In medical marketing as in life, timing is everything. Alas, Havas Health Plus’ ambitious plans for its redesigned and hybrid-work-friendly offices nearly became another victim of COVID.

“We made the office space comfortable and inviting, the type of place people would want to collaborate in,” recalls agency president and chief creative officer Allison Ceraso. “It turned out to not be needed.”

But with agency life returning to something akin to normal, Ceraso has noticed a distinct change in the way Plus staffers are approaching the new space.

“Now that we’ve turned a corner with the virus, we see a lot more activity and excitement about being together in person again,” Ceraso says.

The 4-year-old agency had what Cris Morton, group president of Havas Health & You, describes as one of its strongest years to date. Revenue jumped 6%, from an MM+M-estimated $42.5 million in 2020 to an estimated $45 million in 2021. 

Head count rose from 210 people at the start of the year to 220 at the end of it, with Plus reeling in a handful of established agency leaders. EVP, associate managing director David Pflug arrived from sibling firm Havas Health Wave; EVP, creative director Howard Lenn from TBWA\Health Collective; and SVP, operations Ed Lau from R/GA.

Plus also created the new role of EVP, customer experience and tapped former Closerlook exec Alecia Dantico to fill it. Right as MM+M went to press in late May, Plus announced the arrival of Dan Rubin as president. He most recently served as president of 21Grams Gotham, a division of Real Chemistry.

Plus claimed a Pfizer/Myovant Sciences co-promote among its 2021 client wins. It continues to work with Amgen, Janssen and Novartis, and remains the HCP agency for Sanofi Genzyme/Regeneron blockbuster Dupixent.

The Plus team found success — and gratification — in its work on an unlikely collaboration between temporary tattoo company Momentary Ink and cancer advocacy group I Had Cancer. The two organizations united to design the first line of temporary tattoos for cancer survivors with scars.

“It was amazing to see all of the women not only co-design and collaborate on these tattoos, which were generated from the heart, but also wear them with pride over their mastectomy and lumpectomy scars,” Ceraso says. “That’s normally a very taboo area. We talk about breast cancer generally; we don’t mention the scars and the surgeries and the details of the process.”

Whatever challenges 2021 might have thrown her company’s way, Ceraso is optimistic heading into the back half of 2022.

“In 2021, we were still experiencing the COVID hangover and fear, which was causing us to react,” Ceraso says. “In 2022, we’ve taken the reins again and our clients and teams are much more proactive. We’re back to being risk-takers again and thinking of so many ideas for the future.”

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Work from outside pharma you admire…

The Bread Exam is a beautiful example of how we can expose sensitive subjects through deep cultural insight. The coded language they created for a silenced topic in Lebanon helped women overcome taboos and empowered them to fight breast cancer in a comfortable, familiar way. — Ceraso