Q&A: Scott Pinkney, SVP & creative director, BBDO/Proximity, Toronto

Scott Pinkney, SVP and creative director at BBDO/Proximity in Toronto, on customer relationship management, fine art, and his favorite font.

Q: What marketing channel do you most enjoy working in?

A: I love interactive, online experiences and using beautiful images and typography to bring them to life and touch people’s lives. But I also love pictures. I still have to print things out and look at them, even in a digital environment, because I’m a type-and-graphics nut. I love Helvetica for its simplicity. It’s a font that complements visual graphics really well. It’s a classic and an oldie, but it’s still beautiful. If you look at classic logos and new logos, many of them are designed using Helvetica. You can’t go wrong with Helvetica.

Q: What do you enjoy more—working on large accounts or smaller brands?

A: I’ve had the opportunity of working on three continents with many different big brands. They tend to have a bigger picture in mind and the things they can do can have so much more of an impact. They also tend to be more competitive. Bigger brands also face bigger challenges. They have to be very aware of what’s happening in the marketplace, which lets them be more aggressive.

Q: Electronic CRM (eCRM)—what is it and why is it important?

A: I’ve been in the business for 26 years, and when I started out it was just known as direct marketing. ECRM is about managing and leveraging customers and  communicating with them to create lasting and ongoing relationships. I love it because it’s very one-to-one, and with the data we have available now we can do so much more with it. ECRM transcends all the other different channels because we’re all getting better at gathering data—but many clients out there still don’t know what to do with it. The future will be all about CRM.

Q: How do you handle a client that might have a case of “shiny object syndrome?” (Symptoms: an obsession with new gadgets, getting distracted by new techniques that might not be right for the brand, etc.)

A: Both brands and marketers are trying to figure out how to fit the shiny objects into their arsenal. There are so many more channels to pick from right now, but budgets aren’t growing as fast as the multichannel environment is. For me it’s about always going back to the brief and asking, ‘What are we actually trying to accomplish here?’ and locking that down. That’s where the shiny objects can come in—but they have to be grounded in business objectives.

Q: I hear you’re a fine artist. What kind of art do you create and how did you get started with it?

A: I do contemporary abstract expressionism. I grew up in a family of artists. My father is a renowned children’s illustrator and so is my brother; my mother’s a writer. When I find the time, it’s a great creative outlet for me and it allows me to express a different side of myself. I’m digital, but I also still really love ink on paper. I was just at the Picasso Museum in Barcelona. Picasso lived through so many different time periods and he had to be constantly changing with the times. Marketers today also have to continually evolve their skill sets, so I admire Picasso for all the changes he went through in his life.

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