The Top 75: Draftfcb Healthcare

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Draftfcb Healthcare is perhaps the only major Manhattan ad agency to be located above a retail mall. And while the shopping may be better downstairs, executives upstairs say they've got some impressive numbers on display: healthy, double-digit revenue growth off a $100-million-plus base in 2010; and in the 12 months to May 2011, over 200 new positions (not replacements) filled to support eight major pieces of business added to the roster.
Dana Maiman, president and CEO, and Rich Levy, EVP and chief creative officer, have effectively leveraged their scale and capabilities to land some game-changing, first-in-class brands: the global launch of Bristol-Myers Squibb's Yervoy (2011), the first drug proven to extend survival in advanced-stage melanoma; the US consumer campaign for Novartis' Gilenya (2010), the first oral disease-modifying multiple sclerosis drug; and the US consumer work for Amgen's Prolia (2010), the first biologic drug approved to treat osteoporosis.
Handling drugs that address unmet need seems like the agency's sweet spot. Other accounts include DTC work for Auxilium's Xiaflex, a drug approved to treat the orphan condition Dupuytren's contracture; and an integrated assignment covering consumer, HCP and managed markets work for both Eli Lilly diagnostic Amyvid, a test designed to enable earlier diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease but which has been delayed by the FDA, and for solanezumab, Lilly's lead Alzheimer's candidate.
On the strength of its performance, in January MM&M named Draftfcb Healthcare the 2011 Agency of the Year, for the second time since 2007. What's behind their success?
“We have successfully silo-busted, we've focused on digital first and on creative, and are one of the few professional shops with media planning and buying, online and offline, as well as analytics,” explains Maiman. “This is what differentiates this agency—we're not selling you what's right for our bottom line, [but] what will achieve sales and marketing objectives for your brand.”
To enhance cohesion, the agency's floor plan is organized around brand neighborhoods, in which creatives sit together with interactive, account and traffic personnel. It works, says Levy: “We just want to do what's best for the client, and great ideas come from absolutely anywhere.”
The principals say they have been able to integrate interactive into their offering by building an agency for the digital world, rather than constructing a pure-play digital shop. “You can't do digital at the exclusion of everything else,” says Maiman. “There's a time and place for each channel and medium.” Nor, she says, can you create multichannel campaigns without analytics and channel optimization built in.
Clients are not looking for pharma as usual; they're looking for different ways to tell the same message, says Levy. “The old ways are not going to cut it anymore. People are looking for new, innovative ideas, which affects everything, from the type of people you [take on] to the programs you recommend, to the type of agencies you hire.”
This agency, which has garnered great recognition within holding company Interpublic Group (Maiman was made CEO of Draftfcb's entire New York office last year), filled 75 new positions in 2011 alone. “We are adding strength across the board,” she says.
On the account-management side, a very significant hire was Amber Edwards, EVP, group management director, in charge of all DTC business, including the Novartis, Merck and Amgen accounts. Edwards joined from Allergan, where she led consumer and CRM/digital initiatives for derm brands including Botox Cosmetic and Juvéderm. Martha Suarez, SVP, management supervisor, came on board from Ogilvy Commonhealth Worldwide this year and is leading Draftfcb's Nestle Nutrition business, another new account.
SVP, group medical director Holly Henry, PhD, the new head of scientific services, spent years in academia and in medical education before joining the crew at 33rd and Sixth. She recruited another medical director, David Mustalish, MD, and three other PhD hires, bolstering the department as well as Draftfcb's ProHealth med ed unit. “That was a growing need that we identified very quickly,” Maiman notes, adding that the agency's scientific services approach fuses clinical with strategic planning.
From a creative standpoint, Diane DePaolis, a leading authority on brand identity development, was brought in from Y Brand in New York to lead the agency's new branding group, while Maria Acosta, EVP, creative director, joined from GSW Worldwide.
On the digital side, new joiner Jonathan Cohen is running Draftfcb Healthcare's production hub. Cohen has consumer chops—he's shot webisodes and commercials while at BBH; structured ringtone deals for EMI Music Publishing; and, in 2000, built FCBi's digital production team.
The managed markets group, Mosaic, was restructured under a co-director model led by Kathy Bannon and Jennifer Thompson. The agency's UK EU hub also has new co-leadership: Jeff Daniels and Peter Hudspeth. And IPG acquired German agency JNB, enhancing Draftfcb Healthcare's global reach.
New colleagues have been indoctrinated through heavy duty training via Hyper Island courses in digital and interactive communication. Not staffing, but finding the right talent has been the agency's greatest challenge this past year.
“You have to have a certain personality to thrive in this place,” says Maiman. “Nobody here is ever content. And you have to be surrounded with like-minded people. You cannot be satisfied with good or very good, because you look to the left and to the right and there is this never-ending pursuit of excellence and to go beyond the expected.”
The hiring spree was precipitated by organic growth from Nestle, with its Gerber infant nutrition HCP portfolio, and from BMS, with its oncology biomarkers program, a competitive win. The agency also scored the gouty arthritis indication for Novartis' Ilaris, which came from RCW Group, and Vivus obesity drug Qnexa, which received a complete response letter from FDA in October.
Another win was the global Spiriva business, the only portion of the Pfizer/Boehringer Ingelheim account which had resided outside of Draftfcb Healthcare (at cementbloc). The agency now handles the full gamut of creative work for the COPD drug, including managed markets, digital and consumer.
“Consolidated here” may become an even more familiar refrain. As first reported by MM&M in May, Merck settled on two holding companies in its US creative business review, IPG and Omnicom, plus a federation of independents. As one of IPG's lead healthcare shops, Draftfcb Healthcare is well-positioned—key accounts already include Merck's entire diabetes franchise, both professional and consumer.
The drugmaker, which had work spread out among 200-300 different agencies, began reviewing accounts this year following its 2009 reverse merger with Schering-Plough. The process of reassigning accounts could take several months to play out. But with Merck spending about $320 million on DTC media and another $9 million on ads in medical journals, according to 2010 figures from Kantar Media and SDI, it could be a boon to IPG shops, enabling those that already have a hand in Merck business to consolidate their hold.
“These holding-company consolidations…are gaining even more traction,” observes Maiman, “especially as success is seen with the companies or products that have already gone down this route.” Johnson & Johnson went down the path in 2008, and IPG was one of two big winners. With Draftfcb launching creative for Stelara, Centocor Ortho Biotech's psoriasis treatment, the work helped the agency extend into Remicade for psoriasis, as well. (Stelara, which posted $393 million in 2010 sales, was last year's biggest launch, according to IMS Health.)
Two things are driving the client consolidation trend, according to Maiman: “Everybody wants to do more with less, so they're seeking greater efficiencies. And it's not just money; even more importantly, it's a greater effectiveness. People want to be assured that what they're doing is working better, harder, faster, smarter. So, they're seeking new ways, whether it's having to streamline their internal resources, which dictates working with fewer and consolidating. But that is definitely an increasing trend.”

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