In sports, there’s an old adage about how minor setbacks frequently lead to major comebacks.
That’s the context in which The Bloc’s leaders are choosing to view the company’s 2022, which was characterized by its volatility in the wake of COVID-19. However, they also believe the short-term struggles set the stage for a 2023 rebound.
Let’s get the numbers out of the way up front. Revenue for the year was $42.2 million, down 26% from $56.7 million in 2021. Head count dropped from 200 employees to 182.
The company finished the year with 23 clients, down from 33 at the start of 2022. It counts Sanofi, Regeneron, Takeda, Pfizer and Amgen among its roster mainstays.
That said, The Bloc — one of the leading independent players in an increasingly consolidated space — has put into place a plan to right the ship without the need for outside investment. This involves diversifying services domestically and globally as well as driving scale to compete with larger agencies, most of which are backed by holding companies or private equity firms.
CEO Jennifer Matthews reports that The Bloc’s plan revolves around further bolstering its omnichannel and analytical offerings. But she stresses that it wouldn’t be working if the company hadn’t first expanded its leadership team.
To that end, The Bloc brought in former Bristol Myers Squibb executive director of worldwide engagement and channel planning Jay Appel as the company’s first chief digital officer in late April 2022. He was initially charged with “fueling growth, which plays into his experience leading digital transformation and omnichannel strategies,” Matthews says, adding that Appel — formerly a Bloc client — has revitalized the agency’s digital operations.
Also in April 2022, The Bloc bolstered its creative chops with the addition of former H4B Chelsea leader Christian Bauman. At the time, he described The Bloc as “the Droga5 of healthcare, the most exciting independent agency in healthcare …. It’s one of the most respected independent agencies, period, in any space.”
Beyond luring A-list personnel, The Bloc devoted considerable time and resources to Bloc Intelligence, a suite of services targeted at clients pursuing HCPs and other high-opportunity customers.
“Depending on where our clients are at in terms of their sophistication, we can use these services to help them optimize their spend and understand how they’re engaging with customers to reach their own business goals,” Matthews explains. She adds that The Bloc also debuted a five-component analytics suite during 2022.
When asked about the road ahead, Matthews acknowledges the macroeconomic headwinds facing agencies of all sizes, independently owned or otherwise. Still, she believes that The Bloc remains well-positioned for growth in the months and years to come.
“We’ve always punched above our weight,” she says. “There are always challenges, but we see far more opportunity than we do downside. I think we’re gonna go big. That’s the plan.”
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Our marketing role model…
Tom’s, a company focused on giving back and making a difference. This aligns with our “why”: Be Great
to Do Good. — Matthews