Ever feel like pharmaceutical companies are disconnected from what the American public thinks about healthcare? So do the executives at Scout Marketing, which is one of the reasons they say 2017 was such a satisfying year.

In the wake of its 2017 acquisition by the Stagwell Group, which also owns Harris Insights & Analytics, Scout is finalizing plans to begin quarterly research designed to keep clients in touch with public opinion. “As with politics, many in the industry live in a bubble, and we hope to roll this point-of-view research out in ways that can help clients,” explains Allen Stegall, a principal and Scout’s executive director of strategy.

“Working in New York and DC may give pharma execs one view of the world, but it’s not the real view.”

That’s just one example of the synergies Scout hopes to find with its new parent. Stegall says the acquisition may have been the big story of 2017, but it wasn’t the only one. The agency added three new clients and pushed revenue to $23 million, up from $21 million in 2016 (not the $29 million as estimated last year). Staffing stayed level at 135 across offices in Atlanta, Chicago, and San Diego, as well as a new location in New York.

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Stegall describes Scout as a natural fit within the larger Stagwell unit. “The model calls for buying companies with complementary skills,” he says. “It was impressed with our credentials in orphan and rare diseases, as well as our strong digital presence.” Stegall notes Scout will soon announce another joint venture, which will add “new products in analytics and databases.”

“The common goal is to accelerate the patient journey: finding patients, communicating with them, and getting them to a physician who treats these rare conditions and can manage their case,” he adds. “Whether that means accelerating clinical trials or a commercial effort, these new products will help us lay an even more concrete claim to being the rare disease experts.”

With a client base that includes Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck, Grifols, PTC Therapeutics, and Edwards Lifesciences, Scout is making a concerted shift away from AOR assignments and toward project work. “Projects have typically accounted for about 10% of our revenue, at most, and we hope [the joint venture] will make it more like 35% to 40% going forward. We will push that as part of our offering,” Stegall says. “We may be able to do some projects for [clients] that their current agency can’t.”

New hires included VP, healthcare digital strategy and Northeast manager Ari Wexler and VP, digital operations and technology Diane Myer.