The mantra throughout the Euro RSCG Life network is “Digital at the core,” meant to convey seamless integration of digital capability throughout its agencies. So what's a dedicated digital shop doing there?
Euro RSCG Life 4D was launched at the beginning of 2009 to serve as a “Lighthouse agency” within the network on digital work, says Larry Mickelberg, who serves as chief digital officer for the whole network but spends the bulk of his time at 4D.
“We're on a path to do more advanced digital work,” says Mickelberg. “Everyone can do banner ads and websites. Our mission is to go out on the leading edge. We're working in new and emerging channels like EMRs. We're leading in online media and analytics on behalf of the network. The vision is for 4D to be a digital-forward agency.”
Euro RSCG Life 4D doubled in size over the past 12 months to 50 staff, and is on track to become one of the largest of the Life agencies, says Mickelberg.
“As a future first network, we live by experimentation, and that carries over into the structure,” says 4D president Paul Velardi. “Having said that, it's only a matter of time before digital and 4D are leading agency relationships.”
Euro RSCG Life 4D is the digital successor to the now-defunct x2 marketing services shop, which Velardi headed before launching 4D. Mickelberg joined Euro from Digitas Health. “I spent the last year there worried about what happens when one of the large health networks really gets digital right,” he says. “And the bet I made was that an agency network with a rich heritage in brand stewardship and communication that got digital right would get farther, faster, down the same path. If anyone is going to succeed at that, it's going to be this team. There's the will, there's the investment and there's just great energy.”
The agency's cornerstone client was Sanofi-Aventis, for which 4D now handles the digital brief for the diabetes business. Over the past year, the shop has added to that with several account wins, including Cephalon's cancer pain drug Fentora and a professional assignment with Novartis' multichannel marketing group.
The agency's London office will open by the end of the year, and there are plans for more European satellites, as well as a presence in Canada. The shop is also looking at collaborating with Euro RSCG Worldwide PR, under the leadership of trend spotter Marian Salzman.
Recent senior hires include that of creative director Eric Mednis, who brings experience from his time at Rosetta and iCrossing, as well as talent in analytics from Rapp Collins and in online media from Digitas.
Velardi and Mickelberg are particularly proud of the work they've done for Fentora, including ShareYourPain.com, featuring an elegant design that users can navigate through via thought bubbles.
“People who have pain, particularly cancer pain, don't necessarily understand the scientific terms to describe their pain,” says Mickelberg. “This helps them use plain language and steers them to the kinds of resources that will help them have better conversations with their doctors—not just ‘My back hurts,' but ‘I'm having somatic pain due to X, Y or Z.'”
After Sanofi-Aventis' diabetes franchise and Cephalon's Fentora, the shop's biggest accounts are GlaxoSmithKline's MenHibrix pediatric combo vaccine, and Medicis' fat-melting LipoSonix device, set for a 2011 launch.
Right now, the agency's work is about 60% professional, 40% consumer or patient-focused. The aim is to make it an even 50-50 split. “The logic there is that we want to be on both sides of that patient-physician dialogue,” says Mickelberg, “and prepare them equally for that moment of truth, so we try to be on both sides of the same brand.”