The Top 75: ICC

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Steve Viviano, ICC president and CEO, has always maintained a firm belief that “owning” a piece of business—doing great work, treating customers well and maintaining account-team stability—is the key to organic growth. Over the last 15 months, he's become even more convinced of this formula's enduring power.

Consider the way ICC's Trio unit picked up the Vistakon Pharmaceuticals account last year. A former ICC client now working for this Johnson & Johnson Vision Care subsidiary phoned Viviano in late December to inquire as to whether the same ICC team from their 2006 engagement was still available. It was. To that group, now at Trio, went seven assignments comprising the prescription eye-drop business: Acuvue Moist, Acuvue Oasys, Acuvue Advance, The Vision Care Institute and three yet-to-be disclosed products.

“We did the right thing four years ago for this client, and now we will be back with him,” says Viviano of the win, which helped catapult Trio's revenue growth vs. 2008 to 45%. Viviano says the Vistakon win “was a pretty good barometer of how our year went.”

ICC went on to win one more large assignment without a pitch, capping a banner second half for the Interpublic Group shop, which is the largest healthcare-focused agency within Lowe Worldwide. Fifteen new assignments in the last five months of 2009 span med ed and professional promotion for a mix of consumer and prescription products. Another 12 have come in the first half of 2010. Couple that with launches for existing clients, the formation of two new in-house groups and a few senior-level hires.

“The second half of [2009] was off the charts for us,” says Viviano, adding that clients finally unlocked their marketing budgets after buttoning them up the year before. That has prompted ICC to open its doors to new employees. “We came into 2010 with 50 openings,” says Vivano. “Compared to where we were in January/February 2009, it was an incredible turnaround.”

With no account losses to report, all four of ICC's units have seen growth. Trio plans to increase staff by 40% this year to accommodate the Vistakon work, along with med ed assignments from AstraZeneca for Certriad, an investigational compound for treating mixed dyslipidemia; investigational oral antiplatelet compound Brilinta; plus a new, undisclosed assignment from core client J&J Consumer Products. To go with the Vistakon launches it's now preparing, Trio is also handling the professional launch of OTC J&J brands Baby Daily Face and Body Lotion SPF 40.

“Trio is one new win away from exceeding the revenue goal of $10 million,” reports Viviano. “It's really an exciting time over there.”

With all the activity at Trio, Viviano says he moved longstanding client Ferring's infertility business (Menopur and Bravelle) over to the main ICC office, grouping it with two new Ferring assignments the flagship unit pitched and won last year—Nocdurna orally disintegrating tablets, a nocturnal enuresis product scheduled to launch this year, and Lysteda, for menorrhagia. Fueling the main office's 31% growth was reeling in the professional education account for Shire's Vyvanse ADHD drug in 2009. Sepracor also awarded the ICC office the professional brief for epilepsy agent Stedesa—ICC's eighth non-pitch win overall. ICC also won HAE treatment Berinert from CSL Behring and launched J&J pain reliever Nucynta. In 2010 Viviano is bringing in sister agency Deutsch on Lunesta consumer duties. Deutsch became the US consumer group for Lowe Healthcare Worldwide last year.

Also contributing to the hot streak, ICC Redshift, the device and medical technology office, hooked four new assignments from two new clients: the launch of an endoluminal bypass graft for the superficial femoral artery and Paramed Medical Systems' MRInspire, MRInspire XT and MROpen—three MRI-specific technology apps for orthopedics. For core client Aurora Imaging Technology, the agency designed the Breast MR “I Pledge” social media site, while for TyRx Pharma it launched the AIGIS Anti-Bacterial Envelope.

“2009 was tough for Redshift, because they had clients with smaller budgets and so any cut was tough,” says Viviano. “But some big things are on the horizon. If we hit a few, we'll be off to the races.”

UK-based ICC Brand (x) faltered a bit in 2009 but padded its roster with six new assignments from clients Nycomed, Amgen, Gilead and AstraZeneca.

So far, overall revenues are up between 25-30% in 2010. While in early 2009 the agency experienced individual brand-budget shrinkage, with marketing allocations “back to what they should be historically,” Viviano says the challenge now has swung 180 degrees.

To ensure ICC became part of this resurgence, Viviano has had to find ways to keep his people busy during lean times by lobbying clients for additional work. “I just made the case that by putting all your brands with ICC, I could with more certainty guarantee senior-level attention,” recalls Viviano.

This strategy is proving vital to the agency's rebirth—60% of ICC's core clients increased revenue with the agency in 2009. One of these was Sepracor. With the addition of Studesa, ICC now handles all of Sepracor's brands: the Omnaris, Alvesco, Zopenex and Brovana respiratory products, plus CNS product Lunesta (one new product from Sepracor's Japanese parent Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma, in the schizophrenia area, had already been assigned when Dainippon acquired the firm last year for $2.6 billion).

On the organizational side, ICC launched a Strategic Planning group, hiring Anne Cunney as its go-to for insights into what Viviano calls “the emotional part of being a doctor.”

Eugene Lee, who founded RCW Group's digital shop MedRageous, was brought on board to spearhead ICC's digital practice, which will be an integrated division rather than a standalone shop. “Eugene is responsible for making our entire agency digitally savvy,” says Viviano. He adds that Lee won't have to drag the agency kicking and screaming, as ICC has been doing a fair amount of interactive work involving tablets and websites. “We've been learning it on our own from the ground up. Now with someone who understands the space and where to take us, the learning curve will be much quicker and better.” Additional hires include Kevin King, from Euro RSCG, as EVP, management supervisor. After a client-side stint at King Pharmaceuticals, Ray Purkis also returned to the agency as SVP, management supervisor.

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