Staffers at the agency’s outposts in Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia were given oversized, blank Jenga blocks and asked to make a wish for the future of the agency. “Answers ranged from, ‘I want to grow my career’ to ‘I wish the office had healthier snacks,’” recalls managing director Jedd Davis.
In the end, more than 1,000 wishes were inscribed on 320 blocks. About 90% of the company participated in the exercise.
The Jengafest was a typical burst of creativity from one of the few media agencies renowned for it. It came during a successful campaign that saw staff size increase from 323 to 377 and revenue jump from $64.6 million to $75 million (both MM&M estimates).
A majority of the growth, 70%, came from existing clients. The agency grew its number of AOR assignments from 35 to 38, and project-based ones from 15 to 17.
Publicis Health is known to work with Biogen and was recently named digital AOR for the company’s MS portfolio. It also worked on Shire’s Eyelove unbranded campaign for dry-eye drug Xiidra. Davis describes the latter as “the biggest consumer launch of the year for the agency.”
Publicis Health was active on the hiring front as well, adding former Leo Burnett exec Alison McConnell as CMO and naming Andrea Palmer as its first chief strategy officer.
Data interpretation has emerged as an essential skill. “Media is our core strategic function, but clients are more interested in integrated offerings,” Davis notes. “We’re bringing data to the forefront and relying more on first-party data as we shift to outcomes. Media is the center of all these worlds.”
He mentions almost in passing that Publicis Health celebrated its fifth anniversary in 2017. While he believes the company’s vision and ethos have stayed the same, Davis says the agency alters its approach to take into account industry changes.
“Our vision is to continually reimagine media,” he says. “What kind of partner can we be for a client? With changes in technology and new access to data, we ask ourselves, ‘How can we do things differently with these upgrades?’ It comes down to helping people make the right decisions about their health.”