After nearly 20 years as an independent entity, CG Life embarked on a new chapter at the end of 2022 when it entered into a strategic and investment partnership with private equity firm Shore Capital Partners.
Shore wasn’t the first organization of its kind to approach the agency. But according to managing partner Steve Johnson, it was the first PE suitor whose culture aligned neatly with CG Life’s.
“It’s not about consolidation and squeezing nickels for them,” Johnson explains. “It’s about growing the business and growing opportunities for all of our employees, and that really got us excited. They see our science expertise and its value, which will allow us to go out and find like-minded agencies to add to our growth.” To that point, Johnson expects that CG Life will acquire two additional agencies before the calendar turns on 2023.
The Shore deal served as a dramatic final act to 2022, a year in which CG Life otherwise continued to grow steadily. Revenue increased 13%, from $12.6 million in 2021 to $14.3 million, while staff size nudged upward from 62 full-timers to 69.
Managing partner Erik Clausen reports that much of CG Life’s recent focus and growth have been in the realm of cell and gene therapy.
“On the therapeutic side, it has really exploded during the last two or three years,” he explains, noting that this played to the agency’s strengths. “We realized that we actually have quite a bit of experience with companies supporting cell and gene therapy and manufacturing and some other services. We looked around and thought, ‘Well, there are all these companies in this space, and we understand the therapeutic part.’ So it became a concerted effort to showcase our knowledge and subject matter expertise.”
As for recent work that exceeded expectations, Clausen points to CG Life’s integrated campaigns for the launch of Illumina’s multiomics analysis approach and Vizgen’s Merscope genomics platform. While CG Life has worked with Vizgen for a few years, the product launch effort showcased the agency’s expertise.
“We were able to launch with an entirely new creative campaign that carried all the way through to trade show booths and the PR around it,” Clausen says.
Indeed, the post-pandemic return to trade shows is top of mind for CG Life as it plots its course forward.
“When COVID happened, clients had to shift overnight and completely replace whatever they were doing in person with digital engagement,” Clausen recalls. “This year it flipped back. We’ve had clients say, ‘We need a conference strategy. We need trade show booths and collateral. We want to run events.’”
While Clausen and Johnson have sensed some general economy-related hesitation during client conversations, they remain bullish about CG Life’s prospects heading into the second half of 2023.
“Our new business efforts have been better in the first quarter of 2023 than ever before, which is crazy,”
Johnson says. “But a couple of clients — some of our bigger clients — have tapped the brakes a little bit. They want to make sure that they’re structured properly as things move ahead.”
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Our marketing role model…
Ferris Bueller. While a fictional character from arguably the best film of the ‘80s might seem like an odd choice, we believe Ferris displays qualities enviable of good marketers. He has an insatiable drive to seize the day and not let any opportunity go wasted. He goes to great lengths to find success. He lifts up those around him. And, finally and importantly, he always tries to find the fun along the way. — Johnson