Industry Chronology

Learn how the industry has evolved over the past 70 years and view some past ads by selecting a decade below.

1940s/1950s
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2000 to Present

The Boom Years

Immediately after WWII, the pace of medical advertising intensified. Research provided breakthrough products; Medicine Avenue provided a new promotional philosophy and a new promotional style, launching the industry’s “Golden Age.”.

The Founders of Medicine Avenue: Moving into the 1940s, Frohlich, Hennessey, Sackler and Sudler were to establish agencies that would become central to medical advertising for the next 20 years. In 1942, Hennessey became a partner with Sudler in Sudler & Hennessey, at the time a design studio. Also in 1942, Sackler bought into William Douglas McAdams, on his way to controlling the ownership of the agency. In 1943, Frohlich opened his agency. The 1940s saw another important name enter the agency lexicon—Paul Klemtner—who had served Rx clients as a certified public accountant in the late 1930s.

Advertising of the 1940s

Upjohn
CD, Art: Lester Beall

Abbott
CD, Art: Lester Beall

Upjohn
CD, Art: Will Burtin

The “Wonder Drug” Wave: This group of agencies was ideally positioned to benefit from the flood of new pharmaceuticals that emerged from European and American research laboratories in the 1950s. The “wonder drug” era had arrived. Diseases previously untreatable suddenly could be cured or alleviated by new medication. Medical advertising agencies had the enviable task of delivering the inspiring message of technological advances to healthcare practitioners.

Advertising of the 1950s

Ethicon
Agency: L. W. Frohlich
CD, Art: Ken Lavey

Pfizer
Agency: McAdams
CD, Art: Harry Zelenko
CD, Copy: John Kallir

Merrell
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Herb Lubalin
CD, Copy: Don Clark

Schering
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Herb Lubalin

Regulation Reshapes Rx Advertising

The Kefauver hearings resulted in legislation that gave the FDA expanded authority over pharmaceutical research and the approval of new drugs. It also empowered the FDA to closely monitor pharmaceutical promotion. After a period of adjustment, manufacturers and ad agencies learned to live within the new environment and, with research still producing milestone products, the boom continued.

Advertising of the 1960s

Warner-Chilcott
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Arthur Lidov
CD, Copy: Mel Altshuler

Roche
Agency: McAdams
CD, Art: Jerry Philips
CD, Copy: John Kallir

Bristol
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Herb Lubalin

Pfizer
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Herb Lubalin

New Names on “Medicine Avenue”

Agency proliferation accelerated in the 1970s with the unexpected breakup of the Frohlich agency and departures from the older agencies, which greatly expanded the roster of “Medicine Avenue.”.

Advertising of the 1970s

Pfizer
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Arthur Ludwig

Pfizer
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Mike Lyons
CD, Copy: John Lally

Beecham
Agency: Corbett
CD, Art: Dave Meade
CD, Copy: Don Courtney

Key
Agency: Bologna Intl.
CD, Art: Mark McDowell
CD, Copy: Frank Hughes

Pfizer Roerig
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Mike Lyons
CD, Copy: Jane Sarnoff

Upjohn
Agency: Kallir, Philips, Ross
CD, Art: Jerry Philips

Acquisitions, International Expansion, and DTC

The purchase of medical agencies by consumer agencies continued. American agencies furthered their overseas involvement. Direct-to-consumer advertising arrived to greatly expand the promotional mix.

Advertising of the 1980s

Upjohn
Agency: Kallir, Philips, Ross
CD, Art: Jim Walsh
CD, Copy: Jack Domeshek

Searle
Agency: Medicus
CD, Art: Caroline Cooper
CD, Copy: Steven Gold

Upjohn
Agency: Klemtner

Pfizer
Agency: Dorritie & Lyons
CD, Art: Mike Lyons
CD, Copy: Bill Brown

Boehringer Ingelheim
Agency: Barnum
CD, Art: Monica Garb
CD, Copy: Melissa de Fiebre

Recession and Rebound

Uncertainty about the new federal healthcare legislation, as well as the rapid growth of managed care, prompted a decline in promotional expenditures. However, when the proposed legislation failed in Congress and managed care formularies proved less restrictive than anticipated, the industry responded with renewed energy and promotional activity.

Advertising of the 1990s

Wyeth
Agency: Robert A. Becker
CD, Art: John Avery
CD, Copy: Andy Moore

Abbott
Agency: Abelson-Taylor
CD, Art: Stephen Neale
CD, Copy: Jeff Chouinard

Sandoz
Agency: Integrated Communications
CD, Art: Johnathan Male
CD, Copy: Charles DeMarco

Abbott
Agency: Abelson-Taylor
CD, Art: Jan Podjasek
CD, Copy: Pam Bryan

American Cancer Society
Agency: KPR
CD, Art: Bruce Tredwell
CD, Copy: Stephanie Sorine

Roche
Agency: Sudler & Hennessey
CD, Art: Arthur Kaufman
CD, Copy: Diane Cooney

Sandoz
Agency: Integrated Communications
CD, Art: Lin Kossak
CD, Copy: Charles DeMarco

Pfizer/Eisai
Agency: Lyons Lavey Nickel Swift
CD, Art: Peter Zamiska
CD, Copy: Todd Neuhaus/John Nosta

2000 to Present

The decade from 2000 to 2010 sees a shift in promotion to specialty drugs as the unmet needs of the primary care physician waned, and selling to the PCP became harder as managed care established greater control into the pharma buying decision. It was also the decade of “lifestyle” drugs for conditions like erectile dysfunction and overactive bladder. Still, the work that medical agencies produced was very strong.

Advertising of the 2000s to Present

Cinryze
Agency: DUDNYK
CD, Art: John Kemble
CD, Copy: Laurie Bartolomeo

VESIcare
Agency: AbelsonTaylor
Art Director: Chris Belford
Copy: Mike Fine

Zyvox
Agency: CDM Group

 

Itchcraft
Agency: GSW Worldwide
Art Director: Kelly Seymour
Copy: Geoff Allen
ACD: Katie Beller
CD: Dave Sonderman

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