The Top 75: CDM Princeton

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After a slack 2009, CDM Princeton is forecasting double-digit growth in revenue and headcount for 2010.
The 10-year-old shop began 2009 in a deep hole owing to parent Omnicom's loss in the J&J consolidation. The shop, which had handled J&J's Risperdal Consta and Invega, spent most of last year in “hunting and pitching mode,” says president Kyle Barich, racking up eight wins.

Among them, the CDM shop added to its business with Gilead, for which it handles Truvada, winning a new HIV combination therapy in a competitive pitch won by CDM World Agency. The firm also added the consumer assignment to its professional assignment for Shire's Intuniv, along with an unbranded assignment. Other wins include: a global assignment on a new IGIV product for Baxter; a depression from Clinical Data's PGX Health unit; and several assignments from Caris Life, including corporate advertising and two molecular diagnostics products. The shop was helped in its efforts to claw its way back from disaster by testimonials from clients. “We're proud of the way we've been able to get back to growth through unconditional recommendations from current clients,” says Barich.

The agency had one loss last year—of MGI sedation drug Lusedra following the company's acquisition by Eisai. Consolidation is the number one challenge to agencies right now, says Barich. “Everywhere you turn, two clients are becoming one,” he says, “whether it's Eisai/MGI or Merck/Schering-Plough or Abbott/Solvay, and sometimes you're on the good side of that and sometimes you're not. It's an opportunity, but it causes volatility and uncertainty.”

Ashley Schofield, managing partner for creative and director of art, adds: “With some of these consolidations, you're kind of inheriting a new creative culture and a new company, so you really have to navigate that and try to work the best you can. A lot of places have different structures, more conservative claims that can be made. It's almost like winning a new piece of business again.”

One merger that CDM Princeton has come out on the right side of is that of Merck/Schering-Plough. Merck is the shop's top client thanks to its handling of the former Schering-Plough women's health and respiratory brands, including Nuvaring, Implanon, Cerazette and Nomac/E2. Other big clients include Novo Nordisk, for which the firm handles biopharma brands including Novo Seven, Gilead for HIV brands and Shire's ADHD franchise and related programs.
Headcount remained steady at around 100 last year, and the shop expects to add about 10 positions through the rest of the year. Agency leadership remains stable, with the promotion of Jill Beene to associate managing partner and director of strategic services.

Barich says he's particularly proud of the shop's launch of Intuniv, for ADHD with disruptive symptoms. Professional work launched in October, followed by in-office consumer. The agency has seen “huge growth” in its consumer marketing and interactive offering, which accounts for around 30% of the shop's business.

Barich is also proud of the shop's unbranded professional work on Gilead's “Wave of Hope” campaign encouraging physicians to treat HIV earlier. “Patients live longer and do better,” says Barich. “It's good for patients, physicians and Gilead.”

The shop prides itself on its collaborative culture that “breaks down silos.”

“We're working really hard to preserve the soul of the idea through all the rounds of research and the senior management reviews and the legal and regulatory scrutiny,” says Barich. “The idea is that nothing should get in the way of a good idea.”
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