Corbett Worldwide Healthcare Communications saw its revenues increase by double digits for 2007 as the agency brought home work that was once thought unattainable by a Chicago agency.
“Last year was really one of the best years ever,” says president Elaine Eisen. “It was primarily because we won three pieces of business, from clients we were trying to get into for a very long time. For us, that was spectacular.” One of these wins came in the form of primary care launch duties for Bristol-Myers Squibb/AstraZeneca's joint venture saxagliptin. Corbett was selected as both the global and US agency of record for the account. “Obviously, we are always excited by wins from BMS as it is our largest and our oldest client,” Eisen says. “We have been working together with them for 47 years and we are proud of that particular fact.”
Corbett's solid relationship with BMS may have helped the agency last year land global launch work for the Pfizer/BMS joint venture apixaban, a compound designed help prevent heart attack and stroke. “We had always thought that, as a Midwest agency, working with Pfizer was not a possibility,” Eisen says. “To be able to get an introduction there was terrific.”
Rounding out a solid year of wins for Corbett was work from Johnson & Johnson for the global launch of a new compound for epilepsy. “The J&J work is something we had targeted for a long time. It is exciting to have them on your roster and to begin to have some access that we didn't have (earlier.)”
As Corbett's business wins grow, so has the agency's reputation in places they weren't previously known. “That is one of the primary responsibilities of an agency that is in the Midwest,” Eisen says. “We do spectacularly well with organic growth and clients we have worked with in the past but for a lot of people, we have been an unknown entity. Because of this you need to provide a compelling reason to come to Chicago. When we are able to be where we have not worked before, that makes for a particularly spectacular win.”
Business wins were not the only high notes for Corbett in 2007. The agency emerged victorious in the Pharmapalooza battle of the bands in New York in December. “I know it may be a silly thing but it was kind of the topper of a great year.”
The winning band, known as Heavy Medical, is comprised of Jeff Holtorf, Terry Barich, Brian Catral, Jack Cunningham, Joe Mason, Matt Pearl, Nicole Stachura and Kelly Christiansen. Eisen explains the Pharmapalooza win came around the same time the agency was pitching the Pfizer/BMS compound. “I will tell you that we went into that pitch thinking the Chicago location was going to be a huge drawback. It did not turn out to be,” she says. “Then, a week later, we competed against all these New York bands and we won. It was a moment where we were like, ‘let's hear it for Chicago.'”
In three years Corbett will celebrate its 50th Anniversary, a milestone Eisen hopes will be marked by an even stronger track record for handling big brands.
“You keep hearing these rumors about the death of the blockbuster. I guess we continue to be kind of the anomaly there.”