AT Work With: Christopher Dimmock
What attracted you to AT?
I’ve been in the agency business for 28 years, much of it in healthcare, so I certainly knew about AbelsonTaylor as a highly creative shop and a winner of multiple Agency of the Year awards. When I moved from Boston to Chicago to work at Leo Burnett and later DraftFCB and Creata, I did a lot of work outside of healthcare and learned that there are many different ways to approach marketing that haven’t been widely applied to healthcare. The AbelsonTaylor opportunity came with unique features, not the least of which is that part of why I’m here isn’t yet clearly defined. I’m expected to explore and challenge and break new ground, which gives me the chance to tap into all areas of my experience. That freedom, and the opportunity to work with some of the most talented people in the industry, made AbelsonTaylor very attractive to me.
What about AT has most surprised you so far?
The excitement to see what’s next. There’s a real interest here in challenging each other – and clients – to see where things can go next. There are a lot of really cool things AT is doing to understand what’s needed in healthcare marketing. I’m also impressed that the agency is so good at the science but still passionate about the creative.
You have postgraduate certifications in medical marketing and strategic marketing management, but you also have a B.A. in philosophy with a minor in studio art. What did you think you might do back when you were an undergraduate?
My interest in philosophy was primarily in problem-solving – how we break down concepts and test different parts of them to arrive at solutions. I was also interested in the creativity and analysis that are part of philosophy. I finished my degree requirements early, so I then studied English and art with the extra time. I expected I might go to law school back then, but fell into advertising because it offered the right combination of things I was interested in – reasoning, strategy and creativity.
You worked on Marlboro, which is the opposite of healthcare. How do you square your work on that brand with your work in an all-health and wellness agency?
At the time, I was particularly interested in brand science, and there is no stronger brand for the zeitgeist of the American west than Marlboro. Both the clients and Leo Burnett were also interested in taking a new look at the essence of the brand and exploring how to integrate digital and creative. With experience in all those areas, I helped create a digital integration platform for Marlboro’s relationship marketing. It was professionally challenging and successful work, but I didn’t want to continue working on tobacco. I wanted to get back to healthcare, which I did with my next job, at DRAFTFCB. My responsibilities there included leading strategic planning for the agency’s DTC healthcare practice in Chicago.
What lessons from your last job – where play was a focus – can you apply to healthcare marketing?
When I joined Creata, the company was in an introspective period, looking at what it was and what it wanted to become. We realized that everything the company was doing – from designing Happy Meals to creating video games to developing novel packaging – involved play in some way. I was intrigued by what play means – physiologically, developmentally, historically, culturally, socially – and how it affects us. It’s universal, crosses all barriers, and can put real value in people’s lives. Whatever the area of marketing – including healthcare – play is a powerful way of creating an engaging experience and an interesting way of connecting people with brands.
How do you play when you’re not at work?
My wife and I have a combined family of seven children and five dogs. There’s always something happening in my house. The ages run from 25 down to 10 and all have very different personalities. We have a bit of an intellectual hot house. I tend to be the cook of the family and try to bring us all together for meals at least a couple of times a week.
To recharge, I really need to be outside, preferably on the water or in the mountains. I grew up on the east coast and went to college in Vermont. If it’s not ski season, it’s sailing season. I also try to keep time to read every day. I’m usually the first one up and have a morning routine that includes coffee and the Wall Street Journal.
You’ve lived, studied and worked on both coasts as well as in Chicago. What place feels most like home?
Definitely Boston. I was raised just outside the city and spent a big chunk of my career there. I moved to Chicago 12 years ago and am very happy here, but Boston will always be my hometown.