Rapp Worldwide | 2018

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While Rapp Worldwide president Justin Thomas-Copeland cherishes the sound of the bell the agency rings whenever it lands a new assignment, some pearls are sweeter than others, such as the clang that commemorated the company's first assignment from Eli Lilly. The undisclosed assignment, which comes with what he describes as “an intense digital-first approach,” was spurred by the agency's new Rapp Well positioning, launched last year.

“Lilly wanted a partner that understood what it meant to use data and bring experience from outside healthcare to help it solve business problems,” Thomas-Copeland explains. “It was a summation of everything we've been working on.”

While the Rapp Well launch hasn't yet paid off in revenue — MM&M estimates the agency's 2017 take was flat at $120 million, while staff remained level at 600 — Thomas-Copeland believes it's just a matter of time before healthcare clients account for an increasing share of the total. For now, he says it hovers at between a quarter and one-third (roughly $35 million, per MM&M estimates).

Rapp also has a promising new-business story to tell. In addition to the Lilly win, the firm landed Ascension Health, a regional Catholic hospital system. It continues to work with a range of pharma and healthcare A-listers, including Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Gilead Sciences.

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Jon Carnero, who joined the agency this past year as head of health and wellness, North America, notes healthcare is the fastest-growing sector of the economy and believes the growth has been fueled by the industry's abundance of data. “It's helping patients, but it's also helping brands, which are learning that by understanding individual patients and their interests, they'll save money,” he notes. To that end, another crucial recent hire was SVP, strategy and analytics Amy Blasco.

Carnero adds new ways to look at patients and their data are causing clients of all sizes to think and act more like tech startups. That spills into Thomas-Copeland's biggest short- and long-term concern. “These new challenges and opportunities require we look at patients in different ways and ask different questions,” he explains. “How do we attract the people who can do that? Encourage them to stay? If we can't do that, we can't help our clients stay relevant.”

Rapp is also skilled in identifying new ways to sell old products, and the firm is especially proud of its Viagra ads for Pfizer Direct. “The campaign cuts through the clutter and gives a direct approach for the audience to engage with the brand — and actually receive the compound in a secure, discreet way,” Carnero says.
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