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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

Palio+Ignite 2014

Written by: | | Dated: Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

260 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
Telephone: 518-584-8924
Facsimile: 518-583-1560

Quick Facts

Account wins 37
Account losses 15
Accounts resigned 7
Active business clients 50
Brands by 2013 sales  
Brand-product accounts held 50
$25 million or less 3
$25 million – $50 million 1
$50 million – $100 million 2
$100 million – $500 million 9
$500 million to $1 billion 6
$1 billion or more 5
Services Mix  
Advertising and promotion 100%

Client Roster

Abbott Medical Optics
Abbott Vascular
Acton Pharmaceuticals/Meda
AP Pharma
Baylor College of Medicine
Beckman Coulter
Biogen Idec
Bristol-Myers Squibb/AstraZeneca
Daiichi Sankyo
Endo Pharmaceuticals
Gilead Sciences
Happy Software
Maimonides Medical Center
Merck Publishing
Onyx Pharmaceuticals/Amgen
Roche Diagnostics
Shire US

2013 demonstrated the power of Palio+Ignite, according to management. The agency won 21 new brands across therapeutic categories, including a major new drug launch across multiple indications. Leadership says Palio+Ignite represents what every marketer needs today: a highly skilled group of media-savvy experts, building relatable brand stories with which patients and physicians alike can identify. “Perhaps best described today as a ‘prosumer’ agency, Palio+Ignite drives organic brand stories across all media and all audiences,” executives say. “These brand stories are inspired by insight, executed with simple, surprising craft, and given life by the very people for whom they are created.”

The Year’s Accomplishments

The Palio+Ignite managed markets team, under the leadership of John Guarino, won 16 new accounts in 2013, further solidifying the importance of this now-essential aspect of brand success. This team has rapidly expanded its footprint and now operates from each of the agency’s three offices – in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.; New York City; and Irvine, Calif. With new brands in varying therapeutic categories – neurology, rheumatology, oncology, diabetes, cardiology, respiratory, and ophthalmology – executives say this team is redefining success. One of its projects for Eisai broke new ground by showcasing the importance of targeting formulary decision-makers via a dedicated managed markets link,, accessible from the general HCP site, “It’s no wonder Guarino was recognized as a Top 100 leader in the industry,” executives say.

Similar to the managed markets team, the agency’s medical strategy team – led since 2006 by Chief Medical Officer UweTigör, M.D. –deepened and broadened its reach in 2013 with the addition of highly skilled medical experts in all three offices. Palio+Ignite welcomed George Carystinos, Ph.D., as senior VP, associate director of medical strategy; AartiUzgare, Ph.D., as senior medical writer; and Eric Ponton, Pharm.D., associate medical director. Palio+Ignite’s medical strategy team features a mix of medical directors, clinical strategists, editors, and writers that also cover the increasingly important aspects of regulatory guidance and compliance. The staff of 13 currently includes two M.D.s, five Ph.D.s, and one Pharm.D. Palio+Ignite management notes that few agencies can boast such a strong medical strategy offering.

According to its execs, Palio+Ignite’s innovation lab continues to push forward the integration of new and different technologies to deliver value to physicians, patients, and payers. In 2013, the agency saw the rising of mHealth as the next big driver of change in healthcare, and Palio+Ignite is leading the way by offering mHealth strategy and insight to maximize engagement for its brands.

Agency leaders say technology, data liberation, behavior change, health policy and patient empowerment have collided, forcing everyone – personally and professionally – to change how they work, engage, and interact. By leveraging new technologies and media, Palio+Ignite’s brand stories connect these omnichannel patients with brands at their moments of need, helping them understand and succeed in their journeys to better health.

“There is an art+science to building brand stories, and we have always been focused on the single idea that brings the brand to life and relevance to the lives of our target audience,” says Guy Mastrion, chief global creative officer. “Our work connects and engages patients and physicians in ways that are genuine, challenging, and empowering. Never before have we had so many avenues in which to engage audiences. And, because consumers connect across multiple mediums, ideas that live well in this context are critical. Simplicity is the true yardstick for successful brand ideas; it always has been. With today’s media complexity, there is little room for complex and convoluted brand narratives.”

Executives say this intense focus and reputation for building brands resonated with current clients and with new clients in 2013. The agency earned a tremendous amount of work organically as well. Such work includes AbbottVascular’s unbranded global campaign for mitral regurgitation and branded work for the U.S. launch of MitraClip; a strategic planning and technical development initiative for Baylor College of Medicine; Biogen Idec Hemophilia’s social media listening and marketing business; Symlin for Bristol-Myers Squibb/AstraZeneca; Celgene’sapremilast; Duchesnay’s digital AOR business; Endo’s HealthTronics and BEMA Buprenorphine; Gilead Sciences’ Letairis and Ranexa; and a global brand book for Onyx.

“The complexities of health don’t need to be difficult to grasp,” says Andy Smith, chief operating officer. “They can be approachable. Our solutions appear surprisingly simple, but the logic behind them is astounding. We believe that the creation of meaningful healthcare communication has the ability to improve human health. It’s our goal to make the complexities of healthcare simple, for physicians and patients.”

The agency’s launch of Duchesnay’s Diclegis included numerous Websites and a branded and unbranded campaign. Palio+Ignite worked with Maimonides Medical Center to launch the “Excellence in Bklyn” print campaign, and launched award-winning Websites for sister companies: and

“The brands we build fuel optimism about healthcare,” Mastrion says. “We understand the cultural and psychological factors that make patients and physicians tick and we use this understanding to help them make better decisions, ultimately making healthcare easier, friendlier, and more intuitive.”

Executives say connected healthcare took center stage as the agency positioned brands as valuable solutions that demonstrated outcomes to all stakeholders. Palio+Ignite’s approach to connected healthcare, led by A.J. Triano, VP of connected health, strives to deliver better outcomes with mobile technology, behavior change programs, and compliance programs with facilitated data exchange that becomes the basis for meaningful decision-making.

Palio+Ignite has always been grounded in the craftsmanship of its work, executives say, and its efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2013, the agency was honored with more than 60 global and national industry awards, including the Brand Team of the Year Manny Award for work on Bydureon.

Structure And Services

After the launch of the new agency in January 2013, Palio+Ignite leaders set off on a trajectory of driving change and reimagining the future of healthcare, all while profiling the agency to match. Working across three geographic locations, Palio+Ignite is a powerful agency networked for its clients across regions and capabilities – including in the inVentiv Health Global Network – allowing the agency to effectively service accounts coast-to-coast and around the world.

Palio+Ignite’s innovation team continues to explore combining new technologies to benefit healthcare audiences and investigate ways to make healthcare content more personalized, actionable, and portable. One example of this work is the award-winning Carebox.

Carebox was created out of a desire to lend voices to the support network of people going through difficult times. From a patient sitting in an infusion chair to a bed-ridden teenager with a broken leg, Carebox creates a wave of well wishes, warm greetings, and joy between friends, family and those who need a reminder of their strength. Each “box” created is a private digital playlist of messages that is gifted to the recipient. Users sign in through Facebook and record their messages, which include well wishes and positive thoughts. The person creating the box is then able to invite friends and family members to participate in the healing. The emphasis is on the personal connection between one person and the receiver in need. When creating the box, the user also selects the exact day and time the box will be sent to the person in need of support. When that gifting date arrives, the patient is presented with a playlist of best wishes, hope, and encouragement that will help him or her through the healing process.

Several of Palio+Ignite’s leaders shared their point of view in national industry publications on numerous topics. They included innovative branding strategies, big data, YouTube and digital marketing, properly evaluating creative, payer relationships, and marketing.

Not only did industry publications tap into the agency’s thought-leaders, but national conferences and creative competitions did as well. On the conference front, Mike Smith, senior digital strategist, participated as a panelist on an American Marketing Association roundtable on the “Marketing Agency of the Future”; A.J. Triano was a panelist at an Orange County chapter of the HBA seminar focused on staying relevant in a world of healthcare reform; Philip Reynolds, VP, associate creative director, discussed “How to Talk to Your Doctor: Advertising in the Pharmaceutical Industry” at the Direct Marketing Association conference; and Joe Arcuri, director of user experience, shed light on “The Art of UX Design” at the D2W conference.

Palio+Ignite creative leaders shared their expertise as jurists at several creative competitions: Philip Reynolds and Joanna Beeman, VP, creative director, at The Rx Club; Guy Mastrion as an executive jury member at The Global Awards, as well as at CLIO Healthcare Awards; and Todd LaRoche, executive VP, managing director of creative, at CLIO Healthcare Awards.

Countless agency members, from the East Coast and West Coast offices, were actively engaged in sharing their specialized knowledge with the industry through numerous blog posts. The agency also launched the following new series: Portfolio Review, The Top 10, and Mobile Marketing. The managed markets team continued to provide its insights and point of view in the Managed Markets Monday blog.

Future Plans

According to executives, Palio+Ignite in 2013 created a new company that addresses the changing forces within the healthcare industry. By blending its expertise and understanding of what clients need, Palio+Ignite has put amazing talent against its clients’ brands, in real time.

The agency has a deep knowledge and leadership foundation in multiple therapeutic categories on the professional and consumer side: sclerosis, hematology, oncology, supportive care, coagulopathy, cardiology, diabetes, hypertension, endocrinology, renal disease, immunology, HIV, hepatitis C, chronic pain, schizophrenia, addiction, sleep disorders, arthritis, ophthalmology, and diagnostic and therapeutic medical devices. “Prosumer” is how Palio+Ignite refers to its expertise, and its flexibility and nimbleness enables the agency’s success in brand launches for clients of all shapes and sizes.

Palio+Ignite executives say they understand this industry is made up of many intersections – of medicine plus government, molecule plus complementary services, managed care plus physician choice, and digital engagement plus personal decisions. These collisions of ideas, policies, personalities, and technologies are redefining how everyone works in this space.


Palio+Ignite’s commitment to civic responsibility has been a part of who the agency is since the day its doors opened for business. The agency has continued its pro bono work with longstanding not-for-profits Saratoga Shakespeare Company and The Melanie Foundation. The East Coast and West Coast offices worked with the Empty Stocking Program and Hope For The Warriors to ensure a happy holiday season for children and families. Palio+Ignite also made donations to support the efforts of not-for-profit organizations, including Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, March of Dimes, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Newspapers in Education, The Hailey Mayz Foundation, and Women’s Health &Counseling Center.

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