Nearly all facets of the healthcare industry are either being disrupted, or are, as they say, ripe for disruption. And these 50 seasoned executives possess the essential qualities needed to capitalize on the seismic shifts
Marc Iskowitz, MM&M

 

Welcome to MM&M’s second Annual Health Influencer 50 Issue, in which we join with our sister media brand PRWeek to name some of the biggest players across the industry, and highlight their signature initiatives and leadership styles.

This year’s list spans biopharma, agencies and government sectors, and among them one finds many of the most essential execs in healthcare marketing. Take Theresa Agnew, chief marketing officer for GlaxoSmithKline, whose bold digital launch strategy has been one of the most talked-about in pharma-marketing circles.

“How we go to market in the digital world is critical to our success with both consumers and healthcare professionals,” the CMO tells MM&M. The attention seems to have paid off.

GSK Consumer’s Rx-to-OTC switch of antihistamine brand Flonase scored a best-in-class award from MM&M in 2016 for its use of data to shape digital content and ad optimization. More recent examples of the drugmaker’s skillful marketing (both of which also bear Agnew’s fingerprints) include digital pushes around consumer-facing brands Excedrin, whose Migraine Experience campaign all but brought VR to drug marketing, and Theraflu, whose AI-backed interactive display ad was reportedly among the first consumer uses of IBM Watson’s cognitive technology for advertising.

Of course, marketing and communications aren’t the only things being shaped by the digital age. Nearly all facets of the healthcare industry are either being disrupted, or are, as they say, ripe for disruption. And these 50 seasoned executives possess the essential qualities needed to capitalize on the seismic shifts.

The role of an influencer

To be an influencer takes prescience to anticipate transformative trends. Ron Cohen, Acorda Therapeutics CEO, was ahead of the curve when he set the goal for his biotech firm of helping restore function for those with spinal injuries and CNS disorders. “I’m just another guy with a dream about something pretty implausible,” he says. “We’re not there, but we’re getting closer.”

The next ingredient for making the HI50 is perspective, to recognize when the time is right for biotech, pharma, and medtech companies to embrace the new. Jennifer Chung, VP, global brand marketing, inflammation and immunology, for Pfizer Innovative Health, expresses the need, still somewhat nascent within an industry working to bust out of its historical silos, for pharma to look outward for solutions.

“What matters most today is to be externally focused, to explore new technology and mechanisms,” she says. “That’s the only way to grasp the reality of these situations.”

Last, but not least, an influencer must have the persuasiveness to get others to follow suit. To whit: Publicis Health CEO Nick Colucci “teaches through storytelling,” writes Michelle Keefe, global group president and chief development officer. McCann Health’s global CEO, John Cahill, possesses the ability to “influence without ego or politics and with such ease,” notes Jeremy Perrott, global chief creative director.

I’m often asked how the Health Influencer 50 differ from one of our other power lists, the Top 40 Healthcare Transformers. As entrepreneurs, the T40 seek to blow up the biopharma lifecycle, from drug development through marketing and beyond.

People such as our Health Influencer 50 are keen observers of all of the above, and they’re smart enough to know, as is Omnicom Health Group CEO Ed Wise, that all the “talent and technology don’t matter if you can’t get people to work together,” per EVP Josh Prince.

 

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