Even as Euro RSCG Life aims to “put digital at the core” of all its agencies' efforts, the network has put together Princeton,NJ-based 4D as a distillation of its digital expertise.
The new shop, with a name borrowed from Havas's digital and data network (an outgrowth of EHS Brann), launched in spring with the aim of offering clients “the next dimension in digital healthcare.”
Paul Velardi, who is president of the new agency, headed the network's fledgling marketing services shop, x2, until its non-digital components were integrated into Euro RSCG Life's mainline full-service agencies to provide more integrated offerings. Not that x2, which included med ed, managed care, consumer and digital offerings (“everything but traditional professional marketing,” says Velardi) wasn't successful—the two-year-old shop had seen such strong growth that it had already spawned a conflict shop, Catapult, when it was dissolved.
“It was the right idea at the time, but as a network, the decision was made to build that into the core agencies,” says Velardi, “and have an agency solely dedicated to digital healthcare. That's 4D.” 4D, says Velardi, is “all about creating inspiring experiences.”
“Our programs run across patients, consumers, healthcare professionals and payers in the managed care arena,” he explains. “But we want an individual to take an action, and if you're going to inspire someone you have to understand what motivates them, so we do a lot of research.”
To that end, 4D has built a group focused on digital strategy. “Whether you want an individual to forward a link or to register, it's about engagement,” says Velardi. “We do a lot of execution, but strategy is really our focus.”
The shop launched with two founding clients—Sanofi-Aventis, for its diabetes franchise, and Biogen Idec, for its MS franchise.
It has since added: Medimmune, for which it rebranded the company's corporate website; Novartis, for which it built the DownShift portal, aimed at keeping truckers healthy; GlaxoSmithKline, for Menhibrix, a developmental meningitis vaccine for infants; Medicis for Liposonix; and Pfizer, for Chantix.
About 40% of 4D's work so far is consumer, with another 10% devoted to managed markets projects and 50% aimed at professionals.
“It's a wide array of work from websites to microsites to e-detailers,” says Velardi. “We're even starting to create some apps for physicians.”
Business is definitely booming, in spite of the recent economic slowdown.
“We're in a field where companies are spending,” says Velardi. “They're shifting dollars, but they've got to have a stronger digital presence.”
The 60-person shop brought on Joanne Borek from x2 as creative director and hired Frank Buchner from IMC2 to serve as chief technology officer.
In addition to helping clients, the shop has digital strategists assigned to all of Euro RSCG Life's core agencies to speed the aim of integrating digital capabilities into all units.
Helping clients adopt social media and mobile marketing are two of the thorny challenges—and plumb opportunities—keeping 4D staff busy these days.
“Outside of healthcare, consumers are living it and using it on a regular basis,” says Velardi of social media. “To try to replicate an experience for them that's completely unrestricted outside of the healthcare space, that's a challenge. I think you're going to see some breakthroughs towards the end of the year.” Mobile marketing provides similar opportunity on the professional side.
“Adoption rates are tremendous, so we need to be sensitive to their time constraints but being perceived as a partner to them is a big opportunity.”
For all the tech savvy, Velardi says 4D has its roots in CRM. “The days of just pushing out information are limited,” says Velardi. “Your key customers know how to find you, and the experience you provide in return is going to dictate whether you have a good relationship with them.”