The pharmaceutical market in the US grew by 3.7% in 2007, to $286 billion. In other words, last year offered the slowest rate of industry growth since 1961. Try telling that to Steve Viviano, president and CEO of the newly branded ICC, formerly Integrated Communications Corp. ICC grew in 2007 like it was the mid-nineties.
“2007 has been the best year since I’ve been with the agency,” says Viviano, who has been with ICC since 1992. For the fifth year in a row, ICC achieved double-digit new business wins with over 20 new assignments. In response to its ballooning client roster and acquisitions, ICC launched a new corporate identity and brand. The rebranding will “allow us to incorporate new agencies as we get them,” says Viviano. “We hired an environment branding company to help us take this new branding process across the board to other agencies.”
The rebranding process isn’t merely a refined logo— ICC now sports a sleek and cyan-colored diamond—it’s also a change to the office space itself. “In general, no company likes to change gratuitously, so there are things we’ve done to defuse the place with a new look…visually,” says Chet Moss, executive vice president and chief creative officer. “We’ve streamlined the graphics and provided an exciting way to define ourselves by a series of words ending in ‘ic;’ we’ve co-opted those words by adding an extra ‘c’ [at the end of the word], which gives ordinary words used across the industry an added emphasis. Words like ‘strategic,’ ‘iconic,’ ‘aesthetic’ and ‘acrobatic.’”
The Interpublic Group (IPG) added consumer group Alchemy to the ICC agency mix last May, and most recently purchased Brand(x), in London. “We’re proud of the fact that IPG added Brand(x) under ICC, and we attribute that decision to our success. IPG is acknowledging our five-year hot streak. We’ve now put all our European business under one roof with Brand(x),” says Viviano. Brand(x) will house ICC Europe, as well as promotional agency Lowe Azure and medical education shop Lowe Fusion. The office in Chiswick, London, will be the European hub agency for ICC.
The Alchemy acquisition offers ICC a pragmatic union of professional and consumer, and doesn’t hurt in a pitch either. “We want to start pitching business among inter-agencies. The first opportunity was with [the Abraxis injectable] Naropin, which was discovered through Alchemy’s website and was pitched jointly [with both Alchemy and sister agency Trio],” explains Viviano. “The second opportunity was with Ultram ER at Alchemy. We got the agency of record assignment from [Johnson & Johnson], and we handle it jointly between Alchemy and ICC.” Alchemy will also be included in the pitch for two other big clients in the coming months, which Viviano prefers not to name. Stu Klein is the general manager at Alchemy.
According to Moss, the acquisitions and rebranding have allowed ICC to look at professional and consumer strategy in a new way. “Given the agency cache, we’re coming together in our three sectors: strategic, medical and creative, the genesis of how this company started. We can now avail ourselves of our existing expertise to meet the needs of diverse clients, from oncology to cardiovascular to baby powder. We offer a singular expertise and perspective.”
Baby powder? “We have 20-plus medical directors on staff, even brands without strictly medical uses,” says Viviano. “For example, we recognized that there is a medically proven way to wash a baby properly: wash, moisturize and seal. There are products that correspond to each of those steps, and sales reps should talk about products that way. We brought that into the pitch with J&J, and it paid off. We put a medical director on all of our teams.”
Medical expertise as a basis for developing creative ideas, and tapping into new media channels and vehicles, gets Moss excited. “People are bursting at the seams to take advantage of interactive materials,” he says. “We work with [IPG’s] Emerging Media Lab for digital, and that includes bluecasting at conventions, for example. With Emerging Media Lab, we’ve expanded out and shifted from red-based tools to a whole new interactive engagement. It’s the presentation of static information versus animated information,” says Moss.
Both Moss and Viviano agree on the importance of tackling the shift from print media to online delivery. “We facilitate [interactive and digital services] in-house from design to insertion and through collaboration with interactive and search engine specialists,” says Moss. However, journal ads play an important role. “It’s not so much a case of diminishing journal ads, as it is a new way to serve up information. Journal ads have a discreet function; journals are the way agencies put out the concept that drives all other media,” says Viviano.
In 2007, ICC faced a significant challenge in the loss of Novartis’ Zelnorm. After the drug was pulled from the market due to safety concerns, ICC needed to rally back. “Zelnorm…was a pretty big hit for us,” says Viviano. “We plateaued. We were thinking that we have to fill in [the missing account] with new business. Almost $10 million has been recovered, through over 20 wins and seven new clients in 2007. For five years we grew, then we hit a plateau and then we went on a new business tear. That makes me proud of this company. We succeeded in overcoming the adversity.”
All those wins require new staff, and Viviano says ICC is working with a freshly hired recruiter, Chris Ross, to fill those seats. Since February, there have been 22 new hires, with 20 positions still open.
Key new hires for 2007 include Colleen Katzmen, EVP, management supervisor. Sharing account-services department duties with Katzmen is Ken Jordan, also EVP, management supervisor. Michael Ross was appointed general manager at ICC’s Trio agency, and Paul O’Neill was promoted to general manager at ICC’s flagship Parsippany, NJ, office.
In the new business category, key assignments other than the previously mentioned products include the fertility product Endometrin, from Ferring Pharmaceuticals, two diabetes brands from Elixir Pharmaceuticals, and Levitra for GlaxoSmithKline. Rounding out the list of key business wins are AstraZeneca’s anti-infective agent Merrem, four new brands from Sepracor, Niquitin and the smoking cessation franchise from GSK Consumer, a business-to-business assignment for Catalina Marketing, and medical education assignments for Aggrenox and Pradaxa, from Boehringer Ingelheim. Three new launches for 2007 include Vyvanse, an ADHD product from Shire, global launches for antihypertensive products Exforge and Rasilez/Tekturna from Novartis.
In addition to paid work, Viviano emphasizes ICC’s commitment to pro bono efforts, citing an award-winning food allergy campaign. Currently, Alchemy is working with the Partnership for a Drug Free America, which targets tweens, says Viviano.