The Top 75: Euro RSCG Life Catapult

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Launched last year as a conflict shop to the network's now-defunct x2 marketing services agency, Catapult has come into its own this year as Euro RSCG Life's Princeton outpost.

The shop, which formerly shared space with x2 and the professional arm of MetaMax, now has New Jersey to itself, and seems in a hurry to fill out the space. The agency's staff has grown to 150 from 120 a year ago on the back of revenue growth north of 30%, according to president Jeff Hoffman, who credits the firm's integrated offering. “Clients are taking to this business model because they don't have to tell the same story seven times,” he says.

The shop gained, in part, from assuming the Princeton business of its siblings when they moved out. Much of the new business since has been project work, Hoffman said, declining to give the details.

Catapult offers strategy, professional promotion, science visualization, medical education, managed markets, digital and meetings and compliance practices, all rolled up into what Hoffman boasts is “the first truly unified agency.” Catapult employs “brand champions” to “really transcend practices, and the goal is to start with the strategy and analytics and bring together one unified team for a brand and give them a much more unified approach, so you're not pulling from seven best-in-class companies,” says Hoffman. “Everything for us is in one footprint, one location, and each one of our practices is truly best-in-class. We're not just an inch deep.”

The shop specializes in working on brands from the earliest stages of development. “We're starting much earlier in the medical communications continuum as to where we can service the client,” says Hoffman. “It's really full lifecycle management. We can start with our managed markets people right at the CRO level. We can start to look at all the pub planning and the unbranded promotion that needs to be done and take it all the way from Phase 2 to mature product.

Hoffman was managing director of x2 before joining Catapult as managing director. He became president of the agency in February. Catapult has also brought on: Frank Cotugno, who moved over from LM&P, as chief creative officer; Darren Taylor, as creative director for digital; Sara Butterworth, as practice lead for medical communications; and Pat Chenot as EVP, director of client services.

The shop's largest client is Sanofi-Aventis, for which it is AOR for the US. Other big clients include: Bayer, for VEGF Trap-Eye; Endo for Voltaren; Savient for Pegloticase; ViroPharma for Thinrise; Pfizer for Lyrica medical communications and Takeda for scientific visualization on some developmental products. Around a tenth of the shop's work is consumer-facing, the rest of it being more or less evenly divided between traditional professional marketing, scientific visualization, managed markets, medical communication and digital work.

In recent months, Catapult has created a platform for virtual convention booths, which it executed for Sanofi-Aventis' Lovenox and Wyeth/Amgen's Enbrel. The shop also developed PowerRep, a rep-based tool for shrinking field forces.

Challenges faced by the agency include managing rapid growth and maintaining focus on creative business ideas, says Hoffman. “Obviously, diversification and landing new agency of record accounts as a full-fledged agency is a big priority,” says Hoffman. Feedback from clients so far has been positive, he says. “The number one comment I get is ‘Man, if our brand teams could do what you've done internally, it would be amazing.'”

The firm has branded the term “Catapultology” for use on Twitter and elsewhere in the social media space, on the principle that: “Those who want to get to the future, brand their own vernacular,” says Hoffman.

“It's about getting you to the future first,” says Hoffman. “It kind of goes in line with the whole network philosophy. We have to do better, be there first to catapult your brand.”
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