McCann Managed Markets president Kim Wishnow-Per says she’s spending a lot of time these days convincing physicians that their patients can afford a drug. Affordability has risen in importance since the US government became the largest payer. Before the ACA’s implementation, if a doctor understood a clinical message, coverage concerns were almost a “hidden objection,” she explains, cropping up as a reason the doctor didn’t write for the drug. Now, access assurance has to be front-and-center.
“Brands have to deliver, in addition to a clinical message, a cost-and-coverage message,” says Wishnow-Per. “Changing the message has been the cornerstone of a lot of our growth.” To offer that service to all roster brands through their respective agencies, this IPG agency realigned, leaving the McCann Torre Lazur Group (it shed the “TL” from its name), so its services are more accessible to all US professional shops in the reconfigured North American region.
The move was designed to enable more collaboration with sister shops pitching for professional work, including those in the RCW Group, and to help the payer agency get in front of new clients.
Its drive to collaborate paid off at the end of 2012, when the shop picked up GlaxoSmithKline’s entire respiratory franchise, with four in-line and four pipeline products, as well as AstraZeneca anti-clot drug Brilinta.
The wins, which were joined by Janssen biologic Simponi (it’s handling the ulcerative colitis launch) and other work for Grifols, “filled the hole” created when erstwhile client Plavix, the Bristol-Myers Squibb clot-buster, went off-patent in May 2012, says Wishnow-Per.
The same LOE story is happening with Novartis osteoporosis drug Reclast, which loses exclusivity this year. “It’s winding down, but we’re still hanging on,” says Wishnow-Per, trying to help the brand maintain loyalty. Ditto for Daiichi’s Welchol heart drug.
But “things are just going really well for us,” boasts Wishnow-Per. Because the GSK and AZ wins hit at year’s end, 2012’s bottom line was flat, but headcount rose from 30 to 34 and the new business could set up the agency for growth in 2013.
The agency is also set to bolster the digital portion of its media mix, now at 35%. “We probably do more print than we should, but we have to take direction from the clients,” she says. Not that they do much journal advertising. But with managed-markets clients, the budget isn’t there for tablet apps and most of the agency’s work is content-driven. “We do a lot of training internally of the sales force, so sometimes that doesn’t relate to anything other than a WebEx,” says Wishnow-Per. While the agency has picked up app and web redesign work, its work is a mix of web, iPad and print.
It’s also planning to make an effort to integrate with the RCW shops. “Now that we all report up into Marci [Piasecki, region head of North America],” she adds, “it makes it a lot cleaner for us to work with the RCW folks, to continue leveraging the McCann relationship from a managed-markets perspective.”
Prior to the realignment, “occasionally they would call us for a pitch or when there was an immediate need, but it was sort of ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ We’re going to be much more visibly available. We will be on their premises more often to mine those opportunities. Before it was a little more reactive—they called us, and we came running to help.”