The Top 75: Dudnyk

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Reflecting on Dudnyk's history, chief creative officer Barry Schmader says it's grown from a young, bold upstart into a mature agency. He credits president Frank Powers and chief scientific officer and director of business development Christopher Tobias, PhD, for keeping the agency moving forward.
“It's more exciting now than it's ever been,” Schmader says. “Frank and Chris are expanding us beyond what we've always been, adding more science firepower, more digital strategists, more multichannel expertise.”  
Now in its 18th year, the agency has certainly demonstrated that creativity and boldness weren't merely flushes of youth, and it has continually proven its strength as a partner in launching and relaunching specialty products. Revenue increased 43%, and biotech and biopharma business continue to drive growth. Powers says the roster has remained very stable, and it's shifted from project heavy to AOR based.
“As we've seen more success and so many new launches—six or seven in the past five years—we have credibility and case studies,” Powers adds. “It's no problem to compete against any agency in the world and win.”  
One of last year's biggest new wins was the global professional account for ViroPharma's Cinryze (hereditary angioedema) and an extensive US-based DTP program (Ryze Above). The majority of growth came from existing clients Angelini Labopharm, Inspire Pharmaceuticals, Dentsply, and AMAG Pharmaceuticals launching or rebranding products.
Schmader says companies commercializing for the first time tend to eschew “the recessionary mindset,” and they also tend to seek Dudnyk. “This is their shot, and they're going to spend their budgets,” he adds.
Last year's highlights include the launch of Angelini Labopharm's depressive disorder treatment Oleptro, and the rollout of an enterprise-wide iPad sales solution for AzaSite.
Agency consolidation claimed Abbott Laboratories' Lupron Depot. Sirion Therapeutics' Zirgan and Durezol were lost after US rights were sold to Alcon. Merck acquired Inspire in April 2011, and Powers hopes to retain Inspire's business (the agency currently has three Merck products).
Network consolidation is one of the biggest challenges for Dudnyk. Sanofi-Aventis, Schering-Plough, and AstraZeneca accounts were all casualties of recent years.
“A network model doesn't mix well with Dudnyk,” Powers says. “That's okay. Midsize companies that want a true partner and aggressive thinking come to us, and that feels right and fits best.”  
Headcount was up about seven to 60 last year. It's 63 currently, and Powers is looking for a brand planning director and account and creative talent. The agency doubled its space after moving into new digs, which the firm's employees helped develop. Numerous elements, including giant wall quotes (everything from Buddha to Dr. Seuss), reflect Dudnyk's boldness and creativity.
Daniel Zaksas, PhD joined last year as scientific director and Brett Amdor came aboard as VP of IT. In May 2011, Lynn Paolicelli left Blue Diesel to lead digital strategy.
A professional services department was established to manage research, editorial, traffic, and corporate communications. Ellen Schneider, who was promoted from managing editor to VP, leads it. Heather Brucker, formerly of Dorland, joined as corporate communications manager.  
Powers is expecting to end 2011 up 15%, though he says it could be as high as 20-25%.
“This is a year of managed growth,” he adds. “Quality control and remaining true to our culture is of utmost importance.”
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