Rapp Worldwide’s New York innovation lab was envisioned as a place where members of the Rapp Well team can immerse themselves in the latest technology, hardware and branded experience trends. It’s a playground for agency creatives, a room of prototypes that already includes a wireless EEG wearable that can assess stress and a VR-based mental fitness station.

The lab is one of several vehicles through which Rapp Well has embraced the industry’s shift from product-driven to content-driven marketing and from campaigns to experiences. “It’s a practice-what-we-preach kind of thing,” says Rapp NY managing director Shari Reichenberg, who joined the company in November.

Reichenberg believes that the healthcare world has finally caught up to other verticals that have moved toward one-to-one communications and “creating for the individual at scale,” she explains. SVP, experience Ed McLarnon agrees, adding, “Gone is the day when you simply list your efficacy claims and say, ‘Job well done.’”

Rapp Well’s leaders feel the agency is well-equipped to thrive in the new environment — and through new circumstances stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. Its integration within the larger Rapp Worldwide network allows team members to draw inspiration from outside healthcare and find creative solutions inside it, notes global healthcare lead Justin Thomas-Copeland.

McLarnon, who joined Rapp last spring, points to the increasing diversity of the agency’s client work, from “huge, tech-driven transformation initiatives” to historically CPG-like use of social and content designed to bring a brand to life. By way of example, he references work on a patient support tool: In the span of 48 hours, Rapp Well managed to get a team of designers, developers and strategists into a room with a client and “deliver some real momentum” for a project that had been stalled for years.

NUVO rapp well

The agency’s parent, Rapp Worldwide, saw a 30% jump in revenue in 2019, from $150 million to $195 million. Rapp Well, meanwhile, enjoyed an 18% bump, from $38 million to $45 million. Two major wins, one from United Health Group and the other for Aimmune Therapeutics’ Palforzia peanut allergy drug, contributed to the growth. The wins offset the losses of work from Johnson & Johnson and Ascension Healthcare, both of which took assignments in-house.

Other Rapp Well roster mainstays include Pfizer and Nuvo Pharmaceuticals. Thomas-Copeland sees significant potential for organic growth, owing to the agency’s sustained commitment to digital innovation and data-backed insights.

“It underpins everything we do,” he explains. “Being able to have a language and engage C-suite clients with what is essentially what we’ve always done, and finding new levels of relevance, has been good for business.”

Look for Rapp Well to continue with 2019’s emphasis on talent attraction and retention. In addition to Reichenberg and McLarnon, the agency added VP, group business director Ashley Evens from CMM and VP, engagement strategy Ericka Kraus from MRY.

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

Breath of Life, a great representation of what the future is going to look like. It’s a compelling idea, and I would actually blow into my phone if it told me what my lung capacity was. Consumers want things that involve their Apple watches and iPhones and connected devices. It’s probably the best example of the stuff that we’re thinking about day-to-day with clients. — Ed McLarnon