2 Minutes With ... Melissa de Lusignan, GCD at Hive Group

On her work vs. rare diseases, Durex and not being big on fruit

Melissa de Lusignan has been a creative director for over 20 years and has worked at McCann Health, Grey Healthcare and Saatchi & Saatchi. She's currently group creative director at Hive Group, part of Fishawack Health.

We spent two minutes with Melissa to learn more about her background, creative inspirations and some recent work she's admired.

Melissa, tell us…

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I was born and raised in the South of England. Now, I spend half my week in Hertfordshire, a short commute from my London office, and the other half on the side of a remote mountain in North Wales, at our 250-year-old farmhouse.

How you first got interested in health.

Although I'm predominantly a copy-led creative director, I actually studied graphic design and so my first foray into health was designing patient communication materials. I "fell into" healthcare copywriting through a couple of freelance gigs at agencies that no longer exist and was completely smitten with the communication challenges and interesting therapy areas.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

Ooh that's a tough one! The projects I love the most are where we turn the original brief and thinking on its head to totally transform the project from a predictable, single piece of comms into a full-on, game changing initiative. One that has always had a special place in my heart was an initiative for Durex. The original brief was to create some sex education materials for teenagers about the importance of using condoms. We went on to collaborate with a group of awesome charities and independent sex educators to create a comprehensive relationships and sex education program that was designed to upskill teachers—not kids—in teaching the complex and everchanging environment of sex ed, tackling issues such as consent, pleasure and safeguarding—with barely a mention of condoms. Members of the initiative successfully lobbied the U.K. Government to ensure that relationships and sex education was part of the core curriculum. Helping to improve the health and wellness of young adults through innovative thinking and modern teaching methods is something I'm really proud of.

A recent project you're proud of.

It has to be the work we've been doing in a rare disease that affects children from a young age into adulthood. When we received the brief from our client to "make people living with XLH smile," we knew this was going to be an amazing project. Winning creative accolades is awesome and I’m proud of the recognition this patient support campaign has received, but the thing I'm actually most proud of is the talented agency team and our client, who invested so much of themselves to take the idea from pitch stage and make it even stronger with input from key stakeholders, including consultants, nurses, patients and their families. The work was brought to life and beautifully executed by our wonderful illustrator, who poured his heart and soul into the project too. Whenever I think about it or look at it, it makes me smile.

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

I'm really excited about the abundance of self-diagnostic digital technologies that are now available. Not only are they opening up new insights and creating a mass of crowdsourced data, but they are giving us all a new level of control over our bodies. helping us better understand and manage our health. Whether you want to find out what's making you ill or proactively maintain your wellness, technology is bringing the lab into your home. My current obsession is with two devices, both of which use breath measurements to give you insights into your metabolism and gut health. The challenge now will be finding innovative ways to ensure that there is equitable access to these technologies. Right now, hacking your metabolism may be the privilege of the health-conscious middle classes, but how could technologies like these be hacked themselves to offer better care in areas with access to fewer healthcare resources?

Someone else's work, in health or beyond, that you admired lately.

I was a judge for the Clio Health awards and there is so much to admire—I'm excited to see who the big winners will be this year. Outside of health, I am totally in awe of Punchdrunk, a creative, immersive theatre company that creates stunning productions that reject the passive audience experience in favor of empowering people to explore the intricate sets and be part of all aspects of the unfolding story. It's mind blowing and a definite recommend.

A book, movie, TV show, or podcast you recently found inspiring.

Actually, it's a play that most recently blew me away. It was an instant sell-out so I saw it via live stream at a cinema, thanks to a great initiative by the National Theatre. It was Prima Facie, a one-woman show by Jodie Comer (of Killing Eve fame). The story is compelling and thought-provoking but it's Jodie’s performance that is seriously inspiring. You are left exhilarated, breathless and wondering how the hell she did it.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

I've just come back from a trip to Amsterdam to visit the Rijksmuseum to see the largest Johannes Vermeer exhibition ever. It was mind-bogglingly good and a reminder of how impressive the craft of drawing, painting and communicating through image was, and still is.

Your favorite fictional character.

Beth Harmon, the precocious female chess grandmaster in the Netflix series The Queen's Gambit. She was created as a "tribute to brainy women" and I loved how she was both vulnerable and invulnerable and ultimately her intelligence helped her overcome all the challenges that life threw at her.

Someone worth following on social media.

I must confess that I'm not a massive social media follower, but I do take some time out to see what Dr Bertalan Mesko is reading or talking about. Known as the "Medical Futurist," he's a self-confessed geek physician who analyzes how science fiction technologies can become reality in medicine and healthcare, often testing claims out and experimenting on himself. I always discover something inspiring and terrifying in equal parts!

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

I'm at my happiest when working at the point where strategy and creativity overlap. I think this allows me to be deeply connected to the bigger picture, so, when it comes to creative ideation, I am able to inspire the team to expand the potential for ideas beyond the obvious direction of the brief.

Your biggest weakness.

Chocolate. But if you mean as a creative, I know that I tend to step in too readily to put out the fire or offer solutions to problems whenever they occur. My team is so awesome, they can totally do it themselves, but sometimes the mother hen in me kicks in and I try to save them from the grief!

One thing that always makes you happy.

Spending time with my husband and 3 dogs, usually with a coffee in hand.

One thing that always makes you sad.

That I will never be able to lie on the sofa with my legs stretched out across my mum's lap again.

Something people would find surprising about you.

I don't eat any fruit. I know, I know… I'm trying. If only there was an app that could train me to like it!

What you'd be doing if you weren't in health.

Interior design of some sort. Ever since I visited NYC at Christmas time, decades ago, I’ve always want to be a window dresser for Bergdorf Goodman.

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