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A Q&A with Steve Millerman, President & Founder of EMCAY, a “Pharma-cultural” Agency
MMR:  Tell us about Emcay, the agency services and your cultural focus.

Fundamentally, we are a full service multicultural advertising agency; however, all of our services are customized for the pharmaceutical industry from a communication, clinical Steve Millerman, President & Founder, EMCAY regulatory perspective.  From a cultural perspective we cover various cultures such as US Hispanic, African American, Asian, Russian, and other groups.  Functionally speaking, we provide DTC as well as healthcare professional services that we believe are required to have a successful pharmaceutical cultural strategy.  Examples are strategy and analytics, creative, traditional and digital media, production, medical education, advocacy management, just to name a few.

MMR:  When did Emcay open and why did you decide to focus on the cultural aspect?

We opened in 2013.  Personally, I grew up in the pharma industry working from small to big pharma companies in sales and brand leadership roles.  I have always seen the opportunity within the US multicultural market segment but could not believe how little pharma leveraged this highly targeted area.  In 2013, I left Novartis, where in my latest position I led multicultural marketing across Novartis brands, to pursue this passion across the industry.

MMR:  What do you mean by “pharma-cultural”?

That term came about naturally as we service the niche consisting of both industries, e.g. pharma and multicultural, and ultimately that’s what we do: we are a pharma-cultural ad agency from the inside out.  It’s a term that we coined.

MMR:  What do you feel differentiates the agency the most?

Well, our overall agency capability is specifically designed to service pharma companies focusing on cultural market segments.  It’s a double specialty merged into one.  Whether it’s creative, media or anything else, we are specifically designed to correlate Rx dynamics with cultural landscape.  Everything we do is designed for this pharma-cultural niche.  Our Strategy and Analytics are truly one of a kind.  We don’t just do campaign strategy, we help design the entire pharma-cultural capability.

MMR:  Who are your current clients?

We actually don’t publicize who are clients are, including on our website.  We believe that investing in multicultural marketing is such a competitive advantage that we prefer not to reveal that in public forums. What I could tell you is that about 80% of our clients are top 30 pharma companies, about 20% are other agencies servicing pharma companies where we support the work.

MMR:  While many agencies are taking the opposite approach and are looking to expand their expertise as well as focus across industries, you seem to be going the other way with your laser focus. Why did you decide to take this approach?

I am a big believer in being really really good at one thing vs pretty good across the board.  I think focus is everything and that’s something that is reflective in our thinking, our team, and our work.

MMR:  Tell us about your team and culture.

Our culture is highly entrepreneurial, visionary and energetic.  The team is everything.  The team makes the agency.  We all know what happens to the account when key people are no longer on it.  You can be the biggest agency in the world, but if you don’t have the right people on the account the work will suffer.  We have a great balance of client and agency experience coupled with significant experience in both pharma and cultural advertising.  We also provide quite a bit of training around our capabilities to ensure that unique aspects of the services are reflected in everyone’s work.

MMR:  Steve, last year you won the PM 360 Marketer of the Year award for your multicultural work as a game changer for the industry. How did this recognition impact the agency and the work you do?

I can’t say the win changed what we do, however, it was very important for us to see the industry recognizing multicultural marketing work.  The win also added quite a bit of credibility to our methodologies.  We are truly grateful for getting that honor.

MMR:  What does the name Emcay mean? Is that an acronym?

Actually, it’s not, I named the company after my kids Emma, who I call “Em” and Caden, who I call “Cay”.  We all put in some crazy hours sometimes, but never want to lose sight of what’s most important.

MMR:  We know that Emcay has expanded this past year. How do you feel the agency is doing?

Yes, we are having a very good year with some great new clients as well as bringing some terrific people on board.   I believe our highly specialized offering has really resonated with the industry.  In just over two years, we have had the chance to service many very large brands either through other agencies or directly.  When we do get the time to present our case live and the opportunity for the brand, there is a very strong positive response.

MMR:  What’s next for EMCAY?

Our goal is to continue to evolve our role in this pharma-cultural world.  There is still a lot to do and there is never a shortage of ideas, new capabilities and opportunities.   I know that given the opportunity we can make a tremendous difference for our clients and in turn patient lives and that makes it a worthwhile journey.

Contact information for Steve Millerman: 201-868-8867,

Originally appeared in MMRNews on 9/14/15