The Top 60: Noesis

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Noesis, which means “to think” in Greek, gained new accounts in 2007 from network parent CommonHealth's decision to divide professional agency Adient between Noesis and Carbon. Professional and consumer work from Johnson & Johnson, Novartis and American Regent were gained in the transition. Noesis also won new accounts from Forest Laboratories, Merck and Adams Respiratory Therapeutics. Noesis hired Peter Zamiska as its chief creative officer, whom president John Nosta describes as having “put The CementWorks on the map.”

At Noesis, Zamiska will have his work cut out for him. “We have to bolster the thinking behind [pharma] advertising,” says Nosta. “The advertising magic is gone. Agencies are staffed with ad people, and anemic from a creative perspective.”

Nosta offers several reasons for the industry's stagnancy, as well as ideas for “transcending pharmaceutical advertising's myopic world view.” Commenting on the industry's reputation, Nosta says, “We are in an industry that changes lives, one that moves HIV into a controllable disease, and we're still laughed at.” 

One necessary change, according to Nosta, is the creation of solid communication with physicians, including the creation of likable ads. “We want to address the issue of healthcare advertising for pharmaceutical companies. Campaigns are boring—smiling faces, mindlessly laddered benefits—with no creative granularity. Physicians look at these ads in contempt. We need to inspire, motivate and educate.”

Continues Nosta, “There is cognitive dissonance in the marketplace. Enthusiasm for the marketplace is deficient and anemic. People hand out a bundle of benefits, and science nerds cluster their features and play it safe. We're a rebellious shop, but have a strong base in CommonHealth and WPP, which helps us move behavior research to consumers.”

Noesis has plenty of opportunity to reach consumers, as the agency is involved in five new launches, which include Zyrtec (manufacturing and marketing duties were ceded from Pfizer to McNeil in January, when Zyrtec hit pharmacy shelves OTC), an opiate for Abbott, AstraZeneca's AZD 6140 antiplatelet and a Forest product for fibromyalgia. “We're also working on a major Johnson & Johnson project,” adds Nosta.

“Finding the right people is a challenge,” says Nosta. “We use everything from internal HR to external headhunters, and we also have people calling us.” Another challenge for Noesis is procurement. “Clients are watching every dollar. It's important to provide the highest value, good thinking and great work, in order to compete with low cost, understaffed boutiques.” One way Noesis optimizes its capabilities is working closely with Qi, CommonHealth's digital/interactive agency. “We work with Qi every  day,” says Nosta, although he doesn't consider emerging technology to be a solution by itself. “[Interactive/digital] is ‘where the action is,' but the message still has to be correct. The insight is still the insight,” he says.

Nosta is optimistic about Noesis's future. “We're hot right now. As you think, so you act; as you act, so you become,” he says. “Our background is in science, and we're students of advertising.”
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