MEI is all about the long term — both with clients and employees.
As EVP, account services Leslie Turner notes, a sizable percentage of the agency’s staffers have been around for quite some time — 10- and 20-year tenures are not uncommon, she reports. Not surprisingly, MEI continually strives to present itself as a long-term destination, rather than one job in a life of many.
Turner walks the walk: She has spent roughly half of her 18-year career at MEI, with the other half at sibling Medical Knowledge Group firm Synapse (see profile, p. 166).
“We are an agency that prides ourselves on longevity,” she says. “We want to be able to support people — not just at their current jobs, but in future positions and throughout their journeys in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Like most other agencies, MEI starts by hiring smart people from a diverse range of personal and professional backgrounds. But to hear Turner tell it, what really matters is when those individuals are assembled into teams.
“We dive right into the strategy, and it’s never just one person doing any one thing,” she explains. “We accept change and support our clients as situations change.”
Clients partner with MEI not just for a project or two, but for the long term — often decades, Turner says. Agency mainstays include Jazz Pharmaceuticals (for work on narcolepsy and idiopathic hypersomnia drug Xywav), Servier (on AML/bile duct cancer drug Tibsovo) and Zogenix (on Dravet syndrome drug Fintepla, now marketed by UCB after its acquisition of Zogenix).
MEI saw revenue rise by 9% in 2021, to $51.3 million from 2020’s take of $47 million. The agency opened the year with 155 full-timers under its roofs and finished it with 179.
MEI also added two new service areas in 2021: market research and digital thought leader identification. While Turner says that analytics-driven marketing is at the core of everything the agency does, she believes that the strength of the agency’s offering is its diversity. It generates considerable revenue from promotional medical education and professional web/mobile design as well as from market research/data analytics.
As for what comes next, Turner is as leery of making predictions as her agency-world colleagues, given COVID’s continued hold on the country (and its healthcare system). While she sees clients starting to move back to quote-unquote normal, she doesn’t know if they will ever get back to where they were in early 2020.
That’s why she’s so enthused by the flexibility and resilience MEI staffers have shown over the last two years.
“We can work quickly and we can adjust as needed, but we have the resources and strategic solutions you won’t find at another company of our size,” Turner explains. “We really pride ourselves on our work product, which is the best out there. We get things done — and get them done well.”
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Work from outside pharma you admire…
I am a big fan of Dove’s Self-Esteem Project. I love how the brand recently shifted focus to raising awareness about the impact of social media on young women. — Turner