Last year Donahoe Purohit Miller partners Ahnal Purohit and Mark Miller began plotting a new course to reorganize into two independent companies in light of ACCME guidelines. Purohit is at the helm as president/CEO of the commercial agency in Chicago, renamed Purohit Navigation. Miller leads the CME agency in New Jersey. “The transition went really smoothly,” says Purohit. “Mark and I have a great relationship, and we planned well. There were no surprises for employees or clients.”
The agency won 14 new accounts (no losses) and revenue increased by 22% over 2007—testament to leadership's commitment and ability to ensure stability amid transition. Offerings include strategy, market research, advertising and branding, promotional education, and it added interactive and PR capability. Purohit is very pleased with the high-level efficiency that results from everyone collaborating under one roof.
“The company is built around organization and efficiencies…because everyone wants to do more with less,” she says. “All moving parts interact, and there's always one person who is constant.”
Purohit is particularly proud that 85% of growth came from current clients and people the agency had worked with previously. Awards included global business from Monogram Biosciences for Trofile and for HERmark. The agency launched or relaunched eight brands last year, including EpiCeram Skin Barrier Emulsion for atopic dermatitis for Promius Pharma; Somatuline Depot for Tercica; Medicis Pharmaceuticals' acne product Solodyn; and Pramosone for Ferndale Laboratories. New business has come in this year from Baxter and Ferndale Laboratories.
Headcount increased 10% (up to 79). Joining were Bill Fillipp, VP, creative director on the copy side, and Marita Gomez, VP, promotional education & PR. Purohit is still hiring. She says more talent is available now, but it's not always easy to find like-minded people.
Ensuring a smooth transition and successfully introducing the new company were last year's biggest challenges. It was important to Purohit that employees feel a sense of ownership, so she created tiers of teams to collaborate and suggest policies and procedures.
“Employees are extremely supportive,” Purohit says. “They feel very involved in their role in the organization. They're proactive and have come up with great ideas and suggestions in terms of new business capabilities. It's not about one person or two people—it's about the company. If I wasn't here, the company has to go on. Everybody is replaceable—what's not replaceable is our culture.”
The dominant industry trend Purohit sees is the need to maximize reduced budgets. “If anyone says there are no hurdles, I don't believe them,” she says. “One client's budget was cut by 85%. When you talk about that everyone and their brother comes out and talks about it. Let's be honest—2009 isn't going to be the best year. The country is going through challenges, and it's going to affect everyone.”
Purohit believes proactive pharmas are best positioned in this environment. She notes that some companies “paralyzed themselves” last year, not wanting to work on anything. “The challenge is to stretch client dollars,” she adds. “And we have to go out and get a few other accounts to replace budget cuts. Stability is our job right now.”