Medical Advertising Hall of Fame 2019
The Medical Advertising Hall of Fame honored 2019 inductees Carol DiSanto and Charlene Prounis on Feb. 7th at The Pierre in New York City. DiSanto is well-recognized as a trailblazer and
formerly served as president of the healthcare communications agency Cline, Davis & Mann. Prounis is a renowned entrepreneur and co-founder of the healthcare communications agencies Flashpoint Medica and Accel Healthcare.
This marks the first time in the 23-year history of the prestigious program that each honoree is a women. The gala affair included a tribute to late MAHF co-founder David Gideon, who passed away during 2018. Gideon’s passion and leadership made MAHF the most coveted and respected honors program in healthcare marketing.
“There’s no question that co-founding the MAHF is the thing my father was most proud of in his career,” his daughter Anne, who now serves as executive director of the MAHF, told Med Ad News. “Out of all aspects of his professional life, he found this work the most fulfilling. He enjoyed working with people who were motivated by wanting to give back to the industry, not personal profit or aggrandizement. Seeing it grow from just documenting the history of the industry and honoring its founders to becoming an educational resource was the ultimate success story to him. I couldn’t be more proud to be his daughter or more honored to continue his legacy with the MAHF.”
DiSanto started her career in consumer advertising at Esty working on OTC products from Whitehall Laboratories/American Home Products. She joined Cline, Davis & Mann (CDM) during 1987 and launched the first OTC consumer product the agency had at the time, Equalactin from Pfizer. When Viagra’s market introduction was on the horizon in the late 1990s, DiSanto and her consumer expertise were recruited as the DTC lead, partnering with professional lead Kyle Barich, resulting in the industry’s most successful launch at the time. In the early 2000s, DiSanto’s leadership skills were at the forefront when she was appointed director of client services for CDM. During 2009, she became President and Managing Partner. In her more than 27 years at CDM, DiSanto strategically grew agency talent from 60 employees dedicated to a single healthcare client to more than 1,000 people within 8 divisions focusing on 40-plus clients.
“I’m absolutely honored and humbled to have been selected for induction. It means the world to me that so many folks who I worked with over the years wrote letters to the MAHF board in support of my nomination, that is pretty special,” DiSanto told Med Ad News. “For me, it’s always been about the people, and I am lucky to have worked with some of the best, most talented and fun people in this industry.”
According to DiSanto, “As far as all the buzz around both inductees being women this year, I think it’s absolutely fantastic – and once again demonstrates to both men and women that anything is possible with hard work and perseverance.
“I am proud to be the fourth ‘CDMer’ (Cline, Davis & Mann) to be inducted into the MAHF behind (the late) Morgan Cline (2004), Clyde Davis (2005) and Fred Mann (2006). I learned so much from all three and I am eternally grateful that they hired me in August 1987. Their decision to do so changed my life,” DiSanto says.
“I’m probably the most proud of being associated with the The CDM Group’s Grace value (we had four values; Substance, Style, Conviction and Grace). It’s who I am, it’s how I am wired and it lets me sleep deeply at the end of each day.”
Prounis started her career as a sales representative for Searle, followed by her first job in pharma advertising at Grey Healthcare Group. During 1999, Prounis launched her first agency – Accel Healthcare – which in five years grew to become a $20 million company and was eventually sold to Omnicom.
She helped launch her next agency, Flashpoint Medica, during 2005 and the agency grew rapidly, recognized as “Agency of the Year” in 2010 and garnering more than 60 creative awards. The firm’s blue-chip companies included Amgen, Genentech, Celgene, Gilead, Novartis, and Pfizer.
During her time at Flashpoint, Prounis was recognized in 2014 as Med Ad News’ “Industry Person of the Year.” Prounis has been deeply dedicated to advancing the role of women in the healthcare industry and was very active in the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA). For this exemplary service, she is the only person to have received the prestigious HBA STAR award twice. Prounis is serving on the board of healthcare communications firm, W20.
About being inducted into the MAHF, Prounis told Med Ad News, “I feel very honored to receive such a distinguished award and proud of the fact that two women were inducted this year. We’ve been working women, working moms, who worked our way to the top, and most importantly, we are role models for other young women that they, CAN DO IT TOO!”
Regarding the meaning of the MAHF, Prounis shared the following thoughts with Med Ad News: “The MAHF honors those that have come before us and left a lasting legacy. When I think back on my career and the legacy with which I hope to inspire others, three things stand out: believe in yourself enough to take the big risks, to lead with heart and to give back – through mentoring and volunteering at the HBA and MAHF.
“I was a two-time entrepreneur with successful ad agencies, Accel and Flashpoint, that started because of the small act of courageous self-confidence and the philosophy to put people first. We created a company culture where people thrived – and so did the agency. As a board member for the MAHF I shifted the focus from only honoring Hall of Famers to an educational focus for the young executives through new educational programs like ‘Young Executives Night Out’, ‘View from the Top,’ ‘Future Famers’ and mentoring breakfasts,” notes Prounis.
“I am grateful to the MAHF for recognizing these qualities of, risk taking, leading with heart and giving back because not only have they made such a difference in my career, but these are the values that inspire others, and we can continue to build a great industry.”
At the MAHF 2019 dinner, 25 “Future Famers” were recognized. The Future Famers program gives each member agency the opportunity to designate an individual they feel is destined to leave their mark on the industry. The recognition honors younger individuals who have already made significant contributions both to the industry and as volunteers dedicated to community service.
The MAHF Heritage Ad Awards, first introduced during 2014, recognize and honor advertisements that represent the best of the industry’s craft and the teams that created them. The 2019 MAHF Heritage Awards recognized iconic ads for Claritin (created by Thomas Ferguson Associates, submitted by Ogilvy Health), Restylane Silk (created by Corbett Accel Healthcare Group, submitted by TBWA\WorldHealth), and Synvisc (created and submitted by Calcium).
The MAHF Digital Pioneer Awards, established in 2016, honor exceptional creative work created during the earlier stages of the digital communications era. There were two submissions recognized at MAHF 2019: “How I Fight MS” from Greater Than One, a campaign launched in 2010 for client EMD Serono; and Dexilant MOA, a campaign introduced during 2009 by AbelsonTaylor for client Takeda.
About the MAHF
The MAHF was founded in 1996 with a mission to preserve the history and heritage of the medical advertising profession and honor those who founded and built the industry through their induction into a Hall of Fame. Since the MAHF’s founding, the organization’s mission has been broadened to include recognition of past excellence in creative work through the Heritage Advertising Awards, and creation of educational resources through a Young Executive’s Program that holds multiple educational seminars each year.
As the MAHF enters a third decade of service to the industry, the organization is pursuing more educational programs and expansion to cover digital communications. For more info about the MAHF, please contact Anne Gideon at firstname.lastname@example.org.