Charm Can Tell You A Lot About An Agency

Jun 01, 2011

Agency Confidential is a special editorial section published every year inside the June issue of Pharmaceutical Executive. It is devoted to the latest trends in pharma marketing, with a particular focus on healthcare advertising agencies. Ultimately, we hope it will be an aid to our readers—pharmaceutical executives—the next time they need to choose an agency to market a new drug candidate or to revive an old one.

Our fanciful conceit is to see ourselves as investigators, the old-school type—gumshoes—who pound the pavements in search of what's hot to pass on.

Our contention is that you can learn a lot about an agency by what the people at the top have to say about current topics and trends in the industry. Executives from a highly selective group of agencies appear here (see pages 88-114) as thought leaders with valuable insights, strategies, and often strong opinions.

They were chosen for a variety of different reasons: For instance, we met the CEO of one agency at a cocktail party and we couldn't get over what a terrific tie he was wearing, a sucker for style, we included him. A friend of a friend called to say we absolutely had to talk to this brilliant woman who

had risen through the ranks and had just broken through the glass ceiling and been named president of an agency, and so in she went. At a meeting last winter on a snowy afternoon in Manhattan, we had one of those two-hour lunches no one has anymore with an utterly charming ad man—a senior vice president, director of strategic services—who not once promoted himself or his agency. Instead, he recounted a slew of wonderful stories, advised on the menu, and chose a fabulous bottle of wine. Of course we were going to include him. Frivolous criteria? Perhaps, but the funny thing was that when we dug deeper, it turned out that the guy with the necktie, the woman president, and the wine connoisseur were all famous in their own right at the top five, award-winning healthcare agencies. Which just goes to show...

The cherry on top of every issue of Agency Confidential is our annual report by Agency Insider Mark Chataway. Chat-away is known for asking the question in the room everyone wants to ask but is too afraid to. His story this year, "Safe and Effective, Really?" is about risk in treatment. When to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. The time has come.

Marylyn Donahue, Special Projects Editor

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