Top 100 Agencies: McCann Echo Torre Lazur

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METL's projects included digital work for AcipHex
METL's projects included digital work for AcipHex

McCann Echo Torre Lazur saw president  Bill McEllen move on last year to head the McCann Torre Lazur Group and manage day-to-day operations at MTL. In four years leading METL he had a record of steady double-digit growth.

“[He's] managed to grow that agency fairly close to and on par with the flagship, McCann Torre Lazur,” says Marci Piasecki, longtime head of the MTL Group who's been promoted to regional director, North America, prompting McEllen's ascendance. “He certainly earned his promotion.” Now the responsibility for that growth is in the hands of McEllen's replacement, Sonja Foster-Storch—a 12-year veteran of Omnicom's CDM group who's also run her own med-ed agency and carried the sales bag for pharma.

Barely a week into the new job, Foster-Storch tells MM&M her plans are to “tap into some of my relationships over the past two-and-a-half decades to bring in another client in a different brand or therapeutic area.” Oncology and respiratory are two possible areas.

McEllen's left her an expanding business. A year ago, the agency had just moved into a 30, in Mountain Lakes, NJ. “We not only moved in but filled it to capacity and are building out [another 7,500 square feet] within the building,” says McEllen. (Headcount was at 162 in 2012.) “Growth is on top of everybody's mind.”

It was fueled, he says, by additional work from existing clients like Galderma, for anti-infective Ivermectin, Novo Nordisk, for NovoLog Mix and NovoRapid diabetes brands, and Teva, for its Nuvigil sleep disorder drug. EMD/Serono's MS co-promote Rebif, a new professional AOR client for the agency, brings the number of account wins from last year to five.

Foster-Storch may have inherited challenges, too. Work for AcipHex, a 15-year client and a significant account, is winding down as the Eisai/Janssen GERD brand approaches LOE later this year.

Michael Brzozowski was hired from HealthEd as EVP of patient engagement. Echo also promoted some staffers following a talent audit. One is Jesse Johanson, Echo's new head of planning who has been a longtime METL senior account services person. He, and his MTL counterpart Francesco Luccarelli, now report to Hilary Gentile, also recently advanced to head of planning at the MTL Group level.

McEllen explains the idea behind the audit: “A large part of the success of [MTL and METL] comes from having long-term employees who've proven themselves.” The audit helps to “find new ways to not only make their job interesting but to provide personal attention to client brands in broader fashion.”

Through the process, adds Piasecki, “We're reinventing how we do business with clients.”
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