Upward Move: David Cherry
chief digital officer, Sudler & Hennessey
The usual recipe for digitizing your agency may include adding on a smaller shop, or a bolt-on acquisition. Another option is outsourcing. But building out your own digital capabilities is rare. And for David Cherry, Sudler & Hennessey's new chief digital officer, the road less taken has proven to be a successful one.
“I've run against conventional wisdom to some extent by our building out an internal tech team,” he explains, “But that tech team has proven to be a differentiator for the agency. I'm now excited to have the opportunity to address the wider digital disciplines for the agency.” Cherry's “modest goal” is to make Sudler & Hennessey “the first professional healthcare agency with full internal digital capabilities”—a goal he admits is always under revision.
"The only constant in this industry is change,” he quips. “One of the challenges we run into is clients ask us to deliver something new, exciting and innovative. Then the second question they ask is: ‘Do you have any case studies?'”
Negotiating that cutting edge of the industry has been another “constant” for Cherry, who came to the US in 1992 from Australia and helped start the first digital CD-ROM magazine: Blender.
Cherry then brought his consumer skills to the agency world, landing at Greater than One and Wunderman before settling in with S&H in 2009. While he may think that pharma advertising runs “3 to 5 years behind the rest of the [advertising] industry,” Cherry concedes that encouraging developments are starting to “erode that trend.”
“Pharma has been right at the forefront of adopting iPads as tools for their sales forces, and we're also starting to see a lot of ‘mobile-first' requests for responsive websites, right across the client base,” he points out. “Right now in healthcare there is tons of data available—and for digital marketers that means a lot of opportunity.”