Top 100 Agencies 2015: Discovery USA

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Discovery USA's ad work for Sanofi Pasteur's high-dose influenza vaccine Fluzone
Discovery USA's ad work for Sanofi Pasteur's high-dose influenza vaccine Fluzone

Reorganization of the specialty healthcare marketing and communications shop Discovery USA sparked a path of personal discovery. The agency's leaders are in a comfortable spot—one they worked hard to create—but do not intend to rest on their laurels.

Last year marked the Publicis Healthcare Communications Group agency's first full year with a new identity, and a shinier version of the same focus it has had all along. “We focus on the orphan and specialty sectors,” discloses Kristin Keller, EVP of client engagement. “Our approach resonates with our clients and our focus is just what they look for with that patient population.”

Group Managing Director Don Young acknowledges that creating a new type of agency often takes on a life of its own, full of challenges and exciting breakthroughs. Winning new clients and strengthening momentum with current clients has kept the train moving forward. “As we transform who we are and the work we do through our clients, we're amazed at the impact we can make on people's health,” he states.

Reporting a successful 2014, agency leaders ex­pect the growth trajectory to continue in 2015. The agency celebrated eight account wins last year, mainly with mid-tier pharma and biotech companies.

“Our clients look for integrated strategies across multiple channels, more analytics and better ­program performance,” Keller states. “Our ultimate vision is to better the world and to improve patient care.”

Agency leaders saw opportunity in ­reinventing themselves. It gave them a chance to see where the industry is headed and adapt their approach to keep up. “We've watched pharma pivot from a blockbuster focus to zero in on specialty, high-value, high-touch products,” Keller observes. “That's always been our focus and continues to be our focus.”

The agency is uniquely prepared to accommodate the shift. The orphan drug arena is no longer a small sector that people dabble in. It's a huge need and Discovery is more than equipped to step up. “There is so much opportunity to make a difference and change patient perspective,” Keller asserts.

Discovery aims to be an agile partner that can assist a client's brand throughout its life cycle. “We offer strength and support beginning in the preclinical phase,” Keller says. A few of the clients the agency services in the orphan- and specialty-drug category include Abbott, Nordion, Questcor Pharmaceuticals, Astellas, Biogen and Otsuka.

The agency's focus on “bettering”—bettering the world, the experience, the method—was conceived to encourage action and to make a difference. Its bettering the world focus extends beyond clients. “Our employees like being part of a purpose-driven organization moving forward,” Young says.

With offices in Philadelphia and Chicago, the challenge is keeping the team on the same track. “We think of ourselves as one agency, two locations,” Young reveals. This is not a new thing for them—the agency is well rehearsed. “We find ways to make connections across our two locations and global affiliates,” Young reports. “The leadership team is cross-functional and cross-locational.”

Discovery USA has set a clear course. “We're focused on staying on plan and doing our best work possible for our clients and doing what we can to improve the patient experience,” Keller concludes. 

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