Ahnal Purohit, president and CEO of Donahoe Purohit Miller (DPM), saw healthcare moving toward specialization and individualized medicine years ago, and she's very happy to report the agency is now working with a number of clients to promote unique, specialized products.
“Medicine is shifting to individual and personalized treatment, and we're part of that,” she says. “I feel very good about having these kinds of products. We're very comfortable in this space. We have small to midsize clients and products that aren't ‘me too' products—they bring something new and unique. It feels good to have products that fit in terms of where we want to be.”
The agency picked up 19 new assignments, which helped boost revenue 15% over 2006. Headcount also increased (currently at 72). Wins in highly specialized areas include two treatments for urea cycle disorders (Ammonul and Buphenyl) from Hyperion Therapeutics, which also awarded DPM corporate work.
Additional specialized wins came in from Angiotech Pharmaceuticals (two devices—Quill SRS and Vaxsys Vascular Wrap); and Monogram Biosciences (HIV and oncology products Trofile, HERmark, and eTag), among others. DPM has traditionally done a lot of dermatology work, and last year Myoscience awarded the agency corporate work and a new wrinkle product (not yet on the market), which Purohit says is different from current treatments.
“There are more niche products where science is important in terms of how you communicate to physicians,” she says. “Even [in dermatology] there are changes. We're equally comfortable promoting both [niche products and mainstream products].”
Traditional pharma wasn't absent from last year's win roster either, including Novartis (breast cancer, MS), Takeda (corporate work) and Allergan (glaucoma).
Of DPM's three divisions—advertising, education and market research—advertising grew the fastest. Purohit believes there's a “huge need” to invest in revising market research methodology.
“The industry is going to start looking at market research, especially concept testing and ad testing,” Purohit explains. “It has become about what physicians like. The intent of market research for these kinds of projects should be different. It's not a matter of just liking; it's a matter of emotional connection. It's about finding out what we do so there's a better connect quicker. Methodology should go after that. Unfortunately, I think we're going away from that. We all believe in market research. What I see is we are disconnecting in terms of what the primary objective should be when we conduct research.”
DPM has taken initiative and is currently developing new research methodology. “Everything has to be deeper rather than superficial,” Purohit continues. “Then we can give a good, actionable platform and feedback for creative teams. The consumer industry is far ahead of the medical industry in how they evaluate.”
Purohit's only challenge is in finding talent in Chicago. “We're having difficulty finding experienced people who fit into the organization. Word-of-mouth and your own staff is the best.”