McCann Regan Campbell Ward

McCann Regan Campbell Ward is now officially being run by the “R,” rather than the “R,” “C” and “W.”

Shortly after their alliance hit the 16-year mark last September, the three partners sold their minority stakes in the agency to McCann parent Interpublic Group, the majority shareholder from day one, exercising an option to sell that had been put in place four years ago.

Considering McCann Health’s move to shore up depth and strength in the North American marketplace, “strategically, it was the right time to do it,” says Maureen Regan, who oversees the agency and is president of McCann RCW Group, which includes McCann RCW and sibling McCann RCW Healthcare. “For all clients, it’s going to be business as usual.”

The former managing partner, Regan now reports into Marci Piasecki, who now heads McCann Health’s newly formed North American region. As for the other two founding agency partners in strategy and creative, respectively, Rich Campbell is now SVP, strategic planning, while Brendan Ward is EVP/executive director.

Agencies’ fortunes rise and fall with their clients. For McCann RCW, that client was Boehringer Ingelheim. In 2011 the agency lost the global brief for Pradaxa, its biggest account, to Saatchi.

Headcount dropped by 50 to 150, but that proved a bottoming out. The agency subsequently won back some Pradaxa business (the US professional AOR work), and the net effect is that staff size stands between 170 and 180, a drop of only about 20 from 2011.

How it was won stands as one of Regan’s greatest achievements. “We wanted the brand back and went after it,” she says. “We did a project in August 2012, pitched it at the start of this year, and won that pitch,” Campbell explains. Asked why that feels so satisfying, Ward responds: “We launched it over a long period of time, and you develop a relationship with the drug.”

The upshot: “It was pretty much a flat year [performance-wise] for RCW,” says Regan. Based on the opportunities appearing this summer, though, she expects business to increase for 2013.

As for organic growth, the agency picked up another assignment from Alexion PNH drug Soliris—the aHUS business. Next to Pradaxa, Soliris is one of its largest accounts. The shop’s third-largest account, Novartis acromegaly brand Sandostatin LAR, handed Regan’s crew the global assignment to go with the US business.

The agency also added some new clientele to the roster, including Daiichi Sankyo for its experimental cancer drug tivantinib and a variety of oncology initiatives across other brands.

Pradaxa’s return put the agency on a hiring spree. “A lot of people contacted me knowing we got Pradaxa back and [saying they] want to come work for RCW again,” says Matthew West, chief talent officer. About half of the original team members boomeranged.

Matter of fact, the agency has a lot of openings right now. Its biggest challenge: finding account supervisors. Says West, “There’s a dearth of talent at that level in the industry.” West says he’s expanding RCW’s digital education, and its On It Awards for exemplary employees continue. He also touts the agency’s track record in hiring recent college grads to come work full-time. “We have 11 interns this summer and one or two working in every department of the agency.”

Quips Regan, “It’s nice to have all this young talent around. I can’t have a cocktail party for them, but I can give them a tea party.”