve Repair System; digital and traditional media work (professional and consumer) for Conceptus' Essure (permanent birth control for women); and all corporate and product branding for Dune Medical. Abbott Pharmaceuticals' awarded US promotional work for Synthroid (hypothyroidism), and Abbott Renal Care group awarded AOR status for Zemplar.
Aspect Medical Systems was lost after Covidien acquired it, and funding issues drove NeoMatrix dormant. The Obagi Medical Products account was resigned after a leadership change.
Lehman believes the US healthcare market is still very volatile, noting many “converging currents” that are challenging manufacturers, deliverers of healthcare and agencies. They include “severe” pricing pressure on manufacturers, upheaval in reimbursement and healthcare insurance and the shift to targeted therapies and personalized medicine. Lehman also sees competition increasing with larger agencies, which are going after smaller pieces of business. “At the same time,” he adds, “communication channels and the messaging are also going through a transformation, which requires strategic and tactical shifts.”
Digital continues to be a seamless element of the agency's offering. Revenue growth from digital, which has outpaced everything else over the last three years, is now approaching 40%.
The Irvine office has more than doubled in size since 2009. The team there will move into a much bigger space this August. Headcount, which is evenly split between Boston and Irvine, was up about 10 to 80 last year. Lehman is expecting “pretty robust growth” in both offices for 2011. “It's a marvelously exciting time to be part of this industry,” he adds. “To work with companies that are bringing forward the promise of rewriting medicine and how healthcare is delivered is very, very exciting.” —Tanya Lewis

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