Propeller’s status as a well-regarded digital agency crystallized in the crucible of COVID. In 2021, it reaped the windfall — and in early 2022 it was promptly snapped up by a network.
2021 saw Propeller grow revenue to $15.6 million, up 87% from 2020’s take of $8.4 million. It did so by helping everyone from Novartis and Janssen to newer med-tech companies evolve their omnichannel marketing mix.
“Clients we had for a long time became a more integral part of the everyday business,” says founder and president Charlie Flax.
Staff count nearly doubled, from 45 at the start of 2021 to 85 at its conclusion. The sum reached 120 as of mid-April, with the firm investing in strategy, production, UI/UX and design talent.
Propeller’s standout year did not go unnoticed. Earlier this year, Omnicom Health Group scooped up the shop for an undisclosed sum. The agency will continue as its own brand within OHG.
Part of what made Propeller an attractive target was its ability to activate digital programs at speed. But to hear Josh Prince, CEO of OHG Professional Group, tell it, the jewel in the agency’s crown is its omnichannel practice. Omnichannel, he noted in an earlier interview, “is a different degree of maturation with many of our clients.” Which is to say: Expect to see Propeller helping OHG’s clientele make the same leap.
By way of example, take its work on behalf of Novartis’ Cosentyx. The brand has always had an appetite for digital, Flax says, but didn’t go all-in on its dermatology and plaque psoriasis indications until last year.
“They did a good job recognizing that, regardless of one indication or another, you’re still talking to the same one customer,” he explains. “And when you’re keeping customers in the center — which is what omnichannel really is — the conversation around them needs to be fluid and consistent. The Cosentyx team actioned on that.”
Propeller similarly helped Janssen brands Uptravi, Opsumit and Stelara strengthen their omnichannel engagement, including integrating HCP social into the media mix.
Flax says the agency prides itself on staying a step ahead, not just in its communications but also in its customer list. To that point, Propeller’s client base is 75% pharma and 25% medical devices, with a mix of traditional brands and newer device/drug combos and diagnostics. 2021 additions included med-tech firm HemoSonics and Innocoll, maker of non-opioid pain relief devices Xaracoll and Posimir.
For Xaracoll, Propeller is working on a TikTok program involving digital opinion leaders. The effort, as one would expect, focuses on younger doctors — “that generation of surgeons that learns through social media,” Flax says.
Flax sees potential for layering Propeller’s omnichannel offering with Omni Heath, OHG’s data platform. And after running his own shop for 16 years, he’s looking forward to getting to know the holding company model from a new vantage point.
“I get to run and grow the business, but experience a different corporate structure,” he says. “Yes, it’s a bit of an adjustment, but I’m looking at it as an incredible learning opportunity.”
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Work from outside pharma you admire…
The Domino’s Pizza Carryout Tips: Because You Earned It campaign is brilliant. A coupon initiative is not novel nor new, but reframing a $3 coupon as an “earned tip” satisfies the customer financially and leverages a creative delivery incentive to help Domino’s with its shortage of workers. While other pizza chains may offer promotions, Dominos was different in delighting the customer and motivating them to order more and more. — Flax