Early in 2019, executives from Medexus Pharma made the trek to the fourth floor offices of Elevate Healthcare’s Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, headquarters — and ultimately contributed to one of the agency’s most fondly remembered moments of the year.

“We were the last agency to pitch for the business and we could tell we had chemistry,” recalls Elevate managing partner and cofounder Frank Powers. “But what was so great was that they called and told us we had won the business while they were in the elevator, heading out to their rental car in our parking lot.”

The presentation team had barely retreated to their desks when Powers called them back into the conference room to announce the win — for work on Rasuvo, an auto-injection treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. “It so seldom happens that fast, but it just speaks to the way we can bring life to brands,” he adds.

For managing partner and cofounder Lorna Weir, the Medexus addition had additional significance. During Elevate’s first five years, many of its wins stemmed from connections forged in past professional lives. However, Medexus represented a brand new relationship for Elevate and its people. “To have it click right out of the gate is super exciting,” Weir says.

Elevate added four other new engagements during 2019, which helped grow revenue to $6.9 million from $6.2 million in 2018. Additions included Recordati Rare Disease (for Cushing’s disease drug Signifor and a new product), Alfasigma USA’s medical foods; Johnson & Johnson’s Lung Cancer Initiative; and a corporate assignment for Joerns Healthcare.

To hear Weir tell it, the new-business success underscores how well Elevate’s commitment to challenger-brand positioning is working. “We knew we had identified an important pain point in the marketplace when we started five years ago,” she says. “And it has continued to pay dividends. We’ve grown every year and we are focusing on purposeful growth.”

staccato elevate healthcare

Since its inception, Elevate has attempted to craft an offering that appeals to brands facing challenges, whether they are going up against market leaders or defending turf against new entrants. “Companies we work with allow Lorna and me to access the data we need for our teams to do our job well,” Powers explains. “Sometimes that means taking strategic and creative risks or giving us access to the sales force so we truly can influence how the brand positioning and messaging should get out into the field.”

For many Elevate clients, members of the sales force serve as the voice of the brand, Weir adds. “So making sure we’re arming them with the platform and the messaging they need to have thoughtful, engaging and provocative conversations with healthcare providers is important.”

As for what comes next amid concerns of coronavirus, Powers has his eyes trained on high science and medical devices alike. “There is this intersection of drug-delivery devices, he explains. “We’ll see more in the way of robotics and tech-enabled healthcare, which will deploy drugs and even train physicians. We’re only seeing the tip of the tech iceberg so far.”

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

The strategic insight behind the B in the Know creative campaign from AbelsonTaylor, around hemophilia B, piques patients’ interest with arresting visuals that highlight lesser-known statistics, compelling them to question how well-managed their condition is. Smart work. — Frank Powers