There are any number of origin stories in which individuals happen into the realm of advertising/media by sheer chance. Pierre Lipton’s is not one of them.
“I desperately, desperately, desperately wanted to break into this industry,” he says.
Lipton’s interest was piqued by an uncle who worked as a VP for a large firm and may or may not have exaggerated his own professional achievements. “He’ll deny it, but he told me that he invented Tony the Tiger. Everything he said filled me with a romantic notion of the industry,” Lipton recalls. Even with a family member in the biz, however, he had a tough time wedging his foot in the door: “I took night classes for three years while managing restaurants.”
One of Lipton’s teachers, however, was gruff industry legend Sal DeVito. When Lipton approached DeVito with a handful of ads he’d created that had been eviscerated by another instructor, DeVito’s response gave him his first true encouragement. “He looked at them and said, ‘These aren’t bad,’” Lipton recalls with a laugh. “That pretty much led to my career.”
Before joining 360i as chief creative officer, Lipton held the same role at M&C Saatchi and worked at AKQA, BBDO and Fallon. But for all his professional successes, he doesn’t forget his formative years in -— or, more accurately, just outside — the business. “One of the things I look for in talent is hustle,” he says. “I value hustle above all else. Behind every great piece of work is somebody who pushed it over the hump more than once.”
This philosophy distinguishes him from many of his similarly situated peers, as does his belief that creatives “shouldn’t have their own style.” Allow him to explain: “I love finding a brand’s tone. I love searching for the truth of a brand,” Lipton says. “When you impose your own tone or voice, you’re not truly listening to what the brand is about… If we’re not careful, we become victims of our own success. If something works, we do it again and again.”
Which is what makes 360i’s recent work on behalf of known entities like Lean Cuisine and Oscar Mayer so smart and effective. For the former, 360i asked women how they wanted to be “weighed” in life and compiled the responses in a video; later, the firm created an art installation in Grand Central Station, featuring a host of scales, around the concept. For Oscar Mayer, 360i devised the “Sizzl” dating app, which sought to forge love connections between bacon aficionados.
Sizzl wasn’t simply a lark. “People’s relationship with higher-quality bacon is very personal. We thought that people who take bacon seriously would have other things in common,” Lipton explains, before shifting tone and adding, “Who can get tired of bacon on the Internet? It’s like cat videos on YouTube.”
Lipton’s only frustration? A finite number of hours in the day. “The only enemy is time,”
Lipton says. “I always leave the office feeling like I’ve left fruit on the ground. That’s the problem with being ambitious: Even though we’ve gone from A to B to C to D as an
agency, once we get to G we’re still going to be focusing on the horizon.”