In September, PM360 recognized 34 outstanding Trailblazer Award-winning companies, marketers, and programs with two days of events in New York City. We began with work, with a symposium of winning brand managers examining what brand loyalty does—and does not—mean in the pharmaceutical industry. That evening, roundtable sponsor Opus Health welcomed brand managers and guests with a dinner to Manhattan’s Bouley restaurant.

The main event, however, followed on Friday, Sept. 9, with the Trailblazer Gala at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in a ballroom overlooking Central Park. A cocktail party was followed by a stirring and personal keynote address from Tony Jewell, representing AstraZeneca, the 2010 Trailblazer Pharmaceutical Company of the Year. Mr. Jewell then passed the torch, presenting Company of the Year awards to the 2011 winners (including Johnson & Johnson in the pharma category). Presentations continued, with Trailblazer trophies going to fourteen outstanding brand managers and fifteen league-leading campaigns, programs, and initiatives. PM360’s first Marketer of the Year Award capped the formal part of the evening, and the crowd adjourned to the dance floor for an evening of celebration.

The Main Event

Good times. Clockwise from upper left: The winning brand managers with Health Monitor Network’s Kenneth Freirich and Eric Jensen, Marketer of the Year Rob Likoff, the view over Central Park, jubilation, self-portrait on the Red Carpet, and publisher Anna Stashower takes the podium.

Cocktail Hour

The elegant crowd of about 250 sipped, nibbled, and networked happily outside the ballroom of the Mandarin Oriental, pausing for Red Carpet portraits or a less formal moment in the Coney Island photo booth.

Awards Presentation

Keynoter Tony Jewell , Senior Director for External Communications at AstraZeneca, last year’s Pharma Company of the Year, moved the gathering with an eloquent reminder of why we do what we do, and then presented the four Company of the Year Awards (including 2011 Pharma Company of the Year J&J, accepted by Patrick McCrummen). Health Monitor Network’s Eric Jensen and Kenneth Freirich then stepped to the podium to present the fourteen Brand Manager of the Year trophies. Shannon Hartley and Steve Hamburg of Rosetta took over to open the envelopes announcing the fifteen Trailblazer Initiative winners. Finally, PM360 editor Douglas McCormick presented the first Trailblazer Marketer of the Year award—to Rob Likoff of Group DCA.

Dinner and Dancing

After the awards presentation, the party put on its dancing shoes (some of them spangled), rocking on to the top of the clock as the lights lit up over Columbus Circle and Central Park stretched out in a spectacular view from the Mandarin Oriental Hotel ballroom’s floor-to-ceiling windows.