Encapsulating her firm's philosophy, Juice Pharma Advertising president Lois Moran says, “We are big believers in branding, maybe a bit more so than some of the competition.” She pauses, then adds, “We've even gone down that road a little bit ourselves.”
During its professional infancy, Juice shied away from tooting its own horn, ducking any and all self-promotional opportunities. Only when the firm had generated considerable market traction did it decide to make a little noise. “We were three years on the market when we decided to reach out to the MM&Ms of the world,” Moran says.
Juice's recent track record stands up to the heightened scrutiny. In 2005, the firm doubled its staff size from 30 to 60 and grossed $10 million. Because of this growth, the agency traded in its conventional New York digs for what Moran calls a “high-energy loft space—a laboratory-type, democratic-type environment.”
Juice also expanded its relationship with Merck, adding cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil and shingles vaccine Zostavax to an account roster that already included asthma-allergic rhinitis therapy Singulair. The assignments were intensive enough to prompt Juice to almost entirely suspend its new-business-development activities in the first few months of 2006.
Discussing communications on the cancer-vaccine front, Moran brings up the “b” word once again. “You have to be so, so careful about branding,” she cautions. “Physicians might tend to profile who should receive a vaccine and who shouldn't.” Moran says that in such situations it is Juice's role to communicate which groups doctors should be thinking about. “But getting that right isn't as simple as it sounds,” she says.
Moran also advises caution when managing the flows of communication to multiple audiences. Like most firms, Juice worries about maximizing the efficiency of interaction between physician and sales representative, not to mention between physician and consumer. Where the firm distinguishes itself, Moran says, is in its ability to make disparate messages gel with one another.
“As patients continue to have a stronger voice in their decisions around brands, and physicians keep getting bombarded with information, companies have to be smarter in the way you direct understanding about their brands,” she explains. “If the information and messages you put out there clash with each other, you've got a problem on your hands.”
To this end, Juice has explored newer methods of communicating, such as with film, video, flash and tablet-PC technologies. Only by employing a multimedia approach, the firm believes, can pharma companies and their marketing partners effectively cut through the clutter. “There are other ways of communicating to physicians that may not be rep-focused,” Moran says.
Juice plans to continue to “rethink” the notion of medical/pharmaceutical branding in the world of digital media. Talent-wise, Moran anticipates hiring more people from beyond the agency world, especially those with in-depth scientific backgrounds. “To tackle the best and hardest assignments, every agency has to have people who have to have an appetite for that,” she notes.
Another top priority is continuing to tell Juice's story. “We're putting work out there that we like to think of as history-making,” Moran says. “The next step is fostering confidence in large clients that a mid-size, nimble organization can take on their hardest challenges. We obviously think we're up to it.”