Calcium | 2018

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When we last checked in with Calcium founder and CEO Steven Michaelson, he was celebrating that the company had, in just five years, surpassed the peak revenue of his former agency Wishbone. He also enthused about how it had found its footing following the bankruptcy of former owner Star Group.

Following an adventurous 2016, Calcium thrived in 2017, Michaelson reports. The agency generated $22.5 million in revenue, a 50% increase over its year-ago take of $15 million.

“Once we found a single focused positioning for the agency and created a mission statement, we were able to catch fire and started to win business and build excitement,” he says. “People came out of the woodwork to work for us.”

Clients appeared to notice, Michaelson adds. “When you're hot and a good shop, people find you. It is easier when the buzz on the street is good.”

Fueling that success was Calcium's largest account win: the AOR assignment for Bristol-Myers Squibb's rheumatoid arthritis drug Orencia. “That was our biggest achievement of the year. It's been a whirlwind of excitement,” Michaelson explains.

calcium healthcare agency

Still, growth comes with its own share of challenges — most notably, an imperative to scale up quickly and integrate new employees. Not surprisingly, Calcium grew across departments: It hired 25 new employees in the course of just three months, upping its staff size to 90.

Onboarding new hires soon became Calcium's primary focus. “It was just volume. It wasn't to fill capabilities we didn't necessarily have,” Michaelson explains, though he notes the agency's leadership team remains the same. Its current managing partners remain COO Judy Capano, chief creative officer Steve Hamburg, and chief strategy officer Garth McCallum-Keeler.

“We brought on some digital folks, but we had to expand our capabilities across the board — account services, creative, copy, and art, as well as support around those areas,” Michaelson adds.

On the new business front, Calcium won two competitive pitches, resulting in work from ITF Pharma (for ALS treatment Tiglutik) and Nabriva (for anti-infective lefamulin). Core Calcium clients include Strongbridge Biopharma, Horizon Pharma, Genentech, and Spectrum.

Despite the ever-changing healthcare landscape, Michaelson maintains advertising remains a simple business for those who practice it well. “Meaningful motivating messages will win the day regardless of the channel,” he says. “Whether that's digital or medical education, [everything we do] will be centered around effective strategy and creative.
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