201 S. Maple Avenue, Suite 200
Ambler, PA 19002
Account wins 4
Active business clients 16
Brands by 2016 sales
Brand-product accounts held 36
$25 million or less 2
$25 million to $50 million 5
$50 million to $100 million 14
$100 million to $500 million 13
$500 million to $1 billion 1
Products yet to be approved/launched 1
Digital (HCP) 25%
Digital (Consumer) 15%
Sales materials 15%
Print Ads (HCP) 15%
Print Ads (Consumer) 15%
Direct Marketing 7%
Bausch + Lomb
Johnson & Johnson Consumer
Johnson & Johnson Surgical
DiD is a 109-person-strong health and wellness agency located in the Philadelphia suburbs. After 13 years, executives say the agency has managed a robust mix of professional and consumer experience across OTC, device, prescription, and diagnostic engagements. According to agency leaders, DiD prides itself on growth fueled by client loyalty and word of mouth. “With an advertising budget of exactly $0, the company has nevertheless managed 35 percent growth during the past 18 months,” executives say. “That includes 18+ product launches in all four industry segments.”
The name of the agency stemmed from the way the business started, management says. Partners Peter Kenney and Rick Sannem began the business with two silent investor/partners in 2006, assuming it would take months to build a client base.
“They were wrong,” executives say. “The first company they pitched to said ‘Yes!’ but only if they could start immediately. The new company didn’t have a name or a bank account, but their silent partners did have a fully functional firm on paper – “Direct Image and Design” – that also was listed on the new client’s approved vendors list. So saddled with a borrowed name that didn’t make much sense, which they shortened to DiD, they took off and haven’t looked back.”
“The whole name thing was, to us, a sign that we were doing the right thing, because it all just fell into place,” Sannem says. “But it also showed that our commitment was to the work, not pretense. I think clients get that about us. They keep coming back, and keep recommending DiD, even though they don’t have a clue what our name means.”
Playing off the well-worn “There is no ‘i’ in team” adage, Sannem added, “There is an ‘i’ in DiD, but it’s lowercase.”
The Year’s Accomplishments
DiD is headquartered in a renovated industrial space adjacent to a commuter rail station in Ambler, a bedroom community outside Philadelphia. In 2016 the company opened a downtown Philly office across from City Hall, 19 miles down the tracks. The expansion was done for three reasons: client convenience; the industrial space, a former boiler factory, was running out of room; and leadership suspected that offering positions downtown might attract job candidates who preferred the convenience of both living and working in the city.
According to agency leaders, 2016 required putting the finishing touches on the explosive growth of the previous year and planting seeds for future growth. That 2015 growth, (from both existing clients and new ones), warranted taking a closer look at how team structure and company culture had been impacted. The company made some strategic new hires, and they created a more robust training program designed to keep employees current and to support career development.
“This business doesn’t offer much time for organized training,” Sannem says. “We’re taking a different tack, thinking of the agency more like a teaching hospital, where more experienced personnel can share what they know with the up-and-coming. We foster an environment where anyone can ask anything without fear.” In addition to outside opportunities, the training program includes workshops conducted by director-level employees on topics specific to what’s needed for career growth.
Agencies are always curious to know which of their skill sets is trending. In 2016, executives say DiD got at least one answer – resurrecting brands. “2016 was a year of making old brands brand-new, as mature brands were sold to new owners,” Kenney says. “We partnered with three clients to relaunch or reinvigorate OTC and prescription drugs in 2016.”
The velocity of medical marketing in recent years has required clients to trade in the annual forecast for the quarterly forecast, forcing brands to be more adaptive within shorter timeframes. DiD has enacted a review of all creative and strategic processes to “make sure we’re working on the right problem as soon as possible,” executives say. “Helping clients identify the best approach quicker means we have more time and money to spend on perfecting solutions,” Kenney says.
Structure & Services
DiD is a full-service agency that offers strategic planning, positioning, and multi-platform creative development. Leadership describes it as a professional and consumer advertising agency committed to helping people discover and experience great health and wellness brands. Kenney says they do this by “Building connections and driving results through new ways that link products and consumers that other agencies can miss.” For that, they credit their diverse team experience.
“Being independent means we can bring on people with diverse talent and experience that bigger agencies might overlook,” Kenney says. “It’s like Moneyball for marketing, where we can pull a doctor, an engineer, or even an Academy Award-nominated documentary executive producer into a brainstorm. We love the eclectic mix of experienced Rx, OTC, diagnostic, and device players we put on the field every day, and more and more, clients are respecting the value of our diversity for their brands.”
Through its DS2 production studio, DiD has provided customized assets and advertising for co-op medical practices across the nation. In 2016, the company leveraged that experience to create a web-based system that will streamline coop marketing in dermatology, dentistry, and other medical specialties with robust coop marketing activity. Executives say the agency will begin marketing the platform this year.
With its downtown Philadelphia office in full operation, DiD executives say the agency has room to grow while attracting new talent and offering the convenience of a central location to clients. Leadership is looking forward to seeing how the new training sessions will impact this year.
In terms of a future growth strategy, DiD does not plan on making many changes in the way it does business, executives say. Summing up the company’s future, Sannem says, “Loyalty and word of mouth have exponential power as the size of our client roster grows. We’ve seen brand managers ascend to vice presidents over a career that spans three or four company moves, and they call us with opportunities after each move. It really validates for us that we’re doing something right.”
DiD once again returned to Cradles to Crayons in 2016 for its annual day of service in July. Cradles to Crayons provides children (from birth to age 12) who are living in low-income and homeless situations, with the essential items they need to thrive – at home, at school, and at play. Each year, DiD shuts down for a day to sort and package donated items for distribution, doing our part to connect and engage communities that have with communities that need.
Executives say the agency also likes to support the charitable work of its employees. This year DiD helped underwrite the work of an employee who is the volunteer head coach of a local high school’s first robotics team. The team competes at an international level, but also emphasizes community outreach activities and charity.