Benchworks CEO Thad Bench knows the feeling of winning business based on cost or the promise of a fast turnaround. But it was only recently that his agency scored an account based on its creative moxie.

“As a smaller agency, we are accustomed to getting work based on cost, value, or speed of response and execution — but not the quality of the creative,” he explains, reporting Benchworks won “a large pharma account” over a handful of New York competitors.

The win was a highlight in a year where Benchworks saw revenue decline — from $11 million to $10 million — and staff size increase by a single full-timer from 45 to 46.

Bench regards the revenue drop as a natural consequence of a “transition period” that saw the agency lose “a few brands, such as a specialty unit in Pfizer.”

At the same time, Benchworks finished the year strong, adding five AOR engagements in December that Bench believes “will provide strong growth in 2018.” He expects revenue to return to the 2016 mark of $11 million.

In anticipation of the growth, Benchworks secured additional office space at its Philadelphia location. It also plans to open a more formal outpost in the Boston area.

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The firm doubled its number of AOR assignments in 2017, from five to 10. It also grew its number of project-based assignments from 23 to 42.

Additions over the past 18 months include Shire (for ADHD drug Mydayis), Vanda Pharmaceuticals (for schizophrenia drug Fanapt), Gilead, BlueStar BioAdvisors, and MacroGenics. Other roster mainstays include Akili Interactive Labs, EMD Serono, and Otsuka.

On the personnel front, Benchworks bolstered its leadership with the addition of associate creative director, copy Randy Malone. He previously held copywriting and creative roles at DiD, Digitas Health, and LevLane.

Referencing Safe Chain Solutions, the logistics and distribution company owned by Benchworks, Bench stresses the agency “wants to be a commercialization partner and drive opportunities across platforms.” He adds it expanded its offerings via a new med-tech division, designed to help clients navigate tech advances.

Given recent industry changes, Benchworks believes it can separate itself from other agencies by “trying new things, maybe things that aren’t proven,” Bench says. “It’s a complicated business. There’s so much consolidation in the agency world, so scaling is really important.”

Benchworks also hopes to help clients deal with data overload. “People have so much data it can cause changes in messaging at the last minute,” Bench notes.