A West Coast footprint and professional focus: Evoke's CEO on its Giant acquisition

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Evoke Group's latest acquisition is an investment in the West Coast and in healthcare professional marketing, according to its CEO, Reid Connolly.


Huntsworth, which owns Evoke Group, bought San Francisco-based creative healthcare agency Giant this week for $72.2 million.


“[Giant] seems far more healthcare-professional-focused,” Connolly said. “While Evoke certainly works in consumer, professional, and payer, their addition, with even more healthcare professional expertise to the group, is great to bolster that part of the business.”


Giant has worked with pharma companies such as Abbott, Genentech, and GlaxoSmithKline, along with smaller West Coast biotechs such as Aimmune Therapeutics, Immune Design, and Juno Therapeutics. The firm generates about 70% of its revenue from marketing to HCPs, according to Huntsworth's statement.


Along with an expertise in HCP marketing, Evoke was also looking to bolster its West Coast presence. The group only has one office on the West Coast in Los Angeles.


“The West Coast has always been important to us, and we've always had a lot of business there,” Connolly said. “San Francisco is one of the hottest markets for healthcare, so that's always been the top of the list for potential geographic expansion.”


Evoke Group had partnered with Giant in recent years on work for Amgen and Seattle Genetics. Connolly said the firm has “always been someone that we've had our eyes on,” so when Giant's former parent, Shamrock Capital, began looking to sell the agency, he jumped at the opportunity.


Giant, which has about 160 staffers, brought in $34 million in revenue last year. The agency was founded in 2002, and Shamrock invested in the firm in 2013.


By joining a larger network of agencies, Connolly said, the agency can expect to take on bigger clients and accounts that it may not have been able to previously handle. The deal also comes as pharma companies such as Pfizer and Novartis are consolidating their agency rosters.


“Clients are looking for fewer agencies to take on a larger remit than they were a few years ago,” Connolly continued. “More and more, we're seeing clients hire only one agency to do all those things at once. Giant being part of our group allows them to have a much broader remit and be part of much larger opportunities that they perhaps wouldn't be included in otherwise.”


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