Top 100 Agencies 2014: Biolumina Group

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Top 100 Agencies 2014: Biolumina Group
Top 100 Agencies 2014: Biolumina Group

Biolumina Group has made more headway toward expanding the breadth of therapeutic categories it serves as well as its depth of expertise. Under Ane Jones, president, the agency—which, like sibling Harrison and Star is part of Omnicom's MSCG—has made it a point to grow the number of areas the specialty-focused shop works in.

“We focus primarily on specialty and rare disease, so all our brands are in areas like oncology, endocrinology, nephrology, hemophilia, CNS,” says Jones. “That's what gets us excited: making a difference in people's lives, not just blockbuster brands.” The branding and communications shop focuses primarily on the professional side but also addresses what she calls “ancillary audiences”—patient and caregiver—across all channels.

Biolumina generally doesn't go into specifics regarding client wins, but Jones says the agency supported the global HCP launch of Novoeight, Novo Nordisk's recombinant antihemophilic factor. It also developed a new campaign for Novoseven.

Other rare-disease business won last year includes the acromegaly indication for Novartis's Sandostatin LAR. The account nicely bookends the US and global launches of Signifor LAR for acromegaly, both of which Biolumina is handling.Tucked among the wins this year was another oncology assignment from that same client: the global breast-cancer brief for Afinitor.

Expanding business with its existing clients while bringing on new ones made it a “great year,” says Jones. She would not comment on revenue growth but says sales are in the range of $25 million to $50 million. “We have expanded some but we still would like to have further expansion into other rare diseases.”

Complementing that strategy are Biolumina's efforts to work on products earlier in development, although it's not always an easy sell. On the one hand, “We've done more work on scientific platform development, early positioning, working with clients to position brands for launch and support them through the launch,” Jones says. “Other times, companies are hesitant to invest in a brand until they know that likelihood of approval is high, but then you have less time to get ready for launch.”

The shop has also seen increasing business from the companion diagnostics (CDx) field. “Given that we do a lot of work in specialty and oncology, you are really seeing an increase in compounds being developed in parallel with CDx,” says Jones, adding that the firm has represented clients that market both the therapeutic and the test and others that sell just the drug. “Trying to work through how to position those brands and communicate around the diagnostic and the compound has been a lot of fun.”

Depth came from the newest senior additions to Biolumina—industry veterans Mark Friedman, EVP/executive creative director, who joined at the end of 2013, and Doug Tischler, SVP, senior creative director copy, who joined this year.

Overall headcount didn't change, staying near 100. “That's the risk when you take on agents in the pre-launch phase; they don't all make it,” says Jones. The upside: given where many of its products are in their lifecycle, Jones expects business to be up this year.

One big hurdle, she says, is that the talent pool has not kept up with growth of the business. “I am very happy with the core team we have, but sourcing for additional talent continues to be a challenge.”

Employee referrals, says Jones, are where the agency has seen the most recruiting success, as it ensures new hires are the right cultural fit for the agency.

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