The Top 60: Surge Worldwide Healthcare Communications

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Double-digit growth, an expanding staff and near-completion of stylish new office digs all made for a gratifying year at Surge Worldwide Healthcare Communications, president Carleen Kelly says.
Examples of growth and new opportunities for the Corbett Accel Healthcare Group unit came in the form of two new brand assignments, all without having to pitch, Kelly says.

“That was pretty substantial,” she says. “We started off the year with trying to hire and sell for the new business we have gained. We think that organic growth is really special because it demonstrates that you are really doing great work, that the client really appreciates what you are doing and that they are expecting you also to do that with the new business they are giving you.”

In recent months, Surge has continued to handle global duties for Schering-Plough's Nasonex and global brand initiatives for Schering-Plough and Merck's jointly marketed cholesterol drugs Vytorin/Inegy and Zetia/Ezetrol.

Additionally, Surge serves as Daiichi Sankyo's agency of record in managed care for several brands and is Merck's strategic partner in managed care initiatives for Vytorin and Zetia.
 
Among the agency's challenges are managing new business and identifying and retaining top talent. “We have grown pretty quickly over the past three years. That is a little challenging,” Kelly notes. “The good news is that we don't have the same pressure that gets put on many larger agencies—because we are a mid-size agency we are able to grow our business more strategically. We are not focusing on growth just for the sake of growth.”

New staff additions, including recently hired executive creative director Cathy Fenster, have helped spark new enthusiasm at Surge.

“She's creative and she has a science bent to her,” Kelly explains. “She has been a great addition in the few short months that she has been with us, and one of the reasons we won one of our last pitches.”
Meanwhile, Surge's New York offices were near completion at press time. Occupying nearly the whole fifth floor at 200 E. 42nd Street, the space “exudes our love for contemporary curves and colors, glass, steel and stone. It's really beautiful, bright and airy,” Kelly says.

As Surge enjoys its success, the agency's staff is also cognizant that the potential always exists for bumps in the road. “Healthcare consistently ranks as one of the nation's top issues and during an election year, it always seems that the pharmaceutical industry comes under attack. We are probably going to get our fair share of hits during this election,” Kelly says.

Despite the challenges that may or may not lie ahead, Kelly says it remains her agency's duty to offer guidance as well as insure really good messaging for its clients and brands. “I think everyone understands that we need to be the advocates out there. I know personally, any time I can talk about the good this industry does, I am out there. I think internally everyone does that too. It's time for us demonstrate our strategic knowledge. It's time for agencies to collaborate and do their best work.”
In the meantime, Surge continues to refine its targets based on its expertise.

“We'll continue to seek clients that fit our culture, letting them know where we are interested in taking partnerships,” Kelly says.
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