100 Agencies: CDMiConnect

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Dina Peck (managing partner and creative chief), Deb Deaver (president)
Dina Peck (managing partner and creative chief), Deb Deaver (president)

CDMiConnect has long served as the network's premier relationship marketing arm, but they want you to know that that's not all they do—hence, a reworking of their slogan, from “Building healthy relationships” to “Creating healthy connections.”

“Not everything is a relationship, especially in today's world of social, and people experience media how and when they want to experience it,” says managing partner and creative chief Dina Peck. “We think this idea of connections is broader and more relevant to who people and patients are today.”

In other words, the shop is retooling for the CRM of tomorrow, which, says president Deb Deaver, “is a lot of the same fundamentals—we're looking to move people along and give them the information they need when they need it—but we have a lot of different channels now.”


About 60% of CDMiConnect's work is digital and 80% is patient/consumer–focused.

“We're singularly focused on patients,” says Peck, “even when the customer is actually a healthcare professional, we're still very focused on who that end user is, and that's the patient.”

Business at the agency was flat or down slightly last year—“steady,” says Deaver, as clients went through reorganizations and pressed for efficiencies. The shop's biggest clients are Pfizer and Genentech, both of which have given the firm new business, including work on Actrema, Tamiflu and Rituxan for RA (on the debit side, they resigned Xolair). New clients for 2011 included Hologic, which moved some business over from sibling agency CDM Princeton, and Bayer. Oncology, immunology, pain and RA are key categories for them.

CDMiConnect has been pitching out more, targeting smaller specialty companies as well as bigger fish.

“We've always focused on some of the specialty products, but with our staff and how we're built, we're very agile at being able to learn new and complex categories. We're very adaptable.”

When we spoke, the shop was in contract talks with a pair of undisclosed new clients. The agency has seen much more of its business shift to agency of record accounts from one-off assignments in recent years.

Metrics, results and tracking is a key competency, says Deaver, as are access and reimbursement and e-patient work. CDMiConnect does a lot of patient testimonial work—coaching patients on how to develop and present their stories for ten clients.

“We've gotten very good and very efficient at it,” says Deaver. “We help them tell their stories, and it may be a video asset, but different clips of that are being used all over the place.”

Another strength is in realizing efficiencies through video shoots that can fill out whole campaigns.

“We've become experts at these shoots that are everything from stills to video, creating all these assets for every single channel on one shoot so that clients save a ton of money and get more assets out of it.”

Headcount was more or less unchanged at around 133, even as CDM's Link9 shared services structure took hold.

“As graphic services and art-buying are part of the shared services model, that's been consolidated across the group,” says Deaver. “For development, we've probably brought down our core development full-time staff and are using more of a consultancy partnership model.”

Recent campaigns include work for Avastin and the “Pearly Whites” effort for Arestin, a dental antibiotic from Orapharma.
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