These nine up-and-coming firms are nibbling at the heels of the Top 100 and are looking to make waves in the industry.
Revenue: $2.1 million, up 614%
The agency, founded in 2017, clearly found its footing in 2019. It upped its technology bona fides by adding Siri, Alexa and Oculus capabilities, leading to new work from UCB (on Crohn’s/RA drug Cimzia), Solta Medical (on skin and liposuction treatments) and RegenXBio (medical affairs). Heller also bolstered its offering by installing David Gokhin in the new role of director of scientific services and hiring VP, creative director Jim Haag and group account director Kelsey Webster away from fellow San Diego agency Carling Communications.
Revenue: $3.6 million, flat
Thanks to the additions of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, The Audacia Foundation and the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research, the agency met its 2019 goal of increasing its presence in the healthcare space. Given the types of organizations with which it has traditionally worked, it’s no surprise that another key advancement came in the form of enhanced engagement and fundraising analysis, which taps a wealth of data to identify candidates and craft more effective messaging.
Revenue: $4.5 million, down 24%
Despite the revenue decline, promotional medical education specialist JB Ashtin remains one of the few well-regarded firms based outside the NYC/Philly and West Coast corridors. It enjoyed a strong year on the new-business front, adding Aptevo Therapeutics, Annexon Biosciences and the University of California San Diego to a client roster that includes Celgene, AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Companies. The agency’s scientific know-how and Midwest location on the outskirts of Detroit make it a good fit for clients looking for project support.
The Matchstick Group
Revenue: $1.2 million, up 85%
The agency spurs far more enthusiasm among clients than nearly every firm that counts fewer than five full-time employees under its roof. Also, it does so in the increasingly competitive realm of medical devices, with SomaTx Design (for MySmartKnee), Misonix (for the Nexus surgical platform) and Teleflex Medical (for its Arrow Catheter) joining Becton Dickinson on the agency’s client roster during 2019.
Revenue: $3.9 million, up 13%
The firm has expanded beyond its traditional PR base to include professional and consumer marketing. Of the agency’s 50 client relationships, 39 are AOR engagements — which is the kind of ratio firms 10 times its size would envy. New additions to the roster during 2019 included organizations spanning healthcare categories from point of care (CheckedUp) and imaging (Pentax Medical) to medication management (TouchPoint Medical) and ophthalmic diagnostics (Heidelberg Engineering).
Pavone Marketing Group
Revenue: $3.5 million, up 21%
During 2019, Pavone snapped up two practices, NetPlus and Phalanx Digital, giving its burgeoning health group the technology chops to compete with firms twice its size. Perhaps not coincidentally, the firm’s reputation among health clients now equals its rep among nonhealthy WellSpan and Insulet among its clients.
Red House Healthcare Marketing
Revenue: $3.1 million, down 2%
It’s a $3 million firm that weathered the loss of a $1 million client (MedeAnalytics, which took its work in-house), yet still managed to finish the year more or less flat. That’s no minor feat. The rare small agency with generalist bona fides, Red House replaced the lost work with new assignments from Spectrum Enterprise, Vatica Health and Emprint. They joined McKesson, the Mayo Clinic and Bayer on the agency’s roster.
Revenue: $4.8 million, up 17%
The agency’s self-branding as “the cultural change agency” isn’t just empty bluster: Few firms have a better understanding how to navigate the complexities that come with marketing to Hispanic audiences. In 2019, the firm effected a change in leadership — longtime Sensis Agency DC managing director Sharon Carothers was promoted to head up SensisHealth — and added the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to its roster. It continues to work with the CDC as well.
Revenue: $3.7 million, up 19%
This firm actually walks the “we operate like an innovation-minded startup” walk. In 2019, Sonic added strategic game development, described by the firm as “applying familiar game mechanics to insight and workshop frameworks for clients,” to its offering. Clients are clearly buying into its thinking: New additions during 2019 included Pfizer, ResTORbio and Erytech, who joined Jazz Pharmaceuticals and Zogenix on the firm’s client roster.