The Top 75: Euro RSCG Life Chelsea

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Euro RSCG Life Chelsea has seen some churn in senior management since Ed Stapor ascended to a network role last year. Stapor's successor, Bernie Coccia, left the firm for Draftfcb after less than a year at the helm. In his place, Euro RSCG Life installed co-managing directors Steve Nothel and Michael Peto in April.

Nothel brings to the table more than two decades' worth of agency experience in marketing to healthcare professionals, having spent several years at Chelsea predecessor Robert A. Becker before serving as director of client services for five years at Chelsea. Peto brings consumer and client-side experience, having spent several years at Chelsea's biggest client, Wyeth, and several more at Euro RSCG Life's Catapult, where he headed the digital practice. Also new is chief creative officer Christian Bauman, who moved over from Euro RSCG Life LM&P to replace Scott Tanelli.

Formed from a merger of the Becker and Questar units of Euro in 2004, Chelsea aims to trade on the chic, arty vibe of the downtown Manhattan nabe from which it takes its name. It's also an agency of “intellectual energy,” says Nothel. “We're about being proactive and analytical, responsive and strategic.”

It's been a break-even year for the agency, holding steady at around 105 employees. In recent months, the shop has won several pieces of new business, including assignments for: Novartis/Endo's Voltaren Gel, for which it launched consumer and professional websites; a new client they declined to name, citing confidentiality agreements (but it's in the top 10, says Peto); and an oncology drug from biotech Proteolix in Phase 2. The firm didn't lose any business in the last year.

Chelsea handled the professional launch of Wyeth's Effexor follow-on Pristiq with its “Think Beyond Start” campaign, which broke last year, playing up the SNRI's simple dosing and tolerability. “It's an evolved, multichannel campaign with a focus on the importance of keeping patients on therapy,” says Nothel.

Wyeth makes up about a third of the agency's business, and Chelsea took a hit last year when two of big Wyeth brands it handled, Protonix and Effexor, went off-patent. Now the company is being acquired by Pfizer. “That always results in some uncertainty,” says Peto. “We're trying to work through that and work with our customers closely, regardless of what the outcome is, but overall we're in pretty good shape.”

Other big clients include: Shire, for Lialda US professional and international work on Mezavant and Pentasa; Bristol-Myers Squibb, for which Chelsea handles Baraclude, Atripla, Reyataz and Sustiva; and EMD Serono, for which the shop handles Serostim and an HIV treatment in development.

About two-thirds of Chelsea's work is in marketing to healthcare professionals, with the remaining third composed of consumer-facing efforts.

Other recent campaigns the agency has executed include “Time Out for Gout,” an awareness effort for Savient and the National Gout Association for which Chelsea combined with Euro RSCG Life PR. The shop also handled a neuroscience corporate campaign for Eisai featuring convention panels and video aimed at educating physicians on the firm's neuroscience pipeline that premiered at the American Academy of Neurology's 2008 annual meeting.

The shop sees opportunity in unification across different disciplines and in digital. “When I worked at Wyeth, I always had problems with having my agencies working in common across the brand versus for their own self interest,” says Peto. “We can unify across all those separate disciplines and save time and money for our clients, and at the core of that is bringing the new technologies such as mobile marketing and social media into the mix.” 
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