Neon | 2018

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Nearly every agency claims its top execs have some hand in the business-development process and the day-to-day steering of client work. Neon is one of the very few that claims its top execs, managing directors Mark Arnold and Kevin McHale, participate to a substantial extent in every pitch.

“Kevin and I are involved in every single piece of business we have,” Arnold says. “We are not one of those agencies that sends a pitch team of senior-management folks who the client will never see again. Anyone senior who goes to a presentation will be seen again — and on a regular basis.”

McHale, who also holds the title of executive creative director, agrees, adding, “We have billion-dollar blockbuster brands that are massive and rare-disease products that are the exact opposite, but all receive the same white-glove treatment.”

Arnold believes Neon's client-first attitude has fueled its growth. MM&M estimates the firm increased its revenue from $33.5 million in 2016 to $34.5 million in 2017. Staff size jumped from 156 to 172.

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Several of those hires arrived from Neon's FCB network sibling FCB Health, including Brad Aufderheide, SVP, group strategic planning, and Terry Voltz, SVP, group management director. Another addition, Tom Callan, VP, creative director, arrived from GSW.

Arnold expects more new people will be imported this year. “We're at capacity within our current space, so we're looking to expand within the building,” he says. “We're hoping to get a portion of another floor that will accommodate 50 people.”

Neon reports a 60% pitch-win rate during 2017, and it added five pieces of business from existing clients, among them generics giant Sandoz. “We launched its first biosimilar and now we have two additional launches happening in the biosimilar space,” Arnold explains. “It knew we did it before, liked what we did, and is counting on us to do it again.”

The agency also added seven new accounts last year, including Pernix Therapeutics' sleep aid Silenor, asthma and immunotherapy brands from Sandoz, and Reata Pharmaceuticals' Friedreich's ataxia drug omaveloxolone. The one account Neon lost, Horizon Pharma's gout drug Krystexxa, found its way to network sibling Area 23.

In the months ahead, look for Neon to continue its focus on training and education. “The programs offered here are very intensive,” Arnold notes. “We're sending people out to the biggest conferences and asking them to share their knowledge.”
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