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What is next is often sitting right in front of us.  However, we often miss the initial wave of innovation, since we are so focused on how we do business “today” and we can’t see clearly how an incremental advance is actually a tectonic shift.  Narration is just such an example.

Three distinct facts set me off to explore this area in more detail.

When Facebook Live started in January 2016, most of us thought it was nice, but not much more.  Now, with nearly four billion live broadcasts completed, we can see that Facebook Live sessions are watched three times more often than regular videos…..worldwide.

Earlier this year, I was listening to Snapchat talk about their business and heard them say that more than one trillion snaps were taken in 2017.  So, 159 million members of Snapchat took more photos than the other several billion people with cameras in the world.  Wow.

And then I was talking with my nephew, Anthony Gaetano, who describes how to play video games for Roblox, Minecraft and now Fortnite.  On Roblox, Anthony has over 1.1 million subscribers who listen in daily to what he has to say.  This is an example of one of his daily videos which has 380,00 views where he is teaching his Dad, Anthony, on how to use Roblox.  How many brands get this level of interest for each video?   Fortnite is also growing towards this level of audience for Anthony.

So, what do they all have in common and what is the average marketer or communicator missing?  Well, it’s pretty simple when we strip it apart.

Authenticity – we want to hear real conversations from real people helping us navigate the world.  We do not want polished videos, polished speeches and talking points.

My life – if we can map out our lives visually, it helps us realize what we did each day and it helps us build a new type of digital relationship with our peers, which is exactly what Snapchat accomplishes.  How many brands make it easy for you, the customer, to maintain a history of what you like about that brand and what it does for you?

Advice – video game narrators are showing us what big brands should do.  We’re not waiting with baited breath for the next margarine ad or even the next post.  We want experts to tell us what we need to know in a way that is real…..in a regular cadence.

What this means for content creators is powerful.  We often think in terms of “campaigns” or “new brands” or “voice of the customer” when in reality, what our customers want is for us calm down and share our thinking.  Here are a few examples.

Running – what if you could follow running experts from shoe company X who share their learnings with you every day via YouTube and occasionally listen to them on Facebook Live at events?  They occasionally mention their equipment, but their goal is to share their love of running with you.

Health – patients, nurses and physicians speak candidly about what it is like to battle cancer.  What are we thinking when we go to the chemotherapy center?  What is it like to deal with insurance?  What do you tell your loved ones?  We also mention treatments and related ideas, but, again, within a much larger context and we get this on a daily basis.  Why?  Well, if you are battling cancer, you have all of the time in the world to listen to others who may give you ideas and hope.

Deeper Websites – you no longer get someone to go to text on a website and declare victory.  Instead, you can click and learn more about the topic from an expert(s) who continually update their thoughts.  You enter a learning center, not a site, and form a relationship with real people from the company.

The list can go on.  The key is when we say that content needs to be more agile or more transparent or some other word choice, we should ask ourselves a deeper question.

Are we narrating life for our customers or are we just trying to sell them something?  The former is powerful and will build long-lasting relationships.  The latter is transactional. 

And that brings me back to a final point.  The antibodies of our world will say “yeah, but you don’t get how media really works”.   My point back is one trillion+ snaps, four billion broadcasts and 22-year old’s with more than one million subscribers……..what am I missing about what really works?

It will be a fun era as we reinvent how we “Storytize” rather than advertise.

Best, Bob

This blog post was co-authored by Lynn Pulsifer, Group Director of Creative and Film at W2O.

In the past twelve months we’ve worked with three incredible directors all represented on http://freethebid.com/.

When Symbiomix wanted Shan Boody a Clinical Sexologist, as their spokesperson to break down BV basics and misconceptions, we turned to Free the Bid as a destination to find a great director. After connecting with three directors we landed on Carolyn Chen, who not only directed the spot but was also the talented DP behind the camera. You can see the spot here.

Neodyne came to us wanting to amplify the voices of thousands of satisfied customers and raise awareness and increase sales for embrace Active Scar Defense. The first round of TV was awarded to Carissa Gallo represented by Little Mynx Studios in LA. The campaign, Thousands of Stories Real Results didn’t stop there. With a signed endorsement contract with Serena Willams who used the product 9 months ago after an emergency c-section. We set our sights on Sarah Silver for her signature fashion stills and amazing lighting for skin. (Sarah Silver is not currently on Free The Bid, I already had her on my internal list) You can see some of the Serena work here.

When Incyte was looking to raise awareness for Voices of MPNs and interested in garnering film festival awards, we contracted non other than  Cynthia Wade.Cynthia is an Academy Award winning documentary and commercial director known for intimate and gripping storytelling.” We set out to create a docuseries project which will culminate in four films featuring unique voices of MPNs as they share their journey of living with the disease. While we just wrapped shooting on the fourth film last week. Check out the first in the series titled Beyond Blue below.

It’s clear, hiring diverse talent leads to better creative and that creative is truly what will set W2O apart from the herd. #buildyours


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our Creative or About pages.

If you’re interested in working with W2O, see what’s open on Culture & Careers.

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As a truly integrated marketing-communications firm, we have experts in a plethora of areas, so there’s a lot on our mind all the time. From the latest healthcare trends to developing a deeper understanding of client/agency relationships to examining what motivates our leaders, we think about it all.

Each month we’re going to share a couple stories that standout to us, we hope they are as valuable to you as they’ve been to us.

Women in the Agency World

W2O’s culture not only welcomes conversations surrounding gender equality, we’re walking the talk in putting women forward.

Striking the Ideal Balance Between Client & Agency

What does it take to strike the perfect balance in an agency/client relationship? Client, Amy Atwood, Takeda Pharmaceutical’s Head of Vaccine Comms, shares best practices.

Taking the Big Risk

W2O wcg President, Angela Gillespie, shares how taking risk can have an invaluable impact on your career.

The Social Oncology Report 2018

Our annual examination of the role that social media plays in the discussion of cancer.

Celebrating our Branding with a Fluid State of Mind

Matt Dong, W2O’s Group Creative Director, shares how our brilliantly blue rebrand is coming to life at our Fluid State of Mind studio crawl, June 8.

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If you’re interested in learning more about W2O, check out our About page. If you’re interested in working with W2O, see what’s open on our Culture & Careers page.

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Matt Dong has been at the helm of countless branding projects that have delighted his clients for over 25 years. In his 9 years with W2O, Matt’s has worked to bring brands to life ranging in diversity from med device to biotech startups; from wine to hotels. However, one of the most exciting projects to date has been Matt’s visionary work on our beautifully blue, simply sophisticated W2O rebrand.

I sat down with Matt recently to plunge the depths of our company’s latest incarnation and how it will be celebrated the night of June 8 at our AIGI SF Design Week Studio Crawl event, A Fluid State of Mind.

Q: Let’s get into it. Why W2O? Where did ‘Group’ go?

A: As the company started to grow, Weisscom evolved to become W2O Group. But we recently found that the “Group” didn’t reflect our “One Team, One Dream,” spirit.

Q: Can you tell us more about Water?

A: While water inspired the name “W2O Group,” we didn’t delve far into what that could mean. After some reflection and a lot of growth, we see water is an even better metaphor for us now. Most importantly, water adapts; it takes many different forms; it can cut through mountains just by persisting; and it supports life. Water is agile and powerful.

Q: And that’s how we landed on the Fluid State of Mind theme for our SF Design Week Studio Crawl event?

A: Well that, and cocktails!

Q: Ok, you had me at cocktails but tell us more.

A: The creative department, as designers and writers, is constantly changing states. With the enormous variety of projects we help our clients navigate—analytics and PR, to branding, social, and campaign development—we have to shapeshift and adapt to the changing environments, just like water.

Q: So, what can people expect when they come?

The AIGA Studio Crawl will involve a lot of agencies, and we’re happy to be a part of it a second year in a row. We’ll be pouring custom cocktails and Naphtali Rodriguez, one of our designers, will be spinning tunes. Plus, we’ll be presenting and discussing a variety of our latest work, answering questions, and making new friends.

Q: And who’s invited?

Anyone interested in design, branding and the use of transformative insights to solve problems. You can get tickets for the event on the AIGA website. We’ll be here from 6 to 8 pm on Friday, June 8.

Q: So, I have a burning question. What are these dots, squiggles, and diagonals about?

A: Beyond the logo, they’re part of our visual brand language that expresses the adaptable nature of water: lines are solid, squiggles are liquid, and dots are gas. It’s a way to express who we are to clients, the world, and each other. The more we interact with our brand, the more we live it, the more meaningful and valuable it becomes.

Our clients ask us for branding all the time. Now we have a way of showcasing our work simply by being ourselves.

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1. Uj, we’re excited to have you as our Practice Lead of Scientific Strategy. Can you tell us how that helps our clients build unfair advantage?

Our group focuses on leveraging deep scientific insights to drive best-in-class strategy and storytelling, whether it’s for a product, a disease state, or an organization. We provide a stand-alone scientific and medical communications offering, in addition to infusing world-class scientific thinking across our existing marketing, digital, and communications functions. Coupled with our unparalleled analytics capabilities, we believe that we can now create integrated solutions for our high-science clients like never before.

2. What attracted you to join W2O?

A few things attracted me to W2O. First, the possibility of building a scientific group that works across multiple functions- PR, IR, marketing, and now medical communications, was very appealing. I think there’s still too much of a siloed approach to developing communications to various stakeholders, and the W2O model uniquely addresses that through our unified offering. Second, the chance to work with true analytics experts who can help drive not only measurement, but strategic direction itself. Finally, the fact that we all operate for the good of the network- One Team, One Dream, as we like to say- cuts out a lot of the politics and rigidity that other organizations suffer from. The ability to be agile and build what you want was, and is, incredibly appealing.

3. You’ll work closely with our analytics/digital and value, pricing and market access practices – how does your role fit into these practices?

Science is at the core of much of what we do in helping to build and communicate about brands and organizations. Integrating deep scientific thinking into our analytics offering will help us generate key insights that can’t necessarily be uncovered through traditional stakeholder interactions—namely, the underlying perceptions, attitudes, and lexicon that can drive behavior based on scientific understanding. With value, pricing, and market access, the key is to build and communicate a scientific story that lives up to the true advancements that are constantly being generated by our clients. Part of this is through trial design itself, generating endpoints that show the economic benefit of a therapy to society and the healthcare system, and part of it is creating a strong, scientifically sound value proposition that ensures optimal pricing and coverage.

4. Where does science belong at the intersection between health, communications, and marketing?

Scientific understanding is the underpinning for discovery and is the basis for human health as well as the maintenance of human health. However, scientific communications often fall short in that they are overly technical, uninteresting, and burdened in complexity that does a disservice to the amazing healthcare advances that are occurring every day. This is where scientific storytelling comes in—taking the objective truth around the data and constructing an interesting story for why a product or company should be considered. We are seeking to empower healthcare decision makers with the ability to have a clear view into how a product might improve health, taking into account any potential caveats of course. 

5. The world of science moves quickly, what is your approach to learning and staying up to speed?

Honestly, email-based alerts from scientific journals and services like FiercePharma and FierceBiotech have been really helpful in this regard. Additionally, social media posts from leading scientists and clinicians give me a quick view into the latest academic and industry developments. In the past, I’d come in and do PubMed searches every morning for the latest interesting articles; however, online services now do this work for me by keeping me up to date on what the latest hot developments are in the world of science. I then dig deeper based on scientific literature, congresses, and interactions with relevant experts I’m in contact with.

6. Fun question: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Hmmm…that’s a tough one, but I’d probably say Legend by Bob Marley and the Wailers. It’s timeless, it helps me chill out, and it reinforces the fact that regardless of what all might be going on, life is a precious gift that we should all be infinitely thankful for.

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Back in March, MM&M announced the 2018 recipients of the Top 40 Healthcare Transformers and Top 10 Innovation Catalysts. This annual recognition focuses on highlighting and celebrating executives, investors, entrepreneurs, designers and thinkers who are ushering the healthcare industry into its new technological golden era. Among those being recognized are two of our very own leaders – Kevin Johnson, President of W2O marketeching and Greg Matthews, Managing Director of Healthcare Analytics!

From using social research to identify how and where patients discuss rare diseases online to creating an analytics tool that maps the digital footprint of 871,000 doctors, patients, advocacy groups, and media outlets in order to better track digital trends for healthcare companies, the work these guys have done deserves to be celebrated.

Ahead of tonight’s big celebration, take a peek at some of the incredible work both Kevin and Greg have done to earn this well deserved honor.

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Last month, I had the pleasure of traveling to my alma mater – the University of Alabama – for the College of Communication & Information Sciences Honors Day, a time-honored tradition where both students and alumni are recognized for contributions in their various fields.

It was truly wonderful to be back on campus – catching up with old friends, making new ones, exploring the old haunts I used to frequent as a student, and humbly receiving an alumni award for my work in communication. My time in college holds a special place in my heart – evoking a feeling of nostalgia for that meaningful life experience that helped facilitate my creative and analytical thinking and shape me into who I am today.

As I wandered around campus, I thought about an important, ever-relevant piece of advice I received from one of my mentors on the eve of my freshman year. I was sitting in Burbank, Calif. – where I grew up – with my high school speech coach who had helped me earn my spot on the University of Alabama forensics team, and who 25 years later remains a guiding voice in my life. I was expressing to her my fears of failure. Would I be good enough to maintain my scholarship? Could I really compete at the collegiate level? Could I develop a taste for sweet tea and grits? Could I really go so far away from home? Maybe this was all just too much. I had cold feet and was ready to back out.

She shared with me that afternoon one of my favorite life lessons that I have recounted many times since, “Angela, playing it safe is for sidewalks and swimming pools. Take the risk – what do you really have to lose?”

My life and career have taken many twists and turns. Through epic failures as well as incredible successes, I credit this one piece of sage wisdom that has gotten me through. And along the way I’ve learned that there are SO MANY benefits of taking that risk:

  • It helps you clearly define what you want and what’s most important to you.
  • It empowers you to push the proverbial envelope and establish new boundaries you didn’t think you were capable of achieving.
  • It inspires creativity and rouses some pretty amazing problem-solving skills.
  • It enables you to gain the confidence needed to embrace new opportunities.
  • It can, and many times does, result in a positive outcome.

Whether you are a recent college graduate, a seasoned professional, or simply someone who wants to – but hasn’t taken that next step… albeit a scary one – you will find yourself having to make this very decision over and over again throughout the trajectory of your career and your life. Will I play it safe or will I take the risk? I hope you choose the latter… to be brave, be bold and take that big chance on yourself. This is where you will find the defining difference between having a great career vs. having an exceptional one.

At W2O, we are looking for exceptional leaders across all marketing and communication specialties across all geographies. Are you ready to take that next step? Take a look at our open roles here. We’d love to have you!

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As a part of our commitment to supporting and connecting women in the healthcare industry, W2O became a corporate member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA).  One of HBA’s initiatives is to honor rising stars each year and I am thrilled to share the news that Mary James, Senior Analytics Director, is being recognized this year as the W2O HBA Healthcare Rising Star.

Learn more about Mary James in write up on PharmaVoice.

W2O Group, Mary James, HBAMary is one of all of the tremendous women here at W2O.  She has been pivotal to running and growing Marketeching and played a leading role in integrating analytics across a wide range of clients and offerings supporting our broader W2O capabilities with a true dedication and passion for the healthcare space.  In her many contributions to W2O, she has created and led analytics teams that have become indispensable to the cross-functional teams they work with. In all of this, she has exemplified a collegial attitude and approached everything as part of a team all coming together for one common W2O goal. Not only have her work and leadership at Marketeching and more broadly across W2O been stellar, but her background at CMS is both impressive and also a great example of how our leaders come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise to create our unique talent base.

It is incredible how many talented and exceptional colleagues we get to work with each day, and we look forward to recognizing and celebrating others in years to come.

Please join me in congratulating Mary on this honor!

You can view all the 2018 HBA Rising stars here.


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our Healthcare or About pages.
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Most stories about advertising and marketing call it a “man’s world,” and the stats are damning. Women make up almost half of our workforce, but a quick search of most agency sites shows a sea of male faces on the leadership team.

Before I get into bragging about W2O, I’ll give this caveat: it’s still hard to be a woman in business. Time and time again, studies show that the same resume and behavior coming from an assertive man is received more favorably than a woman. There’s still so much sexism, obvious and subtle, and there are still really hard conversations happening all the time.

But W2O’s culture welcomes these conversations and we’re walking the walk in putting women forward.

I’ll dive into three proof points, two of which are statistics-based:

1. We were just on TV about mansplaining

Our Chief People Officer Deborah Hankin was on Good Morning America in April talking about “mansplaining,” sexist behavior, and gender bias.

Deborah’s point is that business must have zero tolerance for this kind of bad behavior.

From a practical standpoint, will it keep happening? Of course. But in our firm, we are empowered to call it out, discuss it, and escalate it if necessary.

Takeaway: Discussing sexism openly, if it is perceived to exist, is culturally okay here.

2.~50% of our most senior people are women

To be frank, this isn’t at all normal, especially for a male founder-led business. You can skim our leadership section, but we’ve jotted down a cheat sheet.

Takeaway: Talent is embraced.

3. ~50% of our 2018 SXSW speakers were women

This was our 9th year hosting thought leadership events during SXSW, but it was the first time we officially partnered with the SXSW organization. The focus was on healthcare and technology.  Again, nearly half of the experts we put forward were women. Our Chief Marketing Officer, Aaron Strout, was a big proponent of ensuring women were represented on the panels and discussions.

What was the result of this specific request? Two amazing panelists – Shaku Selvakumar and Nancy Giordano.

Shaku has worked for Fortune 500 companies like IBM, Shell, and fast growth companies like CognitiveScale and Webify Solutions. She is the founder of BraveCenter, a collaborative innovation lab for young adults. She also currently serves as a Community Impact advisor at CognitiveScale, a fast growth enterprise AI company.

Nancy is the founder of Play Big, Inc. With a portfolio of more than $50B worth of experience with companies such as Nestle, Energizer, Sprint, NRG, The Coca Cola Company, Brinker Int’l, Acumen, Lucid and more, she is passionate about helping leaders update their corporate “operating systems” to build greater salience and momentum.

Peek into our full SXSW’s 2018 recaps, agenda & speaker info, if you’re curious.

Takeaway: We recognize the value of diverse input, and we actively push for balance.  


If you’re interested in knowing more about W2O, check out our Healthcare or About pages.

If you’re interested in working with W2O, see what’s open on Culture & Careers.

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