Asked to assess the new business added by MicroMass during 2020, president Rosanne Johnson enthuses about a slate that includes new assignments from AstraZeneca (three), Amgen (two), Bristol Myers Squibb, CVS Health and Incyte. But she speaks with particular pride about the agency’s work on EMD Serono’s fertility franchise, another recent addition.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to provide a very compassionate experience to a patient population and their family as they go through very difficult and emotional times,” Johnson says. “So that has been rewarding both from the perspective of the work we’re doing together and from the ability to understand the humanity in that situation.”

Drawing on that humanity is at the core of MicroMass’ approach, which leans heavily on a deep and keen understanding of behavioral science. The goal: To develop novel insights into the “person inside the patient.”

Micromass Communications

“Humans aren’t static creatures, but a lot of times in marketing we treat them that way,” explains EVP, strategy Rob Peters. “But because MicroMass has almost 30 years of behavioral-science expertise, it helps us think a bit differently about things that influence how people move through healthcare experiences …. It’s these human dynamics that are really key to connecting people to pharma brands — and, ultimately, to better outcomes.”

Revenue at the agency was flat in 2020 at an MM+M-estimated $32 million. The firm ended the year with 115 people under its roofs, one fewer than its total at the start of the year. It made two significant additions: VP, strategy Manuel Segovia, who arrived from L2C Sports, and Johnson herself, previously executive director at VMLY&R. Longtime agency president Alyson Connor departed in April to serve as CEO of Ocozzio, a marketing firm. 

Peters counts additional work from existing clients among the year’s highlights, pointing to the Novo Nordisk additions as particularly gratifying. “We’re working with a team that’s not just focused on the brand and support services that are provided. It’s a team that is focused on overall patient experience and sits across multiple brands,” he notes. “It’s helping us shift the focus of our work from being tactical to being more strategic and overreaching.”

Having access to the resources of its parent Ashfield Health network certainly didn’t hurt, Johnson adds. “We’ve had a tremendous amount of movement in creating additional connections. Ashfield Health has unified and strengthened as a network, and the collaboration of the agencies within it has as well,” she says.

Johnson characterizes the addition of work from Amgen as a “collaborative win” with MicroMass’ corporate siblings. She’s particularly bullish on the firm’s budding partnership with
Ashfield Engage, which offers everything from medical affairs muscle to market access expertise. 

All of this taken together makes Johnson believe that MicroMass heads into the second half of 2021 — and beyond — with the wind at its back.

 “It’s certainly been a year of change in many ways. It’s been a year of leaning into the unpredictability of business and of the world, and just embracing it,” Johnson says. “We’re going to emerge as stronger, more culturally competent, better client partners and humans.”

. . .

The idea I wish I had…

The Idea I Wish I Had: It would be easy to say something in telehealth or virtual communication, but one idea that stands out is AstraZeneca’s new digital platform Amaze. It stands in stark contrast to pharma’s reputation of being overly conservative and siloed in its approach to audiences. Amaze promises to keep everyone in patient care engaged, informed and connected. AstraZeneca’s collaboration with major health systems and local governments shows that it values an approach where every patient matters. — Rosanne Johnson