On the heels of a flurry of consolidation and acquisition activity, Saatchi & Saatchi Wellness used its May 2015 move to new office space in New York as a chance to “shake things up a bit,” says JD Cassidy, managing director.
According to global chief creative officer Kathy Delaney, the changes drove the agency to define itself anew and release a new mantra: “Feel something. Do something.” The new vision “has spurred everyone to lift their game,” she expalins. “We’re focused on using the power of emotion to change people’s behavior for the better.”
Cassidy believes the vision—recently printed on a new batch of agency business cards—is a reminder that people are human beings, not just target audiences. “The first time we used the tagline during a pitch, the client embraced it and said the vision spoke to them,” he says.
In the first full year following the 2013 integration of S&S Health and S&S Wellness, the agency managed to surpass its revenue projections by 10% and reported no major client losses. “We worked hard at bringing the two agencies together,” Cassidy explains. “We integrated physically but we also had to align our processes because we had different client and business approaches.”
SSW made a conscious strategic decision “to hug and nurture our existing clients,” Cassidy continues. “That approach was important to us because a lot of our financial success derived from driving organic growth and focusing on those clients.”
When it comes to SSW’s client roster, shop leaders are allowing its newly defined vision to identify what they want to go after in the world. “We take pride in wellness,” Delaney says. “Sometimes that means pharma and sometimes that doesn’t. We have holistic accounts with a focus on the wellness piece.”
Last year the agency witnessed significant new and organic growth with its Pfizer business and grew its relationship with Abbott Diabetes. The team also watched its work with AbbVie continue to flourish, including the consumer account for anti-inflammatory drug Humira. In early 2015 the agency celebrated a few new business wins including the oral diabetes franchise for AstraZeneca.
The client roster is shot with accounts outside pharma, including Crossroads Community Services. “Our belief in giving back to the community drives engagement in the agency,” Cassidy says.
Delaney guided the establishment of an internal program called the “Outer Spacers,” which aims to get employees mentally out of their heads and physically out of their office space. “We might tour the best graffiti sites in the East Village or help to rebuild a park for kids,” she explains. “It’s a real visceral way to live the vision of the agency.”
This year the head count settled at around 250 employees, a significant increase over 2014 due to expansion among the creative, engagement strategy and analytics teams. The agency added Kristen Myers from RGI to lead the production and operations team, David Lavietes as director of client services and David Graham to serve as SVP, associate creative director.
“There is a sense of excitement throughout the agency,” Cassidy reports. “We’re enjoying new digs, a new sense of excitement and a new vision.”