CMI/Compas spent a good deal of its energy and resources during 2019 building up its tech-enabled offerings — specifically, the firm’s media planning and customer targeting platform PROACT and its media planning tool Empower, which launched in early 2020. According to CEO Stan Woodland, PROACT and Empower helped fuel the agency’s 17% revenue growth to $144 million in 2019 from $123.4 million in 2018.

The company’s offerings have caught on with clients, Woodland says, because they allow it to work effectively across both patient and HCP audiences, providing customer and social insights for a range of stakeholders. “More and more clients are giving us responsibility for both audiences,” he explains. “They see the business results when we’re able to integrate them as efficiently as we do.”

The Empower platform, for its part, represents a step forward in an area in which CMI/Compas has long operated. While the agency has had a dedicated consumer media practice for a number of years now, Empower expands that capability even further and truly provides integrated DTC and HCP planning.   

Social has been another significant area of growth for CMI/Compas, fueled by insights derived from a proprietary social listening platform.

“The concept of social listening is consistent with our philosophy of truly understanding our clients’ customers,” Woodland says. “It allows us to make much better decisions and address needs and expectations for each of the various customer stakeholders in real time based on direct feedback from customers.”

Another big addition last year was the launch of a growth and innovation practice, led by Justin Freid. This, according to CMI Media president Susan Dorfman, helps dispel the dated perception that CMI/Compas is “just a media agency.”

She adds clients have long since dispensed with such thinking. “We are a data and insights agency,” Dorfman continues. “Our clients use us for different things, but it makes the most sense when they bring all of the services together. So far, we’ve been everything except a creative agency — but once in a while we come out with some creative as well.”

Empower cmi/compas

CMI/Compas saw staff size increase by more than 100 full-timers in 2019, driving the total from 453 at the end of 2018 to 562 a year later. The agency also tweaked its leadership structure, appointing Dorfman president of CMI Media and John Donovan president of Compas. In late April, it promoted Freid to the post of chief growth and innovation officer.

Nearly all of CMI/Compas’ growth during 2019 — some 95% of it — came from existing clients. Despite the chaos created by the coronavirus crisis, business was up double-digits during the first few months of 2020 from the same period a year earlier. Roster mainstays include Merck, Eli Lilly, Genentech, AstraZeneca and Boehringer Ingelheim.

Asked to identify a seminal victory during 2019, Woodland points to the agency’s successful defense of an account it has held since its founding in 1989. While he declines to share the name, given CMI/Compas’ long association with GlaxoSmithKline and the very high-profile agency review GSK conducted last year, it’s not too hard to put the pieces together.

“For a 30-year-old startup company like ourselves, having to defend and win that client again was a big moment,” he says. “But it was just as big when they shared why they made that decision, which was because we deliver on our promises. When we say something is real, it is real.”


The best marketing we saw in 2019…

The most powerful health marketing centers around audience wants and needs. The Dove Courage is Beautiful campaign by Ogilvy does this beautifully as it focuses on the critical contribution of HCPs. We look deeply into their eyes, see the scar-like marks from their protective masks and feel in our hearts how much they are risking and how hard they are fighting for all of us. — Stan Woodland