Top 100 Agencies: AgencyRx

The Cellmaster iPad game for Afinitor
The Cellmaster iPad game for Afinitor

AgencyRx president Michael Schreiber describes 2012 as a coming-of-age year for the agency. “We're about eight years old right now, so I guess in agency years that's adolescence,” he says, laughing, “and I feel like we're really coming into our adulthood and on the cusp of being a tier one agency—that's exciting.”

The agency has gone from being known as a CDM conflict shop to the second largest of the group, says Schreiber: “I think calling us a conflict shop is a little bit of a misnomer. We do handle some conflicts, but on the other hand we're a full-service agency pitching our own business. We're not just a conflict shop.”

In most coming-of-age stories, there are growing pains, and AgencyRx's was no different. Due to consolidation, AgencyRx lost some of its business with Novartis. “[They] consolidated their professional business, with agencies other than Omnicom, and so they slowly drifted away,” explains Schreiber. “That consolidation took a toll on us. There were some brands that we had since their inception like Exjade and Galvus. But that's how the consolidation trend goes.”

Just as AgencyRx saw a big name fall off its roster, it would win two significant pitches to finish off 2012. “We won a pitch for ParaGard, an IUD for women's health, and a product from Noven for treating menopause,” says Schreiber, “we grew our women's health portfolio.” The agency would also score wins from a new biopharmaceutical client, Keryx, and from Edward Lifesciences, for their heart valve technologies, at the start of 2013.

Schreiber attributes some of his agency's success to its “Lab Team Model,” their take on structuring teams: “So traditionally, you would have an account person with an art director and a copywriter leading your accounts, and then bring in supplemental disciplines when necessary,” he explains. “But what we've done is we give every brand a lead team that is equal parts creative, account, digital and strategic services. Each one of those brands has a dedicated member at the helm working side by side with the other disciplines.”

That model has led AgencyRx to a fast start in 2013, according to Schreiber, with the agency already seeing double-digit growth. Another shift for the Omnicom shop is part of a wider industry trend: the move away from primary care blockbusters to more specialty products.

“The days of the giant blockbuster are few and far between. We're not getting single products with multimillion-dollar budgets,” Schreiber points out. “We're looking at specialty products, and the kind of work we are doing for them is different, too. It's not necessarily the big launch campaign with multiple POAs. It's non-traditional work. Things like consulting or advocacy building through a medical group.  And it's often very targeted digital work so we can measure the ROI on it. It's a lot more granular than what we've seen in the past.”