Leading with science and strategy, Spectrum’s latest acquisition strikes while the iron’s hot
It’s been a banner couple years for Spectrum Science and CrowdPharm. In 2022 Spectrum experienced “explosive growth”, with revenue jumping 63 percent to $80 million. Its business wins were up 56 percent last year as well, and the agency acquired SONIC Health, The Seismic Collaborative, and Aurora. Spectrum Science, which prides itself on being a strategy-first agency, isn’t ending this year quietly either, as it just announced the acquisition of CrowdPharm and Hot Iron Health. This year CrowdPharm was named Agency of the Year by Med Ad News and in their agency profile (April 2023, Med Ad News)they touted their many successes of the past year: “three brand launches, launching a new company, earning work from two of the top 10 pharma companies in the industry, branding the technology application that fuels the agency’s global network, the acquisition and integration of a company, launching its own brand campaign and rebranding its global network site, adding 13 new brands to its portfolio, onboarding eight new clients, and expanding into consumer work with one of its strategic partners.”
Spectrum Science is led by CEO Jonathan Wilson, and CrowdPharm and Hot Iron Health by Partners Steve Bernstein and Mike Myers (also managing director). Wilson and Myers have known each other for nearly two decades, and the acquisition comes at the right time to take the “transformative step,” says Myers, also a Med Ad News Editorial Advisory Board member. We spoke with Wilson and Myers just as the news of the acquisition was released to hear more about the foundation of the business deal and what’s next.
Med Ad News: What unique capabilities does CrowdPharm and Hot Iron Health bring to Spectrum Science?
Jonathan Wilson: At Spectrum we’ve been building an agency focused on strategy first, and leading with the science, and how we fix business problems for our clients from an overall communications and marketing perspective. We’ve been building out our advertising AOR capabilities and doing a good job, and my charge to the team was to look at how we build this with a model that’s different from what we have seen before. In speaking with Mike and what he’s been doing at CrowdPharm, I saw a model that was very different from the more traditional advertising agencies. On top of that, with Hot Iron Health, it brings more consulting services to what we’re offering.
Mike Myers: When we started CrowdPharm, we wanted to build a more client-focused approach to the way an agency can engage with a client and their brands. We’re trying to provide a high degree of flexibility, speed, and a lower price compared to some of the burdensome expenses that agencies enforce on clients, and then ultimately, high quality.
For about the last seven or eight years, every time we’ve had a PR opportunity, I’ve asked Jonathan if he’s interested in pitching at the Spectrum side. We’ve thought highly of their model and their science-first and strategy-first approach. One of the things we discovered over time at CrowdPharm and then Hot Iron Health was that having access to the abundance of creative talent that exists around the world, which is a big part of our agency model, is one thing, but having access to the strategic expertise that Spectrum brings to the table with clients every day – we wanted to be able to tap into that. We felt that that was a transformative step for us and ultimately for our model and what we can deliver to clients in their brands.
Med Ad News: What gaps does the acquisition fill within Spectrum’s portfolio of services?
Wilson: As we look at what we’re offering now as a company, we’ve always been known for our scientific prowess, but we’ve been doing a lot of advertising work as well. The acquisition of CrowdPharm gives us that strategic pillar in the advertising AOR space under a brand that Mike has built that makes sense in the market.
Myers: Not only do we now have the ability to offer our clients an incredibly high-quality public relations offering, but we also have the clinical trial recruitment, and many of the other [services] that Spectrum Science provides. With respect to shared services, the science-first and strategy-first is fundamental to Spectrum Science and bringing that expertise through in-house capabilities to CrowdPharm and Hot Iron Health clients will enable us to even further accelerate our clients’ success. We’re really excited about where this is going to go.
Med Ad News: Is it business as usual as far as integrating the agencies or will there be structural changes?
Wilson: It’s a continued evolution for us. When I acquired Spectrum it was a public relations project-based agency, and we’ve added capabilities over the years. As a group as we’ve grown from 30 to 300 people, and from $8 million to $80 million in revenues, and that’s been a great story. The question that we kept getting asked was what are we really good at, and well, we’re really good at all of it. So, it’s becoming more difficult to differentiate; one thing we’ll see now as we continue to evolve is a focus more on four strategic pillars within our business: our scientific comms business, our clinical trial recruitment business, our advertising AOR with what Mike is bringing with the CrowdPharm and Hot Iron Health team, and our accounts business. In terms of integration, Mike will be on the senior leadership team and lead the advertising AOR, and he will have his senior team around that strategic pillar.
Med Ad News: Are there any new initiatives planned in 2024?
Wilson: We’re excited about the coming together of what we already have at Spectrum and of what Mike and the team bring from CrowdPharm and Hot Iron Health, and putting that together and harnessing its power across our collective broader book of business. It’s going to be powerful for our client set and that’s what excites me the most – being able to offer deep, strategic thinking that helps answer our clients’ problems and deliver high quality, award-winning work at a price point that makes sense for our clients, [especially] as things continue to be competitive.
Myers: We’re really excited about taking the science-first foundation that is Spectrum Science and bringing it to all of CrowdPharm and Hot Iron Health clients, and I see a lot of that occurring in 2024. We are doing some really interesting things in artificial intelligence that we will be excited to share with the market in 2024.