The Top 75: Corbett Worldwide Healthcare Communications

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The economic recovery may be slow in coming, but the pace of business isn't for Corbett Worldwide Healthcare Communications. “We feel very fortunate to be working on four significant launch and pre-launch brands,” says Elaine Eisen, president. “Those bring with them a robust set of creative and strategic development. If we have to be going through these hard times with our clients, it's a great place to be.”

Longstanding client relationships, like Bristol-Myers Squibb (47 years) and Alcon Labs (25 years), continue to see the agency through trying times. Corbett earned a new launch from Alcon for a prescription dry-eye product, and, through its long association with BMS, pitched and won the diabetes fixed-dose combination franchise, which BMS is co-developing with AstraZeneca. “Those are our two most significant wins this [past] year,” says Eisen.
That's not to say Corbett, a member of the Corbett Accel Healthcare Group, has been immune to the downturn. “We have some brands that are later in their lifecycle, and clients are appropriately adjusting some budgets downward,” she says, “but we're really fortunate in that we have an equal number of products just gearing up now.”

Six products in the agency's 28-brand account roster have yet to be launched. The rest of the lineup is well-balanced between blockbusters (two top $1 billion in sales) and other big sellers, and between specialty and primary care products. Key accounts include Actonel, for a joint venture between Procter & Gamble and Sanofi-Aventis, and Abilify, for Otsuka and BMS.

The firm was named a Pfizer roster agency, as well, and has one assignment, anticoagulant apixaban, being co-developed with BMS. “Expanding our Pfizer book of business will be a major focus of ours this year and in the forseeable future,” says Eisen. Gaining entry to Pfizer marked an important accomplishment. “Pfizer is the largest pharmaceutical company in the world,” she says. “This win was a major proof point for us.”

Corbett has earned a seat at the table. “Our talent retention rates are higher than industry standards,” she observes. “This has led to longevity and consistency on clients' business, and they reward us for that.” As far as personnel changes, a new executive creative director and director of client services joined the firm this past year.
Eisen predicts the next 12 months will see the agency closely partner with their clients as they move from a model dependent on sales forces to one integrating CRM into the marketing mix.

She describes the shift as taking place in the marketing bull's-eye: “It's not, ‘What do I want to tell you about this brand,' but rather, ‘Customer, what are you interested in and how can I have this brand or parent company solve that?'” The evolution away from sales forces will require sophisticated database construction and a big psychological shift among clients. “It's what they know, and what has typically worked to build their brands in the past,” notes Eisen.
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