According to EVP, managing director Mardene Miller, “It’s not my job” isn’t an answer often heard at Neon.
She shares this to celebrate the spirit of collaboration among the agency’s staffers and their willingness to take a stab at tasks that might sit outside the strict definition of their roles.
“What makes us so powerful for our clients is that everyone has a voice,” Miller explains. “We speak our minds. We say what we need to say when we want to say it. And we flex across talent and skill sets in ways that other agencies don’t.”
Neon enjoyed a growth spurt during 2022, increasing staff size from 260 people at the start of the year to 328 at the end of it. Revenue grew 27%, from an MM+M-estimated $52 million in 2021 to an estimated $66 million in 2022.
That growth came on the back of new AOR engagements from Janssen, Pfizer, Sanofi, Xeris Pharmaceuticals, Incyte and Novartis. They joined AbbVie, Genentech and Regeneron on Neon’s client roster.
Neon’s “Light the Way” internal mantra, adopted in 2021, continues to inform the way the agency goes about its business. Miller notes that it’s designed to address an industry reality: that, for patients facing serious disease and HCPs lacking ideal treatment options, the path ahead often looks very dark.
“Fear motivates us,” Miller explains. “We try to take our clients on this journey to do things that they might never have done before. The way we do this is by illuminating the truths that are going to get us the best strategy and the best work possible to change behavior, as well as change the hearts and minds of our clients’ customers.”
That’s likely why Miller counts The Last I’m Sorry, a campaign engineered with Safe in Harm’s Way to raise awareness around domestic violence, among Neon’s proudest recent achievements. The campaign included a series of billboards highlighting different insights for different types of relationships. Additionally, Neon team members created a “very simple” technology, per Miller, to eliminate any trace of a person visiting the campaign website in the event that an abuser is monitoring internet usage.
“The project was a total labor of love,” Miller says. “While for obvious reasons we didn’t track specific engagement, we’ve seen enormous engagement with the website and many unique visitors following the launch of these independent billboard campaigns.”
As for what comes next, Neon plans to bolster its mentorship program to provide stronger support for junior-level employees in remote working environments. Some staffers who joined the company during the pandemic’s peak, Miller notes, never received the customary guidance around workplace expectations and time management.
For clients, Neon hopes to bring forward a “more authentic” omnichannel experience. “We are putting ourselves deeper into the hearts and minds of our clients’ customers,” Miller explains. “We want to develop work that closely aligns with the real-life experience that our clients want to give to their customers.”
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Our marketing role model…
Ryan Reynolds is a brilliant, passionate marketer who also happens to be an actor. He understands the power of humor in marketing and isn’t afraid to use it, even when it comes to really serious stuff like colon cancer. Reynolds clearly and consistently ignores the norms of marketing to focus on what works — which, in his case and in life, is often novel and original, not to mention extremely entertaining. — Miller