GCG Marketing understands that pharma’s shift toward digital marketing isn’t likely to slow down or reverse itself anytime soon. That’s why much of its time and energy during the last year was devoted to repositioning itself as a modern creative content agency that specializes in digital media.
To that end, GCG merged with its sister company, a Las Vegas-based operation formerly known as Forward Digital Media. GCG CEO and president Neil Foster says the move was prompted by a surge in new and existing clients with digital-first mindsets. “It made sense to merge those capabilities and augment the ones we already had within the agency,” he explains.
But with this integration came some challenges, chiefly in the form of restructuring. Foster points out that there’s an inherent complexity to bringing over new accounts from other agencies.
“We had some restructuring that we had to go through. When you look at processes and personnel and some of those types of things, it’s always a little bit of a challenge,” he says. “It always comes with positives and negatives.”
Overall, GCG grew from 42 full-timers at the end of 2017 to 62 at the end of 2018. Among the notable additions were executive director of account services Ryan Cormier, who now heads all of the agency’s digital offerings. GCG also brought in digital creative director Carlos Ortega, creative director Lauren Coleman and account supervisor Marcie Greubel.
Whatever logistical headaches it may have created, the merger fueled major growth: the newly reconfigured firm saw revenue surge from $5.6 million in 2017 to $11.3 million in 2018. GCG continues to work on behalf of longstanding clients Pfizer and Crown Laboratories, but added several others to the roster in recent months: Verrica, Direct Orthopedic Care, Ferris, Dermatology.com, Urgo and Sientra (for miraDry, a procedure that treats underarm sweat).
GCG traded in some of its previous brand work for Smith & Nephew for an expanded digital remit. Client relationships that ended included Allevyn-Life, L.E.A.F. and Pico.
In terms of bigger-picture trends, Foster notes that GCG has shifted its emphasis toward device companies that, many believe, have been underserved by the agency world. However, he adds that GCG will continue to do its fair share of work with traditional pharma clients.
Up next: an in-the-works merger with a studio that will bolster GCG’s production capabilities. “With digital media, the old mindset of creating a campaign is completely different,” Foster explains. “It’s all about creating volumes of content and other stuff for your campaigns, and being able to push that out.”
He adds GCG sees considerable room for growth in social media. The new production studio will allow the agency to “push out more, and more affordable, social media content, and do it fast.”