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The Pulse of the Pharmaceutical Industry
CDM New York
220 E. 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017
Account wins 10
Active business clients 15
Brands by 2014 sales
Brand-product accounts held 59
Professional advertising 30%
Strategic consulting 10%
In 2014, executives say CDM New York marked its 30th anniversary as the flagship agency in The CDM Group not by looking back, but by looking forward. The agency’s aspirations for the future and its drive to push boundaries on behalf of clients are summed up in the two words the 300+ people in the agency rally behind each day: “What’s Next.”
“‘What’s Next’ is a statement about who we are as an agency – and a question we ask ourselves each day,” says Kyle Barich, president. “It means we’re relentless about delivering breakthrough ideas for our clients. It means we’re constantly seeking new channels and new ways to engage our audiences. But most of all, it means we’re obsessed with our people and helping them grow. Because we can’t live up to any of our ambitions unless we have people of uncommon talent, extraordinary ability, and a culture that rewards people for seeking to change for the better.”
The year’s accomplishments
Recently, CDM New York fully committed to this belief in the power of its people by reengineering the dynamics of the agency. “2014 was the first full year in which we saw the benefits of creating a new way of working,” says Lori Klein, managing partner and director of client services. “In this new agency structure, we put proven and talented client service and creative leaders in charge of groups focused on specific clients. And it worked exceedingly well. It led to better creative output, deeper client satisfaction, and put terrific opportunities in front of us.”
Agency leaders are proud of the way the new teams have pushed into new channels, such as Oculus Rift 3D virtual reality visualizations for clients such as Novartis. The agency has also pioneered the use of Leap Motion gesture-based interfaces to guide physicians through complex data – and even got into asymmetrical gaming. Chris Palmer, managing partner and executive creative director, says, “For the AHA, we created a beautiful game that teaches hands-only CPR through a multiplayer, two-screen gaming experience. It’s an unbelievable bit of design that serves a truly valuable, life-saving purpose.”
The new agency structure with deep client focus led to record-high client satisfaction rates and a substantial number of wins without pitches. It also helped the agency land several new clients through a year of significant new business growth. Notable among the new names to the agency are AbbVie, Biogen Idec, Acadia, Alexion, Shire, Pfizer Consumer Health, and Gilead.
“We are undoubtedly a new business machine,” Barich says. “Not many agencies win two out of every three pitches. And yes, our wins come through the strength of our strategic thinking and the power of our ideas. But what we hear from new clients time and again is that it’s really about the people we put in the room. It’s about creating instant chemistry. That’s another key reason we’re so focused on helping our people develop.”
This emphasis on personal growth led to the appointment of two new agency leaders. Early in 2014, Carolyn O’Neill and Celine Vita were promoted to associate partner, creative director, and associate partner, client service director, respectively. “Having Carolyn and Celine at the table gives the agency renewed energy and new perspectives. And it makes us so much stronger,” Klein says.
Structure and services offered
In 2014, CDM New York continued to be the largest agency in The CDM Group. The agency leadership team of Barich, Klein, and Palmer is supported by Associate Partners Chris Fiocco, director of account planning; Elizabeth Yi, director of medical and scientific affairs; and Debra Polkes, creative director, as well as Vita and O’Neill.
Agency leaders say CDM New York is structured in core groups centered on whole client businesses led by a client service director/creative director team. A strategy group composed of medical and scientific affairs, account planning, digital strategy, and data analytics complements these client-focused teams. This group collaborates to uncover the scientific, human, and behavioral truths that can drive change for the agency’s brands. “We boast the broadest and deepest collection of strategists in the industry,” Barich says. “This allows us to surround our clients’ brands with the right insights and strategies to accelerate their business in any number of ways.”
This collection of strategic experts was put to task early in the year when the agency was given the opportunity to pitch for the Takeda Millennium Oncology Group’s digital AOR assignment. According to Klein, “Bringing all these disciplines together gave us the ability to do more than just take on the digital work for the brands, it allowed us to create a fully integrated digital ecosystem that ultimately propels better dialogue between patient and physician. So we now have an extremely rigorous process to do an ecosystem-wide digital audit that uncovers ways to drive meaningful change for our clients’ brands.”
A big focus of the agency going forward will be to amplify its creative power. “At CDM New York, we believe creativity is everything and is everyone’s job,” Palmer says. “So early this year, we actually rewrote the book on our creative approach. In February, every person in the agency received a 100-page book on the role they play in getting to great work. It was a landmark event for us as an agency and is already paying dividends.”
Agency executives say the strong focus on creative has resulted in numerous opportunities to collaborate with other CDM Group agencies as well as fellow Omnicom partners. “Four years ago, The CDM Group formed HealthWork, a joint venture with BBDO,” Palmer says. “In this model, we get to bring the best creative and strategic talent from the consumer and HCP worlds together to do exceptional work across all brand audiences. It’s a real growth engine for us and a strong, fun partnership that has led to some great wins and incredible work.”
In keeping with its focus on people, growth, and development, this year will also see the expansion of the agency’s in-house SSCG University training program. “More courses, more opportunities, more chances to grow. That’s what we’re all about this year,” Klein says.
CDM New York demonstrated its deep and abiding commitment to helping others during the past year through its ongoing support of three important causes: The Children’s Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM), the American Heart Association, and Stupid Cancer. For CHAM, CDM New York hosted the seventh Pharmapalooza – an industry-leading fundraiser and battle of the ad agency bands, with all proceeds going directly to CHAM’s Child Life Program. To date, nearly $700,000 has been raised for CHAM through the Pharmapalooza events.
For the AHA, the agency is a strong supporter of the Go Red campaign for women’s heart health and annually raises thousands of dollars to support the cause. Also, CDM New York supported Stupid Cancer, an organization dedicated to supporting young adults with cancer, by creating a provocative, attention-getting awareness campaign.
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