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Concentric Health Experience started 2020 with two major assignments coming off its books. It resigned its relationship with Lupin on bacterial vaginosis drug Solosec because, as CEO and founder Ken Begasse puts it, “It was best for their brand and for ours.” Then AbbVie shifted its agency model, resulting in the loss of the AbbVie/Genentech blood cancer drug Venclexta.

“Right off the bat, that was about $6 million of work off of our P&L in 2020,” Begasse recalls. “Then we had the impact of COVID, which was probably another $6 or $7 million.” 

Given everything else going on in the world, Concentric didn’t have the luxury of worrying about the subtractions. Instead, it dusted itself off and ultimately finished the year up a tick — to an MM+M-estimated $53 million in revenue, up from 2019’s estimated take of $51 million. Additionally, the firm managed to weather the challenges without reducing head count: Concentric finished 2020 with 195 people under its roofs, the same sum with which it finished 2019.

“When you think about Concentric in 2020, the one word would be ‘resilient,’” Begasse says. “We replaced that $12 million or so that we lost in Q1 with some new business growth and some organic growth.” 

The agency’s fortunes on the new-business front proved a boon. It added work from Merck Animal Health on Bravecto, a flea and tick treatment that launched with a campaign featuring Best in Show’s John Michael Higgins. Other additions included assignments from Abbott Diabetes, Tremeau, the American Headache Society and the Commonwealth Project. The latter, on an effort to communicate with seniors on the recreational and medical use of cannabis, represents a push into a new category for Concentric. 

Some 65% of Concentric’s growth in 2020 came from existing clients. Begasse seems especially enthused about the addition of Sema-O, set to be launched in the second half of the year, from one of the agency’s longest-standing clients, Novo Nordisk.

“Sema-O represents the ability for healthcare to finally address one of the largest healthcare crises in the world: obesity,” he says. “This is something that can literally change the face of the world.”

Indeed, Begasse is incredibly bullish about the new perception of pharma in the wake of the push for COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. “Society has recognized that pharmaceutical companies are basically saving the world right now,” he explains. “The way in which pharma reacted — collaboratively, partnering to find solutions to this pandemic — is something I believe will persist as we tackle the health concerns of our time. True scientific partnership can be good, and profitable, for us as an industry.”

At the same time, the pandemic has changed the tenor of Concentric’s conversations with clients. “In a lot of our discussions, they’ll say they want ‘digital transformation,’ but what they are really talking about is business transformation,” Begasse continues. “They want to know how Concentric is going to help them transform their businesses in an environment where the comfort they have in their reps has been taken away.”

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The idea I wish I had…

SickKids VS: This Is Why, for the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. It shows viewers what they are supporting when they contribute and what kids are losing out on when they don’t. The campaign recognizes that these kids should be able to transcend their challenges with the support of the healthcare community.  — Ken Begasse