Top 100 Agencies 2015: AgencyRx

Expanding with an additional office means explosive growth

AgencyRx's disease-awareness campaign for gout and AstraZeneca
AgencyRx's disease-awareness campaign for gout and AstraZeneca

AgencyRx closed out its first decade—and a year in which president Michael Schreiber says everything the company has been working toward came together—with a new mantra, “Brain, Guts and Heart.” To hear him tell it, the tagline is as much about the work the agency is known for as it is about the qualities that will infuse its work in the decades ahead.

“It is easy to maintain a culture when you are small. But when you get to be large, people often forget what the driving agency brand mission is,” Schreiber explains. He says that articulating this mission keeps the agency's strengths and purpose top of mind.

The new mantra is all-encompassing—as it should be, given how the double-digit growth experienced in 2013 transformed AgencyRx from a medium-size organization to a large agency. The changeover took place just as clients of all stripes realized that the firm's focus on personal, community-building communications is not just important but truly crucial. Indeed, forces like the Affordable Care Act require organizations to connect with ­professionals and patients in ways that go well beyond touting specific product benefits.

Coming off a year like 2013 prompted AgencyRx to adopt a dual focus of sorts in 2014. The firm set about processing the changes that come with a ­major transformation while at the same time committing to new challenges, like deepening its ­expertise in digital strategy and analytics. While Schreiber declines to share revenue or a full client list, he reports that the company won seven accounts last year—including contact lens maker CooperVision—and expanded its reach in the specialty marketplace. It also took on what he described as “high science” accounts.

According to Schreiber, AgencyRx's “Hope Is Trending” ovarian-cancer campaign, which ­promoted BRCA genetic testing, highlights what can happen when healthcare gets the conversation right: It can
spark conversations and connections. “[The campaign] took on a life of its own as healthcare providers and patients took this [information] and put it on their own social media. It raised awareness,” he says.

AgencyRx said head count remained stable during 2014 at 127, despite the loss of a major account when the FDA failed to approve the client's product. (Last year the agency reported 153 staffers in 2013.) Still, the agency found itself in a strong-enough position to open an office in San Francisco. It's led by SVP and managing director Melody Javaheri, formerly of the company's NY office, and Dudnyk alum Patricia Malone, who was brought on as SVP and creative director of the West Coast outpost. Amanda Hunt, who has been with AgencyRx since 2008, was promoted to associate partner.

Professional and digital communications make up the bulk of the agency's work, and one of the ways it most effectively connects with doctors is by understanding the dynamics of their patient interactions. This includes addressing the behaviors patients do not discuss, then applying this insight to the tools the company creates that support physicians as they contemplate treatment options and regimens. 

Such capabilities usually emerge out of the firm's quarterly “Big Block of Cheese Day” events, in which its digital gurus discuss the tactics and strategies that interest and excite them. The name refers to a community-building effort President Andrew Jackson introduced in 1837 and which The West Wing co-opted as shorthand for sharing ideas. “We adopted from the best,” Schreiber quips.


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