The Top 50: Dudnyk

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With five now at the helm, Dudnyk’s management team is more cohesive. Leaders are clearly pleased with the changes, and the agency is benefiting and enjoying improved relationships on all fronts.

“We succeeded in flattening management,” says Barry Schmader, EVP creative director, art. “There is transparency between us, the owner and our CFO. This team working closer than ever before and sharing a lot information that sometimes wasn’t [shared before]. Everybody is watching out for everyone.”

Lorna Weir was promoted to president after Fred Robbins left last August to pursue other interests. Rounding out the team is EVP management supervisor Frank Powers, VP creative director art Chuck Jeffries, and SVP scientific and strategic services Chris Tobias.

Revenue increased more than 10%, and headcount ending 2006 was 43 (three were added since). Weir says Dudnyk has “never suffered for candidates because it’s such a creative and committed organization.” The average tenure at the agency is seven to eight years. 

“The challenge is finding the balance of how to staff,” Schmader says. “We’ve always prided ourselves on being able to service AOR and project accounts equally well. Even [for] a one-time project [or] a low budget project, you have to put forth the same account service, research and creative. It’s never served us or clients to staff up and down. We like to staff evenly.”

Though Schmader says the management shift was “at times challenging,” the changes are “bear[ing] tremendous fruit.” “Clients get to tap into a group of senior people,” Weir says. Schmader adds, “We hear we’re showing [strengths] more than ever before. We’re feeling pretty good about it.”

Much of last year’s business came from existing clients: Medtronic AneuRx and AAAdvantage; a new indication for CSL Behring’s Rhophylac; a new dosage of Advancis Pharmaceutical’s antibiotic Keflex; a branding campaign outside the US for Merck’s Arcoxia. New wins include Lupron Depot for urology (TAP Pharmaceuticals) and the national campaign (consumer and professional) for Synova Healthcare’s reintroduction of the Today Sponge. There were no direct losses in 2006, though some project assignments closed.

Schmader thinks agencies and clients could use collective marketing muscle to address negative public perceptions. He suggests “some sort of coalition” to help present a better understanding of the pharma industry to the public. “We would officially offer to perform that campaign,” he says. “The industry is so competitive, it’s hard to imagine working together, but there’s a problem here, and we have tremendous marketing minds. Can we put them all to work to change things?”

Powers notes the trend toward pharma sales forces adopting tablet PCs. Schmader likes the technology’s flexibility, and enjoys “help[ing] show what it can do.” Proscape Technologies and Dudnyk developed a partnership after getting acquainted during Dudnyk’s certification to work on tablet PCs.

The agency plans to develop efforts to enter the phase II market and help position early. “A lot of this is done through pure medical companies,” Tobias notes. “Targeting specific products in therapeutic areas that we have strong expertise could benefit companies [by] helping them better define messages and position the products in the minds of physicians who would potentially use it.”
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