The Top 75: Roska Healthcare Advertising

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Roska Healthcare Advertising president and CEO Jay Bolling admits that his agency felt the effects of the recession in 2010—despite having reported 30% growth from 2009—and, he says, in many ways, pharma is still in its throes. “Our recession is the end of the blockbuster era, and people just don't have the budgets and aren't spending as much,” he says. “What it's created is an industry that has said, ‘We need to do it smarter. We need to be more targeted. We need to be efficient.'”
How does an agency do that? Bolling stresses the benefit of developing integrated multi-channel marketing messages to achieve this goal. “Our customers are not digital or non-digital—our customers are multichannel,” Bolling says. “We continue to spend a lot of time and energy and build resources internally to be able to look at technologies that can work across channels. The QR code is a great example of that—it allows you to go from a printed piece to a video, or a website, with a single mobile device.”
Much of this new agency-wise outlook on the state of the industry and how to target clients is a direct result of a behavioral psychology initiative taken on by Roska, directed at DTC; or, more accurately, how the DTC standards of the '90s no longer apply. Bolling says the agency brought on a consultant from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School: Dr. Talya Miron-Shatz, a psychologist who studies decision-making and its applications, who has also done extensive work with DTC and patient persistency. The results of the study were astounding, according to Bolling, and paved the way for the shop's implementation of the Catalyst Brand Acceptance Model.
“We found when we looked at it, that acceptance isn't just a single event,” Bolling explains. “It really is a continuum, in many ways, that goes from the far left-hand side, which is avoidance, to a period of assessment, to a period of acknowledgement… The communications that are going to move someone from awareness through avoidance, assessment, acknowledgement and into action, we really need to be able to appeal to people in very different mindsets.”
Next came the utilization of the “three p's,” says Bolling: personalization, personification and projection. Roska executed the Catalyst model on behalf of medical technology company Acclarent—a new account last year, the company was acquired by J&J's Ethicon division in 2010—on the launch of its Balloon Sinuplasty device, for the treatment of sinusitis. “We tested a campaign last year in both the spring and the fall allergy seasons and were able to optimize the campaign pretty dramatically and get some very strong results,” says Bolling. Based on the Catalyst model's success, the agency is working on the launch of Bristol-Myers Squibb's metastatic melanoma drug Yervoy.
Roska ended just one relationship last year, with a small diagnostics shop called Meridian Bioscience, due to the fact that the company “didn't really have the level of investment required to move forward,” says Bolling, who overall categorized 2010 as a “foundational” year.
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