Top 100 Agencies: H4B Catapult

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H4B Catapult's work for Cambia
H4B Catapult's work for Cambia

H4B Catapult is the digital native of Havas' Health4Brands network, but agency president Jeff Hoffman notes that the network's “unification model” means they do trad work too.

“We're digital at the core but not a pure digital shop,” says Hoffman. “We do everything from professional advertising to managed markets to med-ed.”

The Hamilton, NJ-based shop is now the middle child of the growing H4B network, which includes the venerable New York shop H4B Chelsea as well as a year-old Boston office, H4B Back Bay.

The shop had a “fantastic” 2012, says Hoffman, with around 18% growth over 2011 and nine account wins to one loss (of an oncology drug). Wins included work with GSK, a new client, and new assignments with Novartis, Sanofi Biosurgery and Genzyme. Three of those assignments were for devices.

“Getting away from the pill is one of the philosophies we have,” says Hoffman. The shop has also seen rapid growth in their managed markets and payer marketing groups.

In 2013, the firm is off to a “stunning start,” says Hoffman, who projects around 20% growth for the year.

“We started off with four wins in a row and we're onboarding now.”

The shop is looking to grow in the areas of oncology, personalized genetic medicines, orphan drugs and rare diseases, and the “marriage of device and pharma with all the biomarkers coming in.”

The shop's staff fluctuates between 155 and 175, and it recently dispatched seven execs to Boston to staff the Back Bay office, which is closing in on 30 full-time staff.

“Now that we're established up there, we're starting to really attract the talent there,” says Hoffman. Back Bay clients include Genzyme, Organogenesis and Serono. The office is headed by managing director Steve Piotrowski, who previously headed client services at Saatchi & Saatchi Innovations.

Recent hires include that of Heather Aton from CDM Princeton to serve as a client service director on several pieces of new Sanofi/Genzyme business.

Hoffman touts the shop's low staff turnover.

“We're a very entrepreneurial culture here,” he says. “It's about having the ability for people to stay and try new things.” They also cultivate cohesion with family events (the shop hosted 70 tots on Take Your Child to Work Day) and Jersey-themed group cultural excursions—they recently bought out a production of the Broadway musical “Jersey Boys” and bussed the entire staff in to see the show. They've also done an outing to a Trenton Thunder game.

And the agency promotes professional growth through Catapult College, which this year expanded beyond business and communications programs offering mentoring and public speaking training to add a graduate curriculum, “so that the people who graduated the last several years in the development of their career goals can get further coaching and experience to develop as pitch leads,” says Hoffman, with the aim of grooming the next generation of senior management for the agency. Offerings have included lunch and learns with medical directors and an executive coach. The program's mantra: “Build your CASE every day,” CASE standing for Community, Authenticity, Significance and Excitement.

“If you build your CASE every day, you're going to grow a great agency,” says Hoffman.
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