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Vogel Farina, the specialty-care focused business unit of Grey Healthcare Group, recorded its best year ever in 2013. Highlights included a new business win from Roche/Ventana Diagnostics, additional assignments from Celgene, and an expanded number of innovative digital projects for a variety of clients, executives say.
Vogel Farina’s first important accomplishment of 2013 occurred in January, when the agency was awarded a Gold PharmaChoice Award from PM360 for the My NET Manager patient app, developed for Novartis Oncology. My NET Manager, which received the most votes of any digital initiative, enables patients with neuroendocrine tumors (NET) to more effectively manage their disease and improve the dialogue with their physicians. The week it debuted, My NET Manager was one of the top five medical apps downloaded from the Apple App Store. Vogel Farina recently launched a global version of the app, which has now been translated into 10 languages.
“Over the past two years, we’ve made a huge investment in upgrading our digital services and integrating digital into everything we do,” says agency Co-President Bob Vogel. “It’s really paid off. More than 70 percent of our work is now digital.”
Another major milestone was launching a multimedia campaign for Dendreon to educate oncologists, urologists, and patients about cancer immunotherapy. The campaign includes print and digital ads, a dedicated Website, an interactive visual aid for the Dendreon sales force, and a YouTube immunotherapy channel featuring innovative “blackboard-style” videos for healthcare providers and patients.
“The immune system is incredibly complex – even for most MDs,” says Co-President Jeff Farina. “Our team really pushed itself to understand how the immune system fights cancer and how to communicate about this simply and effectively. We’ve become real experts in cancer immunotherapy.”
This initiative has paid off, with the client’s own metrics showing a significant increase in the understanding of immunotherapy among customers who have been exposed to the campaign. Additionally, the campaign won the 2013 Gold Pharma Choice Award for best unbranded campaign.
The agency also supported another medical advance in 2013. As the global agency for Celgene’sAbraxane, Vogel Farina helped launch the drug for pancreatic cancer in the United States and European Union. Abraxane is only the third drug approved for this disease in the United States. The launch was preceded by a global campaign that positioned Celgene as an emerging leader in the treatment of pancreatic cancer and other solid tumors, and the company with the courage to ask tough scientific questions.
Rounding out 2013’s successes were new assignments from Celgene’s hematology franchise; the development of the prelaunch and launch campaigns for Oralair, an oral immunotherapy for grass allergies; and being tapped by Roche/Ventana to launch two biomarker tests for cervical cancer prevention and diagnosis.
Vogel Farina focuses on drugs and diagnostics that are primarily used by specialist healthcare providers. The agency is led by Bob Vogel and Jeff Farina; Jennifer Bagnall, senior VP, director of client services; Lisa DeSordi, senior VP, executive creative director; and Gene Fitzpatrick, VP, director of digital services and strategy.
“Collectively, our staff has worked on more than 60 oncology brands, 25 infectious disease brands, 25 CNS brands, 15 allergy/immunology brands, and 25 orphan drugs for rare diseases,” Farina says. “We also have significant experience in cardiology, dermatology, and diabetes. So specialty care is and will remain our sweet spot.”
The services offered by Vogel Farina encompass both strategic planning and digital and print promotion. Strategic services include development of business, communication, launch, and lifecycle management plans and presentations; competitive landscape analyses; brand, franchise, and corporate positioning; development of new drug class names and scientific, market-conditioning and promotional messages; and war games and other marketing and medical workshops.
In addition to the standard suite of digital and print promotional tactics, Vogel Farina has significant expertise in clinical trial branding and awareness, “edu-gaming,” simplified mechanism-of-action communications for practicing clinicians, and non-branded programs to increase disease awareness and drive earlier diagnosis. The agency also has a dedicated team that focuses entirely on communicating to patients with cancer, rare diseases, and other chronic conditions.
As part of Grey Healthcare Group and the even larger WPP global network, Vogel Farina can also tap into analytics, market research, market access, public relations, media planning and buying, and emerging technology expertise on an as-needed basis.
Internally, Vogel Farina is structured to maximize cross-functional/cross-team learning and creative problem solving. On a regular basis, Vogel Farina employees increase their coworkers’ expertise and knowledge base by teaching seminars on topics ranging from new digital technologies to drug mechanisms of action.
“Our philosophy is pretty simple. First, the organization is and will remain relatively flat so that senior management is never far away from any client’s business,” Vogel says. “This enables us to provide the dedicated strategic oversight and deep commercial experience that today’s clients insist on. Second, we require all employees working on a brand to understand not just its marketplace challenges but also the scientific and medical strengths and weaknesses of the product and its competitors. These two things are what we believe really differentiates us.”
Vogel Farina recently launched a new Website, vogelfarina.com, that highlights the agency’s evolved positioning: “Vogel Farina. No Nonsense.”
“We think this really encapsulates our smart, honest, ‘roll-up-your sleeves’ approach,” Farina says. “We don’t pontificate and we’re not all about the fluff. Clients appreciate that.”
“Our goals for 2014 are to continue growing organically with our existing clients, and to land agency-of-record assignments in anti-infectives, CNS, and rare diseases. If you have a brand in one of these categories that could benefit from our ‘No Nonsense’ approach, we’d love to hear from you,” Vogel says.
Vogel Farina is a member of the Summit, N.J., Chamber of Commerce and supports the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Gilda’s Club, The Carcinoid Cancer Awareness Network, and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The agency will begin providing pro bono marketing support for the Children’s World Art Initiative in 2014.
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