InVentiv Health acquired Ignite in March, and the co-founders are pleased with the relationship and the agency's continued growth.
“It was a transition year, and we're proud that we held on to staff that is completely committed to what we're trying to do with clients, and that we continue to grow after the acquisition,” says co-founder and CEO Jackie Herr. Revenue growth slowed to 10% compared with 36% the previous year, and Herr attributes that to post-acquisition settling in.
Ignite picked up more than 25 wins last year. All but four include both professional and consumer work, and most include interactive work. New wins include Cytyc (Adiana Female sterilization); DexCom (The Seven System); Pharmion (Vidaza Oncology); Roche (Tamiflu); Quest Diagnostics (lab testing franchise); Bayer, (Aleve); OMN (Topamax); Ortho Clinical Diagnostics (lab testing franchise); and Novartis (four products).
Long-time clients Eli Lilly and Cephalon awarded new brand assignments. Ignite resigned a few accounts and lost a Gilead product due to acquisition.
Tim Riley, co-founder and chief marketing officer, says successful integration with other inVentiv agencies was among last year's highlights. For example, Ignite and Palio co-pitched Abbott, and both agencies took home new business. “Palio's culture reminded us of our own,” Riley says. “We hit it off. Working with brothers and sisters is a great thing inVentiv brings to bear.”
Herr says hiring the right people has been a challenge, and Ignite has done well recruiting people with digital and b-to-b skills but limited healthcare experience. “They bring different insights,” she adds. One example is VP of digital strategy Renee Sparks, a veteran consumer and b-to-b marketer who joined Ignite this spring. After suffering a heart attack, Sparks used online healthcare resources and then became passionate about finding a way to infuse her consumer marketing skills into healthcare and help companies get inside the mindset of patients and caregivers.
“People we hire understand that [online engagement] isn't just about designing a brand.com site,” Riley says. “It's understanding insights of patients, caregivers, physicians and managed care, and providing multiple destinations and inroads to our content.”
Ignite opened an office in Somerset, NJ, earlier this year to help serve East Coast business. Co-founder and chief innovation officer Fabio Gratton is in charge, and about 24 people have been hired already. “We want it to be a standalone group with full production capability,” Herr says. “Getting anything off the ground is difficult, but we have a great team.”
Both Herr and Riley agree that the industry landscape is evolving. “In five years, I don't think we're going to have ‘interactive agencies' and ‘full-service agencies,'” Riley says. “Full service has to become interactive. Pharma is going to move more online because it provides forum for fair balance. Agencies need to move with them. That goes for the consumer world, too. We're blessed to be at the forefront of this. We rode the digital wave right up.”