The Top 75: closerlook

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The chance to critically examine established ways of doing business to improve healthcare is one reason David Ormesher likes his job these days. “I can't think of a more interesting industry to be in right now with all the changes happening,” says the CEO of Chicago-based closerlook.

As a strategic marketing agency with clients in both the pharmaceutical and insurance sectors, closerlook is exploring ways the two can leverage synergies. “We think there's an opportunity for these industries to see how their interests align, to create value,” he says.

That kind of thinking should serve the agency well. In the meantime, closerlook is having a good year. The agency raised total headcount to 45 from 40.

Last year the agency won new business from online service Availity, for its national marketing communications plan and website, and from Kraft.

Ormesher credits performance to its relationships with clients bold enough to break from traditional tactics. “We are working with some pretty interesting brands and some strategic brand managers who are looking at this [structural break] as an opportunity to grow and take market share,” he says. “We haven't lost any accounts probably in the last 24 months.”

With a reputation as a joint partner, closerlook keeps very good company. “We're pretty well known within the industry as playing well in the sandbox with the AOR,” Ormesher notes. In one interesting partnership last year, closerlook assisted on launching Takeda's Rozerem to physicians, handling digital duties for the insomnia drug while AbelsonTaylor orchestrated primary brand positioning.

The firm does interactive work for Takeda's chronic idiopathic constipation drug Amitiza as well as for Astellas/GlaxoSmithKline's overactive bladder pill VESIcare. To service additional web-development accounts involving East Coast clients Ortho Biotech and Novo Nordisk, closerlook opened a small sales office outside of Philadelphia this year. The agency also explores web-based tactics for its payer clients, which include BCBS of Illinois and The Hartford.

Ormesher describes his firm's approach to online work as e-detailing with a relationship marketing touch: “Many clients are recognizing the business-as-usual approach is no longer sustainable, and the idea of leveraging offline and online together is a much more effective way to listen and learn,” he says.

He stresses the importance of using the ‘e' channel to establish a dialogue with clinicians and, in the process, to understand how the marketplace is communicating about and with the brand. “Yes, we have a message we need to deliver, but what's more important is how we are listening back to the marketplace.”

While online engagements are not without their pitfalls—such as the FDA's action against companies using Google's sponsored links—he predicts that clients that take the time to establish an online listening base with professionals will be better poised for healthcare reform.

Ormesher believes greater cooperation will be necessary and that behavior change offers common ground for managed care and pharma clients. “There's complete alignment of interests between the two in keeping patients healthy,” he says. Payers focus on chronic illness through disease management, and “pharma is beginning to realize the need to move upstream.”

Future pharmaceutical-MCO wellness alliances may be in the works, as well as those involving CPG companies, which Ormesher says are becoming important players in health: “We're going to see some interesting partnerships emerge around that concept.”
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