Click here for the Page Turner.

When asked to reflect on 2021, Concentric Health Experience founder and CEO Ken Begasse references one of his agency’s Ten Commandments: “None of us is as great as all of us.”

The phrase comes to mind for him in the context of Concentric’s launch of weight-loss drug Wegovy for Novo Nordisk. Amid the pandemic, the agency had planned a huge rollout — “and then the client accelerated the timeline by 10 months,” Begasse recalls. “It took around-the-clock efforts from everyone to be able to make it happen.”

Complicating matters slightly: At the same time, the agency was launching Evkeeza, a drug that treats an ultra-rare form of high cholesterol, for Regeneron.

“What we did well last year was pivot from mass markets to niche and rare disease marketplaces, and still be able to deliver successful launches,” Begasse notes.

Then there was the challenge posed by the firm’s work for Danish biotech Zealand, which had charged Concentric with work on a campaign for hypoglycemia injection Zegalogue.

“We galvanized the team, solidified the vision and started moving the needle on its products,” Begasse recalls. “But then the organization decided it was going to cease all commercial operations and reinvest in its pipeline. That was a client that we were growing with, then boom! All of a sudden, it’s no longer here.”

Despite the extreme circumstances and headaches, Concentric thrived during 2021. Revenue jumped from an MM+M-estimated $42.5 million in 2020 to an estimated $47.5 million, a 12% gain. New business included assignments from Takeda (on Crohn’s disease drug Alofisel), Medtel (corporate work) and Puma Biotechnology (on breast cancer drug Nerlynx).

Staff size grew from 175 full-timers to 185. Among the notable additions were management supervisor Alex Kooluris (from Merkle) and SVP, creative director Gabrielle Sprance (from Havas). 

“Another commandment of ours is that you need to be comfortable being uncomfortable,” Begasse says. “2021 was a year where we were comfortable not knowing what was going to be thrown at us next.”

Among Concentric’s recently added assignments, Begasse was particularly proud of several campaigns for Abbott, including work on the company’s game-changing BinaxNOW COVID-19 at-home test.

At the same time, he returned to Wegovy and the agency’s increasing volume of work in the obesity realm. While Novo Nordisk isn’t a new client — the agency works on multiple Novo brands — Concentric has clearly impressed the company with its flexibility. Begasse believes the relationship has brought out the best in his firm, which is eager to work on campaigns that push back against stigmas and bias around certain medical conditions.

“There’s nothing more exciting than working in categories that are either underserved or underappreciated by the healthcare system, as well as by humanity in general,” he says. “Having an integral role in shaping the way the world sees and treats people with weight management challenges is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” 

. . .

Work from outside pharma you admire…

Like pharma, the insurance industry must elevate an intangible product into a favorable and consistent customer experience — and Progressive’s Dr. Rick campaign is brilliant in leveraging the universal fear of becoming our parents (and having to make adult decisions, such as buying insurance). It takes everyday “parentalmorphosis” about overthinking simple decisions and aligns it with Progressive’s core tenet: comprehensive insurance made easy. I eagerly await the next one. — Begasse