Calcium’s 2022 was mostly about investing in itself. When a pair of potential acquisitions failed to come to fruition, the company launched a trio of new divisions. Medcomms arm Vitamin MD is headed up by SVP of client growth and engagement Brad Quosig; PR unit PRotein by managing director of PR and brand ideation Stacey Gandler, who joined Calcium from Red Havas; and oncology specialist group Amino by associate managing director Josh Righter, formerly of Evoke.
Calcium saw another significant internal change in March, when founder and chairman (and CEO Judy Capano’s husband) Steven Michaelson retired after a long and successful career in the agency world.
Amid the changes, business bounced back, with Calcium reporting that it won seven new assignments in Q4 of 2022. Overall, Calcium saw revenue drop 11% in 2022, to $44.5 million from the $50 million generated in 2021. The agency is said to work with Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Genentech and Organon, among other pharma A-listers.
“It was a challenging year for our entire industry,” Capano says. “We feel lucky we didn’t have to lay people off, as so many agencies and networks did.”
While staff size shrank from 139 full-time staffers at the start of 2022 to 129 at the end of it, Capano notes that the reduction was “a result of attrition rather than layoffs.” In Q1 of 2023, Calcium staffed up to accommodate the business added at the end of 2022, hiring 21 people. “We feel that our strategy is extremely on target,” Capano says.
More validation came in the form of a critical meeting late in the year. It took nearly five hours and a 95-slide presentation deck. But by the time Capano and managing partner/group president Greg Lewis finished presenting the company’s strategic plan to its equity investors in December, they had won over the room.
“To have all seven of them sign off on everything, including aligning our divisions and our talent acquisition approach, was incredible. It felt like the culmination of a lot of hard work,” Capano recalls.
Look for Calcium to boost its new offerings in the months ahead via acquisition. On the client front, Lewis expects the agency to concentrate on pitches for breakthrough-type products.
“Our team gets very excited about treatments that are going to change the paradigm for patients in a meaningful way,” he notes, adding that industry change has been occurring at an unprecedented pace. “Our client partners have fully woken up from COVID and things are fast, furious and sometimes frantic,” he continues. “Our goal is to continue to be an agile partner, driving clear, strategic points of view that help nourish brands with clarity and focus.”
As for more worrying trends, Capano acknowledges the inherent risk that comes with being a midsize agency swimming in a sea of networks. “It’s critically important for us to align ourselves with clients that appreciate and utilize all of our services,” she notes, adding that when clients look to consolidate and/or focus on price and volume discounts, “it becomes very difficult for us to participate.”
This story has been updated.
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