Evoke Kyne hires first global digital chief after booming growth year

Evoke Kyne’s first global head of digital comes from inside the company. Julie O’Donnell steps into the newly created position of executive vice president and global head of digital after serving as global digital strategist at the agency.

The move comes less than a year after Evoke acquired the Dublin-based Kyne and after a booming growth year. The agency saw double-digit growth in 2019 thanks to both organic growth from clients such as AstraZeneca and new wins including Alkermes and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, said David Kyne, who founded the Kyne health communications agency in 2009 and is now CEO of Evoke Kyne.

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“The pharma industry, over the past two or three years in particular, is far more comfortable with pushing the envelope a bit in terms of digital. Whether it's research and insights or analytics and social, they’re a lot more comfortable with the use of digital,” Kyne said, adding that that means not only a strong core digital team but also improving digital capabilities across all teams. “Basically, it’s a red thread through everything we do now—from start to finish.”

O’Donnell previously served as a senior director at Lundbeck, where she headed the digital team. She joined Kyne in 2017 after working with the agency and becoming “a little bit addicted” to the agency’s culture. Her new role entails overseeing all of the agency’s digital work and skills, but more importantly, going beyond just checking the boxes in digital. That means building out new projects in technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality to tell scientific stories, and figuring out how to creatively break through and differentiate messages on social media.

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“We’ve really tried to decode digital within the agency to make it less of a negative term for everyone,” she said, adding that it’s important for clients as they have “seen clients go from asking whether they can do or should do something in digital to talking much more about how can they achieve excellence and stand out from the crowd and be more creative.”