The Top 75: Cadient Group

Cadient had a healthy year with revenue exceeding $25 million (up about 10% over 2007). President and CEO Steve Wray reports about 20% increase in the core digital services offering. The enterprise technology solution business softened a bit due to client contract reluctance, and Wray sees that beginning to reverse now. 

“We continued to diversify offerings to meet the expanding needs of clients as they seek to move digital to the core of their marketing communications activities,” says Wray. “Multichannel marketing is becoming the norm and our offering reflects that.”

Overall, 2008 was about agility, a quality that Wray believes the market will continue to demand as “a greater diversification of marketing channels are fully leveraged.” Work increased both in market categories, such as device and diagnostics, life sciences, sales training, managed markets and market development, and in the number of stakeholders the agency interacts with across client organizations.

“Increasingly, clients recognize that the process of developing campaigns, messages and content management has to be re-engineered in concert with this shift to digitally driving a multichannel marketing approach,” explains Wray. “Consultancy has been one of the fastest growing areas for us. We're helping clients address the need for a change in process as much as we're helping them address the need for a change in channel.”

Global reach also expanded last year through internal resources as well as external alliances. Three accounts were lost, but 18 were won in a variety of therapeutic categories—respiratory, orthopedics, diagnostics, oncology, cardiovascular, surgical care, critical care and consumer healthcare.

Workforce was up about 6% to 164 ending 2008, but layoffs this year reduced that by 10%.

“We have to be intelligent and prudent about the realities of clients' budgeting environment so we reflect something that's parallel with the way they're distributing budgets and providing us visibility,” says Wray.

Bryan Hill was promoted to VP, global technologies last year, and Bob DeBartolo joined as VP, client engagements this year. Wray is now recruiting experts in technical development, technical design and user experience.

The balancing act of managing operational costs with evolving client needs has also been a big challenge. Another is the variability of clients' individual digital needs.

“One may be moving very aggressively toward social media and mobile, while another wants to aggregate their web presences into tech portals,” explains Wray. “Those represent dramatically different engagements in terms of scope, staffing and our core role. Adaptability to a range of engagement is really a differentiator and it speaks to the depth of our expertise.”

Cadient has implemented a number of very successful social media campaigns (including the Symbicort campaign for AstraZeneca). Wray thinks pharma will be slow to embrace social media because of the inherent need to relinquish control. He says relevant content and transparency up front are paramount, and he adds that regulations will always demand some boundary around user-generated content. 

Moderate growth is expected. Wray wants to introduce and launch “new innovations” in products, services and consultancy, though he declines to elaborate. “We often say we can be as brave as our clients will allow us,” he says. “As a process framework is established that clarifies the value of digital, then the value of our offerings will be even greater, giving us increased opportunities for future growth.”
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