Given the data and IT infrastructure might of parent company TATA Consultancy Services, it was no surprise that, upon its debut in 2015, TCSinteractive Life Sciences led with its digital know-how. Relationships with any number of pharma and device companies were forged, but the agency soon realized the limitations of its approach.

“When you go to pharma and say, ‘We’re a pure technology company,’ they don’t always listen to you,” says TCSinteractive Life Sciences president Debashis Ghosh. “They want you to know the science.”

And so it was that the agency quietly started to recalibrate. At the end of 2018, it hired Johnson & Johnson and Merck veteran Alok Ghosh to serve as chief commercial officer, and charged him with increasing the company’s strategic and tactical breadth.

“The thinking was that with all the great relationships we had, why not take a shot at the creative portion?” he recalls.

To that end, 2019 saw TCSinteractive Life Sciences bring in former Sandbox chief innovation officer Geoff Melick as executive creative director, a post in which he’ll oversee the company’s marketing and creative services function. Similarly, over the course of the year it added capabilities around customer journey mapping, HEOR and market intelligence.

The tenor of the agency’s conversations with clients quickly shifted. “Pharma companies are looking for partners who can bring in technology and data along with creativity,” Debashis Ghosh says. Alok Ghosh agrees, adding, “Marketing no longer wants to have to go ask three different people and companies for data. They want access to the best stuff right away.”

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TCSinteractive Life Sciences realized that opportunity during 2019, with revenue increasing 11% to $36.7 million from $33.1 million. While the agency is close-lipped about revealing client details, Debashis Ghosh points to work on a connected clinical trials platform for Johnson & Johnson as a highlight. “It fits with my broad goal of ensuring that the patient journey will make a difference,” he says.

That philosophy drives the agency’s work. “Many years ago, I said, ‘Engineers are the new doctor,’” Debashis Ghosh continues. “I say this with respect — my father and grandfather were physicians — but technology and data can bring in power that’s unheard of. You can change the experience of patients when they’re on a gurney.”

That’s why the company is looking to hire a raft of UX people, though they remain coveted commodities in the agency world. “They’re so much in demand, because even in R&D and clinical trials everybody wants an experience like Amazon,” Alok Ghosh says.

Even as the COVID-19 crisis continues to rage, TCSinteractive Life Sciences expects to see growth in the second half of the year. As to the question of how much growth, it depends on whom you ask.

“I’m not going to tell you that we’re going to be AOR for a blockbuster tomorrow, but we’re right on the cusp,” Alok Ghosh says.

Debashis Ghosh sets the bar slightly higher. “Unless you quickly become a significant player — my benchmark is $100 million — you are not in the big leagues,” he says. “I want that mindset in our teams. Let us run really fast.”

The best marketing we saw in 2019…

The Real Cost, from the FDA, effectively exposes the hidden health risks kids face every time they vape. It employs dark special effects, reminiscent of sci-fi movies popular with this age group, to depict vaping as a parasite that damages users’ lungs and brains. The Real Cost has stopping power; its visuals are unexpected, alarming and engaging. — Alok Ghosh