Once again, not one but two members of our Marketing team have been named winners in the PM360 ELITE 100. Ryan Mason and Julie Spoleti have continually broken conventions and pushed boundaries to help patients lead better lives. Read on below to find out what makes both so influential.
Ryan Mason: The Digital Crusader
The driving force behind Ryan’s win is his digital first multidisciplinary vision. Having started his career as a Creative, Ryan brings a collaborative, cross-disciplinary approach to everything. “Ryan has been a tremendous force behind our evolution as a Marketing organization,” says Mario Muredda, President of Marketing. “He’s one of our most sought-after thought leaders.”
CTO Geoff Thorne agrees. “Ryan is a visionary at heart, a mastermind of blending Boolean logic with creativity to formulate well-rounded solutions, driving value for multiple layers of our client’s business.”
And that’s exactly the type of person Avalere Health needed as the team prepared to help argenx launch their first product, VYVGART® (efgartigimod alfa-fcab) for the treatment of generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG). With Ryan’s vision as a driving force, the team helped make VYVGART a living brand capable of authentically connecting with patients, sharing content-rich experiences, and relentlessly pursuing relevance within the MG community.
Ryan was instrumental in the development of MG United, an innovative digital platform that provided information and resources about MG that couldn’t be found elsewhere, and offered a place where the MG community could come together. The site premiered two years prior to brand launch to increase awareness and build an authentic, meaningful relationship with the MG patient community.
By the time VYVGART was ready to launch, MG United had already surpassed its opt-in goal by 219% and achieved a number of industry honors, including a prestigious Cannes Lions for the MG United documentary series, “A Mystery To Me.”
Ryan has also acted as the digital mastermind behind a range of therapeutic products in the specialty space, including an HCP-focused customer guide to help diabetes client marketers better understand how physicians are engaging with campaigns across a product portfolio to support sales and marketing efforts in real time. Additionally, he authored and fine-tuned advanced reporting solutions for a biotechnology company specializing in oncology products.
One of his clients says, “Ryan is a radical and progressive digital champion, pushing boundaries of innovation, challenging status quo, and pioneering transformational strategies and platforms. He leverages digital innovation and advanced analytics to enable authentic, empathetic, and enduring engagement.”
Ryan continues to thrive at the intersection of Data, Strategy, and Creative, always encouraging his team to think bigger, apply their imagination, and execute tactics that have never been done before.
Julie Spoleti: The Launch Expert
As Senior Vice President and Director of Client Services, Julie has a passion for leading client and internal teams alike as they navigate an ever-changing competitive market landscape. And as argenx prepared to launch VYVGART as a groundbreaking new treatment for gMG, Julie led the team down a path less traveled to cement VYVGART as a brand leader.
With 30+ years of experience, Julie is no stranger to launching rare disease brands. She understands the struggles patients go through in getting a diagnosis, seeking out therapies, and living with their conditions daily. She is also a strong advocate for educating rare disease patients about new therapies. When asked what makes product launches in the rare disease space different from other brands, Julie quickly emphasizes that the obstacles are greater. The number of patients is smaller. The disease is more complex. The biopharma companies are often unknown. Because of these challenges, Julie believes a rare disease brand launch needs to be unconventional.
Considering all this, it’s easy to see why there was no better “secret weapon” than Julie for the complex, ambitious launch effort behind VYVGART. Julie knew developing strong, meaningful relationships with patients before a product’s introduction was critical. She carefully guided the team to build awareness programs patients would trust, unite them with engaging events, and yes, even encourage them to share recipes. Despite the challenges the pandemic brought midstream, Julie continued to move boldly forward, knowing the community needed their support more than ever.
Julie was instrumental in leading teams through all aspects of the launch, including many of its most innovative strategies—for instance, its ambitious direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising campaign. The two-part campaign began with an unbranded DTC TV spot featuring real people living with MG listing the simple, emotionally moving reasons they wanted a new treatment option. A VYVGART-branded DTC TV commercial quickly followed, depicting the struggle of life with MG and the promise of better daily life thanks to VYVGART.
A DTC campaign like this is a bold and unusual move for a rare disease brand—in fact, this was the first time MG had ever been mentioned on a national TV commercial. It would be an understatement to say the campaign captured the MG community’s attention. By brand launch standards, the product introduction for VYVGART was a wild success. The team achieved significant brand awareness in less than 12 months and surpassed the goal for patients on treatment, significantly exceeding earning projections.
The TV ads broke the conventional rules and validated a disease that patients were once told did not exist. Unconventional? Absolutely. Well-planned? Without question. And it’s one of the many factors that made this the launch of a lifetime.
When argenx was asked how Julie and the brand team performed, one person said, “Julie and the team were instrumental in the successful execution of the launch campaign…Julie’s intuitive leadership, commitment to the team, and deep understanding of [our] needs and business priorities make her an invaluable asset.”
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A version of this article appeared in the May 2023 PM360 ELITE eBook.
In October 2023, Fishawack Health rebranded as a single, unified organization – Avalere Health.