The Top 75: GSW Worldwide

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GSW Worldwide is forecasting a record year for 2009—not such as surprise, maybe, given that the shop hasn't grown by less than double digits “in at least my 12 years here,” crows Phil Deschamps, president of the inVentiv Health-owned company.

“We've had a great start to the year with respect to new business wins,” says Deschamps of GSW's 11 new business wins. “We were 11 out of 13.”

In the case of Eli Lilly, a mainstay GSW client, the shop expanded its relationship to include interactive visual aids “across the whole business,” including the CNS portfolio, and diabetes and oncology products, and scored work on an MS pipeline drug. Ethicon Endo-Surgery, an existing client, broadened its relationship with several new brands, and Xanodyne tapped GSW for Zipsor, a product in development for acute pain.

GSW's Columbus, Ohio, office scored a win with Dyax, a Cambridge,MA-based biotherapeutics company, on DX-88 ecallantide, and won business from Covidien, on its TussiCaps extended-relief allergy and cold capsule.
Additionally, the Columbus office won new accounts in the form of new indications on Allergan's Botox - for post-stroke spasticity and migraines.

The Newtown, PA, office picked up an AOR assignment with Allergan and Clinique for Clinique Medical, a skin care line available only through physician's offices, and another AOR on ChemoFx (a cell-based diagnostic test), from Precision Therapeutics. Other Newtown office wins include branding responsibilities with Graceway Pharmaceuticals and a new medical device for Medtronic.

In the first half of 2009, GSW won closed-loop marketing duties on Bayer's women's health brands, and landed work with Baxter BioSurgery, Abbott Vascular, Nodality (a diagnostic company) and others. GSW recorded one loss—taranabant (MK-0364), an investigational obesity compound—when Merck discontinued production on the drug last October.

As global business has grown—with new far-flung offices and partnerships across the globe—GSW has added staff at home and away.

“We're a big brand and a big pharma agency, so by definition we have to grow our global capabilities to match up with our clients' needs,” says Deschamps.

To free up time for global development, Deschamps appointed Joe Daily, formerly president of the Columbus office, to president of its US operations (effective Feb. 1).

Deschamps then formed a new office—GSW Europe, in Munich, to service clients wanting to operate in Europe as a region, rather than as individual markets. GSW Europe is led by Angela Liedler, managing director. GSW also opened a new office in Mexico City last September, and expanded its relationship with Intermark Corp., in Cairo, Egypt, to create inVentiv Health Intermark. Deschamps says the Cairo office will serve Middle Eastern countries including Egypt, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.

New staff includes two defections from Ogilvy Healthworld: Rich Levy, executive creative director and Tom Groves, director of strategic planning, both of the New York City office. Promotions went to Treva Weaver, now in charge of global strategy and Mexican operations; Bruce Rooke, chief creative officer, was put in charge of digital implementation; and Dan Denomme was promoted to president of JSA, a wholly owned subsidiary in Canada.
Pink Tank, GSW's women's health specialty area, continues to be an area of interest to clients, and a division that “every one of our brands gets filtered through,” according to Deschamps. Led by president and founder Marcee Nelson, the division serves as a “microlab for GSW,” says Nelson, adding that many agencies “don't know how to market to women, or don't have the depth to do it right.”

Nelson points to Pink Tank's work on Lupron, a precocious puberty treatment (tagged “Pause the child within”), as an example of how the group “uses the female voice to guide creative.”

According to Nelson, the division is growing in several directions, on the consumer side of pharma, and in health and wellness. “Eighty percent of healthcare decisions are made by women,” says Nelson. “They're also twice as likely to be online for health information.”

On the professional side, Pink Tank is continuing its relationship with Bayer. Nelson notes that by 2025, over half of all physicians will be women, based on current statistics.

Responding to a question about why clients choose GSW over other agencies, Deschamps says there are two major reasons. First, a client identifies one of the following needs: “‘I need an agency to prepare a launch,' or ‘I'm not satisfied with the performance of my brand.' Inside the typical AOR, agencies ask themselves how to add value to what the client brings,” explains Deschamps. “In the traditional way, they had brand managers, and we had strategic experts. The only thing that was really different on the agency side was the creative people, and that's not enough anymore.”

Secondly, Deschamps says GSW benefits from the inVentiv Health family since “pharmaceutical companies, through their procurement departments, have been experts at buying agency services, and they've essentially commoditized those services. There are criteria an agency must fit into now, especially if you're going to work for top 20 pharma.”

With that in mind, GSW brings different services together that are unique and innovative, says Deschamps. “Ultimately when we present that to our clients, we're unique in being able to deliver that particular service.”  

In order to facilitate a changing industry structure, Deschamps says agencies have to magnify the value of a given brand's positioning. “Client's are retrenching,” he says, meaning that marketers on the client side are making decisions about what they really want to be good at, “especially in the context of today, with the proliferation of media channels.”

“Once a company finds its positioning, they want to use agencies to come up with ideas and ways in which the market needs to be shaped in order to better accept those brands,” says Deschamps. “That's been the philosophy that we developed last fall, and launched in January, and it has gotten people excited—and gotten us excited—about how to define the relationship between pharma and us as an agency.”

To demonstrate the value modifier concept, Deschamps uses a Kraft cheese slice as an example.

“The value modifier for a Kraft cheese slice might be: ‘this is a great, healthy product,'” he describes. “So for us, we would say, well, actually the Kraft cheese slice is a calcium delivery device. Then we would create the need for calcium in kids, for example.”

For Lilly's depression and pain drug Cymbalta, “our job was to create a valuable marketplace where patients presented with depression or pain are identified by this new definition, so that was the value magnifier we brought to the Cymbalta team,” says Deschamps. “When we started looking at every one of our brands through this lens, it created new opportunities, and changed how we define our relationship with clients.”

Deschamps acknowledges the effects of a general economic downturn, but in terms of the pharma industry, it isn't the most pressing issue.

“My sense was that 2008 was a really bad FDA year,” he says. “Sure, a couple of our clients had elective surgeries, but the core pharmaceutical business was really not affected from a broader economic standpoint—it was affected by a really slow FDA, or the productivity of their own pipelines.”

Marketers should make the most of 2009, since it's the last year before the commencement of a major branded exodus, according to Deschamps.

“The piece of the pie we all fight for is getting smaller —28% of prescriptions are branded products, down from 40% five years ago.” 
 
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