For years, when companies in the rare-disease space needed counsel on an important or vexing assignment, Cambridge BioMarketing was one of the first agencies they called. As a result, the company developed a reputation that belied its relatively modest size (the firm peaked at $25 million in revenue in 2019).
That’s probably why, when parent Ashfield Healthcare Communications rebranded as Ashfield Health in January and streamlined its 20 or so agency brands into seven, the industry was initially surprised to see the CBM brand disappear. Once they heard the thinking behind the decision to merge it with two sibling firms and reinvent it as Mind+Matter, however, the questions were replaced by enthusiasm around the new offering.
“The Ashfield vision for this was around the concept of immediate global scale,” says Mind+Matter global president Ben Beckley, who joined CBM as president in August 2019. “One of the quickest ways to do that was to put the three of us together.”
Mind+Matter unites CBM with the companies formerly known as Pegasus and Ashfield Digital and Creative, forming a 245-strong operation with well-established presences in New York, Boston and Oakland, as well as in the U.K. in Brighton and Manchester. The combined team boasts experience across channels, capabilities and conditions.
“We’ve got everything [CBM] was known for, but more in PR and digital and animal health and so many other places,” Beckley says. “What makes it work is that we all walk the same walk and talk the same talk. You could’ve picked up a desk in one of our agencies and put it in the office of another of the agencies, and it would’ve felt the same.”
While it seems counterintuitive, Beckley says conducting the rebranding/renaming exercise from afar was something of a blessing in disguise. “At first, we were looking at each other on Zoom calls and saying, ‘Why would we even attempt something like this right now?’” he recalls, adding that the distance allowed the companies to proceed smartly and deliberately. “Three agencies were coming together into one under the cover of darkness, you might say. There was no way we could’ve kept it a secret if we’d been in the office.”
Amid it all, the pre-merger Mind+Matter firms enjoyed a strong 2020 on the client front. To an existing slate that included Glaxo-SmithKline, Amylyx and Bayer Animal Health, the companies added business from a host of companies targeting underserved patient populations, among them Eiger Biopharmaceuticals, Hisamitsu and Sequiris. The firms collectively netted $39.3 million in North American revenue during the year.
That’s probably why any lingering nostalgia for the predecessor agency brands has been replaced by twin senses of anticipation and excitement. “Some people grew up with the old name, but when you think about it — a name is just the veneer, right?” Beckley says. “Who we are is the people, and we still have the people. We’re never going to lose that.”
. . .
The idea I wish I had…
#wombstories by AMV BBDO brings the complex stories behind women’s wombs to life through breathtaking animation and emotional storytelling. Each chapter in the film is illustrated by a different female artist, who tells a story about emotionally charged, taboo or “shameful” topics relating to women’s health. Well-chosen, well-placed musical notes are brought to life through vivid biological illustration, making this a creative masterpiece. — Ben Beckley