MAHF Honor Roll

The four newest luminaries honored by the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame built sterling reputations as they advanced their fields. Joshua Slatko looks back on their success and on how each came to be synonymous with their particular niche of healthcare marketing 

Tom Domanico

1960s After studying art/advertising at New York Community College, lands at Klemtner, then at Shaller-Rubin, where in two years he’s promoted to head its healthcare unit.
1970s At William Douglas McAdams, becomes lead creative director on Roche account; promoted to executive art director and SVP overseeing all products.
1980s-2000s Becomes head of new Vicom office in New York; through series of acquisitions and name changes, responsibilities grow from SVP/creative director to GM, president and finally chairman/CEO.
2013 Retires from Draftfcb Healthcare, where he was chairman emeritus.

Many of the pharmaceutical industry’s most memorable brand images over the past three decades were born in a little corner store called Draftfcb Healthcare. That agency’s record of successful pharma brands and its list of industry awards, from the earliest days of its constituent parts up through the recent Spiriva elephant campaign and beyond, is second to none. But the founding creative mind behind the agency that grew into the modern Draftfcb Healthcare fell into healthcare marketing largely by accident.

After completing his studies in art and advertising, Tom Domanico started out in 1966 seeking a role with a more generalist consumer shop. “I really wanted to begin in consumer because I went to school for that and wanted to get into the big time,” Domanico says. “The headhunter told me, ‘I have this job at Klemtner,’ and I said, “What’s a Klemtner?’ She said it’s an agency that does advertising at the pharmaceutical companies. I said, “Well, it’s advertising, so that sounds great to me.”  

Soon, Domanico felt right at home. In the early years of his career at Klemtner, he built his reputation with original work on the Pfizer antibiotics Terramycin and Vibramycin, among others. Within three years, he was named senior art director at Shaller-Rubin, where he developed creative for clients like ER Squibb, Endo Laboratories, and Smith Kline & French.

Just two years after joining SR, he was promoted to head the agency’s entire healthcare division. And two years after that, in 1973, he was recruited to join the William Douglas McAdams Company, at the time the largest medical agency in the US. While at McAdams, Domanico helped launch the anti-acne medication Acutane and did branding work on Valium when that drug was the top-selling pharmaceutical in the US.

But the most important step in Domanico’s career pathway came in 1983 when he was named the head of a new Vicom office in New York City. The agency’s main headquarters was in San Francisco; the new office, launched with just six employees, was intended to be a satellite. Within a short time, though, the “satellite” office had won the ACE inhibitor Vasotec and the antibiotic Primaxin from Merck and become a major industry player in its own right.

Through a number of changes on the front door—from Vicom, to Vicom FCB, to FCB Healthcare, to Draft/FCB Healthcare, to the current Draftfcb Healthcare—Domanico led the agency’s creative work on some of the industry’s most iconic brands, most notably including Zocor, Fosamax and Singulair. By the time of his retirement a year ago, Domanico’s little satellite office had grown into an industry behemoth with nearly 600 employees and more than $750 million in billings annually.

Behind all this success lies an idea Domanico calls “brand personality”—a series of identifying markers, whether visual or textual, that are so attuned to the differentiating characteristics of the brand and the needs of the audience that they become almost subliminally associated with the brand. He knew this “brand personality” strategy was working, Domanico says, when he heard a story from a Vasotec sales rep about the green embossed seal that Vicom had developed for the brand.

“A sales rep went in to see a physician, and when he pulled out [our marketing piece], the physician said, ‘You told me about this already last week.’ ‘No,’ the rep replied, ‘it’s the first time I’ve been here.’ The physician had seen the ad and recalled it and he was telling the rep that ‘I already saw it.’ And from that point we just kept building and using that strategy, and we developed brands that were iconic from that point.”

After nearly 50 years in the industry, Domanico’s passion for healthcare marketing remains undiminished. In fact, he believes that that passion was one of the key elements to his success.

“If you don’t love what you do, you’re never going to put into it what it needs, and believe me, clients see the passion, they see the love, they see the dedication and if you don’t have that, you’re not going to be successful,” Domanico says. “I used to watch these people who were going to work by train with the looks on their faces rushing to get home, rushing to get to work, always stressed, and I was smiling from ear to ear because I love what I do. I was having a great time, and I felt so bad for them.  I said, ‘I’m going into the office, we’re having fun, we have creative challenges, we have great clients.’ It was terrific.”

Carroll Dowden

1960s-70s Hired as a writer/editor at Medical Economics; after eight promotions in 14 years, becomes president of Medical Economics Co.
1980s After acquisition of MEC by International Thomson Business Press, is appointed CEO of ITBP; becomes group VP of Cahners Publishing, overseeing four groups of magazines; co-founds company that became Dowden Health Media.
2000s Lebhar-Friedman acquires Dowden Health Media (’05); remains as president and then chairman until retiring (‘10).

Name a well-known, well-respected medical journal, and Carroll Dowden was likely involved with it at some point. In a career spanning more than 50 years as an editor, executive and entrepreneur across multiple companies, Dowden has touched nearly every journal of any significance in the healthcare field. But just as with Tom Domanico, healthcare was not Dowden’s first choice.

“My move to Medical Economics from the Courier-Journal, the leading newspaper in Kentucky, came about when I decided that I wasn’t advancing fast enough,” Dowden says. “A classified ad in Editor & Publisher caught my eye. It was a blind ad, describing an editorial position in Washington for a ‘national business magazine.’

“I was assistant financial editor of the newspaper, so ‘business magazine’ appealed to me, and I supposed it must be Fortune, Business Week or Forbes. When I got an envelope in the mail with a sample copy, I was disappointed to learn that the opportunity was with a publication called Medical Economics, which I had never heard of.”

But after reading the sample copy, Dowden discovered that Med Ec was better-written than the newspaper for which he was working. He took the job—launching a career at the Medical Economics Co. that peaked with his promotion to CEO in 1977.

While there, Dowden shaped a business strategy for Med Ec that proved highly successful: converting many specialist readers to paid circulation and sharing the subsequent savings with advertisers through rate reductions that led to a significant increase in ad pages.

During Dowden’s tenure, Medical Economics carried more pages than any other trade or professional magazine in the US. He applied similar innovative thinking to the expansion of Physicians Desk Reference, by promoting sales of the annual reference to non-physicians. The result: 800,000 copies distributed per year, half paid by individuals, half by pharmaceutical company listings.

After the Medical Economics Co. was acquired by International Thomson Business Press, Dowden was named president of ITBP in 1981, becoming CEO of a group of more than a thousand employees in 10 subsidiaries around the country. He later moved to Cahners Publishing, where as group VP he oversaw four groups of magazines.

Then the entrepreneurial bug struck. In 1988, along with his son Mark and mentor Lew Miller (another MAHF member), Dowden launched the company that became Dowden Health Media. Over the years, this new company would build up an impressive roster of highly respected publications, including OBG Management, Mayo Clinic Proceedings, The Journal of Family Practice, Current Psychiatry and Contemporary Surgery. Alongside the journals, Dowden added a med-ed division and a consumer health newsletter division.

Dowden’s innovative business sense was no less acute with his own company than it had been previously. For example, the Mayo Clinic asked him to consult on the business plan for what was a money-losing journal. His approach led the Mayo publishers to ask him to participate in a joint venture, which was profitable to both parties. By his retirement in 2010, that innovative business sense had helped build Dowden’s company up to $30 million in annual revenue.

More than five decades after the fact, Dowden feels fortunate to have chosen the clinical journal path, as his field has grown in significance. “While nonclinical editorial is important,” he says, “nothing surpasses a physician’s need to keep up. The trend toward specialization reinforces the necessity of having strong clinical journals.”

Not surprisingly given his success, he believes that great careers are made from a willingness to learn. “Looking back 50 years, I’d say the best advice would be to take every opportunity to broaden and deepen knowledge of the healthcare field,” Dowden says. “The greater one’s knowledge, the more successful he or she will be.”

Clive Lewis

1960s Joins Burroughs Wellcome’s ad department in Johannesburg, South Africa; hired by Bristol Labs/Mead Johnson to manage its internal creative agency in South Africa.
1970s Founded ad agency Clive Lewis & Assoc., which grew to dominate the South African marketplace for pharma marketing services.
1980s Moved to New York City; launched Lewis & Gace with fellow South African Francis Gace; within a year, L&G earns 11 major new business wins, including Losec/Prilosec, Nicorette and Cardene.
1990s L&G acquired by Bozell; retires in 1999.

Clive Lewis’s path to becoming the leader of one of the first truly internationally focused ad agencies began with a very lengthy road trip. As a young man in England in the early 1960s, he earned a degree in microbiology and worked as a medical rep for a time.  But, inspired by the social ferment of the time, most particularly by the Beatles (“They wore long hair and said, ‘Screw the traditional ways of doing things?,” he says), Lewis decided to try something a little outside the box—or inside, perhaps.

He banded together with three friends and drove a Volkswagen Microbus all the way from London to Cape Town, South Africa. The journey took seven months; once in South Africa, Lewis found himself in healthcare again, but in a decidedly smaller marketplace.

The limitations of the marketplace meant little to him, though; after stints with Burroughs Wellcome and Bristol Labs, Lewis decided to launch Clive Lewis & Assoc., the first medical ad agency in the southern hemisphere, in 1971. At that time, the size of the South African market was such that single brands were too small for the new agency to pitch for; it had to pitch for a company’s entire range of products in the market.

“That was a tiny market,” Lewis says. “So when you pitched for a piece of business, whether it was Wyeth or Novartis or whatever companies they all became, you didn’t get one product, because one product probably had $100,000 spent on it a year and you couldn’t live on that, so they gave you the entire range.”

This situation had a useful side effect for Lewis’s chops as a marketer; unlike the modern agency staffer who might work on just one or a handful of brands in a year, he spent his time in South Africa working on literally hundreds of different products.

“Someone once asked me, ‘Clive, are you a suit or are you a creative?’” Lewis recalls. “And I said, ‘Well, both, because in a small market you couldn’t afford to have account people and copywriters.’”

After growing to dominate the South African marketplace, Clive Lewis & Assoc. reached beyond that country’s shores in the late 1970s. The agency earned creative assignments in the US from companies like Ayerst, Lederle, Schering-Plough, Beecham, and SKF, executing them from 8,000 miles away. In today’s world of instant video communications and ubiquitous technology, this would still be a challenge; in the days of disco it was nothing short of astounding.

In this early success, Lewis was riding the leading edge of a wave that would transform the industry. Previously, pharma companies had recognized the need to create locally relevant materials but had no one to create them, as almost all advertising materials were created either in the US or in Europe. So companies welcomed this new breed of agency, putting the benefits of local creative relevance above their concerns for product conflict.

As his agency transitioned from local to international, Lewis became one of the early champions of the concept of brand consistency across markets. “Take a big brand and pull in all the current ads and sales aids that your subsidiaries are using, and put them up on a wall,” he says. “It’ll feel like 10 or 15 different brands.  In many cases, even the word—even the logo type, the brand name will be slightly different. It’ll use different typefaces. The ads will have different colors. They’ll use different kinds of benefit promises. The visuals will be all over the place.”

In swimming against this current, Lewis helped create the modern global brand. And he was given ample opportunity to display the wisdom of his choice; with Clive Lewis & Assoc. and later the New York-based Lewis & Gace, he was the creative mind behind global campaigns for megabrands like Losec/Prilosec, Prozac and Zyprexa. By the time L&G was acquired by Bozell in 1995, the Lewis terminology of global marketing—“brand anatomy,” “brand vocabulary,” “color environment,” “brand mnemonics,” and “controlled flexibility,” among other terms—had become industry gospel.

Having started from scratch in a Volkswagen Microbus to bring his agency and his ideas to global prominence, Lewis is a strong believer in the power of an intense desire to succeed.

“One of my favorite maxims is, if you can conceive it, you can do it,” he says. “So many people I’ve met, when I tell them I drove halfway around the world, they say, ‘That’s something I always wanted to do.’ Well, you don’t want to be rude, but you almost tend to just say, ‘Well, what stopped you?’”

Barbara Pritchard

1970s After working at Advertising Age and freelancing for a variety of other publications, named executive editor of Product Management, a Medical Economics publication. During 20 years with the company, moved from editorial to overall management running the book division to publisher of all clinical journals, medical education, strategic planning, and international.
1990s Spends several years as general manager of Advanstar.
2000s Focuses on international medical education with a variety of organizations, including the InterAlliance Group, Aramuc India Ltd., Wentz/Miller and the Pritchard Group. Serves on the HMCC and on the board of the HBA, including a term as president.

If ever anyone has been able to weave together career and service in the healthcare publishing and education community, it has been Barbara Pritchard. A look at her resume alone would intimidate anyone; after a 20-year career rising through the ranks to publisher and strategic leadership at Medical Economics, she’s expanded her personal “brand” to a variety of simultaneous roles, including director of US operations for the InterAlliance Group in Latin America and Spain; director of US operations for Aramuc India Ltd., principal of the international strategy consultancy Wentz/Miller, and president of her own Pritchard Group.

But her record of service to the industry is what makes her stand out, earning her the MAHF’s Service to Industry Award. She’s served as president of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, the Association of Medical Publishers and the Healthcare Marketing Communications Council. But her service hasn’t been limited to titles.

At HBA, Pritchard developed the concept for what became the EDGE Benchmarking Initiative; led a team that reimagined the chapter structure resulting in the creation of HBA affiliate chapters; helped develop the Mentor concept; and hired HBA’s first full-time CEO. At AMP, she worked to broaden the voice of the organization to be more customer-focused and in touch with the times. And at HMCC, she made a number of significant changes to broaden and expand the organization and received its President’s Award.

Pritchard’s passion for mentoring and service does not stop with the HBA or the healthcare industry. She’s also a member of the Prison Visitation and Support organization (PVS), where she visits monthly with women prisoners at the Danbury-CT based Federal Correctional Institute. And she also serves on the Advisory Board of the Brookdale Center of Aging, part of Hunter College in New York.

“My involvement with many industry organizations wasn’t really planned or initially with any goal in mind,” Pritchard says. “I’ve firmly believed in giving back and participating in a broader way in the industry that I’ve been so committed to.” When asked about volunteer service, Pritchard urges colleagues to look beyond just raising their hands. “Pick an organization where you think you can make a difference,” she says, “and pick specific areas either where you have a real passion or want to learn new skills.”

Earlier in her career, Pritchard frequently set long-term goals for herself—five-year and 10-year plans, as it were. But as she grew into leadership, she found that adhering too strictly to such goals can deflect a person from great achievements. “Goals in themselves can be limiting and keep you from taking risks and opportunities,” she says. “Think about what you want your legacy to be—not so much what you will have accomplished—but what impact can you have to improve the lives around you. And just as we encourage more interactive exchange and learning amongst health professionals, strive to be involved and an active participant in all aspects of healthcare communications, and not just here but globally.”