President Garnett Dezember was “satisfied” with modest growth in 2010 after a flat year in 2009. He's very pleased, however, that both clients and the industry recognized The Navicor Group's good work with new business and a record 11 awards, including eight Rx Club Awards.
“There's definitely less apprehension than there was in the last year or two,” Dezember says. “Clients understand they have to invest in products with expanded indications or new product launches. But they're going to continue to be very prudent about budget management.”
Based in Columbus, OH, The Navicor Group is an inVentiv agency focused on oncology and immunology specialty markets. In terms of oncology trends, Dezember notes one of the most significant is the parallel growth of personalized treatment and personalized communication.
“We're seeing genetics, diagnostics and cancer treatment coming together in ways we only dreamed of years ago,” he says. “Patients are being evaluated for cancer risk base off genomics, and we're seeing diagnostics used in a prognostic way regarding various cancer treatment.”
Dezember continues: “We also have opportunities to better profile our target audience as individuals so we can appeal to their needs, wants, challenges. We're far past the tried and true sales aid—we're now into something much more customizable and interesting for sales forces and non-personal communication. We're trying to take a leading role in that.”
Business grew from project work in 2009 to AOR status last year with clients Millennium and Seattle Genetics—Millennium for Velcade (multiple myeloma treatment) and Seattle Genetics' SGN-35, which Dezember says has been fast-tracked for approval for the treatment of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
The agency also pitched and won AOR status for Affymax and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co.'s investigational drug peginesatide (for treatment of anemia in chronic renal failure patients on dialysis).
Dezember believes competition from other ad agencies, as well as other communications agencies, will continue to increase in the specialty markets.
“Lines are blurring quite a bit,” he explains. “Ad agencies and PR firms and medical education companies—outside of CME—are becoming more and more similar in capability. Over time our clients will begin to want us to distinguish ourselves from not only other agencies but the other communications disciplines.”
He continues: “Because social media has become such an explosive area, we all have to be functional in that area. It's one area where you see that kind of battle for ownership. Also in the evolving digital landscape we're seeing solely dedicated digital agencies going by the wayside because every ad agency has to have good digital capabilities.”
Headcount was 50 ending 2010 with no layoffs.
Damon Owens joined as vice president, account director, from Bristol-Myers Squibb to lead the Millennium account. Erik Slangerup joined from sister inVentiv agency GSW Worldwide as vice president, creative director of copy.
Dezember says it can be difficult to find talent. Continuing education is a high priority. The agency's internal continuing education program modules increased from 75 to 85 total last year.
“We believe good ideas come from anywhere within the agency, and they can't evolve without a base level of knowledge and education about the products, marketplace, competition and diseases,” he says.
Dezember notes 2011 is shaping up to be “extraordinary.” The team is very busy working on several launches and several new business opportunities.