The Top 75: Draftfcb Healthcare

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Draftfcb Healthcare, a member of the Interpublic Group (IPG) network of companies, had its best year ever last year, in terms of “growth, people, revenue (up 20%), margin, profit,” and basically any other quantifiable or qualitative measure of success, according to Dana Maiman, CEO, president, and brand superhero (more on this later) of the agency. “Given our base, that's pretty impressive,” adds Maiman. Chutzpah levels at the agency remained stable, year-over-year.  

Draftfcb Healthcare took home some 22 external awards in 2009, including an MM&M Gold award for interactive work done for Centocor Ortho Biotech, an unbranded program for plaque psoriasis. The agency created a video series titled “Live in My Skin,” which chronicles the trials and tribulations of three dermatologists as they experience life with psoriasis—thanks to a makeup artist. Draftfcb Healthcare also helped launch Centocor's Stelara, a psoriasis drug, in late 2009. In terms of account wins, Bill Young, EVP, chief administrative officer, said new wins in oncology and women's health helped raise the agency's profile.

One major oncology win came from Cephalon, which was a franchise win. Cephalon's oncology business had been previously split between two separate agencies, but was consolidated with Draftfcb Healthcare. Speaking on the Cephalon win, Young says the agency was a dark horse in the pitch, up against the two incumbents. “We didn't have any of [Cephalon's] oncology business [before the pitch],” says Maiman. “But we did have a prior relationship with Cephalon,” says Young. “While it was a new business pitch, it was almost like organic growth because we said, ‘Hey, go talk to your friends down the hall and see what it's like to work with Draftfcb,' and we ended up prevailing.” Draftfcb Healthcare did launch work last summer—including branded and unbranded websites—for Cephalon's Nuvigil, a treatment for improved wakefulness in patients with sleep disorders.

Harold Corbran, chief innovation officer and COO, said Draftfcb's relationship with clients, especially on the professional side, has been an invaluable asset to growing organically in other areas. “Everyone is looking now for a beginning to end solution, whereas in the past they divvied up [brand responsibilities].” Young offers two examples where professional work has been successfully leveraged into consumer assignments. “We recently picked up the consumer business for our Merck diabetes franchise without a pitch, because of the work we did on the professional side,” says Young. “We're also now doing consumer and professional work on [Pfizer/Boehringer Ingelheim's] Spiriva,” an inhaler for COPD. Draftfcb brands in the Merck diabetes franchise include Januvia and Janumet, plus “a bunch of brands in development,” says Maiman. Total account wins number around 10.

Some tweaking occurred at the senior management level. Tom Domanico, formerly chairman and co-CEO, was promoted to chairman emeritus, says Maiman. In anticipation of that move, Rich Levy was hired as EVP, chief creative officer. Levy spent a year at GSW Worldwide before moving to Draftfcb Healthcare last November. Before GSW, Levy worked at Ogilvy Healthworld. Stu Klein was brought in as EVP, managing director, and is responsible for managing IPG's relationship with Johnson & Johnson, as well as the Draftfcb Healthcare's Merck and Medtronic business on the consumer side, according to Young. Klein was formerly at Lowe. Other hires include Mike Devlin, EVP, creative director; Don Matera, EVP, creative director; Hee Sun Yu, SVP, account group supervisor on Merck accounts; and David Danilowicz, SVP, creative director, digital. Total headcount at Draftfcb Healthcare is around 550, according to Young.

In late 2009, Draftfcb Healthcare spun off a new agency, called NeON. That agency was gifted Pfizer's established products unit, which previously resided at Area 23, another Draftfcb Healthcare agency. Pro Health, a med ed agency, is also a separate but closely linked agency within the Draftfcb Healthcare network. Area 23, Pro Health and NeON operate autonomously, “whereas the managed markets group and digital group are embedded in each of the agencies,” Maiman explains, adding that NeON's work with Pfizer has been “very successful,” with “no complaints.”

Asked about additional account wins, Maiman says pharma clients have cracked down this year on divulging account assignments to reporters, and everyone else. Levy says the crackdown has had an effect on Draftfcb Healthcare in the creative realm, too. “At least one-third or more of the work we've created over the course of the year, we are forbidden to enter into awards shows,” says Levy. “We can't even show [creative] to other teams at the same company,” in some cases, adds Maiman.      

Speaking of playing by the rules, Young says navigating the current regulatory environment has a lot to do with the client. “You have to understand what is acceptable and appropriate, and that varies dramatically from client to client,” he says. “What's OK for one might not be OK for another. As long as things are transparent, and everyone knows who's seeing what, and the information you're giving is consistent with the labeling, there shouldn't be any issue.” Just because there's a regulatory box that marketers have to work within, doesn't mean that creativity is restricted, according to Levy. “That's when you have to think outside of that box, to come up with things that get people's attention,” he says. “Regulatory restrictions simply call for more creativity, more smart people in the room and more brainpower.”

Maiman says Draftfcb Healthcare borrowed and implemented a concept from its consumer brethren at Draftfcb, called 6.5, which stands for six and a half seconds, or the amount of time that a marketer has to capture someone's attention. After culling thousands of interviews with consumers and physicians over the years, the agency created a proprietary tool that pairs strategic insights with analytics to deliver the right content during those crucial first seconds. Corbran says that the process ends up becoming a document that clients can execute from directly. The 6.5 concept reflects how people in general communicate at present, says Corbran. “In the past, digital was considered to be somewhat of a line item, in the client scope of work. Now, it has to sit over the top of any campaign.”

Getting back to Maiman as brand superhero, Draftfcb Healthcare launched an augmented reality promotional site for itself, located at brandsuperheroes.com. Visitors with a webcam can hold up a marker in the form of a barcode (The agency is running print ads with the marker on them, or you can print one out at the site), to see themselves on the monitor, holding the marker. By rotating the marker around directionally, images and text pop out in 3D. At the end of the session, visitors can print out their experience in the form of a comic strip (the demo on the site calls out Maiman). Draftfcb has used augmented reality for several clients (that can't be named) at trade shows, handing physicians a marker and letting them “drive themselves through a detail,” says Levy. “If I can get a physician to spend 10 minutes playing and still provide the necessary information, I've won.”

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