Invivo Communications has been all digital, all the time since 1998. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there was much excitement in the halls when the agency’s cache of Microsoft HoloLens 2 augmented reality headsets arrived a few months back.

What’s more surprising is that the agency’s enthusiasm for deploying such technology has only recently been reciprocated by clients, even as the majority of pharma marketers have long since boarded the digital bandwagon. “Last year, there was an idea that the technology wasn’t enterprise-ready. People were mostly talking about pilots,” explains Invivo CEO Andrea Bielecki. “Now they’re saying, ‘OK, let’s do this.’”

That Invivo has received a series of go-aheads amid the COVID pandemic speaks not only to pharma’s appetite for innovation but also to the agency’s unique ability to leverage technology in clever and appealing ways. “It’s our vision to transform medical affairs for the digital age,” says SVP, client services Kristina Sauter. She points to mixed reality applications, data visualization tools and e-learning efforts as the types of projects on which Invivo excels.

Invivo’s vision was on proud display during a 2019 that saw revenue surge 33%, to $20 million from $15 million in 2018. The firm enjoyed significant growth on the client front, adding assignments from Biogen, Alexion, Rhythm Pharmaceuticals and Legend Biotech to a roster that includes Pfizer, Novartis and Medtronic. It grew head count by 15 people, driving its total to 105 full-timers.

Invivo has always been ambitious in its use of technology, but the agency took things to a new level on an e-learning project created for Sanofi Genzyme. Over the course of 18 months (and counting), the agency created a global training program that featured 62 different e-learning modules, live workshops and supporting collateral materials.

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“It helped us refine our adult-learning principles and it forced us to finesse our internal processes and workflows,” Sauter reports, noting that at one point during the year more than half of Invivo’s people were actively engaged on the project. “We know how to scale a team to support that kind of work effort.”

Were there growing pains amid the surge? Bielecki acknowledges that onboarding new team members presented some challenges. “Keep in mind that we’re not a traditional agency. We do so much with technology that there’s lots of learning on the job.”

Also, she wonders whether the larger agency universe is fully cognizant of the breadth of Invivo’s capabilities. “I’m not sure everyone’s aware how we’ve grown, whether in our strategy and consulting offering or advisory board planning or medical writing,” Bielecki adds.

The agency has staffed up to accommodate the tactical expansion, adding everything from UX designers and animators to account people and project managers. Overseeing it all is newly hired VP production Craig Cook, who arrived from Klick Health.

Up next: More remote collaboration and training solutions in COVID’s wake — and more fun with the HoloLens 2 sets. “We’re poised to be even more of a partner during this transformative time,” Sauter says.

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

The UNICEF campaign #VaccinesWork that launched during World Vaccination Week targeted parents and social media users with messages that vaccines are both effective and safe. UNICEF also created a beautiful animated video for social channels and exceeded its targets on the first day with over one million engagements. — Kristina Sauter