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Pacific Communications


Revenue increased 5% to $60.6 million


“When your culture is based around transparency and doing the right thing, it creates a stable foundation that is critical for high-quality work”
— Craig Sullivan


“People are starting to get a little smarter about the ways of [developing] new business. In so many cases, you have such a short time to pitch and it takes so much effort to prepare for it”
— Craig Sullivan

Pacific Communications is not Allergan’s in-house marketing agency.

That’s been clear to clients and agency-world peers for decades. Yet every so often, that “in-house” terminology pops up, often when competitors gripe about Pacific’s long history of success with Allergan brands.

So as Pacific celebrates another year of creative and therapeutic diversification — one in which it outperformed its goals — let’s address it one last time, with feeling: There is a difference between “agency owned by a company” and “in-house agency.”

To his credit, Pacific president Craig Sullivan seems more bemused than annoyed by the mischaracterization.

“Our relationship [with Allergan] is like most other agency–client relationships,” he says. “When there are conflicts, we can’t participate — and we’re an agency that likes to compete.”

Craig Sullivan

president: Craig Sullivan

Then there’s the other type of nuisance that comes with being owned by a deal-happy organization such as Allergan: rumors. Hardly a week went by in 2016 without buzz that Pacific was on the verge of being sold. Sullivan declines comment, other than to note that the agency has spent the first half of 2017 focusing on new business development. “It’s the right time for us to be aggressive,” he says.

Revenue jumped 5% in 2016, to $60.6 million. Staff size had grown to 265 by early this April.

Hiring, in fact, tops Sullivan’s to-do list — but not for the reason than it does at other agencies. While Pacific recently opened a Jersey City outpost, the bulk of its personnel is stationed in Irvine, California — perhaps not the first choice of marketers based in the New York-New Jersey-Philadelphia corridor.

“Recruitment has always been a little difficult, because this is primarily an East Coast industry,” Sullivan explains. “We do well whenever someone is predisposed to coming west, but in general our fishing pond is smaller.”

In 2016, that didn’t seem to matter. Pacific hired three well-regarded (and presumably geography-neutral) execs: medical director Dr. Devon Malecki, formerly of Brandkarma and DevicePharm; VP, group creative director Shannon Hollman, from CDM; and SVP, director of client services Judy Doo, from Alastin Skincare.

Perhaps Pacific’s location is advantageous. “We’ve been one of the few mainstays in the West Coast market,” Sullivan says. “Agencies come and go, satellite offices pop up and shut down. But we’ve been here consistently for a while now. Clients really value the fact that we’re going to be here tomorrow and that we have the size and scale to take on both smaller and larger opportunities.”

While Pacific’s 2016 roster additions came mostly from Allergan — 10 brands in its aesthetics, dermatology, and eyecare strongholds, including Juvederm Volbella, Teflaro, Dalvance, Fetzima, and Viibryd — look for the agency to expand its client base. “Diversifying our roster is where our attention is going to be,” Sullivan says.