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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry
AGENCY OF THE YEAR, CATEGORY II
BRAND TEAM OF THE YEAR
BEST PHILANTHROPIC CAMPAIGN
|Active business clients||13|
|Brands by 2013 sales|
|Brand-product accounts held||35|
|$25 million or less||5|
|$25 million – $50 million||1|
|$50 million – $100 million||2|
|$100 million – $500 million||3|
|$500 million to $1 billion||1|
|$1 billion or more||3|
|Professional advertising and promotion (print, interactive, and digital media)||90%|
Stiefel (a GlaxoSmithKline company)
For McCann Torre Lazur (MTL), 2013 was a year of “audacious firsts,” says Bill McEllen, the recently promoted president of the MTL Group. For the first time ever, the agency exceeded 20 new account wins, 12 active launch accounts, and more than 30 percent year-end revenue growth – even more staggering considering many of the new business wins happened late in the year. At the same time, the agency reached a global milestone, with 40 percent of revenue driven by outside-U.S. business. Digital revenue more than doubled in 2013 – another first – with nearly half of MTL’s creative awards coming from interactive engagements. Rounding out a year of firsts was the adoption of the agency’s full-service patient engagement practice rooted in behavioral science. “We live in the sweet-spot between innovation and experience,” McEllen says. “We’re transforming a 30-year legacy of launch-intensity into an exciting new future.”
Executives say the majority of MTL’s new business wins during 2013 were organically driven. “We invest a lot of brain power in building business for our existing clients and career growth for our staff. This approach has really paid off,” says Mark Willmann, executive VP, managing director at MTL. The agency added nearly 50 employees in 2013. Brilinta, AstraZeneca’s novel anticoagulant for patients with acute coronary syndrome, was a textbook example: MTL was awarded the account based heavily on its legacy growing Plavix, the blockbuster antiplatelet therapy. According to executives, MTL did not walk away with the business, it charged forward, creating a professional campaign to help differentiate Brilinta in a highly satisfied space. “Our ‘Hero’ campaign vividly captures the high-stakes moment of a decision for a cardiac surgeon that consciously or not, dramatically impacts a patient’s life,” says Marcia Goddard, chief creative officer of the MTL Group.
MTL additionally saw impressive organic growth across its U.S. and global accounts. “We’re leveraging our global agency partners more than ever before,” says Hilary Gentile, executive VP, strategic planning. “Together, we’ve applied a rigorous customer-centric approach along with disciplined cultural saturation to address regional brand challenges. It means moving beyond simple insights – digging deep to uncover those truths that drive real behavioral change.”
The approach has paid off. MTL added global launch business across its GlaxoSmithKline portfolio, including respiratory and oncology. Teva awarded MTL the global business for Copaxone, the most prescribed multiple sclerosis therapy worldwide. Gilead awarded MTL the global launch of a novel HIV therapy. On the U.S. side, MTL won notable launch brands for GSK-Stiefel Dermatology and Teva’s Adasuve, an antipsychotic for agitation.
With an eye toward the future, MTL witnessed yet another first. “We’re proud to be growing more orphan brands than ever before,” says Beth Beck, executive VP, managing director at MTL.
These orphan brands include Actelion’s launch of Opsumit for pulmonary arterial hypertension, expected to eventually achieve blockbuster status; Novartis’ bimagrumab, expected to be the first and only drug for sIBM, a rare form of muscle wasting; and 10 orphan brands from the Grifols franchise of plasma-derived therapies. MTL was also awarded two new specialty launch brands for Inspirion Pharmaceuticals.
Agency executives point out that the breadth and depth of creative excellence did not go unnoticed in 2013. MTL took home dozens of creative awards, from Med Ad News, MM&M, the Webby Awards, Globals, Creativity International (Print & Interactive), ADCNJ, and PharmaChoice PM360. Notable wins included the Ulesfia “Leave Lice Breathless” campaign for Shionogi and a series of unbranded “edu-tainment” games supporting the launch of laquinimod, a novel oral MS therapy: “The Neurodegeneration Gap” allowed convention attendees to virtually descend into a neuron-shaped chasm representing the MS knowledge gap and “Beat the Atrophon” pitted neurologists against a “Simon-says” brain in a trivia race to stop brain atrophy.
During 2013, MTL established its first-ever patient engagement practice, which puts proven behavioral science into practice through cutting-edge digital, mobile, gaming, and incentive technologies. MTL executives point out that not many agency brand teams have healthcare professional and patient behavioral specialists on staff.
“Many agency groups silo patient and professional marketing efforts,” says Michael Brzozowski, executive VP, managing director of patient engagement. “Increasingly, our clients need closer collaboration and integration of patient and professional efforts in order to achieve better health outcomes.”
MTL is a full-service agency focusing on advertising and promotion to healthcare professionals and patients delivered via print, video, and interactive media, including tablet and mobile applications, digital sales tools, and Website development. Patient engagement, strategic planning, digital services, and interactive strategy and innovation are integrated into a shared services model. Agency executives say MTL has infused digital strategy into every aspect of its offerings.
2013 saw an expanded executive team, including the addition of McEllen, whose background as a former client-side pharma marketer has brought a powerful client-centric perspective to MTL. Where others have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with clients, McEllen has walked in their shoes. According to agency leaders, as MTL ventures into ever more complex global, patient, and digital engagements, McEllen’s steady hand and down-to-earth demeanor will continue to be indispensable.
MTL has a long legacy of being the “launch agency.” However, as new leaders take the helm, MTL is reshaping that intensity into a more nimble, digitally savvy, and globally conscious powerhouse. “Truth well told,” the longstanding McCann credo, will continue to be a guiding doctrine. “If you have the courage to tell the truth, you can achieve anything,” McEllen says. Executives say for MTL, the future appears to be without bounds.
MTL piloted “McCann HealthCares” in late 2013. The program is dedicated to helping a local family achieve their dreams. “It’s a year-long initiative of giving inspired by the work our clients do – giving hope to people in need,” Goddard says. In lieu of a traditional holiday gift, the sponsorship is given in honor of all MTL clients, who receive periodic updates about the family.
MTL staff continues to rally behind the “MADdash 5K Run” each spring in memory of Madeline Loftus, an MTL employee who perished in the tragic crash of Continental flight 3407 over Buffalo, N.Y., in 2009.
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