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Insights in health & wellness branding
14 September

AT Career Ladders – Marissa Ori and Richard How


Rich How

Marissa Ori

Providing opportunities to advance and promoting from within have long been hallmarks of AbelsonTaylor’s professional culture. Several top executives joined the agency straight out of college, steadily expanding their skills and developing their leadership potential while working their way up through the ranks. Others joined from outside, finding a supportive home for their experience, ideas and ambitions. And some left and returned, discovering that things like vision, values and culture really do matter.

Driven by strong business growth and new opportunities, AbelsonTaylor has promoted several well-deserving staffers this year. Two of these, Marissa Ori and Rich How, expanded our creative leadership team with their recent promotions to vice president, creative director. Following are some details on the separate paths that led them to their new roles.

  1. How many years have you been at AT?

Rich: I’ve been here a total of 10 years. I originally joined in 2011 and stayed three and a half years, then rejoined in Sept. 2015 to work in the newly created Experience Design Group.

Marissa: Let’s just say that if my time at AT were a person, it could legally drink.

  1. What’s your background and experience before coming to AT?

Marissa: I came to AT shortly after college, following a brief stint as a sales rep selling scientific and laboratory equipment. I didn’t even last six months, but it was long enough to learn that I wasn’t cut out to be a rep. I was a biology major in college but spent my free time in creative writing classes. I remember wondering if there was a way to combine my love of science with my love of writing to create some sort of career. I managed to find that very specific combination at AT, so it seems like it worked out.

Rich: I have an art school background, with a degree in graphic information design. I graduated from the University of Westminster in London, formerly the Harrow School of Art (yes, the same school the late Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts attended). I went on to forge a career in London, beginning at small and midsize agencies, then moving up to larger organizations on both permanent and freelance contracts. These included Business Interactive, The Hub, WPP and HMX Media. Clients during this time included UBS, Experian, Bic, John Lewis, Vodafone, Land Rover, IBM and Nike. I moved client side to Virgin Media as part of their Sit-Up Channels division, heading the consumer commerce creative for both digital and broadcast.

  1. Of all the things you’ve worked on at AT, what are you most proud of?

Marissa: Probably Teva’s “In a Word” campaign. It humanized cancer patients and showed that each person is much more than the disease he or she is fighting. Runner-up is a big patient advocate campaign we did for Enbrel circa 2007-2008. It was the first time I had really interacted with patients who were taking a medication I worked on, and I was amazed by their stories and their profound declarations of love and dedication to the product. I went in thinking,” it’s just psoriasis, it’s just a skin disease, it can’t be that serious.” I hadn’t fully appreciated how devastating severe psoriasis can be and how much of an impact a medicine can make on someone’s life.” 

Rich: More recently, spearheading the creative development for Kite Pharma and its game-changing mission to cure cancer through immunotherapy has been immense. Producing the “This is More Than Hope, This is Remission” patient campaign for Yescarta was also a defining moment.

 Further back, The Kaletra “eye” concept stands out. Having my creative work at the forefront of a campaign for such an important HIV treatment was a proud moment. Another highlight was our Dexilant DTC multi-channel campaign, which took an established HCP campaign (Tortoise and Hare) and positioned it for consumers.

Closer to home, some of the work I’ve done for AT feels as important as the client successes. I was part of the concepting for our recent rebranding (Return On Imagination™), and I created the mural in the café of our new offices, fulfilling a lifelong personal ambition to have a physical piece of my artwork on display.

  1. What do you like most about working in healthcare?

Marissa: It truly comes down to the patients and the possibility that we might help in some way to make their lives better. Every time I interact with patients and listen to how their daily lives are affected by a disease and what treatments they’ve tried and what they want, I come away educated, motivated and in awe. It’s such a humbling experience talking with patients, and an honor bringing their stories to life.

Rich: I agree. The Yescarta campaign was defining for me precisely for that reason. Getting inspired by real cancer survivors and being given the opportunity to devise a campaign to reach out to people who have lost hope on existing treatments was truly humbling.

To read about Marissa’s and Richard’s promotions, click here AbelsonTaylor Expands Creative Leadership Team with Promotions of Marissa Ori and Richard How to Vice President, Creative Director – PharmaLive

Stephen Neale About the Author

After 25 years and more than 75 creative awards in healthcare advertising, including 4 Rx Club Golds and 3 Med Ad News Ads of the Year, Stephen is highly respected throughout the health and wellness advertising community. As strategist and leader, he’s even more respected throughout the agency.