The Top 75: McCann HumanCare

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Last year McCann HumanCare had high expectations in terms of broadening service offerings, new product launches and expanding global opportunities; so far, so good.

According to Andrew Schirmer, executive vice president, managing director, one of the examples of broadening service offerings is HumanCare Salud, the company's multicultural marketing division, which has been engaged in a project with Pfizer across a number of brands, dealing with a number of ethnicities and languages.

“That work has really been coming to life and providing some value to a client beyond some of the more traditional general population work that we've been doing,” notes Schirmer. “We have also been offering clients, both prospective and existing, offerings that go into relationship marketing and digital as well as analytics.”
On the product-launch front, the first fruits of HumanCare's relationship with Galderma have ripened with the launch of a consumer campaign for Oracea, which is indicated for rosacea. HumanCare also handles brands within Galderma's acne franchise.

Other new campaigns that continue to gain momentum include work on Novartis' Reclast for postmenopausal osteoporosis and work for Pfizer and its overactive bladder franchise. 

“We managed the Detrol LA work last year and we'll be managing some new work coming out of Pfizer in this category,” notes Schirmer. “This year we've launched an unbranded, help-seeking campaign around overactive bladder that we are very proud of.”

Schirmer says that McCann HumanCare's global business continues to grow by leaps and bounds in the Asia-Pacific rim including in Japan, China, Singapore and Mumbai.

Europe and Latin America continues to move forward at a slightly slower rate from a growth standpoint, says Schirmer, but he added that the industry is seeing activity in the five major European markets as well as in Mexico.

Schirmer says that while the company's core objective continues to be organic growth, it's expanding beyond pharma and into the OTC category.

“The Wyeth assignment of the Centrum brands, has given us the ability to move more aggressively into the OTC space,” he says.

Schirmer says that while the industry is very excited about social media, it presents problems because advertisers can't simply throw something into that space if there is the opportunity for it to be taken and changed. Schirmer has been telling clients that social media right now, for pharma, may not be the greatest communications tool for outbound marketing messages. However, he says that it's a phenomenal tool to read what's going on in the world, to understand what the dialogue is and to see what's going on in categories, health trends and to see what people are thinking about.

Among the biggest challenges facing McCann and the industry, according to Schirmer, continues to be the things that you can't control.

“You don't have a year that goes by that we don't have a big surprise with a product, whether that's a product that is pulled from the market,” he explains, “whether it's a launch that is delayed, a product that has problems or a product gets de-funded.”

He notes that you have to constantly be on the lookout for replenishing that which you may lose but don't even know about yet.

Schirmer's expectations for McCann HumanCare for the remainder of 2009 and 2010 remain high. However, he says that the economy will continue to be an issue that the pharmaceutical industry will be keeping a close eye on.

“No one feels they are on solid ground,” he laments. “And if you're running a group like we run here, you just need to know that and be comfortable with ambiguity, but always be looking forward.”

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