Top 100 Agencies 2015: Giant

Expansion to the East Coast propelled this San Francisco stalwart

What a catch! Giant's insightful and playful creative team landed this Astellas product
What a catch! Giant's insightful and playful creative team landed this Astellas product

On the heels of nearly 40% growth in 2013 and more than 50% growth in 2012, Giant had another great year, with revenue up 35% to $46.9 million. 

“Last year was one of our biggest years ever in terms of overall growth,” says CEO Steven Gold. “Financially, we had a great year. We converted our business into a real multichannel agency versus an AOR that did some digital work. We're positioned exactly where we want to be: working as the focal point with clients regardless of channel.” 

The San Francisco–headquartered agency opened a second full-service office in Philadelphia last summer. Shire was the original anchor client there, but Gold says corporate restructuring claimed much of the business, which included key digital iPad sales projects for the ADHD franchise. 

Fourteen Philadelphia staffers are now working on Novo Nordisk and AstraZeneca accounts—both of which Giant won last year. Novo Nordisk engaged the agency to develop digital sales tools and CLM strategy across the company. The agency is doing Veeva iRep work and strategic consulting on traditional and digital programs for a number of AstraZeneca brands. 

“Philadelphia has the biggest untapped ­potential in terms of clients,” Gold notes. “We're focused on growing digital and traditional work out of that office.” 

Other 2014 wins included a global AOR assignment from Thoratec for corporate brand development and promotion in addition to a global and US AOR assignment for a launch product. Plus Abbott Diabetes Care awarded Giant digital project work in the blood glucose monitoring market. The scope expanded to broader DTC market work. 

The agency also won and launched what Gold describes as “a large-scale online social advocacy, networking and educational campaign” for the Cancer Research Institute and one of its partners. 

Former client BioMarin hired Giant to work on disease education, product branding and market preparation for cerliponase alfa (rare genetic disease treatment) and talazoparib (oncology). 

Work on Amgen's G-CSF franchise expanded from traditional AOR to include digital AOR. Giant established a presence in Europe at the end of 2014 when Jodi Alden moved to Switzerland. Gold says Alden's in a hybrid global strategy/account management role, serving clients with strong global infrastructures in Europe, including Roche, Thoratec and Neutrogena. Head count returned to 170 this year after several large projects wound down. 

“Clients are so varied in how they're staffed,” Gold notes. “Some are very siloed with separate teams for HCP, digital, patients and managed care. Others are very integrated. Figuring out how to best match our talent with the many different internal client structures can be a challenge.” 

A dedicated strategy group that includes brand, medical and digital strategists was established last year. Gold reports the group is helping the agency work on the highest-level initiatives with clients from early on. Analytics are increasingly important and are built into client programs from the get-go. 

“Analytics are so much more important because clients expect to determine ROI much faster than ever before,” Gold says. 

The agency is in active-pitching mode and has won new business from both new and existing clients.

“We're one of a small handful of Veeva Systems' approved partners, so it's a natural place for us to grow our business,” Gold adds.


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