Members of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame leave a record of their presence in the industry through marketing ideas, new organizations, and memorable promotional campaigns. Although David Gideon spent a brief time as an agency copywriter, his career was not involved with the creation of the promotional message. Rather it was his innovative thinking, talent for new technology, and entrepreneurial drive that has made a lasting impression on the industry.
Gideon entered the field when he joined Armour Pharmaceuticals after graduating with an MBA from the University of California (Berkeley). His career took a crucial turn when, while in the Navy, he became acquainted with computer programming. When he returned to Armour, the company recognized this computer knowledge and assigned him to analyze and optimize their medical journal spending. This application of computers systems to the management of medical journal advertising was to occupy him for more than a decade and lead to the founding of PERQ—a service that handled journal selection, as well as automating many of the manual functions of costing, schedule generation, contracts, and insertion orders.
PERQ was a clear advance over the time-consuming work of agency and company media departments that were grappling with the clerical burden of placing, monitoring, and billing/paying multimillion-dollar journal budgets. Gideon’s systems have been refined, but the computer applications that he helped pioneer revolutionized the selection and buying of medical media.
Looking for an efficient means of publicizing PERQ, Gideon became interested in creating a trade journal as a promotional vehicle. It was named Perspectives. The publication was supported by advertising from medical journals, and reported on healthcare media trends, advertising reports, and “how to” editorial. It brought new insights into purchasing medical media based on the innovations that computer systems were bringing to the field. With a profitable advertiser base, Perspectives was able to go to a monthly frequency in 1981.
Gideon had had a satisfactory taste of trade publishing, so when Medical Marketing & Media came up for sale, he bought it. As a further commitment to publishing, Gideon sold PERQ in 1983, and then did the unprecedented thing of moving his business out of the Rx heartland of the Northeast to Florida.
Gideon had become taken with the Caribbean from his days in the Navy and judged that he could have proximity to “the islands” from Boca Raton while maintaining access to the industry. He then proceeded to enhance the editorial content of MM&M, merging it with Perspectives, and turning it into an authoritative outlet for reporting and opinion on pharmaceutical marketing.
A few years later, Gideon’s computer expertise was revived. In 1987, he was given the opportunity to buy the Pharmaceutical Marketers Directory—an industry-wide catalogue of people and their positions at Rx companies, ad agencies, publications, research firms, and other industry suppliers. He saw that changing from manual production, based on the dated mechanical layout process, to computer data management and production software for producing printer’s materials could greatly streamline the editorial and printing of PMD. Gideon accepted the challenge of what was an information nightmare of assembly, proof reading, printing, distribution, and billing.
Beverly Reynolds, PMD’s publisher, recalls what happened: “In 10 days, together with our IT person, David designed the whole system, including billing, the whole ball of wax. He announced to everyone on the job that we were going to have a lot of hard work to change this and try to automate that in mid-production. And at the end of this, there would be a bonus if we made the deadlines. Everyone put in a ton of work, and we got the book off to the printer. And David said, ‘Everyone goes to the Bahamas for five days!'”
The site of that employee reward had significance for Gideon’s Florida location, for he became active in producing tourist guides for the Caribbean islands such as the Bahamas, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, and Grenada—creating his company, CPS Communications, a sizable publishing operation.
After his noteworthy accomplishments of founding PERQ, creating Perspectives, reviving Medical Marketing & Media, turning around the operation of PMD, and running a successful travel magazine network, then Gideon became one of the creators of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame.
Ron Pantello, Chairperson of Euro RSCG Life Worldwide, and the Chairperson on the Executive Committee of the MAHF, describes what happened at a 1996 lunch. “David and I got together, and we were lamenting that some of the great people in the industry had retired and were no longer remembered. The history of the business was being lost. I said to David, ‘I’ve been thinking about honoring these people and I think we should have a Hall of Fame like in baseball to honor those people who made our business. I know it takes a lot of time and effort, but somebody should do something.’ And David looked at me and said, ‘We have to do this. That’s a great idea. And I’ll support it financially. We have to do this.’ I looked at him and he was beginning to energize me and I said, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Let’s do it. You get the agencies, I’ll do the rest, and we’ll make this thing a reality.'”
The MAHF has been in operation for nine years; appropriately, Gideon was inducted this year. He sold MM&M and PMD to Haymarket Media and left the company after 2003. He lives in Boca Raton and continues his love for the Caribbean with communications projects for clients in the islands.