The Top 75: McCann HumanCare

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McCann HumanCare resides within the offices of McCann Erickson NY, and the two share finance, HR and production functions. This year McCann HumanCare has begun drawing on its non-healthcare consumer sibs even more. McCann HumanCare has deepened its CRM offering, based on tighter integration with MRM Worldwide—the digital and CRM division of McCann Worldgroup whose clients include General Motors, US Army and Mastercard—to offer full-service CRM, digital database and analytics work.

“It's our opportunity to bring some best practices from other industries into the health and pharma world. It gives us a much bigger tool box,” says Andrew Schirmer, McCann HumanCare EVP, managing director. “While we have a certain core competence in healthcare, more valuable to a lot of our clients is going to be the tools, experience and talent we can bring to bear from [MRM's] out-of-pharma engagements.”

The tie-up grew out of some shared business—the two co-manage the Lunesta digital account—and from McCann Worldgroup's new CEO Nick Brien, who is a big believer in integration and has made the fully blended practice a rallying cry. In fact, Schirmer says HumanCare is expanding its media offering in the same way, leveraging media partner Universal McCann for clients who need media planning and engagement.

As opposed to “cross-selling” other companies in McCann Worldgroup or IPG, folding MRM and Universal McCann into the agency's offerings is “a fluid model that expands the range of offerings we have,” explains Schirmer.

The agency has also built up its global footprint, assigning Steeve Lamontagne to run HumanCare in Europe out of the UK. The agency now has regional leadership in the EMEA, as well as in APAC out of Tokyo and, of course, in the US out of New York. “A big push for us has been to legitimize a global offering,” Schirmer says. Regional work has driven the build-out, according to Schirmer, who says, “We've got active business in all the regions.”

On the new business front, the agency picked up Boehringer Ingelheim's Zantac OTC heartburn franchise, an AOR account, as well as GlaxoSmithKline's Lovaza triglyceride-lowering product. In addition to new work for these clients, HumanCare launched the first DTC campaign for Toviaz, Pfizer's OAB product for women, priming the market with an unbranded campaign called “Time Out” that featured TV, print and place-based media in advance of the branded campaign. For Galderma's Oracea rosacea drug, HumanCare debuted a branded Oracea DTC effort followed by an unbranded campaign this year.

Two accounts were lost, which Schirmer declines to name, while others are scaling back. “Five years ago, I don't think I would have seen as many clients putting the brakes on as I've seen the last year and a half.”

Asked about the agency's financial performance, he sums it all up with “standing flat and holding ground.”

Year-over-year, revenue was even in 2009. The recession? “We still feel like we're in the thick of it,” Schirmer says. And while staff have a “weathering the storm mentality,” that doesn't mean the agency is “just circling the wagons” because business is tough. “We are fighting for everything we can keep and get but always expanding our offering.”

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