In 2019, DiD Agency reorganized around client verticals, creating category-specific groups with the goal of offering deeper expertise. In 2020, that restructuring started to pay dividends — and perhaps helped the agency survive the pandemic.

Partner and chief customer officer Bill Fay explains that by “aligning the right talent to the right task,” DiD was able to expand its relationships with some clients, especially in Rx. When the
lockdown made things tough for teams that relied on in-person interaction, depth in other categories helped “hedge our organization” and prevented losses from spreading.

The adjustments seem to have paid off. Revenue increased 12% during 2020, to $25.3 million from 2019’s sum of $22.5 million. The agency added 10 people, reaching 140 at year’s end.

The new agency infrastructure allowed each group to stay focused on its particular category, which simplified challenges and led to creative breakthroughs — some of which, Fay notes, were portable to other categories. For an agency with a diverse client mix, that cross-pollination proved invaluable in a year that upended established working norms.

To clients, it was apparent in the form of a more tailored approach — think customization with proof of concept. “We’re architecting this around areas where we have a lot of expertise and we’re helping our clients innovate, but looking at those incremental improvements that are easier for the organization to get its head around,” partner and chief operations officer Elyse Cole notes.

Another upshot, Cole and Fay believe, is better creative. “What I’m hearing from clients and what I see in some of our competitors is there’s definitely a lot of interest in data and analytics — but I think there is just as much interest in the creative,” Fay explains. “We do both.”

Cole agrees, adding, “We pride ourselves on our ability to unlock opportunities for clients. That combination of creative insights coupled with the fact that we can bring creative executional playbooks to the table sets us apart.”

Clients responded in kind. More than half of DiD’s growth last year came from new business, including assignments from Reckitt/Mead Johnson, Novartis (on asthma injectable Xolair as well as an engagement with Novartis Global), FerGene (on a gene therapy) and Janssen (on the blockbuster blood thinner Xarelto).

DiD’s relationships with Novartis and Janssen, in particular, have proven fruitful over the past few years. “Almost 100% of how we’ve grown has been through a client who knows us and brought us in to pitch,” Fay notes.

For the Xarelto work, DiD was brought in when Janssen was struggling with the nuances of a custom-built care campaign. DiD put together a pitch focused on cardiologists that Janssen pitted against several competing ones, asking doctors to tell them what worked best. DiD ultimately emerged victorious.

“It’s nerve-wracking,” Fay says. “But at a certain point, you have to be confident in your creative.”

As MM+M went to press, DiD Agency was acquired by Lucid Group. The agency will continue to operate autonomously within the larger organization.

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The idea I wish I had…

The Power of Answers from the Mayo Clinic brings the organization’s mission to life in a fresh and powerful way. The video sets up a unique visual metaphor, contrasting the burden of uncertainty against the soothing power of an answer by showing its impact on the human brain. The animation uses the latest science to tell the story and creates a vibrant and stylized palette from the brain’s neurons and firing synapses. — Bill Fay