The Top 40: Flashpoint Medica

Founded in March 2005, Omnicom Group-owned Flashpoint Medica had an explosive first year. “You can think of us as a small boutique that grew based on strong leadership,” says Charlene Prounis, managing partner and president. “We created a culture of innovation and relevance for brands.”

Flashpoint got its first big client in January 2006, winning the professional account for Genentech's metastatic breast cancer treatment Herceptin. “It is scheduled to be a billion-dollar brand this year,” says Prounis. The firm picked up other business with UCB (Tussionex), Noven Pharmaceuticals (Vivelle-Dot Projects), Valera Pharmaceuticals (Valstar) and Integra Life Sciences (spinal fusion product), as well as project work for Schwarz Pharma and Forest Laboratories.

Flashpoint may be young, but Prounis and partner and COO Helen Appelbaum have over 40 years of industry experience between them. Prounis stands for strategy and innovation, and incorporates this into a key Flashpoint philosophy: Stand out, be different, get ahead. For example, at Genentech the firm pitched a “sales messaging roadmap” to help sales reps provide the right resources to doctors. “That had never been done at Genentech before,” says Prounis, “and their comment to me was, ‘Oh, you get it.'” 

Another philosophy: Big thinkers think better together. And attracting such thinkers to a young agency is easy to begin with. “For the first year or two,” says Prounis, “you can pull in all the people that you have known and loved, so you can create a dream team.” Yet, to get to the next level, the challenge is to attract “the really big-name talent at the very top.”

Getting clients to take a chance on a new agency can be difficult, and Flashpoint has won work primarily from people and companies who are familiar with its senior personnel. “That is really how you build your business,” explains Prounis. “Service in creativity is an intangible—unless you experience it, how do you know someone is really good?” However, Prounis hopes to get to the next level “where people will call me [and say] ‘I'd love to have your thinking, I'd love to see what you could do with this pitch.'”

As part of Omnicom, Prounis revels in Flashpoint's access to a network of communications companies, helping facilitate innovative techniques and ideas. She points to the acquisitions of companies specializing in text messaging and ethnographic market research, and contemplates applications of those products for her clients. “Remember maybe five to eight years ago, everyone was all about the Internet?” she says. “Now it is so common. And DTP online? That has been done already. So what is next? To me it is about new media, new channels of communication, but still maintaining a message of relevance and insight.”

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