When Galen U.S. first approached Elevate Healthcare to work on its Stop the Sting campaign on behalf of Synera, the face of the heat-activated pain patch was a smiling woman staring straight into the camera. It was a campaign that, at the time, simply wasn’t working.

Enter Elevate. “The client asked us to create a fierce brand for them that would cause them to get noticed and challenge the idea that needle-stick pain is not really an issue,” recalls Elevate managing partner Frank Powers, who noted the importance of calling attention to that particular part of the product equation. “For close to 40% of the patient population, there’s a real fear and phobia of needles. We were trying to re-engage the healthcare professional to have an appreciation of how their patients are looking at that needle.”

The resulting campaign — depicting a scorpion sporting a syringe and needle — became another example of Elevate’s commitment to bringing the human condition back into medical marketing. It’s a strategy that appears to be resonating with the agency’s client base, which expanded to include Alexza Pharmaceuticals (for the Staccato OBT aerosol delivery device); DePuy Synthes Trauma (multiple brands); EyePoint Pharmaceuticals (for Dexycu dexamethasone intraocular suspension); the Foundation Fighting Blindness (for corporate branding); and Griffols (for the TD Vax tetanus and diphtheria toxoids vaccine).

In the wake of the new business, revenue jumped 10.7% in 2018, to $6.2 million from $5.6 million in 2017. The agency added two AOR assignments, increasing its sum to nine, and increased its number of project-based assignments to 19 from the previous year’s 10.

Managing partner Lorna Weir says that managing growth and the expectations that come with it were Elevate’s biggest challenges in 2018. Along those lines, the account wins helped Elevate’s standing with would-be employees.

“When people hear what we’re doing here and what our goal is, they sign up for it pretty quickly,” says Weir. “Everybody here actually contributes to and delivers on the culture we set as our objective.”

New hires included creative director, copy Steven Goldstein, who arrived from his own consulting firm. Other additions came in the form of project management, which Powers says “was sorely needed.”

Elevate also attempted to accommodate a greater range of staffers by offering a telecommuting option, which ultimately allowed two employees to work remotely (in this instance, from Boston and Philadelphia). “We are flexible in the way we set up our relationships if the talent is the right fit,” Powers says, reporting that Elevate hasn’t lost a single employee since its founding in 2015.

Powers expects what he calls “controlled growth” in 2019. “Our goal is never to be the biggest-number agency on your list of 100,” he explains. “We’re fine with sliding in at No. 99, because we feel that gives us an advantage. We’re nimble and we’re agile enough to answer to the market dynamics.”