Top 100 Agencies 2015: ICC

Neither realignment nor a name change deterred this powerhouse's progress

ICC Flexed its muscles in the animal-health category; here is one of its ads for Merck Animal Health
ICC Flexed its muscles in the animal-health category; here is one of its ads for Merck Animal Health

It's been an interesting last few months for ICC—and not for any reason anyone would've expected a year ago. Following a holding company decision to fold the agency into FCB Health and put FCB stalwarts Dana Maiman and Rich Levy in charge, the company is evolving its offerings and philosophy.

ICC, previously known as ICC Lowe, is now part of FCB Health, which stands alongside McCann Health as one of the two remaining Interpublic- owned health networks (the third, ICC Lowe, was eliminated amid the changes). ICC and the other two ICC brands—Pace and Trio—now operate as FCB Health companies, just as Area 23 and Neon do.

Maiman, president and CEO of FCB Health, is quick to point out that the shift, which was announced in March 2015, is a realignment and not a merger or a consolidation, and that ICC will retain its name and its reputation. “We certainly don't see a reason at this point to rename something that has a strong legacy and reputation with their clients,” she says. “However, it's now ICC, an FCB company.” When the realignment was announced, IPG chairman and CEO Michael Roth said in a statement that as more healthcare business is contested at the holding-company level, it has created a need for two health networks within IPG—FCB Health and McCann Health—rather than three. 

ICC has long focused on medical education as well as prescription and OTC medication brand promotion. The firm has a “robust strategic and scientific” heritage, according to Levy, FCB Health EVP and chief creative officer. But the ICC network of agencies had experienced several changes in recent years, rebranding its digital shop as ICC Lowe Thermal Labs and shutting down its New York office in 2013. Around the same time it also picked up new lines of business in the animal health category, including Merck Animal Health, and HomeAgain.

Still, under Maiman and Levy's leadership, a number of broader changes to the way the agency is structured are under way. ICC's veteran CEO Steve Viviano left the agency, as did Stacy Patterson, a longtime leader of medical affairs. In addition to those executive changes, Maiman and Levy are in the process of physically restructuring the departments so that the workspaces for ICC staff will be arranged by teams—creative, accounts, planning, digital—and not departments. 

“That is something we are very, very committed to dismantling as soon as possible,” Maiman notes.

Another challenge for Maiman and Levy will be addressing some of the client losses sustained in 2014. ICC parted ways with several clients, including Sunovion's bronchodilator Brovana and hay fever medicine Omnaris; Allergan's Botox for overactive bladder (the work went in-house); and Biogen's Alprolix, hemophilia A therapy Eloctate and a new hemophilia B treatment. It's something of a victory, then, that ICC's revenue was flat last year, with revenue hanging tough in the $25-million to $40-million range. 

“The Biogen loss was before the realignment under FCB Health,” Maiman reports. “While unfor­tunate, it was offset by a tremendous amount of organic growth.”

Some of that growth comes from Merck's animal health business, a new category for the FCB Health network in New York. ICC won the integrated account in 2013 and last year supported the launch of Bravecto, a tick and flea treatment for dogs. The agency also scored some work on the pro bono front, adding the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids to the client rolls. 

Prior to the realignment earlier this year, FCB Health and ICC shared several clients, including Johnson & Johnson, Boehringer Ingelheim and Novartis. Don't look for too much of that to change. “Johnson & Johnson is a hugely important client throughout all of FCB health and IPG,” Maiman stresses, adding that the realignment “enables us
to focus even more on what good looks like.”

Maiman and Levy have already promoted a handful of ICC employees, naming Lisa Dietrich EVP and director of medical affairs and Martin Mannion as chief strategy officer. They also hired Kristine Kustra away from Digitas to lead human resources; Kustra was formerly an HR manager at FCB Health. 

The company is still in the market: It's seeking to make as many as 20 new hires and offer employ­ees at FCB Health locations in New York the opportunity to transfer to an ICC agency in New Jersey. About a dozen creative and account staffers at FCB Health and Area 23 have already signed on for a shift to ICC in the near future. There are currently 147 employees in ICC's office, about the same number as it was last year at this time. 

The hiring process will be focused on bringing in employees who generate energy and enthusiasm, Maiman and Levy both emphasize. “When you get to a certain critical mass as an agency, there's an energy that pervades the hallways,” Levy explains. “Our job is get ICC to imbue that here.”

The strategy also calls for retaining a strong ICC presence in New Jersey, in part to provide employees with a wider range of commuting options. “Maybe someone just had triplets and wants to find balance but continue on his or her career trajectory,” Maiman suggests.

Similarly, FCB wants to ensure that clients based in the region have access to the different perspective that a non–New York agency can bring. Indeed, Maiman notes, some pharmaceutical clients specifically request to work with an entity other than a Madison Ave.–type of Manhattan firm.

“They say, ‘I'd like a smaller agency or one that is across from us on Route 10,” she adds. “We're able to provide a lot of opportunities and a lot of options for our clients and our people.” (For the record, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, Novartis, The Medicines Company and Daiichi Sankyo are just a few of the pharma companies with offices along Route 10 in northwestern New Jersey.)

“It feeds into our other philosophy of doing what's right for our clients and their brands,” Maiman says. “We can offer them different potential partnerships as well.”

Looking ahead, ICC's realignment under the FCB Health banner isn't expected to limit the types of business the agency will pursue this year, given its broad experience within numerous therapeutic categories. “We have a rich growth trajectory at FCB,” Maiman says. “Our expectation is that the New Jersey agencies—ICC, Trio and Pace—will follow a similar trajectory.”


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