CDM Princeton got a new president in April and plenty of new assignments at the end of 2012.
Chuck Wagner stepped in as president from CDM market access unit Entrée Health, where he is still managing partner. He takes over from Kyle Barich, who took the reins at CDM New York last year, and joins a leadership team including Ashley Schofield, Gerry McLaughlin and director of strategic services Jill Beene (former client service director Sonja Foster-Storch decamped for McCann Echo Torre Lazur in April).
CDM Princeton, says Wagner, “has historically had the most envied culture of the nine divisions of the CDM Group,” which emphasizes collaboration.
“We’re big believers in the idea of collective intelligence,” says Wagner. “So it’s a very inclusive culture where people feel empowered and free to contribute to the greater good of the agency and the brands we serve.”
“We challenge each other to continually improve and learn new things, new skills,” says Schofield, “and when you get a bunch of people that are all wired that way, really special things can happen.”
What sets the shop apart, says Schofield, is strategic and digital smarts (example: their update of Novo Nordisk’s Coags Uncomplicated app) and top-notch creative from what Wagner calls “Madison Avenue-type talent out here in the suburbs.”
Still, they’re in the midst of a visioning exercise to work out where they need to go as an agency.
“Healthcare is changing and with it, the way people buy healthcare and the way healthcare providers make decisions,” says Wagner. “We’re at the point of a drastic shift right now, and if we rest on the fact that we’ve got a good reputation and have won some awards, we’re not going to be there for our clients when they need us.”
Revenue inched down last year as two of their brands failed to make it to market, though the shop is “back on a pretty aggressive growth pathway where we’re looking around trying to make sure we have enough seats for the people we need,” says Wagner. They’re looking to hire for about 25 open positions, which is “around 20% of our total employee base,” says Wagner.
A tough 2012 ended with a big win, AOR status on MedImmune’s respiratory franchise—an outgrowth of work Entrée Health did for the business. The assignment spans consumer and digital as well as professional promotion. The agency also won some Novo Nordisk hemophilia business and expanded their business with Shire, for which they handled Intuniv, beyond ADHD.
“The ‘new business’ engine has kicked in again,” says Wagner, “and it feels like clients are anxious to get out and message about their brands.” The shop is doing a lot of iPad work—“It’s iPad mania,” says Schofield – and is finding success in pitching purpose-built teams assembled, in part, from Omnicom siblings.
“Collaboration is a big part of our culture, and we’ve been excellent at it internally and with our clients, so now we’re taking that out a little wider,” says Schofield.