Synapse has been around since 2004. It counts any number of pharma A-listers as clients and 140 full-timers under its roofs in New York City and Washington, DC. It has grown steadily and consistently over the years, driving revenue past $30 million in 2017.

So why hasn’t Synapse been featured before now in MM&M’s annual agency issue? “You tell me,” responds EVP, account services Kerry Murphy with a laugh. “We’ve been doing this for a long time. We like to think we’re well-recognized among our clients and peers.”

The New York-based firm seeks to bridge the divides between science, creativity, and tech. Working alongside clients such as AstraZeneca and Novartis (recently on the company’s unbranded website,, and conference presence), Synapse specializes in the creation of immersive digital experiences and in mining insights from KOLs. It counts immunology, oncology, cardiovascular disease, and neurology among its areas of therapeutic strength.

“We’re hyperfocused on why what we communicate is so important,” Murphy notes.

synapse agency

Synapse has also earned a reputation as one of the agency world’s more adept users of what Murphy calls “unique proprietary platforms,” such as Plexus and Orion. Both platforms were developed by analytics company 81qd, with which Synapse is closely affiliated.

The former helps Synapse and its clients identify the most influential clinicians, then create programs around influence-based marketing, Murphy says. The latter helps the agency identify individuals who haven’t yet been diagnosed with a rare disease, then push them toward treatment sooner rather than later.

Though Murphy declines to discuss specific accounts, she points to Synapse’s efforts on behalf of Novartis’ canakinumab — approved for the treatment of a rare disease as Ilaris, but not yet on the market for cardiovascular inflammation — as representative of the “market-shaping” work the agency does to prepare client brands for launch. “We do lots of landscape analysis and target lists,” she notes. “[The creative] stands out. It has stopping power.”

As for what comes next, Murphy cites a need for Synapse and its staff “to constantly challenge ourselves. We’re definitely looking to acquire. We’re seeing what’s out there and a nice fit.” But don’t expect Synapse to stray too far away from its traditional strengths.“No drug sells itself. No matter how good the product may be, we need to take the time to create what the story is going to be.” Murphy says. “You need to say why the status quo isn’t good enough.”