Triple Threat Communications has long positioned itself as “The Un-Agency.” For owner and managing partner Tim Frank, that means the agency has presented itself as an oasis for big-agency veterans who, tired of internal politics and bureaucracy, crave a return to the more rewarding work of helping clients build brands.
It’s a positioning borne of Frank’s own experience. Prior to founding the firm in 2005, he spent eight years at the agency formerly known as Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare.
“When I started Triple Threat, I had moved up within the networks and I realized I wasn’t doing what I wanted to be doing,” he recalls. “I loved working with clients and solving their problems. I didn’t get into this business to manage five or six teams and prepare spreadsheets.”
The agency’s culture faced a test of sorts, however, in 2020. When revenue spikes from $14.3 million to $20 million — representing a 40% gain amid the most turbulent circumstances imaginable — and head count surges from 49 to 85, can “The Un-Agency” still operate like an outsider?
Frank believes that it can, and it will. “The people here are just different, so it doesn’t matter how big we get,” he responds. “That DNA will stay the same. At least through last year, our environment and our culture have held strong.”
A big percentage of Triple Threat’s 2020 growth came via the addition of a large AOR engagement on a new AstraZeneca brand in the cardio-metabolic space. Frank, who notes that Triple Threat has been working with AstraZeneca for more than a decade, says that the particular agency/client pairing is unique and strong — which, obviously, isn’t always the case.
“We aren’t right for every client,” Frank says. “They have to be open to senior people doing the day-to-day work and having a lot of say and opinions.” Other roster mainstays include Sobi and Innocoll Pharmaceuticals.
Among the talent added during 2020 was omnichannel strategist Steve McGinniss, who arrived from MRM//McCann. There, he served as SVP, group account director, with responsibility for the firm’s Cigna work.
“We brought him on because he has a ton of experience in omnichannel — and most important to us, it’s not just in pharma omnichannel,” Frank notes. “He has the ability to look at it all, from digital to reps going into offices. We were excited to find someone who is very senior and very strategic, and who can lead us as we go further in this direction.”
As for the challenges presented by the pandemic, Frank says Triple Threat took them in relative stride. Given that many members of the team have worked remotely for some time, the agency’s transition to all-virtual-all-the-time proceeded without incident.
As much as Frank missed the office camaraderie, he more acutely felt the lack of opportunities to meet with clients in person. “Marketing is a contact sport,” he stresses. “It is important to be with our clients as much as possible.”
While Frank reports that Triple Threat has enjoyed a fast start in 2021, he has no illusions that the agency will surpass 2020’s pace. “We won’t have the growth that we had last year, but we are expecting to maintain it and end up a bit higher,” he says.
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The idea I wish I had…
The Area 23 campaign for Daiichi Sankyo’s Injectafer [10% of a Campaign] took guts on the agency and client sides. It used a ton of white space — just 10% was used for the ad itself. It was all about the fact that only 10% of some medications are absorbed into the body through an oral administration, but with Daiichi Sankyo’s injectable you get close to 100%. — Tim Frank