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Agency 100 Playbook Podcast we live in a state of continuous partial attention.

Right, we’re in a meeting while going through email where streaming a movie while texting with friends this fractionalize the tension.

Makes it difficult for brands to achieve their two most important objectives which is to capture attention and to build trust.

Story telling is really what helps humanize the message like making it engaging and it also helps really simplify a very.

Complex story that helps make it more understandable and accessible to broader audience.

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Hi, this is Jack O’Brien digital editor at MM+M.

We’re ready to kick off another thrilling episode of the A100 PlayBook podcast join us as we huddle up with members of the MM+M Agency 100 list giving them the opportunity to tackle what makes them stand out.

In this episode, we’re lining up for a deep dive into Merge.

With inside from Megan Doyle and Pat McGloin.

Megan and Pat how are you doing today?

Hey yeah great.

Dad I want to start the conversation off with you when you know we spoke a couple months ago for a webinar that we were both.

On and I know that a big part of your agencies.

Ethos and operating structure is based around.

Storytelling and technology, can you talk to me a little bit about the storytelling component because I know every agency that I talked with it’s always about being able to take not only the clients idea, but then actually turn it into a way that can be messaging communicate in the really effective way.

Absolutely Jack you know storytelling is really at the core of what makes us human.

And it’s been the fundamental method for passing down traditions and values across generations.

Since before they add them of writing.

And you know as we have all storytelling was a crucial.

component of education and social cohesion

making it the foundational element for forming connections.

And even now storytelling allows us to connect by fostering that empathy and understanding in ways that facts alone. Just can’t.

you know when you think about Pharma you’re thinking a lot about facts right and so

the storytelling really allows us to kind of move beyond just the facts.

Yeah, that’s so true Pratt and I think like for Pharma specifically.

You know when you think about the complexity of information that needs to be communicated. It’s really easy for marketing.

to fall into the trap of being technical and dry and

storytelling is really what helps humanize the message like making it engaging.

And it also helps really simplify a very complex story.

That helps make it more understandable and accessible to broader audience.

And then when you have a strong clinical understanding of the therapeutic area and the needs and the decision-making process of https and patience you can really enhance stories.

in Waze

that are going to enable brands to really standard part.

So it’s those meaningful clinical insights and the valuable and relatable information.

That we believe really helped acps and patients feel understood and make them more likely to trust and engagement with a brand.

and obviously such a key component that goes to supporting any of that storytelling is the technology in the innovation series you’re able to Leverage be able to

be able to tell those stories and all sorts of different ways in different mediums different channels. I’m curious Pat if you can kind of break down for me why it’s so important when you’re looking at the modern marketing landscape because obviously we’ve seen the introduction of

generative AI chat gbt you name it obviously you can’t ignore those technologies, but you also have to make them work on a practical basis. So can you talk to me a little bit about the technological aspect?

Yeah, absolutely you know I think many marketers struggle with the technology piece. You know I was a chief commercial officer before I came over to merge.

you know over a decade ago and

you know I was struggling with implementing, Salesforce

marketing cloud and all of the

different components of that and it’s actually what really truly interested me in.

enjoying a more technologically for agency like merge and

you know we’re storytelling can break down.

In our 24/7 digitally driven world isn’t it’s delivery.

Right over the past 15 years there’s been an exponential increase in media channels and information sources.

all with the intention

of improving communication

But really what’s happening is a loss of connection.

You know I like to say we live in a state of continuous partial attention.

Right where in a meeting while going through email where streaming a movie while texting with friends.

this fractionalized attention

makes it difficult for brands to achieve their two most important objectives which is to capture attention and to build trust.

And so that’s where the technology comes in understanding where people are in their journey across these platforms and channels.

Helps us meet them.

where they’re at

both literally and figuratively

and to do that you need the right content delivered in the right context.


And you know we believe that medical strategy really plays a really important role here.

Because to develop content that’s going to resonate with every person you’re trying to connect with.

You have to consider all of the clinical data. That’s available to draw from from the clinical studies.

To the real world evidence, it’s all really essential.

In helping us understand.

Those decision trees or the pathways that hcps are using to decide.

Which treatment they’re going to prescribe?

So with that understanding it becomes a whole lot easier to identify.

How brands can best position themselves relative to other treatment options?

And then we can develop the tailored messages that are really essential.

Yet, so challenging.

To create when you’re considering an omni channel approach.

their challenging

not only because different audiences or segments require.

Like distinct messages for those messages to be meaningful.

But also because the messages.

Have to be compliant with regulatory guidances.

will also being

optimally presented for a channel.

so this is

You know especially challenging when you think about therapeutic areas like oncology.

Where you have those rapid advancements and emerging treatments that really require concept adaptation and refinement of messages.

So the ability to adapt is really essential.

Because it’s what allows the brands to stay relevant over time.

And maintained that strong connection with hcps and patients.

So one of the ways you know we try to ensure that we’re able to quickly adapt.

Is by partnering with brand marketers in the navigation of their internal mlr or PRC processes so that?

you know

we’re we’re able to come in and actually often take a very active role in their review meetings to help provide rationale and offer suggestions for adjustments.

And we find that you know the brand team is really appreciate this partnership.

And often rely on us and some of the critical moments during these meetings.

And when we work together in this way.

It really helps streamline the approval process for one but then it also ensures that the final message is that come out of the meeting are not only compliant.

But they’re also still strategically effective.

Which helps maximize their impact for the brand?

You know Megan that’s so true and a lot of times. It’s it’s overlooked you know it’s maybe common sense but not common practice.

So having you know that partnership behind the scenes to get that Ideal story.

Brought forward in a regulatory compliant way.

Is really critical so to be successful within this backdrop Pharma companies need to Embrace the idea of moving from producer to problem solver. How can we help make that journey?

More human more helpful and ultimately more frictionless for the hcp or the patient.

And really the technology is what enables the delivery of the story in the overall experience.

When we’re architecting that omni channel ecosystem, we’re designing for the person.

in their journey first

Then we’re thinking about the platform technology required to deliver on that experience in a meaningful way.

You can’t do it the other way around.

You know and people have started calling it that you know that blue jeans moment so thinking of the hcp in this case as a person and designing for their expectations.

As a consumer.

the way Amazon designs experiences for their customers

So whether it’s AI or Salesforce marketing cloud or vive or Adobe experience or sitecore starting with that deep understanding?

Of that human journey and empathy for their story allows you to select and connect the appropriate technology platforms to create enhance those meaningful connections.

These are such key insights for our audience to understand. I want to go to another one that I think is very important is if you know if we have this conversation say a decade ago.

I think we’ve been on the

Cutting Edge of what we ultimately saw is the big data Revolution where everyone’s like we have to have data and it was just so data forward and data heavy.

But then the follow up to that was well. It has to be good data to which is not always the case is easy to get a lot of data. It’s not easy to have good data, and if you don’t have good data. You’re not going to have good results either, so Pat I want to ask you about integrating that into your storytelling too because again it’s very easy to accrue all that information, but you have to have meaningful information to match up with these stories that you’re trying to position your brands and certain ways.

absolutely Jack you know I always think about it in terms of

separating the signal from the noise right and so when you’re collecting all this data. There’s a lot of signal to noise ratio.

And so starting with that end in mind up front allows you to really separate that so.

If you’re not collecting and leveraging the data to create these more.

Personalized experiences you’re not actually taking an omni channel approach.

You know I think everyone has their own definition of omni channel but really.

What makes it truly channel?

is by collecting that data so

if you’re not collecting the data and and leveraging it.

You’re just executing on a multi-channel approach.

The connected kind of systems thinking is what makes it on each channel.

so when you are

thinking about that ecosystem that you’re trying to build.

You’re going to produce a lot of data. It’s just that’s just how it is.

And that data is what makes it omni channel, but it’s also what makes it intimidating it first.

So when we’re partnering with our clients we’re beginning with the end of in mind.

Alright, what are your business objectives?

What are those leading and lagging key performance indicators?

That will inform your progress.

Once your organizationally aligned on these you can begin to think about how to configure the systems.

So that you can mine and refine the data that will help you know.

Where you’re making progress and where you’re stagnating you know it doesn’t always go perfectly at first.

What you’re building is a learning system.

Alright and so as you’re collecting that data.

You’re trying to Leverage that to make smarter and smarter decisions.

over time

so you need to be thoughtful about what data is meaningful and how that data is going to inform the advancement of that approach.

You know I like to describe it as moving from silos to systems and it’s really to me.

It’s thinking from a systems mindset that truly makes it omni channel.

How are we normalising the data and setting up the apis to ensure that what we’re seeing?

And doing is on the right path.

absolutely Pat

and then by leveraging the insights that were able to get from the data. We can also pivot our messaging.

To really address any of the identified challenges that might be threatening our ability.

To maintain those meaningful connections with our audiences.


being able to quickly adapt.

you know it’s so important and we found that cross-functional collaboration between

our Analytics teams and medical strategy teams is so important there.

Because it helps us ensure that we’re not only reacting to data, but that we’re also proactively anticipating shifts and trends in the market.

So Analytics can help us identify.

The key data insights and trends and then the medical strategists can help really interpret these findings within the context of the therapeutic landscape.

And patient needs.

And then this partnership.

Allows us to continuously react to refine so we’re ensuring that the messages that we evolved stay both scientifically sound and also strategically positioned.

to help Drive more effective campaigns

and I think segmentation is you know also an important part of this.

Our brand and engagement strategists and our medical directors and our media and Analytics teams they all work together.

To really evaluate the specific needs preferences and behaviors of different segments.

And when we understand this it allows us to tailor our stories to be more relevant and impactful.

To give you an example like hcps it you know different stages of familiarity with the product.

They might need varying levels of detail varying.

amounts of Clinical evidence

or for patients, let’s say patients with rare disease.

You know they might go through different stages right like the initial diagnosis.

Where they might need more detailed educational content.

And it later go into more of a stage of ongoing management.

Where at that point they require more support resources updates on new treatment options things like that.

So by aligning our story arcs with the different stages of the patient and the HTTP journeys.

We can ultimately enhance the effectiveness of our omni channel marketing efforts.

Ensuring that each segment is getting the right content at the right time.

And then that helps Foster stronger connections and more meaningful engagements.

and I want to kind of bring these two ideas that we really been talking about in terms of the data and technology and the storytelling Aspect

to a head here and and understand and maybe making you can carry his off in terms of like any sort of meaningful results you’ve seen in terms of being able to tell.

A transformation of hcp or patient experience in terms of a campaign because I think that’s where ultimately becomes.

Applicable for our audience is able to see like okay, so we’re talking about all these Concepts within to see the end result.

What really stands out to you?

sure Jack so

we’ve actually had a lot of success developing testimonial lead on these channel campaigns.

And they’re they’re interesting because they uniquely blend hcp and patient perspectives together.

Which we found can connect both of those audiences to personal experiences that they’re having around the selection and use of a product.

That really resonate at a deeper level.

And so it makes the information that’s delivered through the story more relatable and engaging.

So if you think about therapeutic areas like neurology.

Where there’s you know so many different treatment options.

We found that doing these sorts of testimonials really.

composition the brand more authentically

and can also be a really effective way to

highlight some of the more nuanced differentiators of a brand.

That might not be completely evident just through the presentation of the clinical data alone.

And then it also helps us build strong connections.

Because you know in doing this we’re focusing.

More on the holistic experience that people are having living with or managing these conditions. We’re not just focused on the clinical aspects of the disease.

So you know we really believe that this relevance.

Helps Foster trust and loyalty because the audience sees that the brand really understands and cares about their well-being not just their medical condition.

I really agreeing Megan and you know taking a omni channel approach.

Ensures that these powerful stories reach the audience wherever they are.

Whether it’s you know through print pieces or social media email websites or even in person engagement the consistent messaging across those various touch points really maximises the impact of the testimonials and maintains the engagement and authenticity of the approach overall.

This has been a really insightful discussion in terms of how you view your marketing efforts have been able to as an agency approach it I want to ask one final question and Pat maybe you can kick us off in terms of what makes your agency so uniquely suited to deliver.

These effective omni channel marketing strategies, what differentiates you from the other 99 that are on our list.

I love this question Jack

it’s really the origin story of merge you know to put it simply we’re just built different.

You know we’ve been purpose built to deliver on the Omni channel journey.


Just like the approach that we take.

To architect our clients Brand storytelling and more tech stack.

We’ve architected merged to be able to deliver on the promise of omni channel one of the many things that I love about working here.

And what I think really truly makes us special is our ability to bring together unlike minded individuals.

You know whether it’s technology developers Media planners brand creatives data scientists.

And PhDs like Meghan we’ve all come together to build something special.

and working in consumer-based verticals with clients like Kate Spade or American Express and the North Face

allows us to stay on the Cutting Edge of omni channel because as we all know.

Pharma tends to lag other verticals when it comes to marketing innovation and so being able to bring those innovations.

Over to our category.

but do it

within the regulatory guardrails that we all need to stay within.

Is really something that is truly fulfilling and I really enjoy doing.

completely agree

Awesome well, I really appreciate you being on this show and being able to talk to us again kind of about the what I think maybe some people see as a wonky or side with the technology, but then bring in that humanity in that emotional appeal.

with the storytelling Aspect and and obviously how it’s worked for your clients so

thank you again for being on here congrats on being on the Agency 100 for 2024 and

Hopefully, we have to have another conversation down the line about all the progress looking forward to it Jack yeah. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure.