Top 100 Agencies: Flashpoint Medica
Flashpoint Medica's revenue jumped 18% last year. Charlene Prounis, CEO and managing partner of the Omnicom Diversified Agency Services agency, says 2012 was a year of digital expansion, innovation and creative recognition, noting that the agency won 20 creative awards last year (and 17 in 2011). Seven of last year's awards were for digital work.
Last year's digital-work highlights included a paperless launch for a major pharma company's oncology product and an edu-game for ProStrakan's Sancuso (CINV). “We have nowhere to go but up from a digital channel perspective because non-personal promotion is growing like crazy,” Prounis says. “We're doing so many more digital projects, and AORs are being allowed to pitch for digital business.”
Nine new digital hires joined in 2012, including a digital strategist, a technical director, an experience user, programmers, gamers, an interactive architect and a community manager. Total headcount climbed from 75 ending 2011 to 85. It's at 90 now with four openings.
The shift from print to digital has created demand for project managers. “Project management is so important now because there are more layers to digital work,” she explains. “Eight people may touch a job now, where it just used to be three in the print-driven days.”
In terms of industry trends, Prounis notes fierce competition in the oncology market, as well as the ongoing importance of payer audiences and an accelerated need to market to patients. The agency is also being asked to pitch for more rare-disease treatments. “Big drug companies are recognizing that they can make money in the specialty market,” she says. “They didn't used to consider marketing rare-disease products, but they all have some now.”
There were exciting gains on the new business front last year, including education project work on Gilead's HIV franchise. This year, after a competitive pitch, the agency won global AOR designation for professional work on Takeda's Ph. III diabetes product fasiglifam.
Digital wins in 2012 included social media projects for Celgene/Lifebank (cord blood banking); digital promotional education projects for Supernus' epilepsy product Oxtellar XR, and digital and professional AOR designation for Pharmaxis' Bronchitol (cystic fibrosis). ProStrakan awarded both professional AOR status and digital work on Sancuso.
Though lack of FDA approval stalled the Bronchitol account, Prounis says the win shows clients recognize that AOR assignments can include digital work.
“Over the last two years we were constantly asking clients if we could do their digital work, and they would decline and give it to a digital agency,” she says. “It's so much easier for clients to have it all in one shop.”
A new relationship began with Geistlich, which awarded a branding assignment for Bio-Oss/Bio-Gide (dental implants and bone regeneration products). Work expanded with Crescendo BioScience from professional AOR to include consumer AOR for Vectra DA—RA Biomarkers (blood tests).
A management change at Ipsen claimed an AOR account for Dysport (cervical dystonia).
Prounis expects ongoing digital expansion this year. A small office is slated to open in San Francisco later this year, prompted by SVP, director of digital strategy Nicole Johnson wanting to make the move.“We work with Genentech and Gilead in California, so it makes sense,” Prounis says. “If it works, great.”