Last month three more marketing and publishing luminaries joined the elite ranks of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame. Matthew Arnold chronicles the contributions of a strong leader, a determined all-rounder and a publishing visionary
Norman Cooper was the consummate copy contact, finessing client relationships as ably as he did headlines. In his 30 years at Kallir, Philips, Ross, the Brooklyn native helped build some of the biggest brands in medicine— and the fortunes of one of medical advertising's biggest names.
KPR's longstanding relationship with GlaxoSmithKline grew from a letter Cooper wrote to Glaxo's Alan Steigrod, then EVP marketing and sales, shortly after the UK company's move to Research Triangle Park. Steigrod heard him out and first awarded KPR a piece of the company's respiratory business, worth around $300,000 in fees, then the whole franchise, then the antibiotics business. When Glaxo merged with Burroughs Wellcome, KPR won the contract for those accounts as well. By the time Cooper retired, KPR's business with GlaxoWellcome was bringing in $3 million.
“From that one little cold call he made, we built that into a huge business,” says Marcia McLaughlin, president of Centron, then an account executive at KPR. “It was because of the way he ran the business.” Similarly, Cooper turned KPR's McNeil business into accounts with 13 J&J companies.
Among Cooper's proudest accomplishments is KPR's work after the Tylenol crisis. Cooper led an inter-agency task force strategizing how to win back trust from physicians and the public. KPR produced ads explaining J&J's decision to pull all capsules, but the decisive factor, Cooper says, was the brand equity McNeil had built with the medical community.
At the outset of the crisis, ad guru Jerry Della Femina told The New York Times: “There may be an advertising person who thinks he can solve this, and if they find him, I want to hire him then I want him to turn our water cooler into a wine cooler.”
“… So we sent him a case of wine,” Cooper chortles.
Cooper treated junior colleagues the same as senior management. “He led by example,” says McLaughlin. “He was strong and smart but not dictatorial. People would follow him to the wall because he was a really nice, likeable man.”
“It's about trust,” he says. “The clients felt that when we told them we were going to do something, we did it. And if we couldn't do it, we'd tell them.”
Cooper's sense of fairness prompted him to advocate dumping the commission system in favor of fee compensation, arguing for greater transparency. The agency world quickly followed . That kind of integrity was good for business, he says.
“It was such a small industry, it's amazing how word spreads.”
L W. Frohlich called him, in his thick German accent, “Dat vise guy.” His friends just call him Cas.
William Castagnoli has worn many hats over a lifetime in medical advertising, most recently as its chief historian and a leading promoter: as a contributing editor to MM&M, an architect of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF), director of the Association of Medical Publications' Doctors' Choice Awards and principal author of Medicine Avenue, the definitive history of the industry.
It may be no surprise, then, that Castagnoli got his start in public relations, first with the Queensboro and New York Tuberculosis Associations in 1954, and then with the Science Information Bureau of the L. W. Frohlich agency in 1958.
After the Kefauver hearings had cast a pall on pharma PR, he moved over to account services and quickly rose through the ranks, making a name for himself with his work on the Schering business and his subsequent work on Garamycin, Tinactin, Afrin, Lasix, Crest and the professional launch of Pampers.
When the agency disbanded following Frohlich's death in 1971, Castagnoli, by then a VP-group supervisor, moved to Benton and Bowles. There, together with his old colleagues Ed Dent and Larry Lessor, he founded Medicus with business from Merrell Dow, Schering-Plough and P&G. Over the next two decades, he helped build Medicus into one of the premier shops in medical advertising with his work on brands like Seldane, Cipro, Attends and Tartar Control Crest.
On leaving Medicus as president and vice chairman in 1992, he could have sailed off into a leisurely retirement. Instead, Castagnoli again reinvented himself, as a journalist, pouring his seemingly limitless energies into chronicling the industry in the pages of this magazine.
When longtime MM&M publisher David Gideon and ad guru Ron Pantello conceived of the MAHF in 1996, they harnessed Castagnoli's unparalleled industry contacts and superior organizational skills, appointing him as its first executive director. “His greatest strength is that he's a world-class noodge,” says Pantello. “He'd nag you to do something until you complied.”
And in 2003, the AMP asked Castagnoli to pull together its Doctors' Choice Awards. “He willed this thing to happen in nine months,” says IMNG president and then-AMP chief Alan Imhoff.
That legendary willfulness, matched by the smarts to see it through, has made Castagnoli a leading figure in medical advertising over the course of his 50 years in the business.
When Lewis Miller and Gus Fink launched Patient Care in 1967, they tore up the script and produced a completely new kind of journal—one that would dominate medical publishing for years to come. It was only the first in a life's worth of innovations that Miller has contributed to medical publishing and CME.
Brooklyn-born Miller got his start as a newspaperman with The Schenectady Union-Star. His entrepreneurial drive asserted itself early — he launched The Glastonbury Citizen and a string of suburban dailies. Then he answered a Times ad for an executive editor at a fast-growing journal called Medical Economics, which was bursting with ads for emerging antibiotics and other drugs, but struggling to meet deadlines. “I got it out on time,” Miller recalls, “and then I found myself fascinated by the subject matter and the audience.” Six years later, having built a book division and reformatted ME to A-size, he and Fink struck out on their own.
Miller had spent a lot of his time at ME traveling around meeting physicians. He got to know their frustrations and concerns. He knew also they had precious little time to read the ponderous journals of the day.
Patient Care was a revolution in medical publishing. “When we came up with the concept, people thought we were talking about a magazine for nurses.”
The book's “mini-mass” position—targeting only general physicians, internists and osteopaths—was enticing to advertisers, accounting for 70% of scripts written. Just as important was its easy-to-use format, with tools such as “express stop” summaries throughout articles. It also pioneered a shift toward an objective view of treatment based on multiple sources.
Miller also spotted the promise of CME early on, organizing the Alliance for Continuing Medical Education in 1975 and later the Global Alliance for Continuing Medical Education. KPR founder and MM&M contributor Warren Ross calls him “The statesman of CME.”
In 1979, Miller and Fink sold the publishing and CME arms of Patient Care to the Medical Economics Company, and Miller took the reigns at Milcom, whose Maternal/Newborn Record System became the hospital standard. In 1988, having sold Milcom and launched two more companies, he co-founded Dowden Health Media with Carroll Dowden, offering titles like OBG Management, Contemporary Surgery and The Journal of Family Practice.
Miller remains active through WentzMiller & Associates, the consultancy he operates with Dennis Wentz.