MM&M: Still feisty at 40

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The big four-oh is, for most of us, a tough one, as birthdays go. It's a time to reflect on our accomplishments and to gawp in existential horror, contemplate the imminent onset of middle-age and ask, "Jumpin' Jehosaphat, how the heck did I get to be 40 already?"

Luckily for us, 40 ain't what it used to be—thanks in large measure to the miracles provided by the drug industry, it's the new 20. And luckily for MM&M, magazines age differently than people. We like to think that as the business of pharmaceutical promotion grows ever larger, more important and more complex, MM&M just keeps getting more sprightly.

To that end, we've leafed through our archives and gathered up some golden reminiscences about the history of this great industry while keeping our eyes fixed on the future.

Looking back, Tales From the Hall features insightful and often surprising recollections from some of the medical advertising world's living legends, including  Frank Hughes, Bill Gibson and Sal deRouin.
Jack Angel recalls the industry he joined in the '70s, when he signed on at Medical Economics: "It was a golden era. The industry was small, warm, and not particularly well known by the public at large. It was perceived as a very responsible contributor to the health of America, though many of the products of that era were nowhere near as effective as those we market today."

"The advent of the computer made everyone an art director," deRouin laments. "You send your work over to the client, and he makes changes to both the copy and the visual, because he figures he can do it just as well as you can. I may have put a great deal of thought into a color decision, but he says, 'I don't like it,' and boom, it's orange. The magic is gone, but I imagine the product managers like it."

For a glimpse of the what's coming, we asked four of the industry's most influential chiefs for their views on topical matters. GlaxoSmithKline's J. P. Garnier writes on what's good about the pharmaceutical industry—and how to prove that value to the public. "Critics will continue to point the finger of blame at the cost of pharmaceuticals," writes Garnier. "Yet the debate over how to control healthcare spending offers another opportunity for the pharmaceutical industry to demonstrate its value in helping to prevent disease, to minimize disease complications and to find better treatments against disease."

In addition, WPP Group's Martin Sorrell reflects on the state of pharmaceutical advertising and communications, while Lilly's Sidney Taurel offers a forecast of the coming "age wave." PhRMA's Billy Tauzin reviews the industry's efforts to improve access to medicines for the uninsured and underinsured in the US.

Elsewhere in the book, you'll find a wealth of features revisiting the rich history of pharmaceutical promotion, including our picks for the 40 most valuable players and the 40 best ads across four decades of drug marketing. There's also a handy agency family tree charting the epic consolidation and reinvention of the medical advertising business, from founding shops like L. W. Frohlich and William Douglas McAdams to the sprawling networks of today.

So happy birthday to us, and here's to 40 years in the life of this most vital of industries. And many more.

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