Top 100 Agencies: The CementBloc

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An ad for Salix's GIAZO
An ad for Salix's GIAZO

Client and assignment gains were plentiful for The CementBloc last year, but the agency was challenged by launch delays on three products. Revenue dipped from $42.2 million in 2011 to $41.6 million. Headcount dropped 12 to 161, but is at 176 now.

“If those three products had gotten through FDA approval, it would have been an absolutely banner year,” says partner Susan Miller Viray. “That which we could control went very well.” The products stalled were Bristol-Myers Squibb and AstraZeneca's Forxiga (type 2 diabetes), Novartis' vaccine Menveo (infant indication), and BMS/Pfizer's Eliquis (anti-coagulant). Eliquis launched this year. Forxiga is now slated for launch in 2014. Menveo is still delayed.

BMS/AstraZeneca awarded US professional AOR designation for their other type 2 diabetes products (Onglyza/Kombiglyze) last year.

Several years ago the agency began focusing on a convergent branding approach, and it's resulted in expanded scope of business and strong results for clients. “Many clients are working with us across the board,” Viray says. “Clients are realizing the value of having one agency work on as much as possible to allow them the consistency and strategic alignment that everyone talks about but that's so hard to achieve.”

A lot of Pfizer Animal Health business was won in 2012—digital and brand AOR status on the pork business unit, with 28 brands, and a digital assignment for the Emerging Vet Platform that crosses all business units. Pfizer Animal Health was spun off and renamed Zoetis this February. Managing partner Jennifer Matthews doesn't expect the change to impact the agency's work. “We're synthesizing and aligning what has been a fairly brand-centric approach to create a much more sophisticated and customer centric way of selling and engaging customers,” Matthews says of the Zoetis work.

“Our expertise level with Zoetis has opened a whole new line of business for us,” adds Viray. “Pharma companies are also looking to change their selling model, and our work for Zoetis puts us in a good position going forward.”

The agency won consumer AOR status on Vertex's hepatitis C drug Incevik and professional AOR status and payer strategy work on BTG's Varisolve (GVS). Onyx Pharmaceuticals awarded professional project work on Nexavar (liver cancer) and Daiichi Sankyo awarded digital consulting work for an iPad transition.

Scope of work continues to expand with existing clients Celgene, Novartis Oncology and Novartis Vaccines. All have either awarded new or expanded AOR assignments in the last year. Multichannel and payer strategy expertise was strengthened with senior hires including Steve Libenson, SVP, multichannel strategy; Sanjay Gupta, director, multichannel project management; and Greg Williams VP, group account director, market access. The medical strategy group expanded to include VPs Julia Saiz-Shimosato and Diana Agate.

Matthews counts 29 creative awards, including a gold MM&M Award for best professional print ad, among last year's highlights.

Plans going forward include driving a newly launched value proposition around helping clients build belief in their brands. “Today, it's simply not enough to drive casual interest in a brand,” Matthews says. “We strive to create brand believers by deeply understanding customer needs first and then determining how brands can add value—not the other way around.”
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