100 Agencies: McCann Echo Torre Lazur

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Bill McEllen, president
Bill McEllen, president

Momentum often leads to more opportunity, the axiom goes, and that's the case at McCann Echo Torre Lazur. The agency, which added “McCann” to its title to more closely link it with Interpublic Group's McCann Health network, grew organically, with more work in the diabetes, erythema and HIV/AIDS disease states. (Note: Branding changes took effect this month across five US agencies in the McCann Health network and are fully described in the profile for McCann Torre Lazur, p. 131.)

The incremental work stemmed from longstanding clients Novo Nordisk, Galderma and ViiV Healthcare, and the agency parlayed it into a 33% revenue increase for the 12 months to May 2012. Staff headcount grew to 133, from 125 at the time of last year's profile.

“What's driving our growth,” explains Bill McEllen, entering his fourth year as agency president, “is a lot of our existing business and taking on more business with existing clients.”

Some new clients joined this year, as well. Teva entrusted the agency with a CNS product, which McEllen declines to name. But most of the agency's growth was organic. It's a formula that has worked before.


In 2010 the agency leveraged a relationship with Janssen to pick up the global launch of Incivo, the ex-US brand name for Vertex's hepatitis C treatment Incivek.  McCann Echo completed the initial Incivo concept work and has turned over the campaign to McCann Health for regional adaptation.

The agency is building up its antiviral practice. ViiV Healthcare expanded the partnership to encompass the US contract for two investigational HIV products the firm is developing with Shionogi, a dolutegravir combination and a single-agent follow-on. McCann Echo already handles Epzicom, Selzentry and Lexiva.

Also new to the roster this year are Novo Nordisk's NovoLog Mix pre-filled diabetes syringes, and the NovoLog FlexTouch device business. The Danish diabetes giant's NovoLog and Levemir short- and long-acting insulins were already fixtures. And Galderma assigned the global launch of brimonidine for erythema, supplementing McCann Echo's acne (Epiduo Gel, Differin, MetroGel) and rosacea (Oracea) work for the company.

McCann Echo's momentum manifests in other ways. Having outgrown its old quarters in East Hanover, NJ, the agency this year moved about 10 miles north to Mountain Lakes, a suburban community started a hundred years ago. Its Craftsman-style homes were designed to appeal to frustrated New Yorkers seeking an escape from the city.

Just as the planners of its new hometown did back in 1911, McCann Echo took a rational approach to designing its new digs by surveying staffers for their preferences. “We did a brand archaeology exercise,” says McEllen, “almost a cultural survey of how people like to work and what they like best about the culture of the organization.”

One of the questions was, “If Echo Torre Lazur were a party, what kind of party would it be and why?” People tended to give a similar answer: “It was always an outdoor event, usually described as kind of like a backyard barbeque, where people were very comfortable in the environment and were always bringing something to the party,” says McEllen.

That element is brought into the design, starting with a floor plan that has plenty of areas for collaboration. Except that whenever a flat surface is called for, instead of a conference room with a table, staffers gather at picnic tables. “We took great pains to bring that outside environment in,” he says.
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