Area 23, An FCB Health Network Company
622 Third Avenue, 3rd Floor
New York, NY, 10017
Account wins 17
Active business clients 26
Brands by 2018 sales
Brand-product accounts held 42
$25 million or less 16
$25 million-$50 million 1
$50 million-$100 million 3
$100 million-$500 million 10
$500 million-$1 billion 2
$1 billion or more 3
Products not yet approved/launched 7
Healthcare professional assignments 60%
DTC/DTP assignments 40%
The Learning Corp.
Most admired agency
Best consumer campaign – tv/radio
Best interactive patient campaign
Best philanthropic campaign
Best professional campaign – print
Best professional campaign – video
Best rare disease campaign
Agency of the year, category I
Most creative agency
Best interactive patient campaign
Best medical device campaign
Best patient engagement campaign
Best rare disease campaign
Best social media campaign
According to Area 23, 2018 was all about expanding the Area 23 brand. “With a new medical education offering, record revenue growth, 175 new hires, a fortified executive leadership team, an additional office space in Manhattan, and more awards than ever, it’s clear that this team has no plans of slowing down the tremendous track record they’ve laid over the past few years,” management says.
At the end of 2017, Area 23 closed out its first-ever year earning more than $100 million. “The passing of this significant milestone served as a signal to agency management to slow down its growth to ensure the right infrastructure was in place to operate at this scale and beyond. This meant a limited approach to new business, a complete staffing up and a reinforcement of current accounts.”
Despite this intended slow-down, the agency still exceeded forecasts, clocking in 19 percent growth for 2018. According to agency president Renee Mellas, “It’s crazy to think about eight years ago, when Tim and I first took the helm and compare it to today. In 2018, our increase in revenue was larger than our entire agency when we first got started.”
2018 was a big year for product launches for Area 23, with six pharma brands reaching their regulatory approvals and one OTC brand hitting the market. Early in the year, the agency launched Eskata, the first product for Aclaris, a dermatologic brand for seborrheic keratoses. Indivior launched two brands with the agency — Sublocade for opioid use disorder and Perseris for schizophrenia. The second half of the year saw a slew of launches, beginning with Xospata, a treatment for FLT3+ AML from Astellas. It was a first for Astellas as the drug was the company’s first product launch without a marketing partner.
Good news presented its own challenges, according to Area 23 leadership. “In the true spirit of ‘you never know what is going to happen at the FDA,’ Lilly’s Emgality and Insmed’s Arikayce – both major launches that the agency had been preparing for years – received their label approval on the same day,” agency executives say. “And of course, that day was a Friday.”
In addition, Beiersdorf – FCB’s longest running client of 125 years – launched its latest product with Area 23, Eucerin Advanced Repair Cleanser.
On the creative front, Area 23 executives point out that the agency was once again at the top of its game on the awards circuit, taking home “Agency of the Year” from Clio Health, The Global Awards and The Creative Floor Awards, and winning the Med Ad News trifecta of “Category I Agency of the Year,” “Most Creative Agency,” and “Most Admired Agency.”
At Cannes, Area 23 leaders took the stage once again with multiple silver Lions from the Pharma jury, and the agency’s Lion wins extended well beyond the health sector for the second year in a row. Of its nine Lions, seven were outside of the Health Lions category, including Mobile Lions, Print Lions, PR Lions, Direct Lions, and Glass Lions. In 2017, Area 23 won the Lions Health “Agency of the Year” award. The agency topped this achievement in 2018 by celebrating with the entire FCB Health Network when it was presented with “Healthcare Network of the Year.”
Area 23 also continued to push outside the health sector at other festivals, including D&AD, The One Show, and the Andy Awards. According to chief creative officer Tim Hawkey, “While there were nine campaigns that won big in 2018, there are two that really stand out for us: The World’s Smallest Booth for Lilly and Battle In the Bone for Bayer. To have regulated work for large, U.S. pharma clients winning top honors – Grand Prix in the case of The World’s Smallest Booth – that shows me that we’re making progress for the pharma industry. That we’re slowly but surely overcoming the perceived limitations of strong industry regulations and corporations that are traditionally conservative. We’re encouraging more of our clients to be a bit bolder and realize that there is nothing inherently risky about being creative.”
All told, the agency brought home 75 trophies, putting it at the top of the healthcare rankings worldwide, and squarely into the competitive set among general consumer agencies.
STRUCTURE AND SERVICES
As if delivering record growth and shattering creative records were n0t enough, Area 23 underwent a major transformation in 2018, adding medical education to its list of services and undergoing a significant restructuring in the process.
Recognizing potential synergies, FCB Health Network president and CEO Dana Maiman realigned network med-ed shop Hudson Global under the Area 23 umbrella. Newly rebranded as “Area 23 On Hudson,” the shop continues to serve the agency’s existing clients out of its Yonkers location, while bringing med-ed expertise to Area 23’s roster.
“We’re excited to infuse Hudson Global’s world-class clinical and technologically advanced offerings with Area 23’s bold innovation and creativity,” Maiman says.
Mellas adds, “More and more of our clients are looking for partners to travel with them on the early prelaunch journey, through launch and beyond. This new structure enables us to meet their needs better on both sides. Our promo efforts can be better backed by medical acumen, and our med-ed can be infused with a huge jolt of creativity.”
Area 23 On Hudson will continue to be run by managing director Jamie Cipriano under Mellas and Hawkey. According to Cipriano, “It’s clear that the new model is appealing to our clients. After only four months, we already had four shared clients across promo and med-ed. Our Novartis, Indivior, Aclaris, and Acasti accounts are all managed across Area 23 and Area 23 On Hudson.”
Area 23 made a number of senior hires and promotions during the past year across multiple departments. Elliot Langerman returned to Area 23 in the role of executive VP, executive creative director to lead creative across the agency with Hawkey. Account management was restructured to fall under three executive VPs – Latifa Aladina, Brad Peebles, and Claudine Wolf, who was promoted into the role.
Alec Pollack was hired to oversee UX and engagement strategy, while KC Dickerson was promoted to lead the engagement strategy team.
Mark Dean returned to Area 23 as director of business development and the agency brought in Jen Ma as the head of integrated production in order to optimize and oversee this rapidly growing department.
Additionally, Wolf Gallwitz, Ph.D. was hired as executive VP, medical strategy to lead the medical teams at both Area 23 and Area 23 on Hudson.
A new med-ed offering, unprecedented financial growth, 175 new hires, newsworthy executive appointments and phenomenal creative performance added up to a banner year for Area 23. But, according to Area 23 leaders, “It’s times like this that can be most dangerous for an organization.”
According to Hawkey, “It would be very easy for us think that we’ve achieved agency perfection, and lock in course on our current bearings. But we’re not interested in ‘steady as she goes.’ Our ambitions aren’t incremental, they’re parabolic. Our evolution as an agency needs to keep pace with that. That’s why we’re not scared by disruptive changes like adding medical education to an agency known for its creative. We’re excited by them. We like to say that in five years, if we do our job well, our agency should be unrecognizable.”
Area 23 employees were fortunate to once again be able to give back to the issues and causes that were important to them. According to Area 23 leaders, 2018 was the agency’s biggest year yet for charitable work and campaigns. “Philanthropy is at the heart of our culture,” Mellas says. “It only feels right that we give back whenever we can.” The agency continued its commitment to Mollie’s Fund and Diatribe with new print campaigns, and expanded their impact with new work for Change the Ref and NOVA.
In February 2018, in the wake of the tragic school shooting in Parkland, Fla., a group of Area 23 employees approached agency leadership. Led by a creative who had just moved from the Parkland area and had ties to the community, they asked if they could help in some way. “These folks were desperate to do something. You could see it in their eyes,” Hawkey says. “We told the team to take two months to do something big. But with a catch: they needed to create something that could actually make a difference in the world and they needed to help heal the community.”
The result was Posts Into Letters, an initiative for Change the Ref, a political action group led by Manuel Oliver, the father of Joaquin Oliver, who was slain in the shooting. According to Manuel Oliver, “After every school shooting, everyone goes to social media and posts about change. But posts aren’t enough. The Area 23 team created a platform where anyone can convert their social post into a letter to Congress. But the letter was in Joaquin’s handwriting, based on a font the agency created using his school books.” The campaign generated more than 10,000 letters to congress over the course of two months. “We gave Joaquin a voice,” his father says.