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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry

AbelsonTaylor: 2019

Written by: | | Dated: Saturday, April 20th, 2019



33 W. Monroe
Chicago, IL 60603


Quick Facts
Account wins 5
Active business clients 23

Brands by 2018 sales
Brand-product accounts held 49
$25 million or less 3
$25 million-$50 million 15
$50 million-$100 million 5
$100 million-$500 million 8
$500 million-$1 billion 6
$1 billion or more 5
Products not yet approved/launched 7

Services mix
Sales promotion 38%
Video brochures 30%
Broadcast 15%
Magazines 8%
Consumer publication 6%
Other 3%


Client roster
Abacus Health
Astellas Pharma US
City of Hope
CSL Behring
Fresenius Kabi
G1 Therapeutics
Iterum Pharmaceuticals
Mead Johnson
Nalpropion Pharmaceuticals
Sunovion Pharmaceuticals
Takeda Pharmaceuticals North America



Best Consumer Campaign – WEB
Best Interactive Patient Campaign



For the last 20 years, we have consistently won half of our pitches,” AbelsonTaylor executives say. “A pretty good record considering we pitch against two or three, sometimes even four other agencies. 2018 was no exception. We won about half of our pitches. Unfortunately, the losses came in the first half of the year and the wins came in the second. The timing was not great, but the final outcome was good. The wins didn’t help us much in 2018, but helps promise a robust 2019.”

Recent accomplishments

AbelsonTaylor leaders say the losses were “disappointing,” but the wins brought some “wonderful opportunities.” The new accounts include AOR assignments for one of the nation’s leading cancer hospitals, a game-changing adjunct for chemotherapy, the launch of a major drug for the treatment of acute migraine, the launch of an important new therapy for ADHD, an important win in the infant nutrition category, the launch of a new line of OTC products based on CBD, and the launch of a potential blockbuster drug for the treatment of macular degeneration.
“At the very least, we are planning for five new brand launches in 2019,” agency executives say. “Those product launches and continuing work on our 43 brands make the outlook for ’19 look pretty rosy. Most of our 43 AOR brands have, in addition to HCP efforts, assigned us patient communications responsibilities like CRM, patient ed, social media campaigns and, of course, websites. Two of our DTC campaigns were among the top-spending brands as 2018 closed out.”
According to agency leaders, AbelsonTaylor’s creative continued to gain recognition from its peers. “We won 42 major creative awards, including 20 Golds and 19 Silvers,” management says. “The big winners were our digital and social programs – like the integrated COOLIEF campaign,, #MyEpilepsyHero, and the integrated MACI campaign featuring Olympian Dara Torres.”
The agency produced a total of eight DTC spots, 18 social media campaigns, and its first augmented reality (AR) program in support of CSL’s Privigen and Hizentra for the European Society of Immunodeficiencies meeting. The AR program used Turi Create software to create the machine learning models and Apple’s Vision framework (Core ML 2 – Vision) to read the ML models and build the image recognition application.
Two more AbelsonTaylor campaigns, ACTOS and the Dexilant Surface Table interactive convention program, were named to the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF). “Now, fully one third of the programs in MAHF were created by AbelsonTaylor,” agency executives say.
AbelsonTaylor created a new branding campaign for itself this year. Based on the unifying idea of FeelTheData, the campaign focuses on the agency’s long-standing pursuit of the emotions behind the science. “AbelsonTaylor has always prided itself on the ability to produce branding that is relevant to the most important characteristics that set a brand apart from its competitors and that also brings a level of distinctive emotional connection to the brand,” management says. “Emotion beyond patients walking very slowly on a lovely beach with their perfectly groomed Golden Retriever. Finding that level of distinctive emotional connection has led to some of the agency’s most successful, and awarded, work. That idea-finding the emotion in the science-has created campaigns for brands like Tarceva, TEVA Oncology, Aczone, Similac, and the long-running (8 years and counting) successful TV campaign for Ensure, based on the pugnacious animated character Major Nutrition.”
Near the end of the year, the agency announced a new industry outreach program called Icons.Health. Icons.Health is an online video series that captures unexpected, unscripted moments taking place at the intersection of healthcare and technology. From Austin to Cannes, executives from the world’s leading tech companies have exchanged ideas with entrepreneurs from some of the tiniest, scrappiest healthcare start-ups. Their conversations have produced more than 40 free-form videos that document this emerging community of health-tech start-ups and the monoliths of healthcare that court them. The topics range from chatbots to healthcare incentives to digital therapeutics.
As has happened many times before, AbelsonTaylor has lost a pitch only to have the client rethink the decision months or years later. One of the agency’s newest clients, Ironshore, is the latest in that tradition. “Two years ago, Ironshore chose another agency to launch their innovative drug for ADHD,” management says. “Regulatory delays reared their ugly heads, and when the path cleared, the client came to AT first with the urgent need for help with booth design. The agency’s performance on this project led to a full AOR assignment that will result in an important launch for the brand in 2019.”
AbelsonTaylor’s planning department got a new leader late last year with the appointment of 13-year veteran Inbal Pawlowski to head that department. According to agency leaders, Pawlowski has led the development of a proprietary method for uncovering the hidden vulnerabilities that underly the ways patients and consumers make healthcare purchasing decisions. “Deep below mere insights lie the vulnerabilities that make these decisions so different from the more casual decisions that motivate purchasing decisions for other products,” agency executives say. “This new methodology has led to important pitches and has played a major role in landing the launch of a complete line of CBD-based OTC products”.
Agency leaders say perhaps the best testimony to the agency’s levels of service and creativity is the assignment of additional brands. One client of more than 10 years added two new brand launches to the agency roster – one for acute migraine and one for age-related macular degeneration. “Another longtime client, CSL Behring, awarded us the Von Willebrand portfolio as well as the Privigen Global business,” management says.


AbelsonTaylor puts high priority on giving back to our community – and we do this locally and globally,” management says. “Through our corporate social responsibility umbrella, HeartsATWork, the agency offers employees more than 50 different opportunities in programs that range from internal events, external events, AT employee-led causes, and pro bono work. More than 60 percent of our staff usually participates in at least one event.”
Leadership says the agency partners with 20-plus nonprofit organizations on an annual basis, with most of them locally focused, such as Off the Street Club, Urban Initiatives, and Chicago Help Initiative. For more than 30 years, the proceeds of the agency’s Free Lunch Friday program, which is not quite free, has generated well over a million dollars for the Chicago Food Depository.
Pro bono work has also aligned to health and wellness, agency leaders say, and AbelsonTaylor has proudly partnered with Heifer International on many initiatives over the years, most recently supporting the East Africa Dairy Development program. In-country trips have produced assets such as video, messaging, and strategic guidance of how to promote the program and generate awareness of the benefits of pasteurized milk production, which can lift families and communities out of hunger and poverty.

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