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BGB Group was born in 2005 as a medical communications shop. In the 18 years that have ensued, the company has bulked up its digital, payer, scientific consulting and PR functions to the point that it’s as full-service as agencies come. The two things BGB didn’t do, at least not until recently: stitch together those offerings in a more formal manner and engage with the broader media universe.

In both cases, BGB hadn’t seen a pressing need. The agency has grown smartly and steadily over the years, ending 2022 with 425 people under its roof (up from 402 a year earlier) and $123 million in revenue (up 3% over 2021’s take of $120 million). The growth attracted interest from the PE world and, in the summer of 2021, TPG took a big stake in the company.

“It’s no secret in our industry that a lot of independent agencies have merged or taken funding to become larger entities,” says Greg Passaretti, one of BGB’s two founding partners. “When we did that, we built up the capabilities that we’d pieced together with Scotch tape and bubblegum. We’re more sophisticated now.”

As for the media/awareness component, the agency had only so much energy to devote to external PR, according to BGB’s other founding partner, Dr. Brendon Phalen. “For us it was always about relationships and organic growth. We just kept going.”

Passaretti agrees, recalling that “the first five years were so overwhelming, in terms of each day presenting new opportunities and us barely keeping our heads above water. A few years ago, we realized that this was probably inhibiting us, and that true talent wants to go to a place that has a name.”

BGB had few problems on that front in 2022, growing its leadership team to include three new C-level positions. Additions included chief of business integration Art Chavez (who joined from Juice Pharma Worldwide) and chief digital officer Fred Bennett (from Bayer). The company promoted Kit Kempler to the new post of chief people officer and 13-year BGB veteran Teresa Day to president.

“We set out early in the year to beef up where we needed to,” Phalen says.

Day points to the integration role as a critical one in ensuring continued growth — and wonders why so few agencies have a person formally charged with such responsibilities.

“Some clients have separate agencies handling separate areas, but we don’t look at brands in terms of separate work streams,” she explains. “Art [Chavez] helps us think everything through from an operational standpoint. He’s helping find ways that we can fold things together.”

Doing so will be central to BGB’s efforts to further build out existing relationships with Bristol Myers Squibb (for whom BGB handles med ed for numerous Opdivo indications, among other assignments) and Affimed. Should the agency continue on its current path, the awareness piece of the puzzle will likely fall into place on its own.

“If we’re doing our jobs right, the perception of BGB in the marketplace should be, ‘Oh wow, it’s more full-capability than I realized,’” Passaretti says.

. . .

Our marketing role model…

I can’t help but think about Taylor Swift’s transition from tween country artist to pop icon. She has taken risks in putting her life, values and opinions out there, learning along the way, pivoting but staying true to herself. It’s not only her collection of Grammys that makes her stand out; it’s the fact that she doesn’t rest on them. She’s driven to continue to give more, to push harder to master her craft. — Priyanka Patel, EVP, medical director

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