Eversana Engage may not have formally debuted until the calendar turned to 2020, but the new agency brand — which encompasses the market-access moxie of the agency formerly known as The Access Group, the experiential focus of the former Patient Experience Project and more — was for all intents and purposes fully operational for the better part of 2019.

The agency made it look easy, even if it wasn’t. To hear GM Seth Gordon tell it, the leadership team first set about clarifying Engage’s market positioning. “Having our own name and brand versus being a part of the larger Eversana — maybe there was a little bit of confusion,” he explains. “It was about being a branded house, rather than a house of brands.”

To that end, Eversana Engage approached the self-branding assignment in much the same manner it would a client positioning exercise. “It was a diligent approach,” Gordon says, noting that he and COO Megan Jones did the “evening and weekend” heavy lifting to allow the rest of the leadership team to focus on client deliverables.

It’s a testament to the foundation they laid that Engage emerged on the scene as a fully realized entity. At the end of 2019, it counted 170 full-timers across offices in San Diego; Chicago; Berkeley Heights, New Jersey; and Saratoga Springs, New York. For the year, it generated $43.1 million in revenue.

Clients, both newcomers and legacy ones from the Eversana brands that came together to form Engage, clearly liked what they saw. Jones attributes this to both the “new” organization’s versatility and the deliberateness of the unification process.

Candela Rebrand Campaign_Journal Ad eversana

“One solution makes sense for them, just like it makes sense for us,” she explains. “We can get involved with clients as early as proof of concept and as late as loss of exclusivity planning. They knew their day-to-day teams wouldn’t change and they knew we would have broader resources.”

During 2019, Engage added assignments from AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Biogen to a roster that already included Novartis, Pfizer, Sanofi Pasteur, UCB and Spark Therapeutics. It lost one brand in the wake of Bristol Myers Squibb’s acquisition of Celgene (and the subsequent offloading of the brand to Amgen) and another when Lundbeck stopped promoting it.

As for obstacles, Jones points to the inevitable challenge of establishing and fostering a strong, distinct culture. She knows this firsthand: As the company’s unofficial culture guru, she has trained more than 300 employees in the Eversana way.

“It worked because we did it cleanly,” Jones says. “Eversana’s beliefs were laid down a year before Engage happened. Now that we’re all together, we can rally around those beliefs. We can march together toward them.”

Along those lines, Engage spent part of the first half of 2020 establishing a leadership development program, complete with regularly scheduled training sessions and a full curriculum. “Many agencies don’t have the luxury of being able to do that, because they’re so focused on the bottom line,” Jones says. “But for us, it feels essential.”

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

An ad for the Perlmutter Cancer Center at NYU Langone. For me, it struck an emotional chord regarding how a child is viewing the world of change and how the Perlmutter Center is embracing that change in the fight against cancer. — Seth Gordon