Posted top-line growth with revenue at an estimated $35 million
“We will get a third office up and running. We are not done pitching, we are not done winning”
“Every client is living in that environment we’ve been talking about for the past five to ten years: Do more with less. So each dollar has to be impactful”
Razorfish Health managing director David Paragamian insists the story of his company’s 2016 can be told in one word: transformation.
The Publicis Health agency had recently ran through two managing directors, neither of whom lasted a year in the gig. By the time Paragamian arrived in May 2016, the chair had been vacant for six months. And the company he inherited was contracting, downsizing from three offices to two.
In short, Razorfish Health was floundering. But by the end of his third week on the job, Paragamian had fired half of his direct reports and built a new executive leadership team. He promoted John Kelly (creative) and Keri Hettel (analytics), and brought in Carol Bendig (finance) and Kyle Bechter (new business) from within Publicis. They would join Karl Tiedemann (client services), Brandon Ashcraft (technology), and Joann DiGennaro (project management) to form a new-look top of the executive pyramid.
“It’s a much stronger, more diverse group of people with different backgrounds and skill sets,” Paragamian says.
The ultimate objective was to transform Razorfish Health from a pure-play digital shop into a “uniquely integrated” full-service firm — and to do it quickly. “Historically, we had been a mash-up of lots of agencies and never really had a clear positioning,” Paragamian continues.
So we brought together all of our DNA strands that make up who we are — our digital strength, creative strength, analytics strength, CRM strength, and media-planning strength — under this idea of unique integration. Other firms may be one of those things, but we are all of them.”
By the end of the year, the company had added five new accounts: Hysingla ER, a narcotic analgesic from existing client Purdue Pharma; corporate assignments for Otsuka and CSL Behring; a digital AOR assignment across a number of brands for UCB; and Seattle-based hospital system Providence Health & Services.
While Publicis does not disclose financial details, Paragamian says the firm posted significant top-line growth for the first time in three years. Revenue is at an estimated $35 million, up from an estimated $32.5 million in 2015. (The firm restated its revenue estimates for 2015). Staff size increased from 132 to 175.
Paragamian stresses that all of the new assignments are “classic AOR” engagements. “We said we would only go after AOR business, not projects.” To that end, more than 80% of the agency’s business is now AOR in nature, compared with just 40% a year ago. “We are able to pitch and win exciting brands and clients where we get to be a partner,” he says.
If Q1 2017 is a sign of things, then it could be a banner year. Revenue is already up more than 25% over the 2016 pace, and, in March, the firm added two AOR global brand launches from the same company. Paragamian declines to name the client, but describes it as “a significant win” — large enough that the agency is in the process of opening a third office to service the business.