Top 100 Agencies 2015: Scout

Independence has its rewards

Sabril's iPad Infantile Spasms treatment initiator calculator
Sabril's iPad Infantile Spasms treatment initiator calculator

Scout is an independent shop that was founded in Atlanta in 1999 as a consumer agency. A few years later it began working with healthcare clients. Today healthcare accounts represent well over half the agency's overall business; its offices in San Diego and Chicago focus solely on healthcare. 

Raffi Siyahian, EVP and principal, who runs the agency's healthcare business, reports total revenue was up last year between 12% and 15% in the $15-million to $25-million range. 

“We were fortunate to have had an excellent year,” Siyahian says. “It was highlighted by new ­account wins, organic growth and the addition of very valuable digital, account and creative staff members who have elevated Scout's offerings. We managed growth while remaining nimble and continuing to deliver quality work.” 

The agency has deep expertise with specialty pharma products, which serves it well as that ­market continues to grow. 

New to the roster last year was Impax Pharmaceuticals, which named Scout AOR for consumer efforts on Zomig Nasal Spray and for launch brand Rytary (Parkinson's disease). The relationship expanded in December to include AOR status for HCP efforts on Zomig. 

Siyahian says the agency experienced organic growth with all existing healthcare clients in 2014. New assignments included expanded work on Lundbeck's epilepsy brands Onfi, Carbella and Sabril and a narcolepsy awareness program for Jazz Pharmaceuticals. 

Work on BMS diabetes products Bydureon and Symlin wound down last year. “This work bled over from Scout's longstanding relationship with Amylin,” Siyahian explains. “After BMS/AstraZeneca acquired Amylin, we expected our work on Bydureon and Symlin to come to a close in 2014. We were able to transition well.”

Siyahian says that healthcare clients' increasing focus on consumers has had a positive impact on Scout. He says clients are also spending more and more on digital and social-channel strategy and ­execution and the agency has continued to strengthen its digital offering and expertise.  

Total head count was up 14 last year to 83. Ten more had joined as of early June 2015. Siyahian is looking to hire several more people this year. There are openings for digital talent, copywriters, art directors and all levels of account people.

All three Scout offices expanded last year to accommodate growth. The San Diego office moved to a new customized space in Del Mar, CA. The Chicago staff moved into larger offices. In Atlanta the agency took over significantly more space to accommodate its growing digital group. 

“In terms of personnel, the Chicago office has experienced the most growth,” Siyahian says. “We're finding a lot of great talent there. Our momentum and culture is attracting talented and experienced people—mainly through word of mouth. Employees seem to thrive in the agency's culture and brave spirit. Prospective employees are attracted by opportunities we can offer that they might not get elsewhere.”

Scout has been busy pitching for several big healthcare accounts and had won one as of press time. Siyahian is expecting another year of double-digit growth. Plans for the rest of the year include increased self-promotion.

“We're investing more in personal promotion because we've run into people who are not aware of our size and breadth of services,” he adds. “We're focused on increased communication about Scout and also on increasing PR outreach.” 


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