The Top 75: Dudnyk

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Dudnyk was up double digits last year (revenue in $5 million to $15 million range) and it's up 34% this year compared to 2009.

“We're on a roll,” says Frank Powers, who was named president last year (he was formerly SVP management supervisor). “We're as big as Dudnyk has ever been.” Barry Schmader, formerly SVP creative director, became chief creative officer. Powers and Schmader have 10- and 20-year tenures, respectively, and they say clients really appreciate continuity. Last year Christopher Tobias, PhD, EVP, chief scientific officer, assumed the additional role of director of business development. Scott Greisler joined mid-year 2009 as SVP, director of client service. Becky Bodenner (formerly of Dorland) took over as SVP, creative director this year, giving Schmader more time to help Powers continue moving the agency forward.

Clients are seeking Dudnyk's creativity, strategic expertise, and ability to execute integrated programs across multiple channels. (A new self-promotion campaign has launched stressing the agency's multichannel and strategic expertise). While the roster includes many Big Pharma clients (Merck, Abbott and AstraZeneca among them), Powers and Schmader explain that many smaller companies, such as Inspire Pharmaceuticals and Labopharm, are turning to Dudnyk to launch their first products.

“Our model was right for a number of companies…that are launching products,” Schmader notes. “They can't afford to wait—recession or not. Where companies used to partner, some are now deciding to become commercial operations on their own. We've got big pharma chops and launch chops. We're flexible, and we're at an attractive price point.”

New wins last year included two ophthalmic products from Inspire Pharmaceuticals (Azasite and Elestat); Oleptro (depression) from Labopharm USA; and Cinryze (hereditary angioedema) from ViroPharma. Dudnyk was also awarded two dental devices from Denstply Professional (Cavitron and Nupro) and Articadent from Dentsply Pharmaceutical.  

Five accounts were lost for various reasons, including a development delay (CardioMems) and Shire's epilepsy drug Carbatrol going off patent.

Launching AMAG Pharmaceuticals' Feraheme (IV iron), which was won in 2008, was among last year's highlights. Schmader cites it as a great example of Dudnyk's multichannel expertise.

Overall headcount increased from 41 in 2008 to more than 60 now. The team moved into a bigger office, which Schmader says has “facilitated better interaction and rejuvenated staff.”

Powers says clients are turning to Dudnyk to help develop personalized physician outreach that's reactive to individuals. Overall, digital is clearly an important business driver, and expertise is embedded in every brand team. Schmader notes that the landscape is dynamic and developing rapidly, particularly with social media. He says Warning Letters are “the best guidance so far,” and Dudnyk monitors them weekly. In general, though, he believes it's not a time for too much timidity. “By being a bit bold while others are pulling back, clients can gain mindshare and marketshare,” Schmader says. “Clients need you to be more creative than ever but in compliance.”

Powers is focused on managed growth, and he's personally involved in ensuring new hires are a good long term fit for the agency.

“We don't want to lose our ‘Dudnykness,'” Powers says. “We strive to be best creative shop in the industry. We're not answering to Wall Street. We're answering to a mirror to ensure we're doing the best job we can.”

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