The Top 75: Dudnyk

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While it was a modest 9% growth year for Philadelphia-based Dudnyk, it was a great year for the agency in terms of product launches and organic growth.

“Our creative, strategic and scientific acumen is being recognized and awarded with product launches across the breadth of our roster—from big pharma to devices to biotechs to start-ups,” says Frank Powers, EVP, management supervisor.

Ten new pieces of business came in last year, including organic wins from Abbott, Merck, Sirion Therapeutics and Middlebrook Pharmaceuticals. Launches included an award nominated unbranded professional campaign for AMAG Pharmaceuticals (awareness of iron deficiency anemia); Shire's seizure medication Carbatrol (pediatric indication); and Sirion Therapeutics' ophthalmic steroid Durezol. Powers expects FDA approval soon for the launch of an ophthalmic antiviral for Sirion.

The agency parted ways with Orapharma, for which it had worked on Arestin (for periodontal disease). At the end of the year biotech client Viropharma put its business on hold indefinitely after disappointing clinical trial results.
“Everybody shares biotech pain,” says EVP creative director Barry Schmader. “You want those accounts, but you've got to be careful because they can't always sustain a setback.”

As AOR, this spring Dudnyk executed a well-received major primary care launch for Middlebrook Pharmaceutical's Moxatag (once-daily amoxicillin). AMAG's iron replacement product Feraheme is expected to launch soon. Wins have also come in this year from AstraZeneca (managed markets) and Merck (corporate).
Powers expects increasing managed market, corporate and patient education work because clients want the agency's ability to bring senior strategic and creative talent to those accounts.

Regulatory tightening has prompted a highly conservative stance toward branded work. Schmader says clients have voluntarily recalled and redone pieces they've used for years. But Dudnyk has turned this trend positive by recommending and creating nontraditional, highly creative and integrated unbranded campaigns for clients such as AMAG and Abbott (prostate cancer). 

Digital content creation continues to increase. Schmader doesn't think separation of digital and traditional offerings is the best way to serve brands, and he says digital experts are embedded in all brand teams. Dudnyk has shifted a lot of its own promotional spend into digital, which is delivering record results.

Headcount ending in 2008 was down one to 44 with no layoffs. It currently stands at 42. President Lorna Weir left in April 2009 and joined Vox Medica as EVP, chief marketing strategist. Her departure didn't erode leadership because there were five at the helm (Weir, Schmader, Powers, SVP of scientific and strategic services Christopher Tobias, PhD, and VP creative director Chuck Jeffries). Everyone was sad to see Weir go, but Schmader and Powers say her decision was respected and supported.

Schmader expects continued organic growth this year. New business outreach will also continue, including a new “brand accelerator” offer, which allows prospective clients to get brand analysis and recommendations on a spec basis. “We don't see the new business front opening up for another quarter perhaps,” he says. “We're fortunate to have a few major new assignments from existing clients."
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