The Top 75: RCW Group

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RCW Group spent the better part of 2009 “laying the seeds for growth,” says Maureen Regan, managing partner. “We have been investing a lot of money in the agency.” That has meant bolstering its offering by adding two groups and bringing on talent, besides renaming itself. The moves may already be bearing fruit. The agency won 15 new assignments in 2009, and “This year is on track to grow 10%,” she says.

Revenue-wise, the 220-person shop finished only slightly above where it was in 2008. Growth was modest, due to some clients cutting budgets. Regan concedes, “Our greatest achievement this past year was keeping everyone working.” Credit the senior management team of Regan, plus Rich Campbell, strategic partner, and Brendan Ward, creative partner, for not only maintaining status quo but building for the future.

The most high-profile change has been rebranding from Regan Campbell Ward • McCann to RCW Group—a collection of full-service companies including Regan Campbell Ward • McCann, RCW McCann Healthcare (formerly RCW West) in San Diego, digital agency MedRageous and Thinking Cap, a new strategic consulting group. The second group it has added is a managed markets team, led by Mike Motto, who last worked for Eisai but spent the bulk of his career at Novartis running that company's managed-care division. “People are very concerned and looking for direction, and it's obviously going to increase in importance as we navigate the new healthcare plan,” says Regan of managed care.

Agency execs think having manage-markets experience within the context of a traditional brand advertising agency will benefit clients. “By adding Mike's expertise, we can extend what we do for clients on the brand level to a managed care setting, as opposed to working with different agency partners or a boutique managed markets shop.”

Both new groups have been pressed into service on RCW Group's existing accounts, one of the most prominent of which is Novartis, for which the agency handles the general medicines and oncology franchises—Aclast/Reclast (osteoporosis), Afinitor (cancer), Femara (cancer), Ilaris (CAPS), Sandostatin (acromegaly), pasireotide/Som230 (phase III for cancer) and AIN457 (phase III for autoimmune disorders)—mostly on a professional AOR basis.

Last year the agency padded its roster with 15 wins, including products from Bristol-Myers Squibb (cancer drug Ixempra and immunosuppressant Belatacept) and Amgen (Motesanib, in phase III for cancer). The agency lost diabetes med Avandia when GlaxoSmithKline took promotions for the embattled brand in-house. Out West, RCW McCann Healthcare won a pitch for an experimental drug from an emerging company and moved to a new location.

On the hiring front, the agency has increased headcount by about 20 people (10%), and had no layoffs. Its medical-science department hired two people with PhDs for a total of three working on message crafting, campaign development and medical strategies.

It has also added personnel with digital experience, upgrading its interactive offering. This year RCW Group hired Hudson Plum as SVP, managing director of MedRageous, the interactive arm. Plum spent 17 years at Harrison & Star. “It was quite a coup to bring him into our group after 17 years,” says Regan.

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