375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014

212-812-2233 • [email protected]weareheartbeat.com

Quick Facts


  • Account wins: 6
  • Active business clients: 20

Brands by 2022 sales

  • Brand-product accounts held: 41

Services mix

  • Integrated marketing: 80%
  • Digital: 20%

At the core of Heartbeat’s Challenger Brand focus is creativity, innovation, and insight, agency leaders state. “Embodying these principles, the agency continued to bravely push boundaries and evolve with the ever-shifting marketing landscape.”

In what was another year of growth for the agency, leaders say Heartbeat remained committed to demonstrating the value of its “100% Integration” model, “which brings together vast capabilities — strategy, creative, media, technology, med comms, point of care, and population health — and delivers them in a way that eliminates the coordination burden, reduces the overall team size needed to execute the work, and strives not for mere alignment but powerful orchestration that enables Challenger Brands to achieve outsized results.”

“We consciously bring people with different skills and differing perspectives together on each piece of business – no matter what the nature of the engagement is. Integration and diversity of opinion are powerful tools when creating the strategy and creative that brings a product to market,” says James Talerico, co-president and chief creative officer. 

Recent accomplishments

According to the leadership team, commitment to this 100% integration model led to “exciting” new partnerships in 2022. 

Heartbeat began working with GRAIL to support awareness and education of its multi-cancer early detection test, Galleri. The engagement covers multiple audiences, including HCP, employers, and hospitals and health systems. 

Heartbeat also formed what executives say is a promising partnership with a new biotechnology client for its first commercialization in the cardiovascular space. “The relationship is one that leverages Heartbeat’s Challenger Brand experience as well as an integrated HCP, digital, and media engagement model,” managers state.

Heartbeat, Twirla

As part of the campaign for Agile Therapeutics’ Twirla, a female contraceptive patch, a standout television spot was developed to target the brand’s pivotal Gen-Z audience and rolled out across high-traffic platforms in the Connected TV space.

Leaders say Heartbeat’s strong existing client relationships have also expanded over the past year. The agency continued its AOR partnership with Agile Therapeutics’ Twirla, including the launch of its first DTC television spot in the Connected TV space. In addition, Heartbeat’s footprint at other cutting-edge biotech partners such as Applied Therapeutics and Marinus Pharmaceuticals, has grown as brand relationships have continued to thrive.

“Our new partnerships are always thrilling, but we’re also incredibly proud to have years-long relationships with clients who continue to partner with us as an extension of their teams – including eight-plus years with Bristol Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Roche/Genentech and Sunovion. These enduring relationships are especially gratifying,” says Nadine Leonard, co-president and chief strategy officer.

New client partnerships weren’t the only happenings at Heartbeat this past year, according to managers. Amongst the agency’s biggest changes was the transition of longtime creative leader Kris LoCascio to executive creative director. “Previously serving as group creative director, LoCascio has guided creative development across many of the agency’s highest-profile accounts since joining Heartbeat in 2008 and has been one of the agency’s premier creative talents over the course of his 14-year tenure,” executives say.

In his new role as executive creative director, LoCascio says he is focusing on the means and methodology behind Heartbeat’s creative operations while inspiring a creative community of more than 70 talented craftspeople. LoCascio says he will also guide group creative directors and their teams to further elevate the quality of Heartbeat’s award-winning creative product, as well as reimagine how it exists in the world.

“No matter the changes that the past year has brought, Heartbeat’s steadfast dedication to strong company culture and an enriching employee experience remained as strong as ever,” executives say. “Once again, the agency was named to the Ad Age Best Places to Work list (No. 2 overall in the large agency category), with 2023’s placement marking the third consecutive year – and fourth overall – that Heartbeat has so recognized. 

“It’s now the agency’s seventh straight year with a workplace award from a major industry publication. In addition to previous Best Places to Work selections from Ad Age (2017, 2021, 2022), Heartbeat was also a three-time selection to the MM+M Best Places to Work List (2018, 2019, 2021).”

The leadership team emphasizes that diversity and inclusion (D&I) is also a priority. “Heartbeat prides itself on ensuring each employee feels a strong sense of belonging within the company,” executives say, adding that the agency’s commitment to innovative D&I initiatives has also resulted in a Diversity & Inclusion Champion award from Med Ad News in 2020, and most recently, a selection to the Best Companies Group 2022–2023 Inclusive Workplace list.


Nadine Leonard, president and chief strategy officer; James Talerico, president and chief creative officer

“An important part of the agency’s D&I effort, Heartbeat’s business resource groups (BRGs) instill a welcoming environment that encourages diverse Heartbeaters to bring their whole selves to work. BRGs like Asiancy, Latidores, Meet All the Black People, and Queerbeat are dedicated to sharing their community’s history and traditions, particularly during affinity months,” executives say.

“With so much change in our world, Heartbeat has placed steadfast focus on the things we most value: courage, compassion, and diversity,” Talerico says. “We are diligent about welcoming new folks into our community, cultivating relationships, and helping everyone feel connected to one another. People feel that and want to lean into it, no matter who they are or where they’re from.”

Structure and services

As much of Heartbeat’s success comes from relationships with Challenger Brands, whose ambitions are often bigger than their resources, the leadership team says the agency continues to explore and expand approaches that deliver the inimitable “more with less.” They add that one way the agency is meeting that challenge is in the development of strategies and programs that find and deliver equitable health solutions to diverse groups from all backgrounds.

According to managers, Heartbeat’s multicultural efforts for a major pharmaceutical client brought the creation of a cross-functional, Spanish-language pilot program targeting U.S. Hispanics with diabetes. The agency created the first ever Hispanic Audience Sensitivity Training workshop to educate marketers on communicating with this audience, as well as led the strategy and creative development of a 360-degree dual language campaign across TV, online video, online display, and in-office media. Additional programs for Americans with diabetes from other ethnic and racial backgrounds are currently under way.

Managers say the agency remains dedicated to reaching diverse groups through an increased focus on accessibility. “Heartbeat employees go through rigorous accessibility training and all Heartbeat projects will meet the WCAG standard of AA so that people of different abilities can access the information they need to make good healthcare decisions. To ensure the achievement of this goal, Heartbeat has designated subject matter experts for each department to guide and shape implementation, along with their internal Map of Accessibility tool to streamline accessibility standards across the agency.”

Heartbeat leaders say they also realized the long-term goal of further bolstering the agency’s analytics and measurement capabilities, and have expanded its team with key hires for multiple senior level roles – including director- and associate director-
level data scientists – “who provide top tier analytics and reporting capabilities on par with any found in the industry.”

“Heartbeat’s more robust strategic offering now boasts an enhanced approach to analytics through automation — delivering more insights to both clients and internal teams alike — as a means of powering ongoing optimization of creative and media across the agency’s portfolio.”

 Future plans

As the ebb of the coronavirus pandemic continues, leaders say Heartbeaters have been returning to an in-office setting with more regularity, and the agency is welcoming this opportunity for in-person collaboration.  

“We appreciate the spontaneity and magic that comes with working together in the same physical space,” Leonard says. “While that won’t be possible or preferred for every member of our community, we’ll continue to remind our people that we will work through whatever comes around the curve, and handle it as we’ve always handled it – with humanity and compassion, together.