February 22, 2024

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The Health-related Promotion Hall of Fame opens its doors to agency-globe giants – Characteristics – MM&M

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Over the study course of a occupation that observed her cofound two prosperous businesses and direct 3 other individuals, Risa Bernstein returned time and all over again to a phrase that plainly articulated her qualified philosophy: Significant thinkers believe much better alongside one another.

Charlene Prounis, with whom Bernstein cofounded Accel Healthcare Communications and Flashpoint Medica, remembers the adage becoming on display in Bernstein’s business office in some variety or other. Tom Harrison, the agency lifer who backed both equally of Bernstein’s corporations less than the Omnicom banner, remembers her using it as a rallying cry.

Bernstein herself suggests she commenced living the philosophy prior to she read it articulated in that manner (and proceeded to set it on a poster in her workplace). “To me, partnership and fellowship were being always critical,” she points out. “It’s a cliché, but it can take a village. A stool desires all its legs.”

Bernstein imbued that spirit of partnership and excellent cheer across 5 businesses (and her own consultancy) in a career that has spanned much more than 3 decades. She entered the promoting planet at what she describes as “a genuine, genuine smaller consumer agency.” A new career immediately beckoned — operating at a more substantial company on Seiko watches — but Bernstein rejected it just after enduring a two-hour coaching session about “how women have to behave all over Japanese guys, which was so not for me.” She subsequently turned down a different publish in which she would have worked on Philip Morris business enterprise, a proposition she states “was out of the query ethically.” 

Bernstein landed in healthcare promotion in 1982, accepting an assistant account government gig at the fabled Gross Townsend Frank Hoffman (GTFH). From the outset, she knew it was a good in good shape. “It was magical,” she recollects.

The four partners instantly regarded Bernstein’s strategic capabilities — “Alan [Gross] constantly claimed, ‘I assume Risa is a lot more strategic than I am,’” notes GTFH cofounder Jane Townsend — and she speedily ascended the corporation hierarchy. Throughout the final five of her 16 yrs with the agency, Bernstein served as controlling director and sat on its management committee.

Before extended, she located herself in Harrison’s office environment, listening to his pitch to consider around as president of a different Omnicom company. Bernstein, alas, experienced other strategies: She and Prounis experienced currently begun bouncing all over the plan of founding an agency of their individual.

“I explained to Tom, ‘I’ll entertain your offer if you entertain mine,’” Bernstein recollects. “He reported, ‘If you are major, convey me a small business approach in a 7 days.’”

Harrison, a 2020 MAHF inductee, laughs when asked about that fateful assembly. “Anytime Risa came into my workplace, I understood A, we had been likely to have a discussion B, I was heading to master some thing and C, she was likely to have all the causes to make me want to do what she was asking,” he claims.

He stresses that the notion was a no-brainer: “What she was proposing was a thing we did not by now have. It created a boatload of sense.” Just two months later on, Accel Healthcare Communications opened its doors. “We possibly experienced that conference in November and Risa preferred it started off at the beginning of the following year,” Harrison proceeds. “We experienced all-around 20 days to determine it out, not six months, and we acquired it accomplished, such as the company cards.”

Bernstein and Prounis led Accel for six several years, sticking all-around by its merger with Corbett Healthcare Team. Soon thereafter, they discovered by themselves in Harrison’s workplace once again, this time pitching the pure-enjoy ad agency that would turn into Flashpoint Medica. 

“Risa and I were being usually imagining major,” claims Prounis, who was inducted into MAHF in 2019. “We seemed at each other and were like, ‘So, want to do this once again?’ There wasn’t a great deal of back and forth, for the reason that we realized what it would choose.”

Nonetheless, right right after the new store opened its doorways Bernstein was sidelined by a spouse and children tragedy: Her oldest son sustained a critical head injury in a bus incident, prompting her to go away the nascent firm for a lot more than a yr. 

He finally recovered and Bernstein took a broader lesson absent from the encounter. “You can say ‘no’ occasionally. Consumers have young ones, way too, and I motivate all gals in this or any organization to experience they can do this,” she says. “It’s so pleasant for the Corridor of Fame to consider I had a wonderful occupation, but my a few sons would tell you, I hope, that they had been my priority. I by no means missed anything at all that mattered.”

Given that departing Flashpoint about a decade in the past, Bernstein has stayed included in the company earth through brief excursions at FCB Health (a fill-in stint as govt director) and Calcium (as EVP, director of system). She stays as passionate about the organization now as she’s at any time been.

“I scratch my head about the paradox amongst the energy and reason of our field vs . the lousy perception,” Bernstein suggests. “Despite the point that the pharma marketplace is so poorly believed of and recognised largely for exorbitant pricing and fomenting the opioid crisis, amongst other damaging impressions, it is an market that is strengthening and preserving lives each individual day.”

She believes it falls on healthcare marketing and communications organizations to press ahead with “the relentless pursuit of genuine, dependable, helpful schooling and information that advancements the excellent and will help folks navigate their illnesses and some of the darkest moments they could confront in their life.” 

To that issue, Bernstein has lived some of people moments. “I’ve experienced breast most cancers two times. I’ve been place on your own in a area with a video prior to the surgical procedures with no assistance or no guidebook the same detail happened with the radiation. You sit there and you fully grasp why therapy dropout prices are what they are,” she carries on.

Bernstein ideas to continue to tackle this kind of problems in the yrs ahead. She has no strategies to retire whenever shortly and is weighing board involvement and other leadership prospects. “Some portion of me needs to work in hospice following all this cancer expertise I’ve experienced much too significantly of,” she claims. “I have this passion all over ‘scan-xiety,’ which is the sort of thing we can do a little something about.”

That overarching adore of the enterprise is why her imminent MAHF induction has currently been cheered by colleagues and competition alike. “I’m not going to lie: It’s a meaningful moment to me,” Bernstein claims. “I watched all the giants whose shoulders I stood on get this honor. I’m just thrilled it is my switch.”


Bernstein may in no way have found her way into healthcare marketing and advertising were it not for fellow inductee Maris Schilling. As Bernstein tells it, the two of them had a typical link: Schilling’s boyfriend labored with the mom of Bernstein’s boyfriend.

“She imagined I was a fantastic author and assumed Maris was a phenomenal writer, so she obtained the two of us to meet. Quickly, I was like, ‘Wow, this is a particular person I want to be all around.’ She was this kind of a potent pressure — amusing as hell, totally in your facial area.”

Bernstein didn’t want to write, so Schilling — currently ensconced at GTFH — related her with agency leaders and namesakes Jane Townsend and Alan Gross. “To this working day, I thank Maris for my entry into this globe,” Bernstein describes. “She was the person who taught me a little something I tried to instruct just about every solitary person who comes into this small business: You never have to know science perfectly to triumph, you just have to not worry it.”

Schilling took a relatively unconventional path into the enterprise. Whilst operating as a secretary at Klemtner Marketing, she read rumblings that a important shopper wasn’t buying what the agency was marketing. Off-handedly, she proposed an strategy that not only bridged the divide, but advanced into an award-profitable campaign that ran for a few many years.

From that point onward, the clerical do the job was handled by anyone else. Next stints on the duplicate groups at William Douglas McAdams and Lavey Wolff Swift, GTFH hired her as VP, group copy supervisor. Nevertheless she stayed for only 3 several years, it was listed here that Schilling’s star ascended.

“She experienced an very rapid head,” claims Townsend, a founding lover of GTFH and a 2011 MAHF inductee. “As a writer, she did not just arrive up with a clever line since she could. She did her homework and dug into factors deeply. She would have been a amazing and effective writer in any area she chose.”

By way of case in point, Townsend details to a campaign GTFH established for Squibb’s hydrocortisone in the early 1980s. The central principle was that, if a person’s skin could chat for by itself, it would ask for hydrocortisone.

“Maris and I have been in California and driving from 1 position to one more, and she just began conversing out the duplicate on the spot: ‘Hi, I’m your skin. When I itch, I scratch,’” Townsend recollects. “It was a superb radio commercial and then we turned it into a Television set industrial.”

The Tv set execution confronted some pushback. Networks would not air the industrial because the actor dressed up as the pores and skin — Townsend’s cousin, as it turns out — had a flesh-colored costume deemed far too risqué for the era. Nevertheless, the radio ad gained a Clio at a time when pharma and health ads rarely acquired this kind of consideration.

Following departing GTFH, Schilling worked in lead artistic roles at Kallir Phillips Ross. She left the enterprise briefly to raise a family members and afterwards to struggle ovarian most cancers. Following cure, she returned to the company as SVP, innovative director at LifeBrands and then as a cofounder of Reagent.

About the yrs, Schilling labored on any selection of large-profile courses. She led the inventive and technique group that aided Tylenol retain sector leadership in the wake of a second poisoning incident and oversaw the evolution of Merck’s Emend from undeveloped molecule with no very clear sign to current market-topping remedy for chemo-associated nausea and vomiting.

As a writer, Schilling helped craft the Client Bill of Legal rights — which is however displayed in hospitals to this day — and a pores and skin treatment handbook for nurses of clients acquiring EgFR inhibitors. Afterwards in her profession, Schilling wrote a enjoy (Most cancers, The Musical) and a e-book (Drugs Avenue) about her lifetime and do the job experiences, respectively.

“In anything she did, there was in no way just one particular strategy,” Townsend explains. “She’d do anything and then she’d come in and say, ‘OK, here’s yet another a single.’ Two times afterwards, ‘I feel this is even much better.’ She would continue to keep noodling until she obtained it excellent in her thoughts.”

Continue to, Schilling’s expert legacy is as much about the way she treated her peers as it is about the operate they teamed to build. Bernstein highlights her sense of humor (“she was sharp”), whilst Townsend admiringly phone calls her “a pusher … but she did it in these kinds of a great way. She would make many others want to be improved.”

Schilling was also respectable and progressive-minded at a time when the marketplace was considerably much less so. At KPR, she employed the agency’s 1st Black copywriter and, amid interior pushback, put in her on a significant-profile piece of Johnson & Johnson enterprise.

“She was principled and good, and she pushed for correct and much better,” Townsend says. “I would like she had been in this article to instruct it to everyone else.”

Schilling died of lung most cancers on November 17, 2020. She had realized about her imminent MAHF induction a handful of months prior.


Some 35 several years ago, Ron Souza shared some of his thoughts about the long term of pharmaceutical marketing with his colleagues. “For us in advertising and marketing, the issues and options have never ever been better, with adjust all about,” he wrote. “Relationships with clientele, and what they require of us, are switching. Channels and approaches of distribution are switching — in an evolving media entire world that is far more complex, more quickly and restless with innovation.”

Above the course of a practically four-10 years occupation in and all around health care, that was not the only time Souza proved prescient. Right after graduating from Northeastern University’s University of Pharmacy, he commenced his job in the clinic realm. But as he ascended to a director place at Newington’s Children’s Medical center in Newington, Connecticut, Souza started to question what arrived upcoming.

“I acquired some very good management experience, but there was nowhere to go with it,” he recalls. “I was searching for a bigger keep track of to run on, I guess.”

That administration knowledge in the end served Souza well. He created his way to Revlon, the place he oversaw what he phone calls “a great melting pot of inventive individuals. We didn’t have a entire whole lot to promote, but we bought the hell out of it.” Next a small halt at Endo Prescription drugs, the place he labored on the workforce that launched opioid overdose remedy Narcan, Souza entered the agency earth.

He thrived amid its electricity and spirit of camaraderie. Arriving at the venerable Rolf Werner Rosenthal in 1974, Souza quickly built a name for himself as both equally a plugged-in supervisor and a new-business enterprise magnet. Products and manufacturers he touched for the duration of his RWR tenure involved Sudafed, Actifed, AZT (the first-in-course HIV remedy) and Marion’s calcium channel blocker Cardizem.

Souza remembers the latter as among the his finest achievements. 

“The only edge it experienced above the competitors was a slight advantage in side consequences, so just after a few of classes we came up with the yellow hard hat that reported ‘Safety 1st.’ We considered health professionals would see difficult hats wherever they drove, because it was a time when towns were expanding and structures were going up just about everywhere,” he explains. “We went in for the presentation and we all wore hard hats. Three times later on — ‘OK, you won.’ It was a person of the most pleasurable factors I worked on.” The marketing campaign made an enduring brand association and received several awards.

Above the study course of his time at RWR and Ogilvy & Mather (which snapped up RWR in 1984), Souza earned a reputation as one of the company world’s superior men. Even although men and women who entered the enterprise less than him have thrived, shifting on to identified and lead corporations these as Harrison Star Wiener & Beitler, Sandler Communications and Botto Roessner Horne & Messenger, Souza downplays his job as a mentor.

“Being in a put as nice as RWR, I was ready to apply the administration expertise I had in the past and it all type of labored out,” he says. “We were being usually happy when our persons claimed, ‘Wow, this is the nicest area I have come to in the industry.’”

Very long-retired and a good-grandfather of 3, Souza couldn’t be happier or far more gracious about obtaining the hall’s contact. “Recognition is a fantastic detail,” he provides. “Getting the award will be thrilling, but examining what the individuals who nominated me had to say about me — it is just excellent to know that folks revered what I did.”

The 2021 Awards Evening meal is tentatively scheduled for July 29th at The Pierre hotel in New York City. Meal tickets can be procured at www.mahf.com/gala

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