For MEI, 2018 was all about delivering on promises the agency made in its MM&M Agency 100 profile interview.
During a conversation last May, EVP, account services Curtis Herrmann pledged that his company would engineer three new launches by the end of April 2019. According to Herrmann, MEI delivered on the ambitious timeline, rolling out one brand new product and two new indications.
“It kept everyone very busy,” Herrmann says dryly.
At the time, MEI had just rolled out a new brand identity, which freed the agency to focus on the clients. “We try to have a view that we’re looking to have a good decade, not a good month or quarter,” Herrmann said then. “If we’re doing great work and exceeding client expectations, the opportunities will follow.”
That prediction seemed to come to pass in 2018, which saw MEI increase revenue to $29 million from $26 million in 2017, an 11.5% surge. “We’ve been growing pretty much every year we’ve been out there,” Herrmann says. Staff size increased by about the same percentage: MEI ended the year with 135 people under its roof, up from 120 at the end of 2017.
Among the additions to the client rolls was Jazz Pharmaceuticals, which tapped MEI for work on narcolepsy drug Xyrem. Specifically, MEI was asked to handle strategic communications for the then-pending launch of the drug’s pediatric indication.
“We needed to understand the learning needs of some of the core treaters and evolve some of the messaging,” Herrmann recalls. The assignment was right up the agency’s alley. Like many other firms, MEI relishes the opportunity to tackle “more complex medications” that require “sophisticated storytelling and content development,” Herrmann explains. The Xyrem assignment checked off all the proverbial boxes.
In its wake, MEI has developed what Herrmann characterizes as a proprietary analytics product. It’s designed to pull de-identified patient data and use it to model different paths along the patient journey, identifying missed opportunities for diagnosis and treatment along the way.
“Tactically, this helps our clients focus on certain clinicians who may be missing an opportunity to properly identify patients,” Herrmann says. It also allows MEI to design highly tailored educational interventions.
As MEI continues to seek out rare-disease clients that serve niche populations, this analytics tool becomes more relevant and important, he continues. “As medicine becomes more personalized, we feel very prepared to take advantage of that trend.”
Finally, MEI traded in its old office space for roomier digs in midtown Manhattan. While Herrmann says the move went seamlessly, he notes the firm approached it as if it was a client assignment.
“We were able to use the move to pull through some of our new external branding internally,” he adds. “We used it as an opportunity to refine who we are and what our internal culture is.”