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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Palio 2015

Written by: | | Dated: Monday, April 27th, 2015

450 West 15th Street
New York, NY 10011
Telephone: 212-849-9455





Account wins    20
Accounts resigned    1
Active business clients    23


Brands by 2014 sales
Brand-product accounts held    35
$25 million or less    4
$25 million – $50 million    1
$50 million – $100 million    5
$100 million – $500 million    9
$500 million to $1 billion    8
$1 billion or more    5
Products yet to be approved/launched    6
Pro bono consumer brands    5


Services Mix

Advertising and promotion    100%


Client Roster

Abbott Medical Optic
Abbott Vascular
Biosense Webster
Daiichi Sankyo
Double H Ranch
Gilead Sciences
Good Start Genetics
Heron Therapeutics
The Melanie Foundation
Merck Publishing
Opera Saratoga
Saratoga Shakespeare Company
Shelters of Saratoga
Shire US



Palio executives have three words for 2015: “Ready. Set. Ignited.”

Leveraging the agency’s tremendous momentum in 2014, management says Palio soared into 2015 with clear alignment around its capabilities, vision, and value in the marketplace. One of the agency’s first initiatives in 2015 is to focus on reenergizing its brand.

“Celebrating our 15th anniversary in 2014 gave us the perfect platform to reflect upon our past and build our future,” says President Kim Johnson. “We recognize the agency is transforming, blending its heritage in healthcare communications with energized leaders, expanded geographies, and innovative digital-to-the-core services. This insight drove us to infuse new energy into our proven agency.”

The revitalized brand identity represents the edgy and passionate team of creative thinkers who are shaping the agency of 2015 and beyond. “We are one company with a shared passion for big ideas and creative innovation in health and wellness. We are Palio. And we’re here to ignite brands in bold and evocative ways,” Johnson says.

The year’s accomplishments

Johnson and Guy Mastrion, chief global creative officer, led the agency in 2014 and developed high-performing teams in each location. Andrea Kretzmann was promoted to managing director on the West Coast and leads with Laura Presicci, VP, creative director. Cheryl Fielding, senior VP, client services, joined the team with Jeff Cammisa, senior VP, creative director, and together they lead the New York City office. Maureen Wendell was promoted to managing director and leads the Saratoga Springs office with Paul Harrington, senior VP, creative director.  

With increased focus on strategic innovation for clients, Matthew Howes joined Palio from another inVentiv Health division to lead innovation on the East and West Coasts. And at the outset of 2015, the creative duo of Michael Austin and Louis Massaia joined Palio as executive creative directors. “What I’ve found at Palio is a shared philosophy of what it takes to get to great – and it mirrors how Lou and I approach what we do. Our drive to do brave work is what binds us and incites our clients to be similarly brazen,” Austin says.

Massaia added, “I’ve always kept the mission simple. Put the work first. Period. In 2015 it’s not just about having a clear understanding of what great work is, it’s about knowing how to get there quickly, brilliantly, and often – and staying excited about doing it. We all share this philosophy 100 percent.”

“Johnson’s inauguration as president in 2014 sparked the agency’s transformation,” executives say. “Immediately she charted a new vision for the agency and it was go time: talent joined the team, clients jumped on board, awards inundated offices, a milestone anniversary celebration, leaders shared insights across national platforms, multiple career advancements, and Palio laid the cornerstone to building the agency of the future.”

Building momentum for growth became the central theme for Palio in 2014 and the agency grounded its planning around four imperatives: brilliant ideas, strategic excellence, transformative technology, and community cultivation.
“Our industry is undergoing unprecedented change. It has never been more challenging or critical to differentiate and create value for customers,” Johnson says. “Old methods of driving value simply aren’t enough. These challenges are exactly what invigorate us to push beyond boundaries in the pursuit of innovation.”

The agency’s delivery of brilliant ideas is one of the major reasons for business growth in 2014, executives say. Palio partnered with new clients, including Adheris Health, Biogen, Good Start Genetics, and Hologic.

Palio was busy in 2014, launching a number of brands for client partners. With Celgene, there were two indications for Otezia in psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis. This is the first oral systemic medication indicated for both conditions and marks Celgene’s expansion into immunology. After the record-breaking initial launch into psoriatic arthritis, Celgene awarded the agency the U.S. psoriasis business and the global business for both indications. Palio and Celgene undertook a grand total of four launches in nine months

For Abbott Vascular’s MitraClip, the world’s first transcatheter mitral valve repair therapy, there was promotion on an indication providing an option for select patients with degenerative mitral regurgitation who are at risk for open-heart surgery  

For Alkermes, Palio produced an integrated corporate campaign to increase awareness of a company unafraid to engage with the real challenges HCPs face in the CNS community.

With AstraZeneca, Palio assisted the U.S. launch of the new Bydureon Pen, an advancement in the treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Palio helped Biogen produce branded Facebook and Twitter pages for Eloctate, which allowed the company to share educational content with the hemophilia community.  

For Hologic, Palio created a website and collateral for the Aptima IIV-1 Quant Dx Assay globally. The team is now busy working on the U.S. launch.

Palio’s proven legacy of strategic excellence earned the agency a tremendous amount of organic growth with current client partners in 2014. For example, the New York City team proved to be an inexhaustible energy source for Celgene with the award of the brand’s global website initiative. And the Irvine team developed a creative concept to drive a cohesive brand story for Hologic’s Panther instrumentation and Women’s Health/STI Aptima assays; this win represents a growing specialization in diagnostics and device marketing.

The Saratoga team tackled multiple projects for AstraZeneca’s diabetes brands: 11 projects for global that included an all new global design system, CVA and digital MVA, as well as 19 projects for Bydureon U.S., including new positioning research, the presentation of new clinical trial data to the marketplace, and a new armamentarium of sales tools for the field force.

Palio celebrated a significant milestone – 15 years of transformative healthcare marketing. With the theme of Moments+Momentum, the agency launched a series of videos and blog posts that shared personal reflections as well as insights into the evolution of healthcare marketing over the past 15 years. The content can be found by searching for #pi15years on Twitter.

Executives say Palio’s passionate leaders engaged at national industry publications on numerous topics including DTC advertising, connected healthcare, respiratory medicines, Twitter’s redesign, great creative, personalized medicine, the power of the patient, crowd sourcing, augmented reality, and building brand loyalty.

Additionally, the agency helped kick off the first Cannes Lions Health conference and was busy communicating insight domestically, including Digital Pharma East, where Mike Smith, senior digital strategist, posted daily blogs and Twitter engagement during the conference landing him a top spot on the leaderboard for communicating event insights; the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA), as the agency’s Irvine office hosted and moderated an HBA roundtable discussion; the Saratoga office was one of the designated legs of the 3rd Annual UPSTNY AIGA Design Crawl; and Joe Arcuri, VP, user experience, presented The Art and Design of UI Sketching at the monthly Sharatoga’s TechTalks.

According to agency leaders, the caliber of Palio’s work was held high in competitions around the globe. Over the past 15 years, the agency’s teams have helped transform the healthcare market with their ideas, and in 2014 their work earned more than 60 awards. The agency also won its first Managed Markets award – a gold PM360 Trailblazer Award for work with Eisai on its chronic weight management brand.

“2014 was a pivotal year built on a strong foundational setting in 2013 that allowed Palio to drive forward with ever-increasing focus and speed,” Mastrion says. “It’s been a year of outstanding work, lots of awards, and significant new business opportunities. 2015 has already started to live up to this and more, with ever-more industry-leading work and the capabilities to back it up.”

Structure and services offered

In building the agency of the future, the driver of Palio’s growth plan was their multi-geography model. With offices in California (Irvine and Santa Monica) and New York (New York City and Saratoga Springs), the agency organized around its books of business. “Almost immediately, we began experiencing momentum with this model each time we ran concurrent pitches,” Johnson says. “And the fact that we are powerfully networked with inVentiv Health allows us to effectively optimize delivery to our global client partners.”

As Palio’s leadership team led the agency’s growth, new leaders emerged – individuals who wanted a deeper role in bringing the agency’s vision to life. Nineteen employees were promoted in 2014 and six individuals received the agency’s inaugural Spark Award, celebrating their ability to inspire brilliant ideas and a positive approach that makes the agency a great place to work.

Aligning service offerings with clients’ needs and thinking of new ways to share talented teams helped the agency retain strong flexibility for future growth. Managed Markets, launched in 2010 as Palio+Ignite Managed Markets, expanded its reach and impact in 2014 by evolving to the Managed Markets offering of inVentiv Health. “The success of the Managed Markets team elevated and solidified their essential role in a brand’s success,” Johnson says. “Now, as the Managed Markets offering of inVentiv Health, all inVentiv businesses can tap their expertise to deliver greater value to their clients.”
Recognizing that the spaces where brands live are in a constant state of evolution, the agency launched the Design Experience Lab, a union of its Design Lab and User Experience Team. The closer connection is an essential ingredient to Palio’s brand-building strength built around the awareness of technology and how end users engage and interact with brands.

Future plans

Agency leaders say 2014 was filled with tremendous growth for Palio and this momentum fueled a new way of thinking and working together across multiple geographies. According to executives, the agency engages and invigorates clients in the most innovative ways, ensuring the brands under their watch remain vital in the minds and hearts of customers.

“Palio’s focus on brilliant ideas, strategic excellence, transformative technology, and community cultivation will continue to drive growth for 2015,” executives say. “And it is upon this stage that Palio’s collective energy will inspire all to ignite brands that change the lives of those who use them.”


Palio’s commitment to civic is core to the agency’s philosophy of giving back. The agency continued its pro bono work with longstanding nonprofits such as the Saratoga Shakespeare Company, Empty Stocking Program, Opera Saratoga, Double H Ranch, and The Melanie Foundation. Both East and West Coast offices ensured a happy holiday season for children and families through Toys for Tots and Hope for the Warriors.

Palio additionally made donations to support the efforts of nonprofit organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Kelly’s Angels, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, March of Dimes, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Newspapers in Education, and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation.  

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