Natrel Communications 2014
|Active business clients||17|
|Brands by 2013 sales|
|Brand-product accounts held||37|
|$25 million or less||6|
|$25 million – $50 million||10|
|$50 million – $100 million||12|
|$100 million – $500 million||8|
|$1 billion or more||1|
Natrel Communications – an independent, mid-sized agency – proved once again last year that large, network-based agencies are not the only ones with impressive global capabilities, according to management. In a nod to Natrel’s strategic and creative achievements for CSL Behring global products, the company awarded Natrel two new agency-of-record assignments for global pipeline products. The agency was also tapped to create corporate branding for one of the CSL Behring’s global product franchises.
The Year’s Accomplishments
What is behind Natrel’s success on the global front? According to Nicole Hyland, senior VP, chief marketing officer, the agency honed its capabilities “in the trenches,” through numerous global product launches and lifecycle challenges over the years.
“We’ve learned that it’s not about getting ‘feet on the ground’ in multiple countries,” Hyland says.
According to Ed Shankman, senior VP, chief creative officer, “It’s about implementing a highly disciplined approach to global branding that establishes a consistent look, feel, and messaging platform across all markets and communications – and then allowing individual countries to adapt that messaging to the specific needs of their region.”
For CSL Behring and other global clients, the agency now develops global branding guidelines, a document that explains the thinking behind each branding element, such as visuals, type fonts, and colors. The guidelines also describe how each element should be used to help ensure the consistency that builds brand equity over time. Local affiliates in each country, and their agencies, then work within these guidelines to create their own promotional pieces.
Natrel also creates branding guidelines for some of its domestic clients, so that all vendors have easy access to the unique branding elements established in the core promotional campaign. This helps maintain the consistency of a campaign without fashioning a “creative straightjacket” for new projects.
In addition to helping current clients look for innovative ways to move their brands forward this year, the agency added products from several new clients to its roster.
These products include Phazyme, an OTC gas-relieving medication from Fleet that Natrel will promote to healthcare professionals, and BD Cato Medication Workflow Solutions, an integrated software system for hospital pharmacies from BD.
Standing behind Natrel’s global and domestic success stories are the highly experienced senior staff and energetic support staff that make up the agency’s workforce.
The agency added a veteran global marketer to its staff – Beth Davis, VP group account supervisor. Davis comes to Natrel with 20 years of U.S. and global marketing experience on both the client and agency sides of the pharmaceutical business.
Natrel believes that all staffers, from the most junior to the “pharma lifers,” have room to learn and grow so that they can better serve clients. That’s why the agency instituted a monthly creative lunch and learn program for the account team this year, “Natrel Idol.” Participants in this friendly “competition” are each asked to prepare and present 15-minute educational sessions on pre-assigned topics. Fellow account team members complete an evaluation form following each session and a prize was awarded for the most compelling presentation. The result, according to one team member, has been “new learnings, a chance to practice our presentation skills in a supportive environment, and a whole lot of fun!”
As in previous years, Natrel received several industry awards for creativity, including an Rx Club Award of Excellence for print mail and a Telly award for an educational video.
Structure And Services
Founder David Nakamura continues to head the organization, while Hyland and Shankman have led the account and creative teams respectively for more than six years. Early in 2014, Hyland, who joined the agency in 1999 as its first staff member, was promoted from senior VP director of client services to senior VP chief marketing officer – a reflection of her exceptional strategic contributions to the agency over the past 15 years. Stepping into the position of senior VP director of client services is TamraMicco, former senior VP management supervisor, another deeply respected and talented veteran of the healthcare industry.
“Many agency staffers have been with the agency for more than five years, some more than 10,” Natrel executives say. “This stability is clearly mirrored in the long-term client relationships and repeat business reported by the agency.”
Natrel offers its clients a full range of services that include strategic and tactical planning, global branding, a unique personality workshop, global and domestic advertising and promotion for Rx and OTC products, promotional medical education, managed care programs, and sales representative training/motivation.
According to management, Natrel has remained passionately independent for its first 15 years and the goal is to keep it that way. By taking full advantage of the agility, autonomy, and flexibility that independence affords, Natrel continues to grow and deliver the kind of service that keeps clients coming back for more. The agency also maintains a relatively flat management structure so that ideas make their way from brainstorming sessions to the client’s boardroom without being watered down by layers of review. Hyland explains, “Our plan is to keep focusing on what we do best – providing insightful strategies and world class creative to our clients in the specialty pharma marketplace,” agency leaders note.
Natrel continues to support the P.G. Chambers School, a local facility for children with a wide range of physical and learning disorders. Many Natrel employees also participate in community service projects and fundraising events individually. One example bears special mention this year.
Shankman is the author of numerous books for young children, including “The Bourbon Street Band is Back,” a story about “the day the music stopped and great New Orleans lost its voice.” His book was the centerpiece of a “learning party” at the New Orleans Public library, where actor Wendell Pierce read the book aloud to a group of more than 500 students. The event’s goal was to draw attention to the fight against illiteracy by attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the largest interactive learning session. The day also included performances by prominent jazz musicians such as trumpeter Irvin Mayfield. A portion of proceeds from sales of the book are being donated to the New Orleans Musicians Association Foundation.
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February 2015 Focus: Agenda 2015, Top 10 Pipelines, SFE