Proximity Canada has named Jon Finkelstein senior vice-president and executive creative director, stepping into the role vacated by John Gagne in September.
Aside from a handful of consulting gigs, Finkelstein has mostly been on hiatus since leaving Grip Ltd. in February, where he was a partner. In his new role (which he takes over on May 1), he’ll report directly to Proximity president Dave Lafond. The agency’s 40-person creative team and its leaders (Scott Pinkney, SVP, creative director, plus creative directors Joshua Stein, Rene Rouleau and Dave Stevenson) will in turn report to Finkelstein.
“I’ve been watching this agency for the last six years or so. I’ve been attracted to the calibre of work they’ve been putting out, the quality of the team,” Finkelstein said. “They’re always doing good stuff.”
Coming from Grip, an independent Canadian shop, Finkelstein said he’s looking forward to the benefits (“and challenges”) of working in a large, international agency. “You can do a lot of really great stuff when you have scale… I love the fact that the established team here is big. There’s probably nothing that the agency can’t do. There’s a lot of experience in the building.”
Lafond told Marketing the search to fill Gagne’s post was international in scope. “We met with probably upwards of 25 candidates,” he said. But the role is made more complex by the fact that Proximity (a digital shop) works closely with BBDO, its full-service semi-sibling within the Omnicom agency network (BBDO owns Proximity, but the relationship is such that the two businesses often jointly brand the work they do on mutual clients). Even though it’s a digitally focused company, Proximity creatives regularly work with BBDO’s team on integrated campaigns.
“Having worked in integrated, having worked with pure-play [digital], Jon has the right kind of experience,” Lafond said. “He brings it all together. As we go deeper into platforms, deeper into mobile, our offering has expanded. Jon’s always been deep into digital, very immersed. For clients looking for innovative thinking, Jon’s an ideal match.”
Gerry Frascione, chairman and CEO of BBDO Canada, said he and Lafond saw a bit of a trend when interviewing potential hires. “We heard a lot of the word ‘could.’ We’d ask about a case study, their ideas, and we’d get into ‘we could do this or that’… What I love about Jon is that he counsels clients on what they should do, not what they could do. It’s not about the shiny new toy. He brings a maturity and discipline and rigour.”
Finkelstein will be accountable for the creative output for the agency’s approximately 20 active clients, which include Campbell’s Soup, Mars Canada and Gatorade, among others.