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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry
1 Gatehall Drive
Parsippany, NJ 07054
|Active business clients||5|
|Full service professional – promotional multichannel||65%|
|Full service patient – promotional multichannel||20%|
|Full service professional – medical/disease education||15%|
American Heart Association
Re-engineering a major pharma agency can start with one person’s vision, but it takes many more aligned with that vision to make it successful. “In 2012 and 2013, we began building a team of leaders who had the talent and energy to reinvent ICC Lowe, and it’s now taking shape in ways I couldn’t have imagined without them,” says CEO Steve Viviano.
For ICC Lowe Pace, Viviano handpicked Gregg Geider as managing director to lead the agency’s cultural shift. “After years as a senior leader in a large city shop, Gregg was clearly ready to lead his own agency,” Viviano says. “He has a terrific reputation as someone who is universally respected by clients and peers, and equally important, by employees who’ve worked on his agency teams.”
According to executives, a key area of focus for ICC Lowe Pace will continue to be high-science and orphan brands – typically associated with the highest unmet needs. “These categories demand a strong scientific story distilled down to its essence to inspire meaningful change in physician practice,” Geider says. “What made Pace such an appealing choice for me was the opportunity to grow an agency already immersed in this arena, knowing I’d have the collaboration of ICC Lowe’s industry thought leaders.”
For Geider, one noteworthy draw of ICC Lowe is the deep bench of more than 20 physicians, Ph.D.s, and Pharm.D.s in the agency’s three Parsippany, N.J., offices, led by Stacy Patterson, M.D., chief medical officer. In fact, one member of this team, MJ Sawey, Ph.D., sits on the advisory board of NORD (National Organization of Rare Disorders). “These are the kind of resources that make ICC Lowe and Pace unique and why our clients continue to choose us,” Viviano says. “Stacy and her team excel at creating a simple medical story with a unique lexicon that establishes a brand’s desired place in the current treatment paradigm – whether it’s in pre-launch or seeking to maintain its competitive position at any time in the brand’s life cycle.”
Finding an unmet medical need that a brand can fulfill is a relevant capability for virtually any brand, even for consumer brands where physician recommendations are sought to boost sales. “Mining the literature and gaining customer insights is what we do best, and that’s true whether it’s a monoclonal antibody or an antihypertensive,” Geider says.
According to executives, another Pace area of expertise is helping physicians explain complex concepts in patient-friendly ways. “Genomic literacy is becoming the ‘new frontier’ of health literacy. Genetics play a major role in the treatment of many orphan diseases, including many cancers,” says Geider. “To effectively personalize medicine, patients will need to understand the basic tenets behind their treatment.”
ICC Lowe Pace had two business wins in 2013 – one a radiotracer to detect beta-amyloid in patients with cognitive decline; the second an orphan drug for less than 100 patients in the United States. In speaking of the second brand, Geider says, “This is a disease state where physicians and patients have had less than effective treatment for a long time. Getting this breakthrough medicine to patients will necessitate engineering connections between the advocacy group, patients, physicians, and payers – engaging them in innovative ways that maximize economies.”
Geider observes that every orphan brand enters a category that already has a story. “There are individual stories of personal and familial burden of illness and, too often, early mortality,” he says. “There are those who first sought to raise awareness and funds for research. Then, there are the medical and scientific pioneers, who labor, often for decades without success, to find better treatments. To influence these communities, you need insights and empathy to match your scientific acumen.”
According to Geider, creating a brand requires the ability to turn scientific knowledge and customer insights into a branding strategy that reaches into the hearts and minds of its audience. He points out that the broad category knowledge of his senior team – Deb Goldberg, senior VP, group account supervisor; DainiusJaras, senior VP, creative director, art; and Kathryn Lieberthal, senior VP, creative director, copy – gives Pace a distinct advantage in approaching a wide range of clients for new business opportunities. The team’s collective experience includes multiple solid tumor types and hematologic cancers, as well as rheumatology, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hepatitis C, macular degeneration, erectile dysfunction, allergies, and women’s health, a category in which Pace also has DTC experience.
Geider says he is pleased to be working closely with Eugene Lee, executive VP, chief digital officer, ICC Lowe, to create a fully integrated digital approach to both new and current client business. “Our clients need an agency partner who can strategize how to engage their customers and then execute in whatever channels are appropriate for the particular situation,” says Geider, who spent the last year heading up the re-engineering of a digital and traditional agency. “We can certainly work in a model where we provide the strategic thinking and scientific story that another agency then digitizes into various tools. Yet most of our clients value the synergy of our medical, strategic, and engagement specialists working together with our creative teams to solve their needs. That is the true home run.”
Geider and his senior team – who know each other from previous client-side careers – aspire to outgrow the adjective “boutique,” but for now, they are exactly where they want to be. “Boutique describes the personalized attention that clients can expect when their brand really matters to an agency,” Geider says. “It also describes the intimate and specialized atmosphere of a group truly turned on by high-science brands. As we add clients, we need to continue attracting people with the talent and experience to work on these brands. Our plan is to grow in such a way that we can maintain our culture and our level of partnership.”
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