FCB Cure | 2017
PerformanceRevenue was flat, remaining at an estimated $40 million
Plans“For us, 2017 is all about growth, both of our client base and of our staff. We are actively recruiting the best talent to join our team”
— Steven Hébert
Prediction“Demonstrated value will continue to be a requirement for our clients' brands, even in areas traditionally protected from cost pressures, such as rare disease”
— Joe Soto
FCBCure exited the final stage of its metamorphosis in 2016. In the latter stages of the year, 150 walls came down as part of a massive renovation of the agency's Parsippany, New Jersey, office. Then in January, parent FCB Health reshuffled the firm's leadership for the second time in two years, tapping EVPs and managing directors Joe Soto and Steven Hébert, an account-creative duo from Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness, to lead the agency.
The physical renovation represented the shedding of what little was left of the agency's old ICC skin. Now it's up to Soto and Hébert to accelerate the internal transformation and new growth.
“Their partnership is perfect for Cure,” says FCB Health chief creative officer Rich Levy, who pounced when the opportunity arose to hire the tandem. “We knew they would help transform the agency in terms of culture and new business, and position it for growth.”
Soto is a familiar face, having led FCB's San Francisco office from 2001 to 2004. As for the agency's former leaders — Tom Millar and Christine Finamore — Millar returned to FCB Health as SVP, creative director, and Finamore left the network.
It goes without saying that the FCB network muscle is a big part of Cure's appeal to clients — as it was to Soto and Hébert. It's worth noting, too, that Cure isn't exactly a company in distress, claiming AOR business during 2016 from heavy hitters such as Novo Nordisk and Abbott Point of Care (in partnership with FCB Halesway).
That said, revenue was flat at $40 million during 2016, according to MM&M estimates (2015 revenue was re-estimated at $40 million). Staff size declined to 147 from 166, as of early 2017. After assessing the firm's roster and in-house talent, Soto and Hébert realigned around teams, rather than departments. Recent hires include EVP, group strategy leader Ed Cowen, who joined from Concentric.
“We're giving people a reason to consider working in New Jersey,” Hébert says. “With FCB, you can transfer among agencies. You're not entering a career cul-de-sac.”
Cure has won six out of eight pitches this year. The first win, a U.S. consumer AOR assignment for Adapt Pharma's opioid reversal treatment, occurred during the first three weeks of Soto and Hébert's tenure. A global AOR assignment from Merck on its HIV franchise followed shortly thereafter.
Empowering staff to trust themselves is a hallmark of Soto and Hébert's approach. “We choose a pitch-leadership team on the first day and they own it,” Soto adds. “We pick the best person to lead a pitch regardless of title, which means a pitch leader's team could include his or her boss. That authority allows things to happen quickly and in a straightforward way without a lot of second-guessing or 100 emails.”
Soto and Hébert take turns driving each other from Manhattan to the office in Parsippany — they each bought the same car in different colors when they joined Cure. The 45-minute commute helps them arrive at work fully aligned, they say.
“The energy Joe and Steven bring to the office, the renovation, and the restacking of talent to a team setup have paid off,” Levy adds. “Staff and clients see and feel our investment.”