Area 23's Danielle Decatur on Having Open Health Convos and Tackling Health Inequality

On Lil Sugar and hiring creatives with atypical backgrounds

Danielle Decatur recently joined Area 23 as SVP, creative director, leading a new creative group. She has over a decade of experience in both consumer and professional healthcare marketing across a range of brands U.S. and global.  Danielle has created award-winning work in a wide range of categories including women's health, ophthalmology, respiratory, weight management, bone health, beverages and beauty. She is lauded for her strong storytelling and nurturing relationships with her teams and clients. Danielle fosters an environment that encourages her creatives to strive for excellence and client teams to confidently advocate for new and different. Outside of advertising, she is an accomplished writer with published short stories. Danielle happily juggles life with a toddler, who insists on hearing original bedtime stories. If no one else, her two-year old keeps her creative, multitasking and inspired. 

We spoke with Danielle for our series Checkup, where we chat with leaders in the healthcare marketing space.

Danielle, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born in Dallas, TX, and grew up in Shaker Heights, OH. Now I live in West Orange, NJ, with my husband and two-year-old son.

How you first got into healthcare marketing, and what attracted you to it.

I started working in healthcare marketing right after college, writing PSAs at a small creative studio. I gained a lot of great experience quickly. The spots I wrote often featured celebrities who announced that they were living with a disease or lost a family member to one. It made me realize how important it is to tell these stories about health to generate awareness and education. Health isn't something people talk about until they are sick—and for some that's too late to impact outcomes. I'm still motivated by telling stories and even more so for communities that are overlooked or marginalized. 

Something people might not know about the healthcare industry.

People who choose to work in health are doing so because they believe this industry needs creativity, change and fresh ideas. Never underestimate how important it is to have a motivated person solving a challenge. 

Someone else’s project within healthcare that you were impressed by recently.

I didn’t work on "Lil Sugar," but my agency did. The character work on this is impeccable. And it's a great example of work that’s culturally relevant and competent.

Lil Sugar | Master of Disguise
A major challenge facing healthcare advertisers today.

There is still a huge opportunity to improve health inequities. The biggest challenge for agencies and teams will be addressing this authentically; this means making room for the right people around the table to offer creative solutions.

One thing about how healthcare is evolving that you're excited about.

A lot more individuals and agencies are paying attention to issues that impact the Black community and other minority and underrepresented communities. I can't wait to see what happens when more time and attention gets put to creatively addressing health issues for these groups. I'm seeing it across the board from organizations advocating for racial equality in clinical trials (The Trial for Clinical Equality, for example), to advocating for health equity for the LGBTQIA+ community and so much more.

How healthcare can attract more creative talent.

I think agencies would benefit from broadening their search for creatives with non-traditional backgrounds. Science is something you can teach but creativity is a gift.

What would you be doing if you weren’t in healthcare marketing?

I love what I do. But if I didn't have this career, I would teach English and Literature and write fiction. 

Checkup is our new weekly Muse series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with leaders in healthcare marketing. To learn more about Checkup or our Clio Health program, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a senior broadcast journalism student at the University of Colorado Boulder and a contributor to Muse by Clio.

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