When Evolution Health Group opened its blulava innovation lab early last year, it expected big things. But it wasn’t until the agency pitched for work from Roche’s diagnostic division last October that the agency realized just what an edge it gave them.

While the agency had a relationship with Genentech, it hadn’t previously worked with Roche. “We were a new entity it had never met before,” says Evolution managing partner Carolyn Vogelesang Harts. The two-hour meeting led to “an incredibly robust conversation about core values.” 

The agency’s executive team was certainly gratified upon hearing that it had won the business, but Vogelesang Harts says that was almost beside the point. “We were just so proud that with the inclusion of blulava capabilities, we delivered one of the tightest, most cohesive, strategic, visual and innovative pitches we’d ever made.”

Evolution picked up a total of 15 new accounts in 2019, spurring a revenue jump to $36.6 million from $32 million in 2018. Additions included BioMarin’s Valrox, a gene therapy for hemophilia. “We’re excited to be expanding into more cutting-edge therapies,” managing partner Andrea Lanzetta says.

The agency also added Lundbeck’s eptinezumab, an IV treatment for migraine prevention; Sun Pharma’s octreotide, a hormone drug used to treat some cancers; and Sun’s Levulan, which treats moderately thick actinic keratoses of the face, scalp and upper extremities. From Ferring, it added Adstiladrin (for treating tumors of the bladder) and Firmagon (for lowering testosterone in prostate-cancer patients).

myPatients_evolution health group

Other wins included AstraZeneca’s Roxadustat, to increase hemoglobin in chronic kidney disease, and seven new brands from Takeda. Those included Gammagard, for adults with multifocal motor neuropathy, and Obizur, for the treatment of acquired hemophilia.

New hires increased the agency’s head count to 138 across three offices, including its Pearl River, New York, headquarters and outposts in Philadelphia and Montreal. Evolution has put its plans for an additional office on hold due to the pandemic, however.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” says Vogelesang Harts. “Obviously we’re pitching virtually, but we still can close and win business. In times like these, people turn to people they know and trust, and that’s how our customers view us.”

Indeed, Evolution has put much thought into the establishment of its virtual new world, and especially the challenge of maintaining its culture from afar. “It’s not about people just doing their work,” says managing partner Mark Edfort. “You’re not eating lunch with colleagues or wandering by their desks to brainstorm. So it’s not just about how to keep employees productive, but how to keep them engaged.”

Beyond that, Evolution expects that recruitment will remain its biggest challenge in the months to come. “We need to make sure we’re keeping our teams engaged and feeling positive and connected,” Vogelesang Harts adds. Notable recent hires included blulava EVP Michael Stevinson, formerly managing director, executive principal of Icon Global Medical Communications, and director, talent acquisition Jon Mufson, previously president of Mufson Associates.

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

The information that Johns Hopkins University of Medicine is putting out about the coronavirus is just amazing, especially the interactive maps. — Mark Edfort

This profile has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Andrea Lanzetta and correct the attribution of the quotes.