The Bloc experienced a rough 2022, with revenue dropping 22%. The agency’s goal for 2023, not surprisingly, was to right the ship — and global CEO and president Jennifer Matthews believes it did so, even if the numbers don’t yet show a return to growth.

Revenue was essentially flat at $42 million, down just a touch from 2022’s take of $42.2 million. “It’s working out pretty well,” Matthews says.

However, she adds that she doesn’t believe the revenue figures “tell the true story” of 2023. “We identified and put some key leadership in place, which was a major focus for us,” she notes.

The additions included a quartet of seasoned executives: global chief creative officer Stephanie Berman, who arrived from Hill Holliday Health; head of creative and experience Adam Hessel, from Ogilvy Health; and EVP, managing director Matt Silver and SVP, director of applied behavioral science Tara Rice, both from McCann Health New York. Overall, staff size was roughly unchanged, with the company starting the year with 182 full-timers on hand and ending it with 180.

The Bloc also sought to grow its global footprint via acquisition and partnership. The two 2023 purchases were Thenewway, one of Italy’s largest health communications agencies, and X-Ray, a full-service creative shop from Switzerland. Meanwhile, a joint venture with Serviceplan Group helped The Bloc bolster its presence in Germany.

The Bloc creative sample

“We went from being a New York-based agency with an office in Manila to being a true global agency with a footprint in North America, Asia and Europe,” Matthews enthuses. “At The Bloc, we don’t do anything by halves: Rather than just buying one agency, we decided to buy two and set up an office in Germany. Our clients expect us to be global and we are now more credibly so.”

The Bloc enjoyed a solid year on the new-business front, adding engagements with CSL Behring, Bristol Myers Squibb, Amgen, Novo Nordisk and Novartis to a roster that already included Pfizer, Sanofi and Regeneron. Matthews notes a shift back toward consumer-oriented work, which followed a stretch of leaning into HCP-focused projects.

The Bloc did find itself victimized by a common agency scourge, however. “Consolidation has not been our friend, generally speaking,” Matthews says, pointing to Merck’s oncology consolidation as one of the year’s major hits to The Bloc’s bottom line. “It’s difficult when that happens — but having said that, right now we’re sitting in a very good place with the number of clients that are going through roster reviews.”

That “very good place” now includes a consultancy division, which formally opened for business in September. “It’s always been there, to be honest, but it is now a more formal offering,” says chief innovation and growth officer Jay Appel. “It’s more credible than it’s ever been, given the backgrounds of the folks that we’ve brought into the organization.”

All told, Matthews remains extremely optimistic heading toward the second half of 2024. “As of the past couple of weeks, we are ahead of pace,” she says. “I can’t wait for this discussion a year from now.”

. . .

Work we wish we did

The CeraVe campaign with Michael Cera was well done. The Super Bowl ad was surrounded and extended in the social space in a really fresh and authentic way that was right on brand. — Matthews

Click to see The Bloc’s Agency 100 2023 Profile.

Click here to return to the MM+M Agency 100.