The Bloc | 2017
PerformanceRevenue was flat from the previous year at $42 million
Plans“Relentless focus on creating best-in-class work and scaling our diversified business model”
— Jennifer Matthews
Prediction“Data and technology will continue to transform our ability to make a difference in people's lives”
— Susan Miller
Putting a mirror up to the challenges their clients face, The Bloc founding partners Susan Miller and Rico Viray noted an industrywide focus on creating future value. In turn, the agency has upped its own pace.
“It's critical that we be on par with our clients,” Miller explains. “The shift away from the small-molecule, mass-market approach translates to our side, so we need to create scientific pieces for patients, providers, and caregivers they can understand.”
The Bloc mainly handles high-science projects in the primary-care space, but has expanded its expertise to accommodate providers, genomics companies, and device companies, among others. The agency's 174 staffers have similarly become skilled at working at the intersection of health and technology.
As the industry continues to evolve through consolidation and partnerships, new ideas are pushing to the fore.
“Genomics is the next big trend that will affect everything we're doing,” Miller says. To that end, Human Longevity, a genomics company based in San Diego, named the agency as AOR.
The Bloc dove right into the company's service offerings, including the launch of humanlongevity.com. “[Human Longevity] partners with pharma in R&D, which speaks to where health and wellness is headed,” notes Jennifer Matthews, president and managing partner.
The Bloc is also partnering with a few organizations attempting to unlock the potential of smart pills. Notably, the agency won an AOR designation from Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, currently pairing its anti-depressant, Abilify, with Proteus Digital Health and its ingestible sensor technology.
HAP Innovations and its automated medication management solution also landed on The Bloc's new-client tally. “HAP is a great example of an organization built with a newer business model,” Miller says.
“Our experience working with big pharma helps us guide them through secret backroads and around barriers in a nimble fashion.”
Overall, The Bloc snagged 18 new assignments in 2016, including a global AOR oncology assignment for Astellas Pharma. It generated $42 million in 2016, which means revenue growth was flat.
To service the likes of AstraZeneca, Genentech, and Pfizer, the firm built Bloc Alley, designed to meet the needs of startups and healthcare technology companies.
“Smaller outfits have aggressive budgets and require a more flexible model,” Miller shares. “For big pharma, we rely on our global reach and depth of bench to launch brands while balancing their organizational demands.”
It also tweaked one of its affiliated offerings and retagged Indigenus, an international network of independent healthcare agencies it founded 13 years ago, as The Bloc Partners this year. “It's not just a name change, but a unification of the network behind the Bloc brand,” Matthews points out.
The Bloc gave a good bit of 2016 to self-reflection, emerging with an articulate rendition of its raison d'être. As the agency's new tagline puts it, “To strive to be great to do good.” Matthews sums it up: “We're in this business to improve health and impact patients' lives in positive ways.”