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Greater Than One


Revenue declined 5% to $22.8 million


“With the opening of a Milan office, we’re moving to Europe” 
— Elizabeth Apelles


“Success will come to the companies that recognize we are fully interconnected. You’ll see a lot of these biopharma and biotech startups do quite well” 
— Elizabeth Apelles

When asked to share her assessment of 2016, Greater Than One CEO Elizabeth Apelles calls it a “transformational” year. Despite a 5% decline in revenue to $22.8 million, the independent shop expanded its AOR business. A full 37% of its clients are now AOR accounts, accounting for more than 75% of its workload. By comparison, 23% of the agency’s work was AOR assignments in 2015. 

Staff in 2016 remained flat at 100, but the agency is expanding, with 18 new hires so far in 2017 and the opening of an office in Milan this spring, Apelles reports.


CEO: Elizabeth Apelles

Greater Than One has focused its offering on small to midsize biopharma companies attempting to bring novel treatment options to market in new and existing therapeutic categories. Recent additions include a treatment for patients experiencing acute pain in medically supervised settings and an anticoagulant that acts as a direct factor Xa inhibitor.

The agency earned kudos for a program devised with longtime client Novartis. For the global launch of would-be blockbuster heart treatment Entresto, Greater Than One organized an unbranded Facebook Livechat. The objective was to engage as many physicians and patients as possible pre-launch, tapping a patient, doctor, and medical and legal executive to answer questions from HCPs around the world. The event garnered about one million impressions, with 57 participants asking questions.

“We didn’t expect doctors to start talking about the branded work on our channel, even though our program was all unbranded,” Apelles says. “When you create an environment that patients feel comfortable in, it takes off on its own.”

To provide its biotech clients with broader assistance in organization, brand positioning, and launch-related activities, Greater Than One has created an advisory board that, Apelles says, “competes with the Accentures and Deloittes of the world.” 

To lead the group, the agency promoted James Mackie to head of strategy, insights, and transformation. Elsewhere, the agency promoted Kieran Walsh from global director of client services to president of its U.S. operations in New York and San Francisco. The rise of technology and the trend toward patient empowerment are changing healthcare, so Greater Than One’s advisory group can help clients strengthen its capabilities both for now and later, Apelles notes. 

“Oftentimes, our clients need to reorganize themselves internally so they can manage their products in this interconnected world,” she explains. “Twenty years ago, it was ‘Here’s my product or drug, here’s what it does,’ and then communicating that to the world. It’s no longer about sending messages. It’s about creating an environment where customers come to you.”