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When she reflects back on 2020, Elevate Healthcare managing partner Lorna Weir describes the year as a test — and one on which Elevate earned high marks.

“We are, by our nature and because of our experiences, people who are comfortable with fluidity and dynamic situations,” she explains. “We pressure-tested our culture, our organizational structure and our model, and it has served us well.”

Elevate jumped revenue by just under 12% in 2020, from $6.9 million in 2019 to $7.7 million. Head count increased by nine people, from 34 to 43 full-timers. Weir believes the “high-touch nature” of Elevate’s offering demanded the staff expansion.

Elevate Healthcare

On the client front, Elevate added six new accounts, including business from Assertio, Eyevance Pharmaceuticals, Insulet, LivaNova, Mycovia Pharmaceuticals and Shield Therapeutics. Looking back on the additions, Elevate managing partner Frank Powers sees one as especially emblematic of the agency’s strengths.

“It’s a new product launch occurring later this year in the oral iron space,” Powers says, referencing Shield’s Accrufer. “We were selected based on our category experience and our creative acumen, and how we can hit the ground running. Speed in this environment is a true asset.”

The account serves as another example of Elevate’s focus on what Weir characterizes as challenger brands. “We do our best work with clients who are ready to do things differently and look at the world differently,” she explains.

Powers agrees, adding, “There is more of a need now for brands that are not the market leader to make noise in order to be noticed. In a year that’s been disruptive, it’s more important than ever for brands to be disruptive.”

Most of Elevate’s 2020 growth was organic. But despite the preexisting client relationships, Powers believes the year’s unusual and unprecedented nature fueled the agency’s approach — and resulted in some of its most creative work to date.

“Our campaign for Signifor Lar [a Recordati Rare Diseases drug used to treat acromegaly and Cushing’s disease] speaks to how special the rare disease community is, and the brand’s messaging and visuals signal the benefit of the product quickly,” Powers explains. “It started with the positioning and partnering with the client to make sure we got the strategic position of the brand correctly. Only once we get to that singular insight can we do what we do best, which is bring that insight to life creatively.”

As for the second half of 2021 and beyond, Powers and Weir are bullish. Like many agency leaders, they continue to miss the camaraderie and creative spark of office life. On the other hand, even as Elevate navigates its way toward a still-to-be-fine-tuned hybrid remote/in-office model, the company has maintained its focus on day-to-day work and relationships.

“There’s a hunger for more collaboration and in-person connection,” Weir says. Powers, who reports that Elevate is “anticipating a big year,” adds, “We have been busy out of the gate with a number of product launches. Heads are down and client work is getting done.”

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The idea I wish I had…

Quality healthcare shouldn’t depend on gender or skin color, but there is ongoing unconscious bias in healthcare — such as Black patients being 34% less likely to be prescribed appropriate pain medicine. We admire The Call and EmpowHer NY/The Bloc for their courage in actively demonstrating the bias that is talked about but rarely addressed. It’s the kind of work and activism to which we should all aspire. — Frank Powers