The merger of the two sibling agencies, both a part of Stagwell, unifies a wealth of big-brand, rare-disease and wellness experience under a single shingle.
Leaders of the combined firms will remain with the new unit. Concentric Health Experience CEO Ken Begasse Jr. becomes CEO and co-founder of Concentric Life; Concentric Health Experience chief creative officer Michael Sanzen becomes chief creative officer, co-founder; Scout principal, CEO Jennifer Brekke becomes president, co-founder; and Scout principal, president Raffi Siyahian becomes principal, commercial strategy.
According to Brekke, the two agencies informally worked together for more than a year before making the decision to consciously couple.
“The idea was that we could provide everything the modern CMO was looking for — social, experience, strategy, deep expertise,” she said. “They wouldn’t have to choose between one thing and another.”
At the same time, Sanzen noted that Concentric and Scout didn’t automatically assume that a closer working relationship would lead to something more permanent.
“There was no predetermined shape at the outset. There was no blueprint,” he explained. “It took some time. We landed at a place that works.”
The company will be aligned into three practices. ConcentricLife will “serve brands that change health trajectories and restore life,” according to Begasse. The rare disease practice has been branded as ScoutLife and the wellness practice as RitualLife.
“There’s a higher level of expectation from the consumer on what a health experience should look and feel like,” Begasse continued, adding that few marketing firms are set up in a way to meet those expectations.
“The modern marketer is expected to just go out and find all this specialization and expertise. They have to work within this disjointed, archaic agency structure that still exists,” he said. “Everyone talks about integration and scale, but it’s false. It doesn’t truly reside under one roof and with one access point.”
ConcentricLife’s leaders believe they have cracked that particular code. They point to the firm’s ongoing work on two high-profile assignments — Novo Nordisk’s obesity franchise and Alnylam Pharmaceuticals’ ATTR franchise – as proof of concept, especially as it pertains to staff deployment and breadth of experience.
“What you see is a frictionless sharing of talent. It is very intentional,” Siyahian said.
As for the cultural piece of the merger, the companies didn’t take any chances. They brought in Kristen Lisanti, a change-management specialist and former chief culture officer at BCW who had previously worked with Stagwell on its own merger.
“You look at it on a spreadsheet and it’s one thing, but you can’t forget the human factor,” Brekke stressed. “The thinking was that we wanted to do it right.”
Siyahian agreed, adding, “We’re keeping the promises we’ve made throughout our history as organizations. We’ve always been people-first.”
To that end, Concentric and Scout kept their people in the loop as the agencies moved toward a formal marriage.
“Our first instinct was, ‘Let’s not keep this a secret.’ We asked everyone to help shape the vision,” Begasse said.
ConcentricLife officially launches with approximately 275 full-timers on hand. No layoffs are anticipated and the company expects the integration to be complete in advance of a late-March launch event in Florida.Per the 2022 MM+M Agency 100, Concentric Health Experience generated an MM+M-estimated $47.5 million in revenue in 2021, growing its head count to 185 people. Meanwhile, Scout finished the year at $25.1 million in revenue and with 102 staffers under its roof.