2 Minutes With ... Shayne Millington and Pierre Lipton, Co-CCOs at McCann New York
Shayne Millington and Pierre Lipton are co-chief creative officers at McCann New York. Both were previously EVPs, global executive creative directors at McCann.
In 2019, Shayne became one of the most-awarded creative directors in the world, winning the Grand Clio and a Titanium Lion and Grand Prix at Cannes for her work on Microsoft. In her career, she has won numerous accolades for her work on some of the most influential brands in the world. Microsoft, Macy's, Verizon, Target, Nike and Procter & Gamble have all benefitted from her keen eye for detail and passion for craft.
Pierre was the creative lead behind Mastercard's "True Name Card," also a Grand Clio winner. He also worked on March for Our Lives' "Generation Lockdown." Before McCann, Lipton was chief creative officer at 360i, and spent time at M&C Saatchi, AKQAm TBWA\Chiat\Day and BBDO.
We spent two minutes, well maybe four minutes, with Shayne and Pierre to learn more about their backgrounds, their creative inspirations, and recent work they've admired.
Shayne and Pierre, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Shayne: Well, this is where I sound super boring. And maybe I am. Boring breeds creativity, right? I grew up in the suburbs of Jersey and now I've come back to raise my little crew in Jersey.
- Pierre: I grew up in the West Village, when it still had more artists and working-class locals than bankers and wealthy transplants. Currently raising brood in Gowanus, Brooklyn.
How you first realized you were creative.
- Shayne: I never did. I still don't. I always found that title confusing. Many people are creative, but only a certain group gets to don the fancy title. I can't draw, paint or sculpt, so growing up I assumed I wasn't creative. But I always loved to question, challenge, build and learn new things. I always remember my art teachers liking what I did, but I was often confused because my work never looked like the other students'. I look back now and I realize that by compensating for my lack of traditional skills, it forced me into unique ways of being creative.
- Pierre: My uncle, David Budner, was a VP of research at FCB NY. Over the years, he regaled me with stories of shoots, pitches and even interactions with Snap Crackle! Pop! and the Kool-Aid Man, none of which were actually true. He was basically pretending to be a creative, and I was hooked.
A person you idolized creatively early on.
- Shayne: Keith Haring. I loved him. I admired the simplicity and energy in his work, but more importantly he had an idea that wasn't complicated, he had a strong message that was unique, and he had a style that was his own and therefore stood out. I used to sneak into the city—also a perk of growing up in Jersey—and hang out at the PopShop, his original store in the Village, and just stared at the walls and felt like I was standing in a little art bubble. I even painted the characters in my little sister's room, which looked so cool. Unfortunately, I used paint that after 30 years my parents still cannot cover it up; it still bleeds, through.
- Pierre: Gerry Graf. My partner and I met with him when he was at BBDO. He mentioned a brand of beer he liked at the time and we dropped off a 6-er every Monday for three months in the hopes of getting a job. It didn't work. But years later, when he hired me at Chiat, he said thanks.
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
- Shayne: I wasn't really into much in high school. I had a difficult time reading, loved math but was pretty average. The guidance counselor knew I was into art class and introduced me to this new program offered in the vocational school—it was called graphic art. They taught things I had never heard of—typography, design, color theory—and it was done on a computer with this new program called Adobe. Yes, I learned on Adobe 1.0 and I was hooked. My mother, an educator, was so nervous I wouldn't continue on to college, so we made a deal that I would take college courses in the summer. I did. I also failed those summer classes. She never said I had to pass them.
- Pierre: Getting my ass beat by 100 Irish kids in the South Bronx for hanging out with Asian kids.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
- Shayne: David Byrne. My parents introduced me to so many visual and musical artists as a young child. David Byrne was one who always stood out. His creative risk-taking and constant evolution through the years is so inspiring.
- Pierre: Tibor Kalman. "Everything is an experiment."
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
- Shayne: Consent. A friend recommended it to me; it's not as much inspiring as it is eye-opening about how we view men and their muses. It still stays with me to this day.
- Pierre: I am a shameless devourer of fission that builds other worlds or universes. If I was trying to impress, I'd say Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishuguro. Truth is, The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie is the answer, and Logen Ninefingers is once of my favorite characters in fiction. You have to be realistic about these things.
Your favorite fictional character.
- Shayne: I'm not a Marvel, DC or sci-fi girl, much to my boy's chagrin. As a child from the '80s, Big Bird is my favorite fictional character. He was the outcast in a group of outcasts, a 7-foot-tall yellow bird. Yet his extreme height and inability to never take flight didn't bother him; he has the innocence and inquisitiveness of a child's mind. And even when that pain in the ass Grouch would try to break his stride, he always conquered it with kindness.
- Pierre: Were you not even listening to me?
Someone or something worth following in social media.
- Shayne: She is going to kill me but honestly, it's my mother. She took to Twitter a few years ago not realizing that people could read her tweets. This created some very interesting content from a painfully liberal doctor of education and grandmother of four. Much to our surprise, she had many fierce and colorful opinions.
- Pierre: NSFW, don't agree with everything he says, but @kyledunnigan1 makes me laugh.
How Covid-19 changed your life, personally or professionally.
- Shayne: Let's face it, Covid was and is horrible. We tried to make the best of a very real and a very scary situation. I was very lucky that my husband and I were able to continue our jobs from the comfort of our homes. That said, I always struggled with the time I spent away from my kids, especially as my responsibilities grew. It was at the beginning of 2020 that I decided I might need to take a step back because my two jobs that I loved, being a mom and being a global ECD, couldn't work in tandem. Before I made any real decisions, we were sent home. Forced to make working from home a reality, even though the last two years have not been easy, the flexibility has been life-changing. We still may not have dinner together, but I'm also much more of the mom I want to be to my kids.
- Pierre: My wife is a labor and delivery nurse, and watching her work through the pandemic has put what I do in even greater perspective.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on, and why.
- Shayne: I am so lucky that I have worked on so many meaningful projects, like "Changing the Game" or "Katie Sowers." I was grateful enough to work alongside Ringan Ledwidge on an epic shoot; we spent weeks together ideating, laughing and creating the perfect scenes for the spot. I remember being in awe of the way he directed with optimism and a sense of calm, even when we had 300+ extras who were crowd-surfing people down the streets of South Africa.
- Pierre: Has to be True Name. The why is because of how many people it has the power to help. And because I learned so much about what real strength means from the trans and nonbinary people I met.
A recent project you're proud of.
- Shayne: I'm sure a few people will eye-roll and that's fine, but I'm actually proud of all of them—even the ones that didn't turn out great. Each project comes with its own unique challenges, and we solved them in very different ways. This past year we had to switch plans midway through all of our productions with the Covid restrictions, though as an agency we have become stronger and more nimble. I do have a few new projects that are in the works that I am extremely excited for, but can't speak about yet.
- Pierre: Touch Card from Mastercard, which allows people with sight loss to distinguish between their credit, debit and prepaid cards through distinct notches cut into the cards themselves. The work on True Name has led to a regular and active process of identifying consumer barriers and correcting them. And I'm proud to work with a group of people who've made that their mission.
- Pierre: Ari Merkin's ad writing. From the Stamp work Mini to Ikea "Lamp." I had the pleasure of working for him at Fallon NY and he's the real deal.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
- Shayne: #wombpainstories. Beautiful and perfect. It makes me happy to live in a time where work like this can be spoken about so honestly and celebrated.
- Pierre: Easy answer: Shayne's. The Adaptive Controller for Microsoft. And watching her tackle things every day is a privilege.
Your main strength as a creative person.
- Shayne: Empathy. At the end of the day you need to look at yourself in the mirror. I sometimes make the decision that isn't the most favorable because I know someone is struggling and I want to give them the benefit of the doubt or allow them a break to recharge. I can also be very tough on teams, but I hope they know that behind that toughness I care more about their careers and happiness than I often do my own. I don't know if that makes me a stronger creative person or just a stronger person.
- Pierre: My love of writing. I can get lost in it, in chasing the rhythm of language, because it means so much to me.
Your biggest weakness.
- Shayne: Patience. I have none. Oh and I talk a lot.
- Pierre: Impatience, which is the cousin of anxiety.
One thing that always makes you happy.
- Shayne: That's easy—either seeing my kids smile or sleeping. But I also love seeing good people succeed.
- Pierre: My children Lucian and Juniper.
One thing that always makes you sad.
- Shayne: That time is fleeting. I wish I could reverse time and just have a few extra days from the past and not squander it.
- Pierre: Seeing kids in tough spots.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
- Shayne: I love my job but I often wonder what I would be if I grew up during a time when STE(A)M was a thing in schools. I love technical problems and systematic structure. If given the chance to do it over, I would probably be an engineer or a coder.
- Pierre: Writing dime store fiction.