Dr. Dorothy Philips has always led the way, in her education, in her work, and in her contributions to industry and community. Her 40-year health care industry career had its roots in academia. After obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Wellesley College, she attended NYU’s Stern School of Business, one of just two women in the class, and received an MBA. Upon the recommendation of a professor who recognized her abilities and drive, she pursued a Ph.D. with a grant from the Ford Foundation. While doing research on her dissertation, which focused on new methods for communication in the pharmaceutical industry, she met James Barnum, M.D., who had created the Deltakos Division of J. Walter Thompson. Impressed by her, Barnum offered her a position with Deltakos, and she began her career in medical advertising.
Philips rose rapidly to become senior vice president at Deltakos. When Barnum left to form his own agency, Barnum Communications, Deltakos named her head of marketing services. Eventually, she left Deltakos and joined Barnum at his new firm, helping build it into a major force in the healthcare advertising arena. Barnum named her president and chief operating officer of Barnum Communications, making her the first female president of a major agency at a time when the healthcare advertising industry was male-dominated. She also served as board member, executive vice president, and senior vice president of the Health Industries Group with responsibilities for development of client services and company administration. With her guidance, Barnum continued its growth, building a reputation for innovation and strategic thinking.
After Barnum’s death, Philips decided it was the right time to strike out on her own, and started Philips Healthcare Communications, leading the agency for more than 20 years until her retirement.
Over her 40-year career in advertising and medical communications, Philips has been the driving force behind the creation and execution of a series of innovative advertising and other strategic marketing communication programs for pharmaceuticals, vaccines, devices, healthcare products, and institutional clients. She has advised her clients on marketing strategies and created advertising for the introduction, re-introduction, and re-positioning of a series of products that established them as leaders in their market/segment.
A few of her more notable accomplishments are:
While President/Account Supervisor at Barnum, and well before the advent of DTC, she developed innovative PR programs for Boehringer Mannheim’s diagnostic products to reach physicians and consumers to educate them about the company’s first product for consumer testing of blood sugar. The product became the market leader for years and changed the practice of diabetes patient monitoring.
With her strategic and creative direction, Philips Healthcare developed creative advertising for Glaxo Hong Kong for the re-introduction of Zantac into the Hong Kong market, helping turn it into the market leader.
Under her leadership, Philips Healthcare developed advertising and collateral educational materials to help establish SmithKline Beecham’s Vaccine Business and the launch of the company’s first vaccine in the U.S., Engerix-B, which became the market leader, growing to over $100m in annual sales. Subsequently, she developed similar successful communications for Havrix-A and other SB vaccines. Vaccines have become one of the four pillars of growth for SB (now GSK).
Over her lengthy career, Philips has established an impressive list of accomplishments. Not only is she one of the earliest female leaders in the medical advertising industry, breaking ground for others to follow, but – gender aside – she established a track record of successful leadership as President of two agencies. She has mentored many women who, today, work in senior positions in agencies, pharma companies, and media. She is currently a consultant for the National Executive Service Corps, a group that provides management-consulting services for non-profit organizations.
Dr. Dorothy Philips is currently an active board member of Lighthouse International, an organization serving the needs of people who are blind or have low vision. In 2010, she was awarded Winifred and Edith Holt Award for distinguished volunteer service. She is also currently the communications chair of the Business Leadership Council of Wellesley College and has served on the board of the Wellesley Centers for Women. She served for many years as one of the earliest members on the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA) Advisory Board.
Always an innovator and groundbreaker, Dr. Dorothy Philips now takes her place as a member of the Medical Advertising Hall of Fame.