Top 100 Agencies 2015: Pace

Realignment leads to rebranding and success (plus flexibility and growth)

Pace reinvented Vertex's clinician-directed cystic fibrosis site
Pace reinvented Vertex's clinician-directed cystic fibrosis site

FCB Health's familiar leadership, CEO/president Dana Maiman and EVP/chief creative officer Rich Levy, expect the realignment of Pace under their leadership to be nothing less than a win–win–win. (For FCB, for clients and for employees.)

Pace, of course, was one of the three former ICC Lowe Health assets (along with ICC Lowe and Trio) that Interpublic Group announced in March it would realign under the FCB Health banner. And both Maiman and Levy are upbeat about the switch.

“It's provided a lot of different opportunities and flexibility,” says Maiman. “At the same time, it's enabled us to bring a lot of the esteemed FCB Health capabilities or resources to the [former] ICC agencies.”

Pace will adopt FCB Health's trademark co-management structure—namely, with Maiman and Levy at the helm, providing respective account and creative leadership, and managing director Gregg Geider continuing to run the shop day to day. “We don't want to be formulaic,” says Maiman,  “but at the same time, it's a structure that has worked.” 

Maiman highlights three opportunities afforded by the geography of the former ICC assets. First, FCB Health has a number of pharma clients “just minutes” from the New Jersey premises. Second, many FCB employees live in the Garden State and see the new location as a potential career opportunity. Third, it gives the group a chance to hire some Jersey-based recruitment targets for whom the commute into New York has previously been a barrier to joining. “Some of them are now saying, ‘Okay, count me in, do you have an opening in one of these new agencies?' ” she says. Pace currently has a head count of around 50.

Pace is now in the fifth year of a relationship with Vertex for the breakthrough cystic fibrosis treatment  Kalydeco, and in 2014 added the CF combination treatment ivacaftor/lumacaftor. The agency also won work with Fidia Pharma for its Hyalgan treatment for knee pain in osteoarthritis patients. Other clients include CFTRScience; CSL Behring; Piramal and GlaxoSmithKline.

Without revealing specifics, Maiman hints that PACE's 2014 performance fell a little short of most existing FCB Health agencies. “Part of it is, they just didn't have that many opportunities.” she says. “It's hard to experience tremendous growth when you don't have a lot of at-bats.” However, she expects that to change. 

In fact, Pace's increased access to what Levy describes as “worldwide world-class capabilities” has already paid dividends. He notes how one client recently asked Pace, at a moment's notice, to create multiple videos for an upcoming congress. No sweat. FCB Health has its own editing suites, video-shooting suite and sound grill. “We brought in some of the muscle of FCB Health, and Pace was able to create these, literally, within a week,” says Levy. “Not only does the client consider the relationship stronger, but it showed off the capability, which can help business in the future.”

Levy is encouraged by pharma's continued embrace of social media. “Novartis was the first, and since then we've seen an explosion in the use of social media and clients coming to us asking for an engagement program,” he says. 

He also sees an increased demand for a one-stop agency. “Clients saw the duplication,” he says. “With five or six different agencies all playing for the same dollars, everyone is doing what's in the best interest of their own agency, not what's in the best of the client.”

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