As far as eventful first years go, it’s hard to top what IPG Health’s Humancare has experienced since its launch in the middle of 2022.
Humancare formally debuted — or rebooted, depending on one’s familiarity with the McCann HumanCare agency, which was phased out at the end of the last decade — on June 13. It arrived just under a year after the FCB Health and McCann Health networks were merged under the IPG Health banner, becoming the second agency brand birthed by the newly unified organization. Needless to say, COVID-19 was still very much a factor at the time.
“Who the hell launches a creative services agency during a pandemic, right?” cracks group president Tammy Fischer.
Fast-forward seven months, and there was Humancare during the Super Bowl, engineering a well-received spot for Bristol Myers Squibb’s plaque psoriasis drug Sotyktu.
“We moved to a different kind of space very quickly,” Fischer says. “There was definitely a safety net with the support we had from Dana [Maiman, head of IPG Health], but the reality was we had the right talent and the right voice. It’s rare you get to do a startup this way.”
By the end of 2022, Humancare had 59 full-timers under its roof and an MM+M-estimated $17.5 million in revenue in its coffers. Within nine months of opening its doors, the company had snared AOR engagements with Bristol Myers Squibb, Madrigal Pharmaceuticals, Janssen, Boehringer Ingelheim and Alexion Pharmaceuticals, as well as project-based assignments from AbbVie and Genmab.
This, of course, created the kind of headache most agencies would love to have. “It was like, ‘Yay, we won!’ and then, after a minute, ‘Oh no, we won!’” recalls EVP, managing director/account lead Greg Lao. Fischer frames the dilemma slightly differently: “When you’re blessed with growth that maybe you didn’t quite expect, it’s a blessing — but that quickness is sometimes difficult.”
One issue Humancare hasn’t had to contend with is lingering association with the former McCann HumanCare. “I don’t know if the name was as intrinsic to the branding the first time around,” explains EVP, managing director/creative lead Lauren Cohen. “We saw the name as a gift, really. Some agencies have this long, overcomplicated set of words for their mission. Our mission is our name.”
Nor, Fischer reports, has Humancare encountered any difficulties with the cultural piece of the new-agency puzzle. She describes the company’s people as “adventurers and explorers” who “see the world differently.”
Cohen, on the other hand, likens the staff to a high-performing improv troupe: “There’s a lot of, ‘Yes, and …’ in the way we interact.” She touts the creative team’s recent field trip to the Brooklyn residency of the Museum of Failure, home to Google Glass and Bic for Her pens, as an example of the kind of outside-the-office bonding activity that resonates with Humancare’s creative staff.
As for what comes next, Fischer shrugs off the possibility that Humancare’s first year has set the bar uncomfortably high for the years to come.
“The world is still getting to know us,” she says. “That’s going to change by this time next year.”
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