GSW Worldwide, an inVentiv Health company, had an exciting year. With a slew of new wins, organic growth, award-winning campaigns and international expansion, GSW is capitalizing on 2006's inChord Communications and Ventiv Health merger. “InChord and Ventiv have come together—that lets us do more fun things,” says Phil Deschamps, president. “GSW is a brand coming into its own as we get into the third quarter of 2008.”
Deschamps says GSW had more significant wins this year than ever before, and had the most fun at the same time. New challenges always come with success, and for GSW, it's all about the people. “We're not a tchotchke business, it's about attracting talent,” says Deschamps. “We have a richer brand to attract talent, and people have greater opportunities to grow inside the 37 divisions of GSW.” That said, it still isn't easy finding the right personnel. “There isn't an enormous amount of talent available—it's difficult getting MBAs to target the healthcare advertising side. We have a perpetual recruiting machine—we're always recruiting, unofficially and officially. With director-level positions and above, we've made a strategic investment. We have over 1,000 employees over 37 divisions,” says Deschamps. The New York office has grown to approximately 100 staff members. The GSW brand's core lies in the communication of peer-reviewed data, health and wellness. That's backed by inVentiv's background in advertising, digital services, public relations and medical education, says Deschamps.
Conducting business on the international stage provides a greater perspective, and Deschamps sees European pharmaceutical marketing strategies as a prototype for what's to come in the US. “The market is US-centric, and direct-to-consumer (DTC) campaigns skew what's happening in the other markets internationally,” says Deschamps. “You see a much more balanced atmosphere within the public relations and communications fields, outside of the juggernaut of DTC campaigns. What's happening outside of the US is the coming reality, in terms of scrutiny and regulatory procedures. The Vytorins of the world are having an effect. Other avenues [beyond DTC ] will take precedent.” Deschamps says there is a “primary difference in America, regarding regulatory practices in Europe. [The regulatory climate in Europe] causes you to be more creative. This dynamic shift means forming regional teams, staff and money, and moving away from a platform base.”
GSW scored an agency of record assignment from Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals' women's healthcare franchise in 2007, and GSW's Pink Tank, a women's healthcare specialty group, was a major factor in the win. “With the Bayer account pitch we had [Pink Tank] front and center, and in lockstep with our philosophy: advertising to advocacy,” says Deschamps. “Women don't respond to people simply telling them things.” Headed by president Marcee Nelson, Pink Tank is “expanding relationships and growing handsomely,” notes Deschamps. The Bayer assignment includes Angeliz, a hormone replacement treatment, Mirena, an intrauterine contraceptive and Yaz, a combination birth control pill.
Other wins in 2007 include organic growth with Ethicon Endo-Surgery, and Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals' Misodel and Lynxorb. “Ethicon [business] has expanded five-fold, and after 10 years, we're continuing to expand with Eli Lilly,” says Deschamps. GSW's Newtown, PA, office picked up an AOR assignment with Centocor, and won an Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics account. Three losses in 2007 include Merck Vaccines, Astellas's and Theravance's injectable antibiotic Televancin, and Avonex, an MS treatment from Biogen Idec.
New business led to a “big shift in leadership,” says Deschamps. Tammy Fischer, previously a managing director at Draftfcb Healthcare, replaced Art Chavez as president of the New York office. At the Columbus, Ohio, office, Treva Weaver, senior vice president, director of strategy and financial operations, is Deschamps's “right hand in looking at financial models.” Deschamps also mentions Mark Frank, president of the Newton, PA, office, Bruce Rooke, chief creative officer and Brian Heffernan, chief marketing officer, as key members of GSW leadership team.
Advocacy and disease-state marketing are areas where creativity can thrive, and that jibes with the changing industry, according to Deschamps. “The best work being done is on the advocacy side. When you're targeting a disease state, you can spend less and be more effective. Eventually, campaigns will be measured in terms of importance, not [media] spend,” he says.
In addition to an evolving communication strategy, Deschamps says digital media is out in front. “Structurally, we used to have, to use the corporate vernacular, a print space and a digital space. Those terms [and divisions] are gone. The kind of staff we've hired in the last 10 months reflects digital media's leadership, and we've won several digital marketing awards. With our biggest clients, we aren't doing anything that folds. With Eli Lilly in Europe, there is no paper.”
On the subject of digital detailing, however, Deschamps says in-the-flesh sales representatives aren't going anywhere in the near future. “There are new demands on detailing. Physicians are requesting information on their own time, but [digital detailing] won't totally replace sales forces in the next 10 years. Ninety-eight percent [of physician detailing] is live presentations. That could move closer to 70%. Value-based augmentation with e-detailing offers more information,” but isn't affective as a stand-alone vehicle, offers Deschamps.
“Our view of the world has shifted,” says Deschamps, and he means it literally, in the geographic sense. “There used to be 15 major markets, and now there are three regions: the Far East, Europe and the US. We have a new headquarters in Munich—near the esteemed pharmaceutical companies of Switzerland. We're answering the trends of the European market, and it will be exactly the same thing in Japan by September. We also expanded our Italian office, and opened an office in Rome.”
Another factor representing a change in the industry is the increasing “power of the consumer,” says Deschamps. “With the advent of electronic medical records and Baby Boomers turning 60,” consumers are more plugged in to their health, explains Deschamps. “We Baby Boomers are selfish bastards, and we won't take other people's ideas about managing our health. In the next 12 to 18 months, there will be a whole lot of issues concerning privacy and information. Consumers are moving into the offensive. Once people recognize that they don't have quality information—with cancer and heart disease for example—there will be a call to manufacturers to clear the air.”
Deschamps points out that there is a cottage industry of people who can help newly diagnosed patients. “Why can't I get information straight from the source? We're taking our own healthcare into our own hands,” says Deschamps.