Guidemark reports revenue was flat, remaining at the restated $30 million it generated in 2016. On the leadership front, Guidemark brought in former Ogilvy CommonHealth managing partner Michael Parisi as its permanent CEO. During his Ogilvy tenure, Parisi presided over the company’s growth into a $100 million-plus business.
Parisi acknowledges the agency has dealt with its share of challenges. “Some of it was trying to find our footing, and there was a change in direction that can lead to chaos at times,” he explains. “The big challenge is drawing a line in the sand on what our vision is and looking at ourselves internally.”
However, Guidemark did experience a considerable drop in its staff size. The agency reported 140 full-timers at the end of 2016. That figure dropped to 104 by the end of 2017. Parisi attributes the drop in large part to the loss of an account and the subsequent need for Guidemark to “size accordingly” in its wake. The two clients the agency lost last year were Otsuka and animal health mainstay Zoetis.
At the same time, Guidemark added six clients during 2017, which brought its overall sum to 37. Wins included work from medical supply company Fresenius, Osmotica Pharmaceutical, and Horizon Pharma. The agency also added Gilead Sciences’ rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease drug Filgotinib, a pipeline aspirin product from PLx Pharma, and a glucose monitoring device from Senseonics.
“If you look at the type of clients we are going after, it’s the biotechs — the small, midsize, and startup companies that are commercializing products, many for the first time,” Parisi says. “That’s our sweet spot.”
While he adds the firm will likely focus on these types of clients, it won’t stop hunting larger game — such as the Gilead account it won last year.
“[Guidemark] was founded as an entrepreneurial agency,” Parisi says. “It’s independent. It’s implied we have both agility and freedom to go where we know there are opportunities and to build services we know will help solve client problems.”