Top 100 Agencies 2015: Publicis Life Brands Medicus

Transparency: right for clients and staff

A campaign ad for the American Heart Association's 2015 Wall Street Run & Heart Walk
A campaign ad for the American Heart Association's 2015 Wall Street Run & Heart Walk

Over the past year Publicis Life Brands Medicus has continued to broaden its expertise beyond the healthcare practitioner—but in a way that many of its similarly sized peers have only started to consider. The firm bolstered its rolls by hiring fashion, consumer and multicultural specialists. It's little surprise that the hiring jag resulted in the addition of more integrated accounts that market to both provider and patient.

“Gone are the days of segmentation,” says Adrian Sansone, PLBM's EVP and managing director. 

As a traditional professional shop, PLBM has notched an increasing number of integrated account wins by communicating, in some cases, the limits of the agency's capabilities. About 20% of the agency's total business is patient-focused, although the remaining revenue is for HCP-related work. 

“We tell clients we don't have that full capability but that we can partner with them and we can build it together,” Sansone explains. “That has yielded for us stronger partnerships that provide better business results for clients.”

One of the recent additions to the win column was Novocure's Optune, a medical device used to treat adult patients with recurrent glioblastoma, a type of brain tumor. PLBM is serving as both patient and HCP AOR and its work will focus on educating (the company renamed the device late last year) and empowering patients, Sansone says. 

“Clients are seeing more of a need in terms of developing a brand idea that can work across multiple stakeholders and channels,” he adds. 

PLBM also continues to work with longstanding clients (Pfizer, Sanofi) and picked up a pro bono account with the National Kidney Foundation. That assignment featured a short-form story in video format and, according to EVP of account services Jennifer Shirley, reflects the agency's desire to tell brand stories in “an interesting and relevant way.”

As part of these broader changes under Sansone's leadership—he took the reins in 2012—the agency brought in a number of new execs, among them Shirley and EVP and executive creative director Brian Lefkowitz. The firm also promoted Ellen Gorczyca to EVP and executive creative director. 

“It's a diverse group with experience from consumer to digital to HCP,” Sansone crows. “This leadership team is about building transparency with our clients and with our staff.”

PLBM employs about 145 people, close to the same figure it did a year ago. At the same time it has largely succeeded in finding talent with diverse backgrounds. Sansone also hopes that the leadership team reflects the professional and cultural diversity it is seeking in new employees. 

“If we all dressed and looked the same way, we're going to attract the same sort of people,” he explains. “Because of our diversity with backgrounds and skills, it really helps us to attract different talent.”

Sansone declines to provide a revenue figure for 2014 but reports that PLBM grew revenue over the year-ago period. He also notes that the agency's consumer business is driving much of the growth. “The team here now has the expertise and skill sets to deliver on those client needs,” he says. 

PLBM has also responded to one popular client demand: taking a brand idea that can be applied to different stakeholders and channels with the goal of inspiring better dialogue between HCP and patient. “Those are the solutions we're able to provide,” Sansone says. 


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