The Top 75: CDMiConnect

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CDMiConnect weathered a “tough” year with some “ups and downs,” but came out with 10% revenue growth on a string of wins.

The 10-year-old shop, a digital-and-CRM-centric downtown arm of CDM's expanding global empire, lost Viagra's digital consumer business when Pfizer consolidated digital and relationship marketing into Rapp Collins. But CDMiConnect more than made up for the loss by picking up the DTP assignment on Genentech's Avastin and the digital/CRM/DTP assignment for Pfizer's Lyrica, as well as a project with Pfizer's compliance group. The shop also landed assignments for Eisai's seizure drug Banzel and HGA/Novartis' Zalbin, for hepatitis C. Additionally, the agency handles Eisai's AcipHex with a pipeline assignment, and recently launched the “Burning, bad taste, belching” multichannel campaign for the brand.

“The interesting thing about AcipHex is how much we were able to help them optimize their channel mix and move from a general advertising to a direct marketing approach,” says managing partner and director of client services Deb Deaver.

In terms of headcount, the shop grew by about 5% to 125. Having moved into swanky SoHo digs last year, CDMiConnect has some room to grow into. “It's a very creative space,” says Deaver. “We put in a lot of areas for people to be interactive and creative in—we have idea rooms and team rooms, and they're really being utilized. We expect our employees to collaborate and innovate every single day on every project they do, and we wanted to make sure they felt that philosophy while they're here.”

Senior leadership was stable, though founding managing partner Christine Finamore went uptown to direct digital efforts at the CDM mothership. The shop is headed by a triumvirate of managing partners including Deaver, creative director Dina Peck and relationship marketing guru Eliot Tyler. “We have a seasoned leadership team that has continued to stabilize and take the agency to a very strong foundation,” says Deaver. “CDMiConnect has been a pioneer for the [CDM] organization, and we continue to look at how we can ensure that the whole network is pushing forward from a digital perspective. So [Finamore] went to take on some digital challenges for them.”

The shop launched new branding this year, with its Building Healthy Relationships platform, including a new website and ad campaign. “It's a whole multichannel branding initiative, which was great for us and an opportunity to look at ourselves and how we're presenting ourselves outwardly,” says Deaver. “The concept reflects the importance of relationships and the collaborative nature of what we do, and definitely reinforces our focus on healthcare.”

Deaver says the agency continues to hone its patient marketing capability. Patient- or consumer-focused work is the shop's mainstay, with DTP, digital and relationship marketing comprising about three-quarters of CDMiConnect's business.

“We've really evolved from an idea agency to an experience agency,” says Deaver. “Because of the multichannel place that all of our brands are living, how people experience our brands and that connectivity as they navigate through the different channels is very important to us. We all talk about having this big idea, but it's taking that big idea the next step towards experiences.”

The agency has built its analytics group and, at a time of fragmentation, sees value in channel planning.
“Social listening is critical, measuring the value of some of these social interactions,” says Deaver. “Planning and the way we derive our insights is greatly evolving.”
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