What 1966 can still teach us

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Believe it or not, in 1966 the following was true:

• Physicians welcomed pharmaceutical representatives into their offices.

• Pharmaceutical representatives could sample amphetamines.

• There were few, if any, women in sales or marketing positions.

• It took at least two weeks for advertising agencies to set type and make mechanicals.

• There was relative harmony between organized medicine and pharmacy within the pharmaceutical industry.

• Some founding advertising agency legends were still working in the business such as Matt Hennessey and Arthur Sackler, M.D.

• And Medical Marketing & Media was born.

During the next 45 years, the industry watched as dramatic change touched science, technology and regulations.

Like always, the previous generation lamented the old days.  In contrast, each new generation took advantage of change, creating commercial opportunity.  And MM&M was there to report on it and the people it affected. 

More than enough has been written how change is affecting our industry today.  Instead, let's look at what hasn't changed and why the things that have not changed remain important. 

People:  They remain our industry's most important assets.  People who are passionate about what they do and how they do it. It is people who invent and use science and technology that matter.  Some say: “It's business, not personal.”  Wrong.  Business is personal because people, not machines or technologies, run businesses. We must think about how we treat our people as much as our bottom line. 

Customers first:  Science and technology help us better serve our customers, but they cannot replace effective interpersonal relationships with customers.  While e-mail, text messages and social media are a fact of life, nothing replaces the personal touch.

Act with integrity:  If you always do the right thing the right way (even if it's not in your best interest) you will never have to second guess a decision.  Some say this is the age of “moral individualism” but nothing could be farther from the truth.  We all know right from wrong. Value-based decisions always breed success.

If you can do the above well, you will create the most powerful platform for success—trust.  Simply defined: Trust is a behavior learned through interaction with people and institutions, characterized by faith that such interaction will result in a principled, unselfish, consistent response. 

MM&M has always honored the people in our business. It has always been fair in reporting events affecting our business. And it has created events that honor our industry,  If not for MM&M, my idea for the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame would have never been realized. (David Gideon, MM&M's past owner and president, provided the financial support for its creation.) As a result, we have been able to honor our industry's best since 1996, and publish Medicine Avenue, the first history book about medical advertising.

On such occasions it is okay to look back—in fact, it is important to look back. Yesterday's lessons make for a better today and a brighter tomorrow.

Thank you, MM&M. Happy birthday. 

Ron Pantello, former chairman and CEO of Euro RSCG Life Worldwide, is co-founder of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame

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