It was a “consistent” year for The Hal Lewis Group in terms of revenue and headcount, which remained at 62. The agency launched several important and successful campaigns, won new assignments from existing clients and picked up new business.
“Losses and wins balanced in terms of providing consistent revenue,” says president David Winigrad. “We consistently added new AOR business and are diversifying service offerings this year.”
AOR assignments came in from both Meda Pharmaceuticals and Azur Pharma, and project work for Organogenesis expanded to an AOR relationship. Abbott Pharmaceuticals awarded project work and the agency's CSL roster grew to include four additional brands (from CSL Behring). Four accounts were lost— Bristol-Myers Squibb's Reyataz, Healthpoint, Baxter Global Infusion Systems and Discovery Labs.
Winigrad and Maureen Mangiavas, senior director, business development, count the launch of CSL Biotherapies' flu vaccine, Afluria, among last year's greatest achievements. Winigrad is particularly pleased with the innovative nature of the launch. Mangiavas reports that Dr. Allen L. Markus published a column noting that the program increased vaccine distribution 41% at Arizona State University, and he praised both CSL and the agency for the initiative. Another highlight was partnering with AOR client MDS Pharma Services to implement a new corporate brand identity campaign that launched simultaneously in dozens of countries.
“The campaign generated rapid uptake and positive response,” Winigrad notes. “The agency helped develop a single-minded position based on customer insight from around the world and across six business units, and then integrated it into a strategic branding campaign. We facilitated it from conception both internally and externally. The client was highly collaborative and tremendous to work with.”
While winning new business is important, Mangiavas says focusing on clients is first and foremost. Being in Philadelphia, Winigrad says attracting and retaining talent is always a priority. “We're constantly looking and interviewing,” he adds. “We've sustained good people but it's an ongoing effort, and we work very hard at it.”
Regulatory limitations and cutbacks are the biggest challenges the agency faced. “The challenge that continues year-to-year is limitations on promotion imposed both externally and internally by regulatory powers that be,” Winigrad notes. “It's that coupled with the fact that budgets are often smaller and brand managers are tasked with doing more with less.”
Winigrad adds that regulatory hurdles have put more demand on clients' existing product portfolios, particularly mature brands, to carry the load. To help meet the challenge, the agency devised Red Car Pharma Solutions, which will launch this June. Mangiavas says the process has been piloted successfully. The agency will launch a second new offering this year, HLG Lite, to provide day-to-day services to clients who don't need full-spectrum strategic and creative initiatives. “HLG Lite and Red Car were created in response to trends in the pharma landscape,” says Mangiavas.