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MAHF Moves Awards Dinner to 2022 to Ensure Safety

April 13, 2021

April 13, 2021 — The Medical Advertising Hall of Fame announced today that it will be postponing its annual dinner to ensure the safety of its constituents. The board made the decision not to proceed with the physical component of the dinner, as it has become clear that a safe and enjoyable event can’t be held given the current circumstances.

The 2021 inductees, Risa Bernstein, Maris Schilling, and Ronal Souza, will be honored at the 2022 dinner. “This is a tremendous time for these inductees and we want to ensure they get the attention and accolades that are due to them. To achieve that we needed to ensure that their friends, families, and past colleagues could be there and feel safe about their choice,” stated Robin Shapiro, CEO of TBWA World Health and co-chair of Medical Advertising Hall of Fame.

“While we are moving the overall event to 2022 we plan to have a small virtual event to still induct our 2021 Future Famers. It will offer our members a chance to honor the young executive they feel have the potential to become a MAHF inductee someday. The organization is very much focused on learning and celebrating from our past. We have a clear focus on our future and ensuring that DE&I is at the top of our agenda. With that in mind, we are excited to reimagine how we can connect with our leaders of tomorrow on this timely topic and celebrate their success. More information to follow on this new event will be available in late summer to our membership, “Jennie Fischette, DDB Health president and co-chair of Medical Advertising Hall of Fame noted.

About the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame: The MAHF was founded in 1996 to preserve the history and heritage of the medical advertising profession as well as to recognize the industry’s most influential and respected forebears. Since then, MAHF has grown that mission to include recognition of past excellence in creative work (through its Heritage Advertising Awards) and the creation of educational resources. As the MAHF enters its third decade of service to the industry, it has expanded its educational offerings, broadened its awards to encompass digital communications and created a new program focused on diversity, equality and inclusion. The MAHF is supported by the industry it celebrates, primarily through its annual gala awards dinner.

For more information, contact Anne Gideon, executive director, at anne@pch-systems.com

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Medical Advertising Hall of Fame Updates Mission to Help Drive Awareness for Greater Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

February 21, 2021

February 22, 2021 –The Medical Advertising Hall of Fame announced that it has updated its mission statement to address diversity, equity and inclusion issues in our industry.

“It’s been a singular focus of the MAHF to renew its commitment to bring value to our industry and membership”, said outgoing Chair Steven Michaelson, Calcium’s CEO. “In order to do that we must remain relevant in today’s current environment.”

Incoming co-chairs, Robin Shapiro and Jennie Fischette commented: “We are so pleased to take the lead at MAHF at this momentous time. Updating our mission to recognize the issues associated with diversity, equity and inclusion in our industry and the work we do for our clients was the initial driver. But COVID helped reveal to so many more that inequity in healthcare is a crisis that just cannot be ignored any longer. Any way we can help create positive change is key to all our futures.”

The MAHF mission statement now includes this line:

To enhance awareness and support the value of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout our industry — and in the work we create for our clients — through purposeful actions regarding diversity, equity and inclusion in our staff and our workplace.

Twenty members, including world-leading agencies and influential industry publishers have approved the new mission statement and signaled their intent to adhere to the newly added purpose.

A series of programs have been proposed to activate this initiative, and now are under consideration for our membership and beyond.

About the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame: The MAHF was founded in 1996 to preserve the history and heritage of the medical advertising profession as well as to recognize the industry’s most influential and respected forebears. Since then, MAHF has grown that mission to include recognition of past excellence in creative work (through its Heritage Advertising Awards) and creation of educational resources (through its Young Executives Night Out program). As the MAHF enters its third decade of service to the industry, it has expanded its educational offerings and broadened its focus to encompass digital communications.

The MAHF is supported by the industry it celebrates, primarily through its annual gala awards dinner. Seats and tables may be reserved at www.mahf.com/gala. Organizations wishing to support the institution may purchase half- and full-page ads in the awards night dinner program. For information about advertising opportunities or other MAHF programming, please contact executive director Anne Gideon at anne@pch-systems.com.

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MAHF names Risa Bernstein, Maris Schilling and Ronald Souza 2021 Inductees

December 12, 2020

December 14, 2020 — The membership of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF) has elected its 2021 inductees: Maris Schilling, associate creative director at Kallir Phillips Ross and co-founder of Reagent; Risa Bernstein, co-founder and leader of Accel Healthcare and Flashpoint Medica; and Ronald Souza, president/COO of Rolf Werner Rosenthal and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather’s medical division.

“It’s an exciting time for our industry and the MAHF. Besides inducting Ron this year, for the second time, we are inducting two women, Risa and Maris. What was once considered groundbreaking is now becoming the norm. I cannot tell you how proud I am to be part of it”, said Steven Michaelson, MAHF Chairperson and Founder/CEO of Calcium.

Risa Bernstein began her medical advertising career at Gross Townsend Frank Hoffman, rising from assistant account executive to managing director over the course of a decade. She put her renowned team-building skills to the ultimate test in the years that followed, co-founding Accel Healthcare (and serving as one of the primary architects of the merger that created Corbett Accel) and, later, Flashpoint Medica. Later in her career, she became one of the agency world’s most trusted and respected senior advisors, helping guide FCB Health as executive director and Calcium as executive director of strategy. Over the course of her career, she worked on a range of A-list brands, ranging from Avastin and Herceptin to Rituxin and Klonopin Wafer. Her client roster included Roche, Johnson & Johnson, Bristol Myers Squibb, GSK, Procter & Gamble, and CooperVision.

Maris Schilling entered the industry as a secretary at Klemtner Advertising. Before long, her talent with words and strategy landed her a junior copywriter role at William Douglas McAdams and, shortly thereafter, a job as copy supervisor at Lavey/Wolff/Swift. Stints at Gross Townsend Frank Hoffmann (as VP, group copy supervisor) and Kallir Phillips Ross (first as creative director of the firm’s consumer division and then as associate creative director/SVP of the entirety of KPR) followed, before a hiatus during which she raised a family – and somehow found the time to establish a copy and concept consultancy. She continued to work through a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, jumping to LifeBrands as SVP, creative director after concluding treatment and then co-founding Reagent. Her client experience included work on brands ranging from Tylenol to Duragestic. Schilling passed away earlier this year.

Ron Souza started in the pharmaceutical business as a staff pharmacist at St. Luke’s Hospital in New Bedford, Mass., before moving to Connecticut and serving as director of pharmacy, central services and respiratory therapy at the Newington Children’s Hospital. After nine years in hospital pharmacy and administration, he entered the business proper in product manager/marketing director roles at Intra Products, USV/Revlon Pharmaceutical and Endo Laboratories. But it was in the agency world that he found his true calling, spending nearly two decades at New York-based companies. He started at J. Walter Thompson (becoming VP, account group supervisor in the firm’s medical division, Deltakos Healthcare Agency) and Rolf Werner Rosenthal (president and COO). When RWR was acquired by Ogilvy & Mather Advertising, he rose to the rank of medical division CEO and served as a senior member of the agency’s worldwide management council. Next came a stint leading Barnum Communications – ultimately renamed Barnum & Souza – and then head of his own consultancy, All’s Well. Prior to his retirement, he served as marketing director of a division of the American Society of Health Systems Pharmacists.

About the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame: The MAHF was founded in 1996 to preserve the history and heritage of the medical advertising profession as well as to recognize the industry’s most influential and respected forebears. Since then, MAHF has grown that mission to include recognition of past excellence in creative work (through its Heritage Advertising Awards) and creation of educational resources (through its Young Executives Night Out program). As the MAHF enters its third decade of service to the industry, it has expanded its educational offerings and broadened its focus to encompass digital communications.

The MAHF is supported by the industry it celebrates, primarily through its annual gala awards dinner. Seats and tables may be reserved at www.mahf.com/gala. Organizations wishing to support the institution may purchase half- and full-page ads in the awards night dinner program. For information about advertising opportunities or other MAHF programming, please contact executive director Anne Gideon at anne@pch-systems.com.

The inductees will be honored on July 29th, 2021 at a black-tie dinner at The Pierre Hotel in New York City. As the MAHF enters its third decade of service to the industry, it is pursuing more educational programs, and expansion to cover digital communications. We hope that industry members will support us in our efforts, and look forward to welcoming them at our Annual Awards Gala on July 29th.

For more information, contact Anne Gideon, executive director, at anne@pch-systems.com.

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MAHF names Thomas Harrison and Lawrence J. Lesser 2020 Inductees; John Kamp Service to Industry Award recipient

October 21, 2019

October 21, 2019 — The membership of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF) has elected its 2020 inductees: Thomas Harrison, co-founder of Harrison and Star, and Lawrence J. Lesser, co-founder of Medicus Communications and ApotheCom Associates. John Kamp, founder of the Coalition for Healthcare Communications, has been named the 2020 recipient of the Service to Industry Award.

Thomas Harrison began his career at Pfizer as a sales rep where he quickly rose through the ranks and transitioned to the marketing side of the business. He then moved to the agency side joining Rolf Werner Rosenthal. After a short stint, RWR was bought out by Ogilvy and Tom decided to strike out on his own. In 1987, he and partner Larry Star opened Harrison and Star. Early project work for Lederle and Sandoz lead to their big break of winning Azactam (parenteral antibiotic) by ER Squibb & Sons (now BMS). Harrison and Star quickly became one of the fastest-growing ad agencies in the industry. From there, Tom moved on to DAS, serving as its President, then Chairman and CEO. He was instrumental in the acquisition of over 220 agencies using Harrison and Star as the blueprint for standardizing the acquisition criteria resulting in a group of agencies with over $5B in annual revenue.

Lawrence “Larry” J. Lesser started his advertising career in 1959 as an Assistant Account Executive at Friend Reiss Advertising. He then got a job in 1963 as Traffic Manager with the LW Frohlich Intercon Agency where he moved through a number of levels in client service to the position of Vice President to a member of the Executive Committee. Following the breakup of Frohlich Agency, Larry and Willian Castagnoli partnered with V. Edward Dent to start Medicus Communications in 1972. Medicus became an early player in consumer advertising. They were the first to promote a consumer product, Crest, to medical professionals. Medicus was also responsible for one of the very first national DTC television ad campaigns for Seldane. After retiring from Medicus in 1997, Larry became a consultant and eventually founded ApotheCom Associates, LLC with Neil Matheson 1999. ApotheCom became the largest privately-owned medical communications agency in the US. As Neil and Larry created additional agencies, they established the holding company AXIS Healthcare Communications, LLC in 2001 where Larry served as Chairman until 2007. Larry continued consulting in the industry before passing away in 2017.

John Kamp has been a longtime champion of the medical advertising and communications industry, advocating for the First Amendment right to communicate accurate and non-misleading information about new developments in diagnosis and therapy. John began his career as Director of Congressional and Public Affairs at the Federal Communications Commission, serving from June 1980 to October 1989, helping to make FCC policy and representing the agency to the public and lawmakers. He then moved to the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As) Washington office as Senior Vice President from 1990 to 2000. In 1991, early in John’s tenure at the 4As, he was one of the group of advertising industry leaders who founded the Coalition for Healthcare Communication. John left the 4As to join the Washington law firm Wiley Rein LLP. In 2002, he became Executive Director of the Coalition for Healthcare Communication, while continuing as part-time Consulting Counsel at Wiley Rein. He retired from Wiley Rein in 2017 and retired as Executive Director of the Coalition in 2018.

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 its founding, the mission of the organization has been broadened to include recognition of past excellence in creative work through its Heritage Advertising Awards, and creation of educational resources through a Young Executives Night Out (YENO) program which holds multiple educational seminars throughout the year. The organization seeks support from the industry for its efforts, with a focus on the Annual Awards Dinner held in February. Support is given through advertising in the Awards Dinner Program and attendance at the Dinner. For more information, contact Anne Gideon, executive director, at anne@pch-systems.com.

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Medical Advertising Hall of Fame names Carol DiSanto and Charlene Prounis 2019 Inductees

October 29, 2018

November 1, 2018 — The Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF) membership has elected its 2019 inductees: Carol DiSanto, trailblazer and former President of Cline, Davis & Mann, and Charlene Prounis, renowned entrepreneur co-founder of Flashpoint Medica and Accel Healthcare.

This marks the first time in the history of the prestigious program that both honorees have been women, and their remarkable contributions will be celebrated at a black-tie dinner on February 7th in New York City. The event will also include a tribute to late MAHF co-founder David Gideon, who died in 2018. Gideon’s passion and leadership made MAHF the most coveted and respected honors program in healthcare marketing.

Carol DiSanto began her career in consumer advertising at Esty working on OTC products from Whitehall Laboratories/American Home Products. She joined Cline, Davis & Mann (CDM) in 1987 and launched the first OTC consumer product the agency had at the time, Equalactin from Pfizer. When Viagra’s launch was on the horizon in the late 1990s, Carol and her consumer expertise were recruited as the DTC lead, partnering with professional lead Kyle Barich, and resulting in the industry’s most successful launch at the time. In the early 2000s Carol’s leadership skills were at the forefront when she was appointed Director of Client Services for CDM, and in 2009 she became President and Managing Partner. In her more than 27 years at CDM, she strategically grew agency talent from 60 employees dedicated to a single healthcare client to more than 1,000 people within 8 divisions focusing on over 40 clients.

Charlene Prounis started her career as a sales rep for Searle, followed by her first job in pharmaceutical advertising at Grey Healthcare Group. In 1999, Charlene launched her first agency, Accel Healthcare, which in five years grew to become a $20 million company and was eventually sold to Omnicom. Charlene helped launch her next agency, Flashpoint Medica, in 2005 and the agency grew rapidly, recognized as “Agency of the Year” in 2010 and garnering over 60 creative awards. The firm’s blue-chip companies included Amgen, Genentech, Celgene, Gilead, Novartis, and Pfizer. During her time at Flashpoint, Charlene was also recognized in 2014 as MedAdNews “Medical Advertising Person of the Year.” Charlene has been deeply committed 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, Charlene is the only person to have received the prestigious HBA STAR award twice. Charlene currently serves on the board of healthcare communications firm, W20.

ABOUT 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 its founding, the mission of the organization has been broadened to include recognition of past excellence in creative work through its Heritage Advertising Awards, and creation of educational resources through a Young Executive’s Program which holds multiple educational seminars throughout the year. The organization seeks support from the industry for its efforts, with a focus on the Annual Awards Dinner held in February. Support is given through advertising in the Awards Dinner Program, and attendance at the Dinner. Seats and tables are available for the event, and may be purchased/reserved at www.mahf.com. Advertising support, in the form of full and half page ads, may be arranged by contacting Anne Gideon (anne@pch-systems.com) for specifications, contracts, and IOs.

The inductees will be honored on February 7, 2019 at a black-tie dinner at The Pierre Hotel in New York City. As the MAHF enters its third decade of service to the industry, it is pursuing more educational programs, and expansion to cover digital communications. We hope that industry members will support us in our efforts, and look forward to welcoming them at our Annual Awards Gala on February 7th.

For more information, contact Anne Gideon, executive director, at anne@pch-systems.com.

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David Gideon, medical media icon and industry stalwart, dies at 75

August 28, 2018

August 28, 2018 –
David Gideon, a pioneer in pharma media analysis and one-time publisher of MM&M who is also known for selflessly working to preserve the legacy of the medical advertising industry, passed away last week. He was 75.

His long and storied career saw him start one of the early audits of medical journal ad spend, called PERQ, which brought pharma media analysis into the technology age. Colleagues marveled at the diversity of his professional and personal talents–he was a musician, pilot, photographer, and devoted family man.

Beyond those contributions, people who knew him also singled out his kindness and love for the industry and the people serving it, as well as the unselfish way he gave of his time, often for a vital industry cause. Chief among these was probably the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame (MAHF), the group he co-founded with Ron Pantello in 1996 as the two friends, legend has it, shared a good meal and a couple of bottles of wine.

“During [that] very long lunch, I shared my vision for the MAHF,” recalled Pantello, chairman emeritus of Havas Health Worldwide. “Before the idea was out of my mouth, David said, ‘We have to do this.’ For me it was a vision. For David it was a must-do idea.”

Enthusiastically gathering honorees for the Hall, and dutifully making sure their stories were well-told, took up the last two decades of his life. All the effort was instrumental in recognizing those who helped build the industry. That commitment was “so typically David,” added Pantello. “It wasn’t about him; it was always about others.”

Gideon got his professional start in 1966 working as an assistant product manager for Armour Pharmaceutical, where he wrote his first marketing plan. Yet, it wasn’t the crafting of promotions where he would go on to make his first professional mark; rather, it was in measuring their effectiveness.

After a scheduled four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, in which he served as an officer and was qualified to command his ship in battle, Gideon returned to Armour in 1971. Drawing on computer programming skills he picked up in the service, he developed a system for analyzing and optimizing the company’s spending on medical journal advertising.

Later he would be hired by an agency ostensibly as a copywriter but was given the time to hone these systems and to work on others for developing journal schedules and tracking advertising, which were mostly manual tasks at the time. Gideon and the agency, Stuart Williams Assoc., went on to co-found the PERQ media measurement business in 1972, offering readership audits, sales report generation, and custom offerings. Two years later, Gideon bought out Stuart’s interest.

“At one time, we estimated that two-thirds of all media buying went through PERQ, a company with four computers and three employees,” Gideon later told MM&M.

He then entered the publishing business, launching Perspectives, whose remit included covering trends in healthcare media. Perspectives also served as a way to advertise PERQ’s capabilities. Gideon wrote the editorial, another colleague handled art direction, and Beverly Reynolds, who would later become his wife, handled circulation and administration.

In 1982, by which time the publication had grown to a monthly, Gideon added another title to his stable, MM&M, becoming its publisher and editor. In 1985 he sold PERQ to VNU and relocated MM&M to Florida.

(The PMD, or Pharmaceutical Marketers Directory, was added in 1987.) The title changed hands again many years later when Gideon sold his publishing company, CPS Communications, to Haymarket, the current owner, and Gideon left after 2003.

MAHF has honored medical advertising leaders annually since 1997. Gideon moved easily into the role of executive director, forming relationships with many people over the years to assist the organization’s mission. It was through those relationships, colleagues say, that he became so beloved.

“David was indeed an icon in our industry, both as a publishing entrepreneur and a mentor and guiding spirit for many of us,” wrote Bob Palmer, MAHF chairperson since 2015 and chief innovation officer at HCB Health, in an email. “But he was much more than an industry icon; he was a genuinely warm person with many interests—from fine wine to adventurous travel—and a superb organizer and leader. Working with David has been one of the great privileges of my career.”

Indeed, the contact with Gideon seems to be what many recall most fondly of their volunteerism for the non-profit.

“If the only value that I draw from working with the MAHF is knowing David, the effort will have been rewarded a thousand-fold,” noted Jay Carter, EVP of business development at AbelsonTaylor, who preceded Palmer as chair. “He was a gentle soul who loved our industry and who took great joy in personal relationships. I don’t think that I have met a human being who was more supportive of others than David. That played out in the way the MAHF ran like a clock.”

David Chapman, a longtime MAHF board member, added, “David was quite simply one of the finest, nicest people I ever met in this business. When I served my term as chairman of the MAHF, David said, ‘Don’t worry; I’ll take care of everything,’ and he always did. His enthusiasm for MAHF never waned, even as the organization evolved.”

While the group began as a quest to preserve the achievements of industry luminaries for posterity, a few years ago it pivoted toward also recognizing the so-called Future Famers.

“When we wanted to change the MAHF into a more diverse, inclusive, and (quite frankly) younger, vital organization for the long term, David was a vocal supporter,” shared Chapman, who is managing partner at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide. “Our charter, however, was very proscribed and limited. When I asked him how to go about revising it, he said, ‘You’re the chair—just rewrite it.’ Straight talk, always appreciated.”

Sharon Callahan, CEO of Omnicom’s TBWA\WorldHealth, is also a board member and serves on the Young Executive’s Night Out Committee, a MAHF event designed to build the next generation.

“David was passionate about promoting the worth, value, and dignity of our industry by honoring the past in order to shape our present and inspire our future,” Callahan told MM&M. “I am enormously grateful and incredibly fortunate to have worked closely with David because he epitomized kindness and humanity in every situation. My favorite memory of David is how proud he always looked in his tuxedo as he greeted the guests at the MAHF February awards dinner.”

Gideon was always open to new ideas, “especially those that encouraged greater engagement of our young executives,” commented Robin Shapiro, president, TBWA\WorldHealth. “Today MAHF is a growing, thriving, and ultra-relevant organization. David’s impact will be felt for decades to come.”

Perhaps most fittingly, Gideon himself was enshrined by the MAHF in 2005.

“David always gave more than he received,” summed Pantello. “David always did the right thing, the right way, even when it wasn’t in his own interest. A mark of a great man. He was my friend. He will be missed.”

Editor’s note: Reflections on David Gideon’s life and contributions to industry continued to come in long past our story deadline. MM&M has posted them here…

David’s contributions to the healthcare communications industry are well documented. A skilled copywriter, publisher, researcher and Co-Founder of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame, David had that rare quality of being able to lead both from in front and from behind. He pioneered new technologies and media in his early days and celebrated the contributions of industry giants toward the healthcare communications industry via the MAHF during his later years. Ours is an industry often marked by oversized egos, rabid competitiveness, and off-putting self-promotion. David rose above all of that and brought to his many relationships a calm leadership presence and self-effacing sense of humor. I never once heard of anyone who worked with David on any level speak ill of him. He was a true friend to the industry, its leaders, and the many people who came to know him on a personal and professional level. He will be missed by many of us for a very long time, but his contributions to the growth of our industry will continue to bear fruit.

Thank you for allowing me to express my thoughts and appreciation for David.

Scott Cotherman
Retired CEO, CAHG & Chairman, TBWA\WorldHealth
Past Chairman, Medical Advertising Hall of Fame

Think about it. Growing up with an immensely successful father and a godfather (George Schultz) who becomes Secretary of State, yet you help put yourself through Berkeley playing in a rock band?

Then you do a stint in the US Navy flying and learn about tech-type things, which leads you to dawn-of-civilization computers, which leads to the invention of PERQ, the Nielsen of medical journals?

Meeting all those PERQ users, in turn, builds your Rolodex and gives you an appreciation for the growth of a budding industry which leads you to acquire Jack Sullivan’s Medical Marketing and Media that later winds up as a keystone in the Haymarket enterprise.

And, oh, by the way you turn your Rolodex into the Pharmaceutical Marketer’s Directory?

Then, you move to Florida and meet a printer who prints throw-away magazines for Caribbean resorts but hates the editorial side. So you and your writer/editor bride buy the rags, pitch-in and before you know it you’ve made more friendships and built a Caribbean resort publication empire with more trade-outs than anyone could use in a lifetime?

Meanwhile, annual trips to the south of France lead to friendships and business relations with one of the most successful exporters of French cheeses which go nicely with the wines featured in your on-line wine blog while you’re watching your nephew Timothy Oliphant’s latest movie or playing with your old band members at family and friends reunions?

Oh, and one more thing, when it became obvious that much of the history and contributions of the communications industries to the healthcare of Americans and the rest of the world might be lost, David joins Ron Pantello, Bill Castagnoli and too many others to mention, to create the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame?

In the meantime, much of all this was taking place against a background of my hero Beverly Gideon’s health issues that led David and Beverly to practically become Board Certified as they dealt with three-times-a-week dialysis for her kidney-less body without missing a beat of life’s pleasures.

That was David the polymath who rarely saw a challenge he couldn’t outsmart.

We’ve all heard the old saws that “you’ll make all your best friends (plug time-frame in here) in grammar school, high-school, college, early career, etc. etc.” Ignore them.

Not only was David an esteemed colleague throughout my career, but for the past 10 years or so, one of the most intimate friends of my life. There are no words to express my sense of loss

Harry Sweeney
former chairman and chief creative officer of Dorland Global

This article originally appeared on mmm-online.com.

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The End of Medical Advertising (It’s a Good Thing)

February 20, 2018

February 20, 2018 – MAHF’s new Young Executive’s Action Committee chose Jessica Echertling, Account Director at TBWA\Chiat\Day, to speak at the Annual Awards Dinner on February 8th. Jessica challenged young and seasoned members’ conventional thinking with her speech about the role medicine plays in our lives and why medical advertising, as we know, is coming to an end.

Title: “The End of Medical Advertising (And Why It’s A Good Thing)”

Theme: Medicine plays a bigger role in our lives than ever. And that’s precisely why medical advertising, as we know it, is coming to an end.

Thanks to the changing landscape of media and technology and the rise of consumers who are
more deeply engaged with medicine than ever before, the conversation around medicine has
moved from the doctor’s office to the line at Starbucks to our social feeds. As a result, how we tell
the stories of the medicines that change our lives has changed forever – creating challenges and
opportunities for those in the field.

Speech: Good evening. It’s an honor to be here addressing such a distinguished room of medical advertising professionals, people who will transform our industry by achieving things and overcoming challenges that many of us in this room can’t even imagine.

This is also quite a humbling experience for me, given that I was not a Future Famer myself. But
I got the gig tonight with a very subtle proposal titled: “The end of medical advertising.”

Don’t worry – it’s a good thing!

For decades, medical advertising existed in its own world, with its own rules. Most of us know
these constraints all too well.

Constraints like lists of safety precautions that more than adequately balance your promotional
material, endless MLR reviews, OPDP pre-clearance prior to launch, and just a general feeling
that innovation and creativity are not welcome here.

In the past, it was easy to deal with these constraints, because we were reaching a very specific
audience with a very specific message, in very specific ways. Cue a doctor handing out a
brochure to a patient about a prescribed treatment.

While we’ve all expressed our share of frustrations over these limitations, we should
acknowledge that they can be, in their own strange way, comforting.

All of these rules and regulations come with processes that consume us, but also create a
sense of familiarity and routine. To some, it can be reassuring to know that there’s a framework,
or playbook to follow.

We become complacent. Creativity and innovation take a backseat to compliance. Because of
all the rules you have to follow and all the hurdles you have to clear, your job becomes less about
doing the best work period, and more about doing the best work possible.

Fortunately, or unfortunately for some, that’s all changing.

Today, where, when and how we talk about medicine is changing. And who is talking about it
has grown beyond doctors and patients to include everyone, in everyday conversation.

Thanks to the changing landscape of media and technology and the rise of consumers who are
more deeply engaged with medicine than ever before, the conversation around medicine has
moved from the doctor’s office to the line at Starbucks and to our social feeds. As a result, how
we tell the stories of the medicines that change our lives has changed forever – creating
challenges and opportunities for those of us in the field.

How many of you know the difference between Tylenol and Advil? Which one to take and how
often?

Have you ever had a string of leg pain and headed over to the WebMD symptom tracker for an
immediate response to self diagnose? Sciatica anyone?

Had a tough week? Received bad news? Maybe you saw someone having a great time on
Instagram and it left you feeling bad about yourself. Considered whether you’re suffering from
anxiety or depression?

We’ve all been there. And while these feelings aren’t anything new to us, as humans, the way
we connect the dots from what’s happening in our daily lives to medicine is.

As healthcare marketers, we have been given the challenge and opportunity of telling the story
of how medicine impacts our lives in new ways, in new places, to new audiences.

It’s no longer enough to rely on a doctor to inform the patient. You have to give all members of
the conversation – HCPs, Patients, and Support systems – the information they need to have an
educated conversation that leads to the best treatment possible. In some cases, you have
patients advocating for themselves, and HCPs eager to work in partnership with their patients on
a treatment plan.

I’ve experienced first-hand just how far the conversation around medicine has evolved.

When I was 9 years old, my parents came home from the doctor very confused. My father had
been diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer, but they weren’t entirely sure what that meant or what
options he had to fight it. It was next to impossible to discuss as a family because it was our first
time learning about cancer, and the only thing we understood was that the prognosis was not
good.

Cancer has always been deadly. But 20 years ago, cancer was much more bewildering than it is
today. Information was hard to come by and even harder to understand. You learned about
cancer when you were told that you or a loved one had it.

Now, I should say that it’s unlikely that being more knowledgeable about cancer would have
impacted the outcome for my father or allowed us to make the experience more comfortable. But I
believe that with greater understanding, our family would’ve had a clearer sense of what was
ahead, the resources available to us, and who we could connect with for support.

Today, I work on campaigns designed to tell the story of how cancer immunotherapy treatments
can improve patients’ lives—in a language that even a 9-year-old can understand.

These campaigns aren’t limited to brochures at a doctors office. Nor do they strictly adhere to
the playbook of medical advertising.

We’ve turned the brand story over to the patients who have benefited from the treatment.

The creative is emotional and imperfect, but strives to speak to the experience of patients and
those around them in a way that’s authentic.

It’s also bracingly honest. It focuses on the small things that more time affords you, instead of
overwhelming with data points. Don’t get me wrong, the data is all there, but we provide a range
of information that at minimum is intended to give people enough information to have a two-way
conversation with their doctor about their treatment options and their personal goals.

For those of us who are working in the field, these changes in consumer behavior and
receptivity to taking an active role in health and medical decisions, we are presented with an
incredible opportunity to break outside the boundaries of “traditional” medical advertising and
think more creatively about how to tell the story of the medicines that impact our lives.

You have an audience that is actively looking to have a conversation. You have people who
aren’t afraid to ask their doctor about what they’ve read and if it’s appropriate for them. It’s a
requirement to include “Talk your doctor”, right? Well, people these days actually do!

The task for you is to gain a deep understanding of the following: How is the category talking?
Who are you speaking to? Are you communicating in a way that’s authentic?

You can’t simply expect to get your approvals and kick your feet up. You’re now expected to
deliver work that keeps pace with the most innovative advertising in any sector while meeting all
of the necessary guidelines.

MLR is not going away. The FDA and its requirements are not going anywhere. So you medical
advertising professionals have to know your stuff. You have to push your teams to think
differently, while still meeting the guidelines.

You have to tell your client’s story in a way that’s credible, responsible and respectful. And that
won’t get them in trouble with the FDA.

In short, you have to be better than everyone else, in just about every way possible. So,
congratulations again for having chosen such an easy field.

But the good news for everyone is, you’re up to the task. Everything I’ve said here, you’re
already living.

And, let’s remember, what we do is worth it. Yes, we have to deal with challenges that our
friends and colleagues don’t. Yes, we’ve been put in the excitingly impossible position of having
to meet the strictest standards while delivering work that stands up to the best in advertising.

So, thank you, and good luck.

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Medical Advertising Hall of Fame names Robert Leverte 2018 Inductee

November 02, 2017

October 25, 2017 – The membership of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame has elected its 2018 inductee: Robert Leverte, whose career included founding ERS, an in-house ad agency at ER Squibb, co-founding Ruvane-Leverte advertising, Chairman at Bozell Jacobs Medical Group and CEO of the Leverte Companies.

Robert Leverte began his career in healthcare as a detail person for Schering Laboratories in 1963. He moved to the agency side of the business at Robert A. Becker where he worked in market research before moving to account work on the Eli Lilly account. He founded of ERS, an in-house ad agency for ER Squibb, and co-founded Ruvane-Leverte Advertising with John Ruvane. As chairman and CEO of Bozell Jacobs Medical Group, he managed the acquisition of Ruvane-Leverte and Grey Advertising, creating one of the first integrated medical and consumer healthcare agencies with worldwide reach. The agency was at the forefront of the direct-to-patient movement. In 1998, he founded the Leverte Group, which was acquired by HealthStar in 2001. He retired in 2006.

2017 Inductees being honored

Ryan Abbate, innovator and founder of Pacific Communications, and Mike Lazur, of Torre-Lazur, an award-winner creative director, who were inducted in 2017, but were unable to accept their Awards due to cancellation of the Dinner because of a blizzard, will accept their awards at the 2018 Dinner.

Ryan Abbate quickly earned a reputation as a visionary and innovator. He was a leader in the use of DTC communications with programs for Nicorette. Beginning with sales, and then advertising management at Merrell Dow, he became – at 29 – the youngest department head in the Dow Chemical organization. In 1990, he joined Allergan Pharmaceuticals, where one of his responsibilities was running a small, in-house agency group. When Allergen decided to divest of this operation, Ryan took it over, forming Pacific Communications with just 18 employees. By the time of his retirement in 2014, he had built the agency into the largest healthcare advertising agency on the west coast, with 250 employees, and one of the fastest growing and most successful agencies in the business.

Mike Lazur began his career as an assistant art director with a consumer agency, honing his skills on such brands as the Triumph sports car, British Leyland’s Land Rover, and Prince Matchabelli perfumes. In 1976, he was hired to work for a fledgling new healthcare agency in New Jersey, Thomas G. Ferguson Associates. In 1981, Clyde Davis of Klemtner Advertising hired Mike as senior art director, to work on brands from Pfizer, Squibb, and USV. In 1983, he received a call from Joe Torre asking him to work for his new agency. After helping to build the agency, in large part with a string of new product campaigns that garnered the title The Launch Agency for the firm, he became a partner in the renamed Torre Lazur Agency. In 1996, Torre and Lazur partnered with McCann Erickson to take the agency global, and he became Chief Creative Officer for McCann’s worldwide healthcare activities.

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 its founding, the mission of the organization has been broadened to include recognition of past excellent creative work through its Heritage Advertising Awards, and creation of educational resources through a Young Executive’s Program which holds multiple educational seminars throughout the year. The organization seeks support from the industry for its efforts, with a focus on the Annual Awards Dinner held in February. Support is given through advertising in the Awards Dinner Program, and attendance at the Dinner. Seats and tables are available for the event, and may be purchased/reserved at https://www.mahf.com/gala/. Advertising support, in the form of full and half page ads, may be arranged by contacting Anne Gideon (anne@davidgideon.net) for specifications, contracts, and IOs.

The inductees will be honored on February 8, 2018 at a black-tie dinner at The Pierre Hotel in New York City. As the MAHF continues its third decade of service to the industry, it is pursuing more educational programs, and expansion to cover digital communications. We hope that industry members will support us in our efforts, and look forward to welcoming them at our Annual Awards Gala on February 8th.

For more information, contact David Gideon, executive director, at david@davidgideon.net or Anne Gideon, deputy director, at anne@davidgideon.net.

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Digital Pioneer Awards

December 16, 2015

Digital Pioneer Awards

Considering today’s constantly changing communications world, it seems appropriate that those who pioneered early-on digital communications be recognized by the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame. The Digital Pioneer Awards were created to honor those who looked beyond traditional advertising and created groundbreaking, innovative communications that attracted and engaged audiences. It requires a talented team with a varied set of skills to create outstanding digital communications and this award provides a means for recognizing the team responsible for everything from concept to execution of these outstanding works.

Go to Digital Pioneer Award Nominations »
See the Digital Pioneer Award Winners »

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