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Cherchez La Femme


Pharmaceutical Executive

Pharmaceutical ExecutivePharmaceutical Executive-06-18-2007
Volume 0
Issue 0

Women are everywhere. Healthcare advertising has to be one of the few businesses where so many women occupy top positions and actually make a living wage. OK, maybe they're not always at the top, top, but the glass ceiling is high and underneath is a mob of dynamic women (CEOs, presidents, creative directors, senior copywriters, etc.). We couldn't even begin to interview them all. Here are just a few.



Look for women in the healthcare advertising industry. Who are they? Do they occupy top positions? And what, if any, difference does gender make?


Women are everywhere. Healthcare advertising has to be one of the few businesses where so many women occupy top positions and actually make a living wage. OK, maybe they're not always at the top, top, but the glass ceiling is high and underneath is a mob of dynamic women (CEOs, presidents, creative directors, senior copywriters, etc.). We couldn't even begin to interview them all. Here are just a few.

Freud famously asked, What do women want? If you are a top female executive who has been given a mandate to transform a leading healthcare agency from the inside out, the answer is heart.


Yes, but not the mushy kind. What Anne Devereux wanted was heart with an edge, a roaring heart, a lion's heart...or should we say, a LyonHeart. Because the other thing Devereux wanted was to change the name from LLNS (aka Lyons Lavey Nickel Swift) to LyonHeart.

The newly transformed LyonHeart agency (scheduled to launch June 4) is Devereux's brainchild. Hired as CEO — as well as CEO of its sibling network, TBWA — just over a year ago, Devereux was given a directive to give LLNS a makeover. "I was told to imbue it with everything good about an agency: dynamism, compassion, smart thinking," says Devereux.

LyonHeart, a full-service healthcare agency specializing in professional advertising, has a staff of over 250 employees and represents such clients as Pfizer, Abbott Laboratories, and Purdue Pharma, with revenues in the $50-plus million range.

"Despite its good record and solid talent pool, LLNS had been flat for a number of years," says Devereux.

Devereux (pictured here on right), whose confidence, focus, and can-do attitude are testament to the old adage that if you want a job done, hire a woman, hailed from BBDO, where she had been chief integration officer. At BBDO, she was responsible for building one of the fastest-growing healthcare units of a major advertising network. At LLNS, she was to put her know-how into transforming something that already existed. And Devereux wasted no time starting.

"We were really lucky to have a strategic approach in place, inherited from our sister agency [TBWA], called 'Disruption'. Disruption is a process to change the rules of the marketplace, to give a client a greater share of the future," says Devereux. "It helps to reframe what you've been doing in a way that achieves an advantage. We do it all the time for clients, but shockingly we had never done it for ourselves."

Part of the relaunching process involved a period of intense self-analysis. "We did market research with clients who were no longer clients because we hadn't done a good job; with clients who stayed with us because we did a good job; and even with prospective clients, the ones we'd never been able to get. We wanted to understand what things they were looking for," says Devereux. They also benefited from their parent group Omnicom's savvy in executing comparative assessments.

Suddenly Susan

At the six-month mark, it was time to hire a new president. "We recognized the need for dramatic leadership and phenomenal communication," says Devereux. "The agency had not been aggressively leading, nor communicating very well either internally or to clients, which was just one of the reasons we hired Susan Flinn."

Devereux interviewed 25 candidates before finding Flinn. The two women hit it off immediately. "It was like we were separated at birth," says Devereux. "But we also seemed different enough to be able to bring different things to the table."

Flinn concurs. "We found we're the perfect balance. We think the same thing but execute slightly differently with slightly different strengths, which makes us greater than the sum of our parts."

Flinn's reputation preceded her. President of Euro RSCG Life since 2002, she was known for her strategic ability, leadership qualities, entrepreneurial spirit, and calling a spade a spade.

"I'm very loud," she jokes. "No, really, what you see is what you get. And right now what you see is me being very excited about what's happening at the agency."

Both women share Omnicom's belief that profitability is directly linked to a company's culture, to the quality of a place, and to how well people are nurtured, which in turn makes for a productive, creative, and fun place to work.

"What we have now is a completely interactive environment," says Flinn. "No one works anymore in their own little silo."

AGENCY CONFIDENTIAL wanted to know how the changes happened, and so quickly.

Enter heart

"We wanted everyone involved in building what the agency is," says Flinn. "An award system has been created. But these awards aren't for the best creative or the best copy. These awards are for exhibiting values such as courage, brains, and, yes, heart. And everyone—no matter the department—qualifies. It breaks down the divide between creative and account."

And how much does all this have to do with their being women? "Everything," says Flinn.

Devereux agrees. "I don't think a male-led organization would have agreed to name the agency LyonHeart. It builds on our history. But it also adds to what Susan and I hope to bring to all levels of the agency."

Flinn thinks it's all too easy to disparage strong, smart women for telling it like it is. "We also bring a feminine side to it," she says. "We have candy in the office and a karaoke night. People laugh, but read any book on culture, keeping employees and maintaining productivity, and these efforts are what makes it happen."

The launch, with its sassy new name, new attitude, and disruptive mission has barely begun but the results are already being felt.

"Creative is happening up and down the halls," says Flinn. "The agency had three pitches in two months and won all three."

The ease of the launch indicates that, indeed, all you really have to have is heart.



AGENCY CONFIDENTIAL asked Carol DiSanto, president of the hugely successful Cline Davis & Mann to give us the scoop: What's with all these top women in healthcare advertising?

Carol Disanto

Carol: "I don't have a scientific answer, which is ironic, considering most of what we do in our industry is data driven. There is one fact: Women were hired in droves by men who started and led healthcare agencies.

Through the years, a lot of these very driven women demonstrated a strong desire to succeed and were willing to make sacrifices in order to do so. Women who achieve very senior positions in our business possess a couple of common traits: focus, thick skin, and a relentless dedication to customer service, whether the customer is internal or external.

The successful women I've seen take on big career challenges. All have a great ability to be fully engaged and masterfully juggle work and other aspects of their lives.

I believe it's this capability to be engaged and able to balance a lot of things at once, that makes for effective, well-rounded, compassionate leaders—male or female.

I haven't spent too much time thinking about what it means for CDM to have a woman president. It was as much of an honor to have been named the fourth president in CDM's history as it was to be named the first woman president in CDM's history.

Nothing energizes me more than getting in and making things work smoother, better. I am not intimidated by change. In fact, it's the lack of change and forward momentum that concerns me.

My goal for CDM is to keep doing better than the year before as measured by performance, accountability, and the living of our core values."



Marci Piasecki is CEO of the award-winning Torre Lazur McCann Agency. She's known for being a straight-shooter. AGENCY CONFIDENTIAL asked her what difference a woman executive makes.

Marci Piasecki

Marci: The environment has changed. There's no place anymore for figureheads. Deals aren't being made on the golf course. And I would say that it's the same for our client partners. I started more than 20 years ago as a traffic manager with an ad agency. What got me, and I think what got a lot of women here, was good old-fashioned hard work. And today our clients are looking for it. It's not about: 'Hey, can we get together for dinner?' It's 'Hey, can you come to this meeting and help me think this through.' I think we as women are by nature very nurturing. We can handle a lot of things. We are very, very strong. I don't know that there are many men who would deny that. We're wired for this, more so probably than men, in some ways. For me, though, it's about hiring the best talent, female or male. And I'm not just saying that. I'm all about empowering women, but I'm also about empowering the person. What I'd hate to see happening is a swing to the other end. Any sort of bias or excluding of men would be just as detrimental. A great balance is what works.



Dr. Ahnal Purohit is the CEO and president of Donahoe Purohit Miller. Born in India, she is the major owner of the agency, which is one of the most powerful in the business. She's also a former professor with a doctorate in psychometrics. AGENCY CONFIDENTIAL wanted to know what it was like to be a scientist and the head of the only minority, woman-owned agency.

Dr. Ahnal Purohit

Ahnal: "Women are gatherers. And I'm sure there's some way it makes a difference in terms of how we think It's really interesting when you look at the agencies, and if you look at the total number of account executives right now, I wouldn't be surprised if there are more women than men on the agency side of the business. So it's not only how a top layer of women like us think, but I suspect the impact is going to be more at that middle level. Since I think more like a scientist, I always have to test my hypothesis—so I don't know if that's true or not. But it seems right. Women are the ones who really are in the trenches communicating and developing strategies with physicians. That's going to be more important, because more and more womn are becoming healthcare professionals."



Women at the top in the healthcare advertising industry have the power to raise consciousness and shape ways of thinking about marketing to women and minorities in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. AGENCY CONFIDENTIAL went undercover to find a hard-core example, a more direct initiative. And sure enough, we found Pink Tank.

Pink Tank

Spawned by GSW Worldwide, Pink Tank is a new specialty group that focuses solely on selling to women.

It's the brainchild of Marcee Nelson (pictured above right), executive director of GSW Worldwide, an inVentiv Health company. She is joined by Gretchen Goffe, Pink Tank's customer-insight planner and principal partner.

"Women have such an important role in healthcare," says Nelson. "Even when women are not the end users of the product, they still participate in shaping decisions to buy or prescribe. Yet remarkably, many marketers don't realize that women connect with brands differently than men do—and therefore need to be approached in a different way."

Pink Tank acts with integrated capabilities, partnering with the agency's client teams to provide better insight and direction on how they can effectively connect with women who influence the healthcare market.

"We established Pink Tank to help companies understand those differences and to counsel them on how they can find the 'female voice' in their marketing efforts," says Nelson.

Today, almost all physician assistants, nurses, and nurse practitioners are female, and by 2025 women will represent half of all physicians. As consumers, women influence up to 80 percent of the healthcare decisions for their households, resulting in buying power estimated at more than $1.2 trillion.

Pink Tank is staffed with a diverse group of brand counselors with expertise in psychology, patient advocacy, gender, and cultural studies, as well as extensive experience in marketing leading consumer and healthcare brands. The team includes both planners, who provide the insights into how women consumers think and behave, as well as client services and creative staff, who translate those insights into strategic approaches and messages for effectively reaching women.

"When the healthcare market doesn't effectively connect with women, conditions go undiagnosed, prescriptions go unfilled, and brand loyalty dwindles," says Goffe. "By understanding how women's attitudes, emotions, and beliefs impact brand performance, Pink Tank has helped clients make relatively simple changes in the ways they represent and speak to women in their marketing materials, leading to measurable results."

Pink Tank not only offers clients access to industry-leading experts in marketing to women, it also provides a proprietary set of research tools that can help healthcare brand managers better understand how women consumers respond to marketing messages and select products.

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