There are plenty of things FCB Health New York can brag about in its recent performance — double-digit revenue growth, 16 A-list account wins, spending increases from existing clients and a boatload of creative awards. But what really has top execs pumped up is what they believe to be an ever-sharpening HR and recruiting edge.
“These low unemployment rates have caused a philosophical shift, which we call ‘the chess board,’” explains chief commercial officer Michael Guarino. “Historically, you used to list the criteria you need and then go find those people. Now we are focused on finding someone great, even if he or she is an atypical hire, and then creating an opportunity. That’s opened up a wider net of people for us.”
President and CEO Dana Maiman agrees, adding, “Someone will call me in to meet someone they are interviewing, and we’ll say, ‘Oh my God, we didn’t even know we needed one of those — but we do.’” The agency’s recent successes — and the liberty that comes with it, even beneath a publicly owned parent’s umbrella — allow it to pounce when such opportunity presents itself.
“We can sometimes get them an offer letter before they leave, often for a position they didn’t even come in for,” Maiman continues. “We’re so nimble. Because of the growth we’re experiencing, we have those kind of investment dollars, which lets us be really fluid in what we do.”
Maiman and Guarino say FCB Health NY has stepped up other initiatives as well. They’re particularly enthusiastic when discussing Reboot, an internship program that initially focused on military veterans, assigning them mentors and offering eight weeks of paid, hands-on training. “It’s one of those things that is truly symbiotic,” Maiman says. “Sure, we’re giving back and doing the right thing. But at the same time, we wound up hiring eight of the 10 interns.”
Reboot has since expanded to include caregivers. “We want to open this up to people re-entering the workforce for whatever reason,” she adds.
Other programs include Moxie, which focuses on younger employees in all departments. Guarino says it’s meant to appeal to “the up-and-comers who might not have the opportunity to go to big pitches or workshops.” The multiple-month program reassigns them to work with mentors in real-life scenarios designed to bolster their experience. “We don’t want them to leave our agency because they don’t see a path to growth,” he explains.
The payoff to this fierce commitment to inclusion and career development? Guarino believes FCB Health NY has “the deepest bench of any agency. We know we have the next level of leaders ready to go at a moment’s notice.”
Case in point: The departure of chief creative officer and FCB Health mainstay Rich Levy after nearly a decade at the agency — he joined Klick Health in May as chief creative officer — was quickly followed by the promotion of Kathleen Nanda to executive creative director.
On the financial front, MM&M estimates that FCB Health NY saw a 20.3% jump in revenue during 2018, to $219 million from an estimated $182 million in 2017. It claimed 16 new accounts last year, including work from Adapt Pharma (opioid overdose), Boehringer Ingelheim (respiratory), Esperion (cholesterol), Exact Sciences/Pfizer (colon cancer screening) and Portola Pharmaceuticals (thrombosis).
The agency also landed hematology and oncology assignments from Genentech; an HIV treatment from Janssen; Jazz Pharmaceuticals, for the launch of a DTC product for excessive sleepiness/obstructive sleep apnea; Novartis, for work in multiple sclerosis; and hematology and oncology work from Takeda. Maiman points to Sanofi/Genzyme as a particularly satisfying addition: “We hadn’t worked with them in the past. Now we can confidently say we work with 19 of the top 20 pharmaceutical companies.”
The company reports that it didn’t lose any accounts, but ended its relationship with Galderma due to a lack of spending.
Over the course of the last year, FCB Health NY also devoted a considerable amount of attention to clarifying its position within the greater FCB universe. Noting that FCB Health NY is the largest single-office healthcare agency in the world, Maiman highlighted the challenge that came with differentiating between that office and the other 13 companies in the FCB Health Network, which include Area 23, FCBCure, Neon and others.
“The network is like a mini-holding company and no one ever imagined this level of growth,” Maiman explains. “But the network name — the FCB Health network — started to encroach on the brand name of FCB Health. We want to clarify any misperception about overlap.” Hence the tweak that adds “New York” to the end of the NYC office’s identity.
To service the additional business, FCB Health NY added 92 staffers during 2018, including gaggles of account staff, creatives and integrated producers. Notable additions included EVP, group creative director Susan Perlbachs (“a boomerang, returning to us,” Maiman quips); creative director Keshni Sharma (who arrives from JWT) and SVP, creative director Daniel Maillard (who arrives from McCann Health). The agency also created a new position, SVP/director of product design, and tapped former 360i exec Chris Seda to fill it.
In the wake of the hirings, the agency has increased its focus on eliminating the inter-companies silos that continue to vex healthcare agencies. “We sit by teams, whether it’s by clients or by brands,” Maiman says. “It helps people be creative.”
All those extra bodies prompted a physical expansion, with FCB Health NY now occupying three floors of the old Gimbel’s department store, with each floor spanning a full city block. Additions include a space designated for innovation, where FCB staffers can convene with clients, would-be clients and one another for workshops and presentations. “It’s very immersive and very agile,” Guarino says.
Maiman says her favorite part of coming to work continues to be her daily jaunts to the FCB Health NY coffee bar. “It is the nexus of everything we are. It’s a completely interconnected community and the whole purpose is giving back.”
To that end, deciding on the charities that will benefit from café donations is an company-wide affair. “We entertain pitches, as though we are the clients, and then vote as an agency,” Maiman says. Last year, the company donated more than $100,000 to charities ranging from Stupid Cancer to disaster-relief efforts.
Meanwhile, FCB Health NY continues to celebrate its own people. Guarino, who has been with the company for 23 years, won an award for lifetime accomplishment from the FCB mothership, which Maiman describes as “an incredible validation. For so long, health has felt like a stepchild. To get that level of agency-wide attention shows how far we’ve come.”