Top 100 Agencies: Scout Marketing

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Work from Scout Marketing for Sabril
Work from Scout Marketing for Sabril

Scout Marketing's principal and executive director of strategy, Allen Stegall, describes 2012 as a year of transitions: from well-kept secret to more well-known agency, from some larger clients to more specialty products and from two offices to three. Making those kinds of changes takes some courage, and while many agencies like to tout a mantra, Scout Marketing appears to be living theirs: “Be Brave.”

“That's the idea we try to instill every day,” says Stegall. “Obviously, you have to be brave to get noticed in today's over-communicated world, but it's also about individual mentoring. We want everyone at Scout to feel like they have ownership of their ideas and we give them support in developing these ideas.”

That common thread is apparent in its work, too. Lundbeck, a Danish pharma company, was looking for a new agency for its epilepsy drug, Sabril, which had some challenges associated with it—including a potential loss of peripheral vision—a hang-up that physicians couldn't get past.

Stegall says Scout Marketing—instead of trying to work around the drug's potential side effects—tackled the problem head on: “What we did with the campaign was featured a frog, a metaphorical frog that could turn into a prince,” he explains, “The idea was candidly acknowledge the risk, but also suggest that there is a significant upside. This changed the conversation with doctors in a pretty significant way and allowed the sales rep to have a different and better discussion.”

In addition to winning that pitch from Lundbeck, Scout Marketing picked up three other accounts to round out 2012, adding DTC work on Xyrem for Jazz Pharmaceuticals, as well as bringing on work from Depomed and Xenoport. The agency wouldn't end 2012 completely unscathed, though. Scout would lose some business from Amylin when it was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb last August, an unlucky setback that was due to consolidation.

“Our biggest business challenge this past year was the BMS acquisition of Amylin,” says Stegall on the merger. “We usually find clients who are early-stage biotech or mid-tier pharma, and sometimes they get acquired by bigger firms—when that happens it's often not a reflection on the marketing job or what we've done for our clients, but it's just an unfortunate reality of this industry.”

But with four new clients on its roster, Stegall asserts that “on the other side of the ledger, we went four for four on pitches—that more than offset [losing Amylin]. It was a fluid year for us, but net positive.”

Clients weren't the only additions that Scout made last year. It also set up shop in Chicago—adding to its existing locations in Atlanta and San Diego. “Our Chicago office is in its infancy right now, but we are optimistic that it will put us in a strong position to secure new clients in that area. Ideally, we'd also like an office in the Northeast,” Stegall points out.

With an expanded roster and a new location, Stegall says what's left now is to continue to get the word out: “We're still not as well known as we want to be and need to be. We're going to try and raise our profile. We have a great batting average once we get into a pitch competition, but we're not always on people's shortlist. This year and next, we're going to make Scout top of mind for more potential clients.”
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