The Top 75: Euro RSCG Life Catapult

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Euro RSCG Life's Princeton outpost, launched in 2008 as a conflict shop handling Sanofi-Aventis' Lovenox, continues to diversify its client roster and has grown so much that it's looking for new digs.

The shop saw 10% organic growth in the past year, says president Jeff Hoffman, and about 35% topline growth. More importantly, the shop won eight new accounts including a managed markets assignment for Novartis' cardiology and oncology brands, along with a digital assignment for Glivec and Tasigna; the med ed account for a Biogen Parkinson's drug in development; and the professional advertising account for Organogenesis.

The shop continues to handle Lovenox and is in the midst of launching Prevnar 13 for Pfizer.

“Most of our work has been centered on getting through this huge diversification and getting away from being predominately a Sanofi-Aventis agency, which is what we were originally set up as” says Hoffman.

It seems to be working—Novartis is now the shop's top client, followed closely by Sanofi-Aventis and then Pfizer, followed by Medimmune, for which Catapult is working on a lupus drug in development.

“Where we're having really good luck is where the brands we're working on start off in the market development phase,” adds Hoffman. “So, we're working on that pre-launch to launch, with the ability to then ride the wave through to an in-line product.”

Eight out of 10 of the brands the shop has won are in market development, says Hoffman, “but, now what's happening is our practices are getting so deep within each specialty that they're winning agency of record accounts within the practices, getting their foot in the door and then expanding when the clients realize everything can be done out of a single agency.” Catapult also uses a “brand champion” model of account leadership, ensuring a single point of contact for clients across a brand.

While headcount remained steady in 2009 and the first half of 2010, Catapult beefed up its digital and managed markets practices, each of which are approaching a third of revenues. The shop hired a new creative director for copy after executive creative director Frank Cotugno left. Peter Villucci joined Catapult from Saatchi & Saatchi Healthcare Innovations. The agency is also hiring a creative director for art.

“We're restaffing and rebuilding our creative department,” says Hoffman, who hastens to add that the shop saw less than 5% staff turnover last year.

Catapult also hired Philip Sjostedt from Helix to lead Medicom, its medical education offering, and its market development offering as managing director of the Americas.

One of the highlights of the year was the shop's launch of a proprietary “Digital Scientific Community.”

“It's in keeping with our ‘Digital at the core' focus,” says Hoffman. “It's an avatar-led gaming system. It uses avatars kind of like the Wii that you can use for market research, advisory boards, speaker training, consultancy meetings and sales training. We've had a really good reception from the market for this because doctors can actually do this right at home. They don't have to go to meetings anymore.”

The agency is also working on mobile app development, with iPhone and iPad apps in the works. “We keep getting requests to come in and pitch based on that model,” says Hoffman, who projects “another 20%-30% topline growth” for 2010, following a “fantastic” 2009. “It's unbelievable. We've outgrown our space.”
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