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Harrison and Star


Revenue was flat at an estimated $100 million


“It’s critical that vision and values be more than just words on a wall or a pretty slide that we include in new business presentations” 
— Mardene Miller


“Coupled with the emergence of programmatic creative, we expect a 2017 that will really push toward truly dynamic content” 
— Mario Muredda

Harrison and Star initiated a spirited creative competition last October when long- time VP and art director Patrick Grimaldi, on a lark, spelled “hi” in Post-it notes on an outward-facing window. Someone at Havas Worldwide, located directly across the street from H&S’ Manhattan office, replied in kind. 

Soon multiple ad agencies in the area began festooning their windows with works of Post-it note art. Dubbed the “Post-it Wars,” it drew worldwide media attention.  The “war” set off a fevered excitement throughout H&S, which the leadership team was happy to let employees run with. “When you create an atmosphere where people feel empowered, things like this can happen,” says president Mario Muredda. 

Fellow H&S president Mardene Miller likens the energy behind the Post-it oneupmanship to the energy that fuels social media. “It’s about groundswell with no restrictions or guidelines,” she explains. “Creativity and, ultimately, brilliance come from unbound energy. Our employees displayed limitless creativity and that’s exactly how they work every day on client challenges.” 

An impressive 17 launches last year provided lots of opportunity. In another spontaneous act of creativity, H&S’ HIV team dressed up as condoms to distribute products and educational fliers in New York City on World AIDS Day. 

Our employees displayed limitless creativity and that’s exactly how they work every day on client challenges. – Mardene Miller, president

Neither H&S president would comment on the Omnicom-owned agency’s 2016 revenue, but staff size rose to 486 at the end of spring. MM&M estimates 2016 revenue at close to $100 million.

The agency needed more bodies. H&S scooped up six new AOR assignments, which included GI products from Valeant/Salix and Eisai’s Aloxi for chemo-induced vomiting. It also added two assignments in and around Gilead’s HIV franchise.

Meanwhile, shifting from its modus operandi of working with large clients, H&S pitched and won AOR assignments for inaugural launches from two small companies, Axovant and Ocular Therapeutix. Axovant is launching CNS/dementia treatment intepirdine, while Ocular Therapeutix will introduce dextenza for post-surgical ocular pain. 

Miller finds a lot to like about working with smaller companies like Axovant and Ocular, both of which are launching products in response to clear market needs. “They’re nimble and looking for an extension of their team,” she explains. “They’re also open to integrating tech in different ways and they really care about the role big data plays. We love clients that want to challenge the status quo.” 

There’s another benefit, of course. As smaller companies continue to own more of the market, experience working with them becomes another calling card for H&S.  “It’s a startup-type environment similar to how new tech products are being developed and launched,” Muredda adds. “It’s setting us up for a future when many big pharma companies will develop maybe half as many molecules as they’re developing now.” 

Meanwhile, the ultimate “winners” of the Post-it War were U.S. veterans. “It wound down around Veterans Day, so we turned it into a charitable initiative by co-hosting a mixer/fundraiser for veterans with Havas,” says Miller. “It was a nice way to end the war.”