Top 100 Agencies 2015: Concentric Health Experience

Capability, culture and leadership

Digital and print takes from Concentric on the dreaded MRSA bacteria
Digital and print takes from Concentric on the dreaded MRSA bacteria

Concentric Health Experience has hit all-time highs for the last three years running. Revenue climbed 30% in 2013 and soared another 40% last year.

“We're constantly listening to clients and asking what matters to them,” says founder and CEO Ken Begasse. “We also analyze where clients are using capabilities. If we don't have those capabilities, we acquire them. If we do have them, we strengthen them. Our focus has remained on capability, culture and leadership and we've had explosive growth across all measures.” 

Capability expansion included establishing ­Con­centric Health Intelligence as a standalone entity. It's a more robust version of the agency's in-house research offering that helps clients better target stakeholders through behavior insights. The number of clients using the service doubled in 2014 to 95%. 

Last year's wins balanced evenly between existing and new clients. Eight out of 13 wins were AOR assignments. Long-time client Novartis Oncology award­ed AOR assignments on Zykadia, Jadenu and Tafinlar/Mekinist, plus project work on Farydak. Other organic growth included AOR status on Leo Pharma's Otrexup, for psoriasis,  and project work on Otsuka's Sativex, for cancer pain.  

A lot big business came in from new clients, including an AOR assignment on Sunovion's Brovana, for COPD, which led to another AOR win on COPD candidate SUN101. New client Becton Dickinson named Concentric AOR for its diabetes franchise, and the agency also won AOR assignments on Kepivance, Kineret and Orfadin from new client Sobi.   

Begasse sees fear of failure as one of the biggest industry challenges. “While clients continue to seek innovation, often there's organizational fear of being judged a failure for doing something that's innovative,” he says. “Willingness to fail before succeeding is common among great innovators, but in our industry failure is often shunned. And innovation is paralyzed a bit because truly unique and ideas or platforms are held to old metrics. If we focus more on return on engagement and less on ROI we can start to push brands confidently into innovative solutions.” 

The agency's New York City office was expanded to accommodate growth and the upcoming launch of Elixir, a full-service shop serving rare-disease and oncology clients. The London office moved to a hub with sibling MDC Partner agencies to add efficiency in digital and production services. 

New employees numbered 44 in 2014. Another 20 joined this year, bringing global staff up to 155. Begasse attributes an impressive 92% employee retention to providing a culture in which employees feel they're valued and continually learning.

Jennie Fischette, formerly EVP, director of client services, was named managing partner. Begasse says she's strengthened both internal teams and client relationships and he feels she's been key to the agency's success over the past three years. 

Among the agency's accomplishments, Begasse is especially proud of its philanthropic activities, including Healthfix.org, which launched in 2013 to improve health experiences. Recent initiatives include raising money to buy an ambulance for a Zimbabwe community and COPD awareness program “Dare to Stair.”  

This year looks like another blockbuster. New wins include AOR assignments from Leo Pharma and Collegium Pharma. Begasse expects business to double over 2013.  

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