Bill McEllen is living proof that working for a big network has its advantages. After several years as executive vice president, managing director at Torre Lazur McCann (TLM), earlier this year McEllen took the helm as president of echo Torre Lazur taking over from Joe Poggi who took another position in the McCann network.
McEllen also took two senior TLM people with him to echo Torre Lazur, Tracy Blackwell, who went from EVP, creative director copy to EVP, managing director, and Juan Ramos from EVP, creative director art to EVP, creative director.
“This was done to make sure we had the right people in the right places and structure to deliver on our growth,” says McEllen.
At the mid-year point, McEllen says echo Torre Lazur has experienced positive growth in a down economy.
“We're continuing to do great work with the existing clients that we have,” he says, “and we have a great run of a business in the last 12 months, winning new assignments and bringing on a couple of new clients to the roster.”
The agency is currently preparing for the launch of two new products including an innovation for the treatment of Lupus, a human genome sciences product Belimumab which is being developed in conjunction with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Also launching is a new compound from Xenopore Corp. and a new CNS compound from GSK for restless leg syndrome. “We picked up four new brands from Galderma and two new franchises,” says McEllen. Among the wins: the acne franchise including Epiduo and Differin and the rosacea franchise that includes Oracea and MetroGel. The company is also preparing for the launch of Cervarix.
“We're in an enviable position,” says McEllen, who noted that echo Torre Lazur also benefited from the consolidation of the Johnson & Johnson business.
Among the challenges McEllen sees for echo Torre Lazur is managing growth. “And that's continuing to do what we do best on a larger scale and making sure we have the right people, both in place here and we're recruiting the right people to fill spots,” he explains.
From an industry perspective, McEllen noted that a lot of the things that experts have been predicting for years are coming to fruition. “Everybody has been talking about innovation for years now, it's no longer a nice thing to have anymore, it's a need to have.”
McEllen commented that as the dynamics change for health care practitioners and the economy in general, the medical advertising industry has to be out in the forefront doing things much differently than they have done in the past.
Staffing has been stable with no turnover in the past 12-months. The agency, however, brought back some people who tested waters elsewhere.
“I think it's a matter of what we do when we're recruiting people, we take a pretty deliberate approach as to what is the need, what's the fit within the agency,” says McEllen, who added that the talent pool is good right now.
According to McEllen, echo Torre Lazur is on the verge of its best year ever. The company is focusing very acutely on the work and clients that they have, delivering on the promises that we've made, and selectively going after new business.
“It's not a frenzy of new business activities for us in what we're looking to bring on,” says McEllen. “It's making sure that we don't take an eye off the ball of what we've got and we add where appropriate.”