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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

McCann HumanCare: 2016

Written by: | | Dated: Monday, April 25th, 2016

McCann HumanCare
622 Third Avenue
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 646-865-3246

Account wins    4
Active business clients    8

Brands by 2015 sales
Brand-product accounts held    19

Services Mix
Digital    35%
Television    30%
Print    10%
CRM    10%
Point of Care    10%
Point of Purchase    5%

Client Roster
Bausch & Lomb
Nestle Nutrition
Reckitt Benckiser
United States Postal Service


“Courage. It’s a trait many agencies say they have, but McCann HumanCare lives and breathes it,” executives at this agency declare. Agency leaders say its “deeply ingrained bravery” contributed to “spectacular” growth in 2015.

“McCann HumanCare is all about developing ideas that solve the toughest challenges for the health and wellness of brands and people,” executives say. According to Auge Reichenberg, executive VP, executive creative director, “What keeps our clients up at night gets McCann HumanCare up in the morning.”

McCann HumanCare increased its revenue 44 percent in 2015. Executives say they accomplished this through both the addition of several new brands, and through expanded relationships with existing clients.

Most important in 2015, McCann HumanCare’s roster continued to expand to include numerous OTC and wellness products, digital health engagements, and nutrition assignments.

Under President Leo Tarkovsky’s leadership, the agency has reached its highest revenue levels since being founded in 2003, executives say. According to its leaders, McCann HumanCare has become a leader in consumer health and wellness communications agencies, with the robust client roster to prove it.

“Our diverse range of clients is beginning to reflect the amazing richness of what the wellness category has become in this country,” Tarkovsky says.

The year’s accomplishments
In 2015, McCann HumanCare added several new clients to its roster from multiple companies, including Bayer, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Janssen, and Nestlé Infant Nutrition. According to Andrew Chamlin, chief marketing officer, “McCann HumanCare’s uncovering of rich insights, creative flair, and integration with other McCann Health agencies paid dividends several times over.”

One example of such integration is the win of the Bayer women’s health franchise global portfolio, executives say. This new assignment was the result of a joint effort with McCann Healthcare, a sister HCP agency within the McCann Health Network, and Weber Shandwick in PR.  The assignment includes supporting existing products and launching new ones.

“One of HumanCare’s creative people has a T-shirt that reads ‘Plays well with others,’ which is an appropriate, if slightly ratty, nod to their integration capabilities,’” executives say.

Also in partnership with McCann Healthcare, McCann HumanCare won a strategic assignment for Nestlé’s Infant Nutrition brand Gerber Good Start. This assignment’s goal will be to educate institutional influencers on the benefit of Gerber’s unique formulation for atopic dermatitis, executives say.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals awarded McCann HumanCare the AOR assignment for Cervadil, a product indicated for ripening of the cervix in pregnant women who are at or near time of delivery. An integrated campaign is now in development.

In addition to adding to its client roster, in 2015 McCann HumanCare brought a number of new campaigns to market.

For the agency’s Rx clients, in-market programs were launched for Merck’s Ragwitek and Grastek, Takeda/Lundbeck’s Brintellix, and a significant disease awareness campaign for Novartis.

As led by Gary Chu, executive VP executive, account director on behalf of Novartis, McCann HumanCare launched a new disease awareness campaign – a multichannel initiative for chronic heart failure patients.  
Also under Gary Chu’s leadership, McCann HumanCare brought a new launch campaign to market for Merck’s Ragwitek. This unique immunotherapy allergy treatment required pointed messaging to motivate patients to treat their ragweed allergies proactively.
Additionally, within the Rx arena, McCann HumanCare launched a new campaign for Brintellix, a novel compound for major depressive disorder jointly marketed by Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. and Lundbeck. Erica Yahr, executive VP, strategy director, says, “This campaign brought to market an important insight for longstanding sufferers and motivated patients to talk to their doctor about their depression symptoms.”

On the OTC side, a whole array of new work premiered in 2015, with non-pharma work accounting for almost half of the total volume, executives say.

For Bausch & Lomb’s Biotrue, McCann expanded on the existing “BioTruths” campaign, and deployed the brand’s first advertising campaign for Soothe Lubricant Eye Drops.  

As an AOR for the CeraVe skincare franchise, McCann HumanCare took an alternative route to connecting this small brand to millions of new customers. According to executives, this superior product was virtually unknown beyond a cult following, despite significant distribution in all major retailers.

“Only a small percentage of patients actually visit a dermatologist annually, but we knew that product endorsements by reputable experts could extend beyond the physician’s office,” Yahr says. McCann HumanCare leveraged the new celebrities of the digital age–influential YouTube beauty video bloggers. A fresh and distinctive social media campaign made use of the entire digital ecosystem, including YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. In recognition of its impressive results, the CeraVe social media campaign received an Advertising and Marketing Effectiveness award for the best use of a medium.

McCann HumanCare’s partnership with Reckitt Benckiser brought several executions to market in 2015, executives say. The agency is currently engaged with Reckitt Benckiser’s portfolio of vitamins, minerals, and supplements after having won the Mucinex business in a pitch the previous year. The VMS portfolio includes MegaRed, Digestive Advantage, Airborne, and Move Free.
For MegaRed, McCann HumanCare created a new campaign featuring synchronized dancers gracefully moving to form different shapes. The agency was able to deliver an educational story through dance, choreography, and the power of 48 dancers in brightly colored leotards. “This spot’s unconventional storytelling tells you everything you need to know in a way that’s as easy to absorb as the product itself. The team has done a terrific job of answering the age-old industry challenge of how one makes a demo human…truly human,” said Tarkovsky says.

As part of the multimedia initiative, the agency deployed an inventive digital and social media campaign, including Facebook posts that leveraged the cinemagraph technique in order to drive stronger consumer engagement, executives say. Chris Tedesco, the general manager of U.S. marketing at Reckitt Benckiser, said in a statement, “The McCann team was able to take a very functional and educational message and create a visually arresting campaign that stands out among the competition.” The work was also developed to run in a number of global markets.
With Airborne, the agency created a holistic campaign for both the US and global markets. Globally, the challenge was to introduce both the product and new communications to markets where immune-boosting via supplements is a relatively new behavior. In the United States, it was critical to address the skeptics and reinforce the brand equity of the product by launching a new clinically proven line extension.
For Move Free, the agency managed to go to market in a relatively short time after being awarded the business. Early results show positive trends in brand awareness and favorability.

And finally, for RB’s Mucinex, in partnership with McCann New York, the team continued the wildly popular Mr. Mucus’s journey as one of the most recognizable OTC icons in marketing today. The highly successful campaign now leverages online and offline vehicles. The effort was also recognized with an AME effectiveness award for campaign integration.  

Structure and services
The type of growth demonstrated by McCann HumanCare became possible as a result of a profound organizational transformation effected by Tarkovsky since he arrived in 2013, executives say. Putting a strong emphasis on creativity, with Reichenberg at the helm of the creative department, has clearly paid dividends with innovative campaigns, a series of impressive new business wins, and a growing list of creative awards for the agency. In 2015, the creative department also benefited from the infusion of top-notch talent from some of the most prominent consumer agencies, including experts in digital and UX. “Among creatives in healthcare advertising, the word on the street is that McCann HumanCare is the place to work,” executives say. “Having outgrown their previous space like a pair of too-tight jeans, HumanCare has just settled into brand-new, much larger quarters.”
The strategic department, led by Yahr, grew considerably and has continuously been cited by clients as “stellar and super smart.” In 2015, Yahr drove an expansion in digital and social expertise, helping produce award-winning, innovative work that delivered solid results. According to Yahr, “It is impossible to fully meet the needs of our clients today without providing a robust and holistic solution to their toughest marketing challenges.”

As stated by Tarkovsky, “Today, virtually all of our clients take advantage of the entire array of the agency’s capabilities – from TV to tweets.”

Future plans
As agency leadership looks at the next several years, it sees two key growth levers to pull – diversification and digital fluency – in addition to elevating the quality of the creative output.

“Diversification has been in the works for the past two years, with lots of progress to show,” executive say.

Going deeper into the world of health services (hospital and retail), digital health, and nutrition is something that agency Chamlin is focusing on.

“Digital fluency is a newer concept that stems from the widely accepted executional gap that exists between pure play digital and more traditional integrated agencies,” executives say.

According to Tarkovsky, “My objective is to push beyond ‘integrated’ (which means we can do everything) to ‘fluent’ – being able to do work irrespective of the channel, at the same high level of excellence, polish, and ease – not unlike a linguist switching languages flawlessly, depending on who they are talking to.”

Digital fluency is already starting to manifest itself in the new digitally native talent joining the agency on the operational, strategic, and creative sides, according to executives.

At McCann HumanCare, the values of being brave, curious, and human are lived and rewarded every day, executives say. This is most clearly demonstrated by the recent pro-bono launch of a campaign for the Hope for Depression Research Foundation. The campaign addresses the insensitivity and misunderstanding endured by millions of depression sufferers every day. The effort includes a 60-second TV spot and web video, as well as a new landing page for the PSA program. This passion project generated significant PR for the foundation and included celebrity endorsements by Muriel Hemingway and Demi Lovato. The campaign has gone viral and achieved over 20,000,000 views.

“Unique to McCann HumanCare, however, is how people across the organization rally behind such initiatives with incredible commitment,” executives say. “This whole effort was made possible by two senior creatives, Andrea Thompson and Kenny Evans, and one young account supervisor, Edward Morrissey, who went above and beyond the call of duty on this challenge. As this campaign is being submitted to Cannes this year, the agency decided to send Edward there as a sign of appreciation for his selfless contribution to this important initiative. It takes a village to do brave work, and all the Humans of McCann HumanCare are enthusiastic participants in that mission.”

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