After helping give birth to the medical communications industry in South Africa, Clive Lewis took his innovative thinking to the U.S., where he established himself as one of the most creative thinkers in the industry, and – together with friend Francis Gace, founded and built a successful advertising agency.
Clive Lewis’ career began in South Africa. After spending time as a medical representative, he joined Burroughs Wellcome’s fledgling advertising department in Johannesburg in 1965. At the time, there were no medical agencies in the relatively small South African market, so three years later, he was hired by Bristol Labs/Mead Johnson to manage the company’s internal creative agency. This unique, multi-functional experience served him well when, in 1971, he formed Clive Lewis & Associates. Well ahead of its time, and predicted by many to fail because of the necessity of handling many conflicting products in such a small market with limited budgets, it became a success. Until then, Pharma companies had recognized the need to create locally relevant materials but had no one to create them, as almost all advertising materials were created either in the U.S or in Europe. South African companies welcomed this new breed of agency – putting the benefits of local creative relevance above their concerns for product conflict.
The agency went on to dominate the South African market between 1971 and 1983. Clive also pioneered the creation and success of the continent’s first medical PR agency, its first medical film unit, and the first company to specialize in the recruitment and training of medical sales reps. In all of these ventures, he showed the innovative thinking and drive that was to lead to greater success, abroad.
Having succeeded in a relatively small market, Clive was attracted by a much bigger challenge, New York. With international markets growing significantly, Pharma companies were becoming increasingly frustrated by local U.S. agencies that lacked the necessary insights into the differing needs and cultural differences that applied to burgeoning global markets. The time was right for a new entry.
Clive began winning creative assignments in the U.S., from major companies like Ayerst, Lederle, Schering-Plough, Beecham, and SKF, and executing them 8,000 miles away, in South Africa! Even today this would be a difficult “sell” for any international agency. Back then, in the late 70’s, it was nothing short of remarkable.
To be truly successful required moving to where the actions was, so, inevitably, Clive moved to New York City in 1980, setting-up Clive Lewis & Associates in a five-story townhouse on Riverside Drive. It was also in New York in 1987, that he rekindled his friendship and working association with long-time South African buddy, Francis Gace. Coupling Gace’s 20-years in the U.S domestic market with Clive’s established international strengths and reputation gave them the makings of a unique and formidable partnership.
Lewis & Gace was formally created in late 1989 and less than two years later became the second “Agency of the Year” at the MANNY’s, in 1991. This award was based on their outstanding record of 11 major new business wins in a single year, including Losec/PriLosec, Nicorette, and Cardene.
A pivotal part of L&G’s success during the 90s was their prescience in identifying the importance of Pharma’s need to create global brands and elucidating a set of principles by which to create them. They applied them to mega-brands like Astra/Merck’s ‘Losec’/PriLosec’ and ‘Proscar’; Lilly’s ‘Prozac’ and ‘Zyprexa’; Roche’s ‘Posicor’, as well as a host of others.
Clive’s global branding philosophies included coining such terms as the “Crystallized Brand Promise,” “Brand Anatomy,” “Brand Vocabulary,” “Color Environment,” “Brand Mnemonics,” and “Controlled Flexibility,” each of which exemplified the innovative thinking that clients readily adopted.
Inevitably, the agency’s growth and success made it a candidate for acquisition. In 1995, it was acquired by Bozell, which later merged with True North (part of FCB). This in turn was acquired by IPG.
One of the major criteria for induction into the MAHF is to have made a major difference in the industry, to have advanced it or created new and unique concepts. Clive Lewis qualifies on all counts. Beginning with his success in creating modern advertising capabilities and concepts in the South African market, he transferred his skills and expertise in handling the needs of the emerging global marketplace to the U.S. market. This, together with his substantial advertising and marketing talent, lead him to create an agency which rapidly became a major force.
Since his formal retirement from the agency world in 1999, Clive now lives in Florida, with his wife Terry, and describes himself as “a semi-retired consultant to the Global Pharma Industry.”