Mc|K resigns UCB Parkinson's patch as part of creative reboot

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Mc|K Healthcare said it resigned its largest account, UCB's Neupro patch, as the agency overhauls its creative vision.

Last year Neupro (rotigotine), a patch for Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome, generated global sales of €133 million ($176 million), an increase of 40% vs. 2011.

The agency was the US professional AOR for the patch's original launch in 2007 for early-stage Parkinson's. “We worked on it for six years and had a great run,” said Michael McLinden, partner and chief strategy officer of Boston-based Mc|K. “But we didn't want the client to come to us and say, ‘This is getting tired.'” 

His shop also handled a global re-branding (all indications) and the US re-launch last year (all Parkinson's and RLS) after the drug maker received approval for a new formulation following a recall of the patch from the US market in 2008 due to problems with some batches.

As a result of resigning the account, Mc|K had to downsize from 35 employees to 17, said McLinden. A number of staffers actually left when they heard what was happening.

UCB confirmed that Mc|K is no longer working on the brand but declined to share the name of the new agency. “We have awarded the business but are not in a position to announce at this time,” UCB director of corporate communications Kristie Madara told MM&M by e-mail. “We have had a longstanding business relationship with Mc|K and thank them for their work on the Neupro brand.”

Neupro's current consumer agency in the US is a Publicis Groupe shop. Resigning the client, a decision Mc|K made last May, “was a byproduct of getting our vision aligned,” said McLinden. Those staffers that stayed are those who want to be in a “hungry, fresh, creative shop.”

The agency has also sought to branch out to non-traditional clients. Its newer wave of accounts includes wellness firm Healthentic. 

“What literally counts as advertising is a small part of our revenue these days,” said McLinden, who last September bought out agency co-founder Breda Kenyon to become full owner. “The market is no longer coughing up large margins to pharma, so we need to work harder and smarter to find ways to create value for our clients.”

The agency's 2012 revenue rose by 14% to $6.4 million, as reported by MM&M in July.

In June 2008, Neupro supply in Europe was limited to patients already established on the drug. Treatment restrictions were lifted in Europe in 2009.
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