It’s been 10 years since Create NYC opened its doors. But even after a decade and an acquisition — by UDG Healthcare’s Ashfield Healthcare Communications unit in 2018 — the agency remains true to its founding methods and ideals, according to founder and president Natalie McDonald.

“We’ve reinvented the agency model to be fixed-fee and efficient in timelines and budget to focus entirely on execution of healthcare tactics,” she says. “We don’t focus on conceiving the next campaign. Most often we come in to complement the AOR that just created it.”

Once the campaign has been vetted and approved, Create NYC steps in to help the client and agency partner execute across channels. “Our sweet spot is all about operational excellence, whether the tactics are brand new, significantly overhauled or little bitty minor changes having to do with rebranding or refiling pieces that have expired,” McDonald adds. 

After a 2018 that saw revenue drop 5% to $14.1 million, Create NYC rebounded in 2019. Revenue jumped 26% to $17.8 million. The bulk of the growth, some 70%, came from existing clients, though the agency added 26 assignments. Many came on board to avail themselves of Create NYC’s new Studio offering, which focuses on small edits (e.g., a job code updated, a logo swapped out) to already-approved programs and materials. Such a service is often needed in the wake of acquisitions, mergers or other events that prompt rebranding efforts. 

Take Create NYC’s work on behalf of Takeda. The agency supported the company during its acquisition of Shire by using the Studio capability to make minor changes to existing brand marketing materials.

“We came in and we essentially created a custom process to efficiently overhaul those materials and incorporate the new branding in a shortened amount of time and for significantly less budget, without burdening the marketer or the marketer’s AOR,” McDonald explains. 

BMS Clinical Trials_Creative

To service the additional business, Create NYC added seven staffers, raising the overall sum to 44 at the end of 2019 and 53 at the end of the first quarter of 2020. Like the rest of Create NYC’s employees, they work almost entirely virtually. 

Indeed, the agency has pushed telecommuting as a business strategy since its inception, which is coming in handy during the current COVID-19 crisis. Last year it doubled down on that strategy, adding to its mix tools like Workfront product management, human resources platform Workday and At the start of 2020, the agency added a training department to foster better execution and help employees build their skill sets.

McDonald adds Create NYC is simultaneously building out its operations department. “Adding a center of excellence will allow us to stay on the cutting edge of operational specifics, whether they’re digital or related to what’s happening in social media, how ads are changing over time or how our clients are looking to review, approve and execute different types of tactics over time.”

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

Kyowa’s Mythbusters-style disease education site,, is great because it addresses bite-sized, critical pieces of the cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) disease story. It also creates an engagement opportunity by using click data to identify where the gaps in information exist, versus what content was clearly communicated. — Natalie McDonald