After a four-decade career in advertising, the founding of two celebrated healthcare agencies (Wishbone in 1998 and Calcium in 2012), and countless accolades, Steven Michaelson has announced his retirement from Calcium + Company.
Michaelson is known for transforming the way pharmaceutical advertising approached brand building through strategic symbolic representations. His agencies flourished with long-standing client relationships, continued growth, and award recognitions. Under his leadership, Calcium has grown exponentially year over year with over 70% growth in 2020 and 38% growth in 2021, according to MM+M’s Agency 100 list.
In January 2023, the company positioned itself for further growth when it announced its evolution into Calcium + Company, which would serve as a new overarching structure that will house a collection of offerings. Those offerings include Calcium, a medical communications division called Vitamin MD, a public relations division called PRotein, and the newly launched oncology marketing division called Amino.
“Steven is the ultimate entrepreneur. Building businesses is in his DNA,” Judy Capano, Mr. Michaelson’s long-time business partner and wife, and current Calcium + Company CEO, said in a statement. “His superpower is his ability to achieve a goal, no matter how unattainable it may seem. He will do whatever it takes and make it happen.”
In his own statement, Michaelson said: “The agency is well positioned for long-term success with Judy and Greg Lewis, Managing Partner and Group President, at the helm. Throughout my career, I’ve had the privilege of working with some of the best people in our industry and I have been influenced by all of them. Somehow, I’ve gotten people far smarter than myself to follow me, starting with Judy. Some of my other partners, like Steve Hamburg, Chief Strategy Officer, followed me from Wishbone to Calcium. Along the way, we picked up some new partners that joined the band. The people that I have surrounded myself with are the true secret to my success, and the success of the agency. This is a team sport, and I couldn’t have done it without all the incredible people at both Wishbone and Calcium. I am truly one of the luckiest people alive. That said, I turned 67 years old last month. It’s time to pass the baton and devote more time to my passions outside the workplace.”
In October 2022, PM360 recognized Michaelson with its Trailblazers Lifetime Achievement Award. That was only the most recent award in a career full of them. He also received recognition in 2021 as PharmaVoice’s 2021 Red Jacket honoree and as the recipient of the MM+M Pinnacle Award. He was named the 2019 Industry Person of the Year by Med Ad News; MM+M’s Entrepreneur of the Year (2018); a PM360 ELITE 100 Transformational Leader (2017); and made two appearances in PharmaVoice’s top 100 (2006, 2015).
Meanwhile, Calcium and Wishbone, the agencies founded by Michaelson, have received 17 Agency of the Year recognitions between them. And in 2022, Calcium was named on MM+M’s Best Places to Work list.
“Steven has created a strong agency brand that stands for quality, innovation, and a work culture that is second- to-none,” Lewis said in a statement. “I am honored and excited to carry on his vision and his legacy.”
Outside of Pharma, Michaelson serves on the advisory board of Haven Kids Rock, a music program that empowers underserved youth who have been victims of trauma, abuse, or neglect to heal through the arts; the program was created specifically for Mott Haven Academy’s students in the Bronx. Not only are two-thirds of Haven Academy’s students in foster care and the child welfare system, the final third live in the poorest Congressional district in the U.S. and face similar challenges.
Michaelson is also a donor and fundraiser for the U.S. Tennis Association Foundation, whose mission is to bring tennis and education together to change lives for under-resourced youth. Additionally, he is a member of and donor to the Community-Police Relations Foundation, a charity dedicated to strengthening community and law enforcement relations through outreach, participation, events, and scholarship; and to supporting law enforcement, first responders and their families in times of distress or fraternity. Michaelson also is proud to provide support for the Great American Milk Drive, an organization dedicated to providing critical nutritional support for Americans in need.