The Top 75: nitrogen

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Last October Dorland Global Health Communications was renamed nitrogen and completely restructured to more fully integrate into UK-based parent company Huntsworth Health. President Marcus Perry declines to report revenue, saying it's irrelevant given the restructuring.

“I don't think we've had any growth year on year, but we've not declined,” he notes.

Perry explains that uniting four offices—two in Europe formerly called Huntsworth Health and Dorland's two in the US (in Philadelphia and San Francsico)—has served to provide a more cohesive and truly global offering.
“The agencies are now completely aligned in terms of structure and work together on a global level,” he says. “My desk used to be six feet by two feet. Now it stretches around the world. It's the same for everyone else in the company—they now have a door open to the rest of the world.”

The name nitrogen was chosen, Perry says, because it felt “dynamic and explosive” and because it's an element that is “synergistic toward life.”  

Perry notes that clients seem happier with project-based work at the moment. Planning was a challenge last year, as the economy and healthcare reform stalled client budgets and plans. “Things are starting to settle down,” Perry says. “Everybody had a fairly big shock and they're taking baby steps. To say there was an upturn assumes we're going to go back to where we were. I don't think we are. The whole landscape has changed. This may well be the new norm. We've had to continually reinvent ourselves and try and second- guess where clients are going to be. We've had to make sure we're very flexible and erudite to adapt to new client needs, and often they don't know their needs until last minute.”

The agency won eight accounts last year and lost two. New business included an AOR assignment (global and US) for Ipsen's Somatuline; additional branding assignments from Edwards Lifesciences (Cardiac Surgical Systems and corporate); and a global launch of Medimmune's Fluenz (vaccine). Wins this year include US work on Baxter's Flexbumin (hematology) and work on Increlex (growth hormone) for Ipsen US.

High-science brands and digital channels will be important drivers. Perry stresses that digital must be an integrated part of overall brand strategy, not just a tactical solution. nitrogen interactive, a UK-based division of Huntsworth, will expand to the US where it will be integrated into the agency rather than operate as a separate business unit. Perry says his team already works with nitrogen interactive for most digital offerings.

With the reorganization came staff cuts—headcount is down to 110 from 130 in 2008. But Perry is now “continually” seeking talent. Relocated from the UK himself, Perry says leadership is considering “a certain number of moves globally.”

The nitrogen brand is expected to strengthen this year and the agency will continue working more closely with other Huntsworth brands. Keeping nitrogen dynamic and adaptable is a priority. “My counterparts in Europe will be coming over a lot more and vice versa to ensure this group is working together as closely as possible to be able to give clients use of the entire network,” Perry says.
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