Top 100 Agencies 2014: JUICE Pharma Worldwide
JUICE Pharma Worldwide's revenue took something of a hit last year, due to the combination of clients in general tightening their budgets and Pfizer's agency consolidation. Revenue was down about 8%, in the mid- to high-$40-million range. Full-time employees decreased from 186 in 2012 to 131 last year. There are about 146 this year.
On the up side, the agency won a lot of AOR business from new clients and expanded its relationship with Novartis.
President and CEO Lois Moran and managing partner and chief creative-strategic officer Lynn Macrone do not see agency consolidation as a challenge, and they both characterize 2013 as a year of expansion.
“Network consolidation does not continue to be a big challenge—it's just something that happened last year with one client,” Macrone says. “We are seeing more of a swing towards clients wanting best-in-breed and collaboration, and we have leveraged that. Clients need help with collaboration and interconnectivity. We know how to integrate and collaborate, it's in our DNA.”
Moran says clients “crave” collaboration and that one could say the AOR model is moving into an “AOC,” or agency of collaboration mode.
“Clients need a strong agency to look across brands and franchises and have a willingness to collaborate,” Moran explains. “The holding company model has had a couple of years to settle in, and now marketers need experts in their field and an ability to collaborate. Clients are becoming highly focused on organizing themselves into global brand teams, and they want that mirrored on the agency front. The challenge is in ensuring we are relevant and aligned with what they need. Bigger pharma clients want to be more nimble like specialty pharma. That's a nice fit for us.”
The agency began a new relationship last year with Bristol-Myers Squibb, winning a global professional AOR assignment that includes digital work on rheumatoid arthritis treatment Orencia and global early-stage commercialization work on a new immunology product in the pipeline.
Other new wins included a consumer and digital AOR assignment on Boehringer Ingelheim's Spiriva (asthma) and a global consumer AOR assignment on Propharma International's Neocardil (heart disease).
The Thalassemia International Federation, a nonprofit, patient-driven organization, awarded work supporting all of its communications initiatives.
“We're deepening our specialty thought leadership with these new client additions,” Moran notes. “We're excited about all of them.”
Work with Novartis Oncology expanded to include professional AOR work on Afinitor (for PNET indication) and global professional and patient AOR work that includes digital on Sandostatin LAR (carcinoid syndrome).
“It was a year of expansion,” Macrone says of 2013. “We've gained wonderful new client relationships, and that's exciting. I see this as a culmination of our ‘Centers of Excellence' in terms of early commercial development, innovation and technology. We have been honing these Centers of Excellence over the last several years, and they really jelled in 2013.”
The partners are committed to staying in front of innovation and emerging tech, digital and social media trends. The agency provides educational workshops on innovation and technology for both existing and prospective clients. And Robert Palmer, EVP, managing director of JUICE, is an advisory board member of the Digital Health Coalition.
“Bob and his team of digital strategists and user experience experts are on the front lines of what's next in technology,” Macrone says. “They bring thought leadership and the latest insights and trends around digital and electronic marketing to the world of healthcare for our clients.”
In helping clients engage on social media channels, JUICE has found success by first tackling risk mitigation and laying out a clear plan for it to clients before even talking about execution. “We want to help clients engage in social media in a way that makes them feel comfortable about managing risk in a highly regulated market,” Moran says. “We have to tell them how we're going to mitigate risk first and then we talk to the marketing team about content. It's reversing how we had been approaching it. Getting them comfortable first is important.”
Macrone feels “cracking the code” on social media for healthcare clients is probably the biggest challenge agencies face. “We recently held a summit with global pharma agencies that covered this topic at our annual Worldwide Partners [WPI] Healthcare Network meeting,” Macrone says. “We talked about what we're all doing in social media and the challenges so we can continue to hone the practice.”
The agency is also offering early-stage initiatives that help clients map strategy far in advance of launch. The process was used to help Bristol-Myers Squibb and several other clients last year.
A new internal initiative called JUICE One was a highlight of last year. Employees answered an in-depth questionnaire covering topics ranging from the future of healthcare to the impact of technology on everyday life to personal interests, politics, and culture. Findings are being implemented in proactive initiatives this year.
“JUICE One helps connect all employees to areas of interest they want to explore, and it helps us as an agency have a broader lens on the world around us, and how our everyday lives are evolving and adapting to change,” Macrone says. “The spirit of this project was to understand how change is affecting all of these aspects of our lives, so that we as an agency can best incorporate change in our own culture.”
Moran notes employees brought ideas to the table that were beyond the partners' wildest dreams. Their ideas included creating affinity groups within JUICE based on common goals and themes.
Plans for the rest of 2014 include opening an office in San Francisco this summer. The partners expect to start with eight to 10 employees there. Some New York employees will make the move, and the agency is also looking to hire local talent.
“There are great companies with wonderful pipelines on the west coast, and we see the need for more agency choice,” Macrone says. “We want to be there to offer that choice and the muscle we can bring. We're already cultivating relationships with clients there.”
Revenue is expected to increase this year.
“We're continuing to deepen and strengthen the new relationships we started in 2013, and we have a lot of promising irons in the fire for new business,” Moran says.