Top 100 Agencies 2015: LehmanMillet

Trustworthiness is a business basic for this longtime Boston agency

Multichannel work for EMD Serono promoting cancer awareness
Multichannel work for EMD Serono promoting cancer awareness

In the first year after co-founder, president and CEO Bruce Lehman retired, LehmanMillet reached for 15% to 20% growth and almost hit the top end of the range. The Beantown-based shop celebrated five new business wins in 2014 and started 2015 off with a bang, quickly closing three more accounts.

Following that commotion, newly ­minted Lehman­Millet president Carolyn Morgan conscious­ly took her foot off the gas pedal in order to adhere to a smart growth strategy. “We have accounts grow­ing organically and new business coming in,” she says. “People trust us with their business, so I want to be thoughtful and focus on the clients we already have.”

Former parent HealthStar Communications divested LehmanMillet in May, and the agency continues to operate independently. The shop is proud to report no AOR account losses in 2014. A standout project—and one that fits the agency's bill for working with companies that aim to turn the standard of care upside down—was the launch of Exact Sciences' Cologuard, a noninvasive cancer-screening colon test that can be done in the privacy of one's home.

The agency focuses its campaigns on disease awareness and strong education before launch. “We took a PSA approach with the cancer screening test to help people understand colon cancer,” Morgan explains. “One in three people are not getting screened. This is game-changing and a leap forward for colon cancer.” 

The agency developed pre-commercial work for EMD Serono, including the website, to help oncologists targeting tumor hypoxia or low oxygen conditions. “Educating physicians is rewarding,” Morgan says. “We hope our work helps to move cancers in a direction of better control.”

LehmanMillet worked with a variety of companies on brand-maintenance platforms, including a rebrand­ing campaign for Abbott Diagnostics. ­Ac­- count work for seven clients prepping for launches, such as Infinity Pharmaceuticals, included disease awareness. 

“The success we experience is because of continued unification as an agency,” Morgan says. “Working in emerging technologies across all verticals is a goal. It helps us to understand why we get up every day and come through the doors here.”

LehmanMillet's EVP, Paul Balagot, is in charge of avoiding digital traps. “Paul helps us be thoughtful, and 16-year veteran Kristi Hansen, our SVP of interaction, plays a key role,” Morgan says. 

Talent retention is important to Morgan's team, as is professional camaraderie. The concept of “going beyond” what is expected resonates with the agency. Leaders hand out “Beyonders” on a monthly and annual basis to standout employees who have gone above and beyond for teammates and clients.

LehmanMillet is hiring account directors and expanding in other departments to accommodate last year's growth. The agency closed out the year with a head count of 90 employees, mainly to accommodate expansion on the planning and digital teams. Morgan forecasts hitting triple digits in 2015.

The agency has no plans of abandoning its philosophy of working with emerging companies, one that Morgan says works for the team. “I'm proud of our work over the last year,” she says. “We want to grow in a measured way and continue to bring in additional talent to help us drive forward.”


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