2e Creative’s most recent Beach Day event became a generational affair. Some employees wore beach attire, while others dressed as characters from the 1988 movie Beaches.

“I accidentally built an agency that requires four generations to work together,” CEO and president Ross Toohey quips. In April, 2e opened an office in San Diego and announced the acquisition of Fire & Rain, which provides sales training, leadership development, and event management for biopharma companies. Included in the deal was KFS, which offers internal comms and employee relations services to those same organizations.

Toohey also announced he is establishing a collective of independent agencies designed to function as a launch and growth engine for pharma and medical device companies. “The collective will commercialize, launch, and support therapies more efficiently,” he explains.

To help manage its infrastructure, 2e hired its first chief growth officer — Jessica Boden, the former president of StoneArch. She’ll also serve on the collective’s leadership team. In addition, 2e added former Omnicom exec Melinda Love as VP. Toohey and his team are intent on shaping the 2e model from the inside out.

2e creative agency

“No one is buying us. We will build it ourselves for now,” he says. 2e’s staff size remained at 60 employees in 2017. Revenue nudged upward, from $8.7 million to $9 million — which suited Toohey just fine.

 “Given the triple-digit trajectory 2e has had over the past three years, we were comfortable with single-digit 2017 growth. The agency needed to catch up with the momentum,” he says, noting significant growth at a small agency affects every aspect of its framework.

“A small agency is usually built around one or two people. When it grows, it goes from an individual to an organization.” Then there’s industrywide change, which demands even more adjustment. “Payers and providers are closer to generic companies and the latter are closer to [makers of] branded products,” Toohey continues. The agency doubled its AOR accounts in 2018, from five to 10.

Additions included Intercept Pharma’s Ocaliva, a treatment for primary biliary cholangitis; Editas Medicine, a genome editing and CRISPR tech company; and Thermo Fisher Scientific, a biotech firm. It lost Novartis’ Ciprodex and resigned the National Perinatal Information Center and Pacific Biosciences accounts.

While Amazon’s entry into healthcare has the industry on notice, Toohey thinks “that’s a big ship to launch as quickly as people expect.” He points to Cigna’s purchase of Express Scripts as the bigger story. “Not enough people are talking about it,” he adds.