7045 College Blvd., Suite 300
Overland Park, KS 66211
Account wins 50
Active business clients 55
Brands by 2020 sales
Brand-product accounts held 181
Media AOR 8%
Global Blood Therapeutics
Lantheus Medical Imaging
Merz North America
Teva Pharmaceutical Industries
In 2017, Intouch CEO Faruk Capan declared the audacious goal for Intouch Group to double in revenue size in just three years, equating to $200 million in revenue in 2020. What he didn’t know at the time was that 2020 would be the year of a deadly global pandemic, widespread social uprisings, and political discontent. Despite the challenge, Intouch made good on that goal – and then some – reaching $220 million in revenue in 2020 – a full 10 percent over goal.
According to the leadership team, the group not only grew its revenue by 21 percent over 2019, it launched a seventh affiliate; hired a new chief creative officer; further expanded its global presence; and managed to enrich its much-lauded positive culture through it all. Intouch also made philanthropy a priority in 2020, partnering with Heart to Heart International to support the creation of training materials designed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, and – inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement – launched Intouch for Justice, a donation-matching program for social justice organizations. From its rapid transition to a virtual workplace to the record number of new business wins Intouch saw in 2020, it’s clear the company continues to take its purpose statement, No Challenge Too Big to Cure, to heart.
“2020 was – in a word – challenging. At first, there was a lot of uncertainty,” says CEO Faruk Capan. “But we remained laser-focused on our clients, and we doubled down on supporting our employees, and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Intouch Group blew past forecasts to reach $220 million in 2020 and is on track to meet even more aggressive growth goals in 2021, according to management. “Fueled by an impressive 52 new business wins and the addition of 18 new clients in 2020, Intouch proved that – done well – pitches via Zoom can still be quite effective.”
As a leading global healthcare agency network, the leadership team says Intouch Group paved the way for its clients in a year like no other, providing nimble, strategic, innovative solutions to clients, including the management of first-in-class launches, global commercialization, media innovations, and new brand campaigns – all during a global pandemic. Intouch added 19 new clients, including Astellas, Clarus, Greenwich, and Seattle Genetics. Intouch Media increased its buying by over 250 percent, with 40 percent growth in programmatic and 55 percent growth in paid search power. Intouch B2D continued to drive modern marketing maturity for clients through strong partnerships with Salesforce, Adobe, and Veeva Systems while forging new strategic partnerships with point-of-care systems. Intouch agencies also kept busy launching more than 20 products and indications. Highlights included branding efforts for Teva’s Austedo, Takeda’s ADHD product, and Global Blood Therapeutics’ Oxbryta, as well as major new global assignments with Sanofi’s Sarclisa and Gilead’s Lenacapavir, among others.
Management says in response to the pandemic’s impact on the pharmaceutical marketing industry, in 2020, Intouch partnered with the Digital Health Coalition to conduct new industry research and produce two 70-plus-page COVID-19 whitepapers that offer advice on how to proceed in the “new normal.” “The Aftermath: COVID-19 Insights & Recommendations” addresses changes in professional and consumer communications, the evolution of point of care, the future of the field force, and more. “The Now & the Next in Pharma Marketing” applies quantitative and qualitative research on COVID-19’s impact on pharma, healthcare providers and patients, and looks at what pharma marketers need to focus on to meet the needs of each in the future. Two additional whitepapers, “Future State: The New Media Landscape” and “Modern Marketing: A Framework for the Future,” offer solutions marketers can implement to reach digital audiences in a more targeted, meaningful way.
Undeterred by the global health crisis, Intouch leaders say they hired 347 employees in 2020, bringing headcount close to 1,200. “With more than 200 positions open at the time of this writing, staffing to support its growing business continues to be a priority. Increasing diversity among employees is ongoing with BIPOC and disabled employees representing 19.49 percent and 2.42 percent of their workforce respectively at the end of 2020.”
According to management, Intouch continues to experience the lowest rates of employee turnover in the industry, with just a 9 percent voluntary turnover rate in 2020. “Also worth noting, Intouch welcomed 29 former Intouchers – known affectionately as ‘boomerangs’ – back to the organization.”
Without its strong culture, Intouch would not be what it is, management says, adding that the company worked overtime to maintain that culture in 2020. Intouch continued its practice of using the Gallup Q12 survey to measure employee engagement at work, and results showed a 12 percent increase in engagement over baseline, placing Intouch above national Gallup scores at every measure, according to agency leaders.
When the pandemic forced everyone into work-from-home mode, Intouch stepped up, according to the leadership team. “From ‘Parenting During a Pandemic’ group sessions, to discussions hosted by the inclusion and diversity team, to online cooking classes, mental health support, a monthly technology stipend, meeting-free zones, virtual trivia and bingo, and more, Intouch demonstrated its commitment to its employees.”
“I’m so proud of Intouch’s response to what was a very difficult year,” Capan says. “Ongoing surveys and roundtables kept a pulse on employee well-being, while frequent, transparent, and honest COVID-related updates helped instill a sense of calm. And we protected Intouchers’ pay, promotions, and raises – with zero layoffs.”
More than 1,150 Intouchers worked remotely in 2020 – including 43 interns who completed an entirely virtual summer program. To make it all happen, Intouchers logged more than 197,000 Zoom meetings, management says.
STRUCTURE AND SERVICES
From branding to innovation to enterprise-level services that employ Veeva, Adobe, Salesforce and more, Intouch applies its expertise to deliver transformational solutions for every stage of the product lifecycle,” agency leaders say.
Maintaining a single P&L, Intouch Group is composed of three full-service agencies — Intouch Solutions, Intouch Proto, and Intouch Seven – plus specialized affiliates Intouch Media, Intouch Analytics, and the fast-growing marketing technology hub, Intouch B2D. Intouch Group’s global arm and joint venture with Healthware International, Intouch International rounds out the portfolio. Brick-and-mortar office locations include New York, Chicago, Boston, Kansas City, San Francisco, San Diego, London, and Mumbai – and remote employees work from more than 30 states.
In June, Intouch brought on Susan Perlbachs as its chief creative officer (CCO). As CCO, Perlbachs is responsible for creative leadership across all Intouch Group affiliates, locations and clients. Perlbachs brings nearly 20 years of experience with other renowned healthcare agencies, including high-level positions at FCB Health, GSW, and Grey Healthcare, driving major campaigns for U.S. and global brands for professionals and consumers. Honors and accolades include being named one of PharmaVoice’s Top 100 Most Inspiring People, speaking at Cannes Lions Health, and serving as a Clio judge. She also was named an HBA Rising Star.
“Susan’s bold creative vision, along with her passion for developing inspiring and activating brand experiences, make her a fantastic fit for Intouch’s curious, tenacious and fearless culture,” Capan says. “Her addition to the executive leadership team further solidifies Intouch as a world-class creative powerhouse, and her strong business acumen is already significantly contributing to our aggressive growth trajectory.”
Intouch Group plans to continue that growth trajectory by adding new clients, new brands, and new talent to service them, management says. In addition to expanding its Market Access footprint, Intouch will keep growing its global footprint as well as additional services offered.
According to its leaders, 2021 will see a shift in the way the organization works, with new remote-work policies and an ongoing emphasis on employee support and culture. “At the same time, Intouchers look forward to getting together – when it’s safe to do so – for valuable face-to-face collaboration and social time.”
It’s important to Intouch leadership to instill a sense of purpose and impact across the organization, and in 2020 Intouch was named a Corporate Champion for its commitment to philanthropic activities, a year that saw a great need for generosity. One way the organization gave back was partnering in spring 2020 with Heart to Heart International (HHI), donating more than $100,000 to HHI programs focused on preventing the spread of COVID-19, including infection prevention and control training and hygiene kits, which the nonprofit made available at no cost to organizations in need.
Demonstrating its support for social justice causes, Intouch Group launched Intouch for Justice, an employee donation-matching program for three nonprofits: the Equal Justice Initiative, the Innocence Project, and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund; so far, nearly $20,000 has been raised for these organizations. “Intouch For Justice is our collective next step in our long-term commitment to promoting equity,” says Antonio Rivera, associate director of inclusion and diversity.
Intouch is also heavily involved with The BrandLab via financial support, event sponsorship, and board membership. The BrandLab is a nonprofit seeking to change the face and voice of the marketing industry through the support of young people from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds.
“Intouch prioritizes philanthropic activities throughout the year and often supports close to 40 other causes – many of them related to the healthcare themes close to our life science clients’ work: Make-A-Wish Missouri & Kansas, KC Pet Project, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Always & Furever Midwest Animal Sanctuary, CHD Babies, St. Baldrick’s Foundation, Almost Home Kids, and more.”