To hear Publicis Life Brands Medicus MD Adrian Sansone tell it, the firm’s 2015 was about devising and implementing a new philosophy: “Creating brands that give.” Couple that with a renewed focus on integrated services and a restructuring to better deliver on those changes, and it certainly wasn’t a quiet year.
“We believe that brands today need to do one thing to be successful, and that is be brands that give,” Sansone says. “When a brand can give something to its customers, its customers will in turn give back to them.”
Sansone breaks down the brand–ambassador conversion process into three steps. First, create a brand that empowers customers; second, engage them where they are; third, educate them. Jennifer Shirley, EVP, director of client services, adds that the philosophy is about “creating empathy and comprehension, and making sure we’re delivering better health choices for our audiences.”
PLBM declines to share revenue figures, with Sansone noting simply that the firm “had a good year” in 2015. Along those lines, he says it’s difficult to quantify the year-over-year change in headcount, owing to the agency’s 2015 restructuring. At this time last year, the agency had 145 full-timers.
PLBM’s restructuring, according to Sansone, was designed “to change the client mix as we move into more of an integrated offering.” Given that integrated services now make up around 30% of PLBM’s business, the agency believed it had to realign internally to ensure an ideal fit for any and all client teams. “This is a good proof point of our having achieved our vision of offering a unique service to the marketplace,” Sansone says.
Which isn’t to say that the restructuring process was a breeze. “For people in general, change is hard to embrace,” Sansone acknowledges. “But it’s a challenge for any company. It’s a key focus to ensure that our staff and people remain engaged and that we continue to stay ahead of the pace of change.”
The change touched the agency’s leadership team through the addition of Michelle Kinsman, who is executive director of production and operations for the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group. In her new role, Kinsman will lead production across PLBM as well as sister agency Digitas Health LifeBrands.
While Sansone declines to share client specifics, he notes that the agency has recently pushed deeper into oncology and CNS. PLBM has also drawn on its heritage as a launch agency, with Sansone noting that its experience at that point in the brand lifecycle “continues to be robust.” He adds that the firm has recently devoted a good deal of energy to five “very large” launches and relaunches.
Indeed, Sansone notes that payers and patients are demanding a more prominent place at the table. “The waters are moving. We have to help clients, patients, and providers navigate this new environment,” he says.