Butler/Till Health employees don’t just work at the company —  they own it.

The decision to pivot to an employee stock ownership program (ESOP) was made in 2011. During the pandemic, however, it had the effect of helping the agency remain competitive for top talent at a time when such talent was in increasingly high demand.

“Because we are employee-owned, there is a different value proposition: You are not only an employee, but you are an owner,” explains VP, client management Keith Betz. “We recognize that our employee owners are really our products; we are selling our people and our ideas. So we know that just as we help our clients grow, our employees help us grow as well.”

As a Certified B Corporation — a designation almost unheard of in the world of marketing agencies — Butler/Till is required to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency and legal accountability. The designation also requires increased transparency, such as in its supply-chain practices. 

“Clients understand where every dollar they spend goes and how it performs, which gives an extra layer of accountability,” Betz notes. “In media, our clients need that confidence to trust where we are spending their media investments.”

Judging by the agency’s results, clients were plenty confident during 2021. Butler/Till revenue jumped 38%, to $37.7 million from $27.3 million in 2020. Staff size increased from 186 to 235 full-timers by year’s end. Key additions included CFO Scott Chapman, who arrived from Partners + Napier.

Butler/Till expanded its service offering as well. It now offers content marketing to help clients create unique brand voices, Betz says. Similarly, the agency increased its video capabilities, assembling a dedicated in-house team of video specialists. 

2021 was also filled with acquisitions, of clients and an agency alike. Butler/Till snapped up digital-first shop Digital Hyve in June 2021, while new business claimed during the year included engagements with Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceuticals, Axsome Therapeutics, Phathom Pharmaceuticals, TG Therapeutics and OraPharma.

The newcomers joined client mainstays Amgen, Greenwich Biosciences, Bausch + Lomb, Salix Pharmaceuticals, Global Blood Therapeutics, the University of Rochester Medical Center, Hologic, Rigel Pharmaceuticals and Takeda on the Butler/Till roster.

“It all comes down to unlocking the potential of our people, which unlocks the potential of our clients,” Betz says. “We are confident that the next year is going to be one where we can flourish and grow — largely because we have already been flourishing and growing, but mainly because we don’t know any other way, honestly.”

This story has been updated to accurately characterize the timing of Butler/Till’s move to an ESOP.

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Work from outside pharma you admire…

I really like Google’s Coda ad that focuses on the live caption speech-to-text capabilities in Google Meet. It’s such an elegant and heartwarming way of showing the real-world benefit of technology. — Keith Betz, VP, client management