Evoke boosts UK leadership team

A surge in growth at Evoke Mind + Matter has seen its managing director Corrina Safeio elevated to the position of group managing director and have additional responsibility for running Evoke London.

From left: Evoke Mind + Matter's Lee Wales, Corrina Safeio, and Holly Ford, have all been promoted to new roles.

She will lead both agencies and take over from Jon Clark, who recently stepped down as president, Evoke London.

Her promotion will be confirmed in an announcement of leadership changes being made by Evoke tomorrow. The firm said it has been prompted by Safeio's success in leading the UK Evoke Mind+Matter team over the past 18 months. During this time the agency has delivered double-digit growth and landed 15 new client wins this year, including pharma firms Takeda and Vertex.

Evoke, which specialises in health, employs 1,400 people globally and more than 400 in Europe. Evoke Mind +Matter has around 170 people in the UK, while Evoke London has a team of over 50+ people.

Safeio’s focus will be on the growth and alignment of the two Evoke agencies to create teams and offers for local, European and global clients. She will continue to report to Ben Beckley, president, Evoke Mind+Matter.

UK growth

Amar Urhekar, group president, marketing, at Evoke, commented: “Europe is a key growth focus for Evoke and an important market for our clients, whether focusing on local markets or leading global marketing and communications strategies. Our clients want to be able to access the best talent frictionlessly, regardless of where they are in Evoke globally.”

He added: “As a tenacious leader with a track record in network agencies, client-side and most recently leading the successful agency consolidation to launch Evoke Mind+Matter in the UK, Corrina is a huge asset to have focusing on this.”

Urhekar said: “The UK is a very profitable business for us. It continues to deliver double-digit growth in revenue as well as in profits.”

The decision to bring the two agencies under Safeio’s leadership is an attempt to “become a scale player in the UK market,” he said.

Other changes include promoting Lee Wales, client partnership director at Evoke Mind+Matter, to a newly created deputy managing director role. He will support Safeio in managing Evoke Mind+Matter UK and will be responsible for the agency’s client service strategy and operational excellence to deliver ambitious growth.

And Holly Ford, associate director, consumer health and beauty, at Evoke Mind+Matter, will be promoted to head of consumer comms and oversee the agency’s consumer health and wellness comms portfolio.

Safeio said: “The UK market is home to some of the best strategic thinking and creativity in the world. By bringing Evoke London and Evoke Mind+Matter UK closer – and thanks to the wider Evoke platform – we are going to have some of the best talent there is working together to deliver meaningful results for our clients, and our business. With the support of Lee and Holly in their new roles, we’ve got all the pieces in place to make 2023 a transformative year for Evoke and our clients.”

Bigger picture

The leadership changes in the UK come just months after some major changes at Evoke. In June, the medical marketing and comms arms of Evoke and Ashfield were brought under the Evoke brand. And that same month, Ashfield and Huntsworth rebranded their combined health and life science operations, which include Evoke, under a new name: Inizio.

Mind+Matter launched at the beginning of 2021 as Pegasus merged with fellow Ashfield Health agencies Ashfield Digital and Creative and Cambridge Biomarketing. It said it ended 2021 with £4m of new business, large growth in average client revenue, 60 new hires and investment in a new proprietary tech platform, Gravity.ai.

Insights into Evoke

In a wide-ranging interview with PRWeek ahead of the announcement of Safeio’s new role, Urhekar and Safeio spoke about their future plans and some of the challenges facing Evoke.

New client offerings

Major work is underway to invest in innovative CX, with greater customer experience and data analytics capability, according to Urhekar. “That is actually enabling us to understand design, and deliver the best health care experiences for our clients, like we've not done before,” he said.

“The relentless focus and investment we now have on CX on data analytics, and overall omnichannel build is what we're looking at further building out in the coming months,” he added.

This will include a direct-to-consumer (DTC) offering, which “is quite fledgling from a UK perspective but there are some early signs of growth in that as well".

Evoke is expanding its DTC offering in the UK, where health marketing regulations are tougher than those in the US - where brand advertising is allowed.

“We need to be more innovative and we need to be more data-oriented, more analytical oriented and, and build a CX platform that actually helps us circumvent some of the regulatory hurdles,” he commented.

And Safeio explained that “it's really thinking about DTC in the context of all the other channels that we use”. She cited patient awareness as one of the areas that can be developed for DTC offerings, encouraging people to have good conversations with their healthcare professionals and “to either proactively or reactively look after their condition.”

Global clients

Urhekar claims there has been a noticeable rise in the number of global clients being served by different parts of Evoke.

“We've been able to expand our book of business with them from different therapeutic areas and geographies, and the network agility that we've put in place now," he said.

The biggest gain for Evoke has been an expansion of its work for long-standing client Pfizer. “We've been able to expand our book of business with them from different therapeutic areas and geographies.and the network agility that we've put in place now,” he said.

It is part of a picture of growth that has seen a rise of around 25 per cent in Evoke’s global client work across the US and the UK in 2021-22.

Safeio cited a trend where clients are looking to have a single agency partner that can represent them on a local, regional and global level.

Separate entities

Asked if Evoke Mind + Matter and Evoke London will remain as separate entities in the long term, Urhekar told PRWeek: “There are no current plans to merge any of these agencies.” He added “We always continue to look at areas in which we can be better integrated.” However, how Evoke is structured “should be almost irrelevant for our clients.”

Urhekar said: “At this stage we don't anticipate any other mergers and our go to market strategy is focused on building out the Evoke Mind + Matter brand, as well as further nurturing and growing the Evoke London brand as well.”

Safeio explained that, from her perspective, it’s about “keeping the agencies separate but having the benefit of being able to have that scale and the ebb and flow of work.” She added that one benefit of the closer working is “being able to say yes to clients more often because we’ve got that scale, we’ve got that scope to really deliver.”

UK market

The UK is “extremely important” to Evoke’s business and a “really important market for our clients as well as for us,” Urhekar said. The current political and economic turmoil in the UK is on Evoke’s radar. As he said: “We are keeping a close eye on it.”

Evoke is hopeful that any recession will have a lesser effect on its business compared to sectors such as FMCG, because of the importance of health.

He stated: “We don't know what we can forecast, in terms of the side effects of this current economic socio-political turmoil could be, but whatever they are, I am very confident that we have the right talent, we have the right passion to solve our clients problems, and will continue to stand by them in thick and thin and continue to believe in our mission of making health more human.”

Safeio made the point that the focus is not on growth for its own sake, but for “healthy” and “stable” growth which provides job security to staff.

“I think that going into the recession I know that agencies are nervous."

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