The Top 50: MicroMass Communications

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MicroMass Communications reached a tipping point in its growth over the last year, according to agency president Jay Bigelow.    

“This is the third or fourth year in a row where we’ve experienced major growth, but it always seemed like that growth was happening under the radar,” Bigelow says. “We’ve now reached a place where the growth is no longer under the radar.”

Helping the 12-year-old marketing agency break through was its rapid acquisition of new business, while it still maintained a solid client base of companies such as Novartis and Novartis Oncology.

In the last 12 months MicroMass has added new assignments from Shire, Merck and Theravance, along with new project work from Bayer.

Part of MicroMass’ prescription for success lies in the agency’s ability to stay focused on current business as it picks up new clients.

“You grow by taking care of your existing clients and accounts and, oh yeah, by the way, winning new business,” Bigelow quips. “It’s really been that combination that has helped us expand.”

As business increases, so has MicroMass’ staff—the agency has ballooned an additional 50%, adding talent in all areas.

In an effort to beef up its creative team, the Cary, NC-headquartered agency recently brought aboard executive creative director Jamie Cobb, former international creative director of GSW Worldwide.

The agency also hired associate creative directors Gina Pettaris, previously from CommonHealth’s Quantum, Dave Rockenbaugh from OgilvyOne and Michael Berliner, previously from Kovel/Fuller.

To enhance its strategic services, MicroMass reeled in VP of interactive strategy James Pietz, formerly of IMC2, and strategic planning VPs Kim Levy, formerly of Adair-Greene and Mark Klapper, formerly of Unit 7. The agency also welcomed VP, account director Janet McVicar from DVC and VP, group account director Rick Mazzetti from Quintiles Transnational.

Having a diversified staff will help MicroMass meet the challenges of doing business in an evolving marketing climate, according to Bigelow.

“Historically, brand managers would say, ‘That’s my professional agency,’ or ‘That’s my consumer agency,’ or ‘That’s my interactive agency.’ Well, it doesn’t work that way anymore,” Bigelow says.

“We are doing more work that spans the various brand functions with a more holistic approach,” he explains.

“That takes a different set of skills,” he says. “It takes a different view of the world. You’ve got to work through a lot of different channels and approval cycles, but at the end of the day, it’s better for the brand.”

In the year ahead, MicroMass plans to improve its Pharmaceutical Alley presence by expanding its office in Morristown, NJ.

“We’ve had a presence up there for several years, but haven’t had the quality of space we’d like,” Bigelow says. “We are in the final phase of build-out to have a much better space for better collaboration and better connection internally and with our clients. It’s going to be a big event for us.”

One of the biggest challenges ahead for MicroMass, Bigelow says, is managing the agency’s growth.

“It’s a pretty typical agency challenge. I think that we’ve had good success over the past couple of years, and last year in particular, and I think our story is resonating with people—but we need to keep delivering on the promise, otherwise it will all go south,” he says.

“Right now, we’ll keep doing what we are doing by making enhancements and improvements where we can and not taking our eye off the bigger picture,” Bigelow continues. “Right now, we are already thinking about where we want to be two or three years down the road.”
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