Top 100 Agencies: McCann HumanCare

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Merck's Nasonex benefits from McCann HumanCare's integrated approach
Merck's Nasonex benefits from McCann HumanCare's integrated approach

McCann HumanCare EVP/managing director Andrew Schirmer says his agency's biggest achievement is its pivot toward digital and mobile consumer engagements. These account for about 40% of billings, up from 5% in 2010.

“We've re-engineered our entire offering over the last three years,” he says, “so that now we're able to walk in to clients and show them a very integrated offering that is completely digital.”

HumanCare still works in traditional DTC. Broadcast and print comprise 40% and 10% of business, respectively. Schirmer prefers the agency's “hybrid positioning” and its mission to be a nimble entity, able to draw on the resources of parent McCann Health.

The agency has had to be on the forefront of, as he put it, “building a brand-engagement protocol” with clients. “Brands have become a service, and in doing so the brand experience actually does live the brand.”

An example is a patient-support program for Boehringer Ingelheim/Eli Lilly's type 2 diabetes franchise Tradjenta and Jentadueto. Launched last September, MyWellPlanner is designed to replicate the brand experience while extending it through tools and information. Forest Labs engaged the agency to do the same on one of their launch brands.

The other big trend with which the agency is grappling is the slowing of new entrants into the primary care space. In terms of performance, 2012 vs. 2011 was “flat to a little down,” Schirmer says. That's partly due to the fact that HumanCare began 2012 bereft of one chronic-care brand: the gouty arthritis brief for Novartis' Ilaris. The FDA rejected it in 2011, but the agency backfilled that bogey with new and organic growth.

One significant win came in the fall for Brintellix, a Takeda/Lundbeck co-promote for depression that was submitted to the FDA in December.

It continues work on big accounts like Johnson & Johnson Acuvue contact lenses and GlaxoSmithKline fish-oil product Lovaza. Merck respiratory brands Dulera for asthma and Nasonex for allergic rhinitis, accounts won in early 2012 as a part of an Interpublic Group holding company solution, are ongoing.

To the loss column went BI's Zantac OTC and RLS/pain drug Horizant. It's prepping for a possible loss of OAB drug Toviaz due to the Pfizer consolidation, and it's winding down work on Reclast, the Novartis BP drug set to go off-patent this year.

On the personnel front, Andrew Chamlin, SVP account services, joined from the client side. Otherwise, headcount has remained stable at about 50. HumanCare was not affected by the new reporting structure enacted at the five McCann US professional agencies this year.

The agency has also broadened its offering with the addition of in-house Hispanic communications, thanks to a partnership forged this year with sister agency Casanova Pendrill, dubbed HumanCareHSP, as well as a public-health offering. Says Schirmer: with “35-40 million newly insured, all of pharma is going to have to get very much in the mindset of reaching people they've not been reaching until now.”

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