The Top 75: CDM Princeton

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CDM Princeton not only survived a consolidation that wiped out 40% of its business but was able to win enough new business to more than account for the loss—all within the space of eight months.

The agency had handled Johnson & Johnson's Janssen schizophrenia franchise, including Risperdal Consta, Invega and the launch of its long-acting injectable form, paliperidone palmitate. When J&J consolidated its business into WPP and Interpublic Group in October, the Omnicom agency looked to be in trouble. The shop's smaller sibling KPR was shuttered as a result. “It was a scary moment, but we're not big on falling prey to fear,” boasts Kyle Barich, president of CDM Princeton.

The shop started its unlikely rebound by picking up the professional assignment for Shire's new ADHD brand, Intuniv, in a competitive pitch, and its business on the brand was soon expanded to include consumer after winning another shootout. Then CDM Princeton won an assignment for a developmental drug in Myriad Genetics' predictive medicine franchise. That was followed by an expansion of the shop's Novo Nordisk haemophilia assignment to include global work on an as-yet unnamed device.

The shop spun off from CDM 10 years ago, and has gone from a staff of three to 100 since. “At the time, CDM was really contained in New York, and the idea was spreading the CDM DNA,” says Barich. “And there were a lot of companies down there, but we didn't have a lot of business, so we really started from the ground up and built relationships with a lot of the different companies here and expanded that out.”

This year, the agency named Heather Coyle director of client services and took on an associate partner, director of strategic services Jill Beene.

Around 80% of the agency's work is aimed at healthcare professionals, 20% at consumers. Interactive work accounts for around 15% of the total.

Its biggest clients include: Schering-Plough, for the gynecology franchise, US and global, including NuvaRing, Cerazette, Implanon and NOMAC-E2, as well as the respiratory franchise, including Asmanex and MFF; Shire, for ADHD; Novo Nordisk for NovoSeven; and Solvay, for AndroGel.

Barich is particularly proud of the agency's recently-launched DTC campaign for AndroGel, aimed at raising awareness of “Low T,” or testosterone, among sufferers of hypogonadism.

For charity work, the shop took on an autism group pro bono and helped them with a rebranding, changing their name from the unwieldy COSAC to Autism New Jersey. “We did everything we would for a regular brand, from start to finish – strategy, positioning, branding elements, website, materials that really helped them indicate who they are to the autism community.”

Barich says “the air is a little different” in Princeton. “Our culture is one of what we call ‘collective intelligence,' which is very much about blurring the lines between departments and between agency and client. We find our client-agency relationships here to be more collaborative than anyplace we've ever worked.”

Barich is the point man for CDM on getting ahead of the healthcare reform curve. “It will have some transformative effect, but we believe it's more of an accelerant to some of today's big trends,” he says, citing the rise of consumer-driven healthcare. Consolidation, obviously, is another trend likely to roil the industry for a while yet. “We've been through a number of mergers in the past, and that's actually turned into an opportunity, because it's given access to companies we haven't seen before.”
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