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If there’s one universally held business truth gleaned from two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s likely to involve the value of remote working. Yet felt just as collectively in medical advertising circles is the corresponding loss: Whither the unrehearsed huddles, off-the-cuff catch-ups and spur-of-the-moment schmoozes?

“A downside to the way we’ve all been working the last few years is that spontaneity has been eliminated,” laments Elevate Healthcare co-managing partner Lorna Weir. “Everything is scheduled and on Zoom.” 

 It’s a challenge the agency hopes to overcome with the design of its new hybrid office space. Located in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, the new digs “tap back into the power of spontaneity,” Weir says, by featuring an open plan and a variety of functional spaces, each suited to the task at hand. 

Hot-desking? Check. Couches and booths? Double-check. Laptop hookups in the kitchen and lobby? Covered.

“It’s truly an inclusive space, and hopefully it gets folks back in the office in a way that they feel safe and comfortable,” notes co-managing partner Frank Powers.

Elevate saw revenue shoot up 33% to $10.2 million last year, from the prior year’s haul of $7.7 million. Hiring continued apace, with a dozen more full-timers — including one executive-level hire, practice lead, CX Derick Sumrall, increasing its end-of-2021 total to 55.

The agency added five assignments, including work on the redesign of NORD’s heavily trafficked website and an engagement with DePuy Mitek Sports Medicine. In other cases, former clients such as Sentynl Therapeutics and Thea Pharma “rediscovered” the agency.

For Thea, Elevate was initially engaged to launch a corporate website. Now, thanks to Thea chief commercial officer Chris Pearson — whom Powers knows from the former’s days at Shire — the agency is professional AOR for an Rx eye drop, one of nine Thea is planning to bring to market by year’s end. 

In the loss column, the agency resigned two accounts, AlfaSigma and Insulet. “Sometimes both client and agency realize not every relationship is a perfect one,” says Weir. 

That said, you’ll excuse Powers and Weir if they allow themselves a victory lap in the wake of the virtual staff onboardings and launch activity executed under extenuating circumstances.

“We feel like we’ve done well through one of the most seismic events ever, at least for our generation,” says Weir. “We’ve established great relationships with clients and continued to build the kind of organization and do the kind of work that drove Frank and me to start Elevate.”

Going forward, the execs are excited about the agency’s ongoing foray into medtech and what they learned through
COVID-era launches such as Velys, which involved creating a 3-D immersive environment at a time when most orthopedic surgeons actually had the time to use it. 

“In today’s day and age, you have to meet your customer where they are and empathize with what they’re going through to give them what they want quickly,” says Powers. 

Weir agrees, adding, “Everyone shifted way left to digital with the pandemic, so that means everybody’s getting overloaded. If you’re not creating that experience, then it could be for naught.” 

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Work from outside pharma you admire…

Can the power of a brand help people reengage in the isolation of a pandemic? Cadbury created its Worldwide Hide campaign, which attempts to reconnect people through the power of generosity, to find out. Participants bought Cadbury Eggs for others, “hid” them virtually on Google Maps, then created personalized clues to find them. Once found, the real eggs were delivered to their homes, completing a shared brand experience that reconnected people. — Weir