2019 AME Grand Jury Perspective: Eric Kiker

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Introduction

AME’s award-winning Grand Jury members have a world-wide reputation for innovation, creative excellence, strategic prowess, and the ability to deliver distinctive and effective results for global brands.

AME’s Grand Jury is the powerhouse behind the prestigious AME Awards, their high standard of excellence ensures that AME’s 25-year legacy is upheld and respected globally both by winners and industry reports measuring creative distinction.

Grand Jury member Eric Kiker is Chief Strategy Officer & Partner for LRXD, USA.  He is a Creative Director turned Brand Strategist, frustrated by brand development processes that were too slow, too costly and ultimately written from a consultant’s POV, he invented his own process. It’s called Two Weeks to Truth™.  

Since its inception, Two Weeks to Truth has helped brands including Naked Juice, Atkins Nutritionals, Jenny Craig, Curves, Nautica, KC Masterpiece, TCHO Chocolate, Perfect Bar, Teatulia and most recently, Herbalife, find their greatness. And since the process is led with both the consumer and customer (retailer) in mind, its output is immediately usable throughout the entire marketing ecosystem.  

Eric has won numerous advertising industry awards, including New York and Los Angeles Art Director’s Club, Print Magazine, Graphis, Clio Short List and Archive Magazine’s Top 200 Worldwide Package Designs as well as numerous inclusions on thedieline.com. A career highlight is permanent inclusion in the Library of Congress. 

 

Interview

AME Awards: AME’s winners and entrants are behind some of the most innovative leading-edge creative work on the planet that delivers the most impactful result. Tell us about your process of creating and delivering creative and effective results. Are your ideas inspired or do they come together as the result of a collective brainstorming session with your team?

Eric Kiker: Our agency is 51 years old, so naturally, we’ve evolved our creative process so much over the years — you know, we used to wing it based on what the client wanted to accomplish. Creativity and attention were the bars we set for ourselves.

Then, about a decade ago, we instituted a little thing called Two Weeks to Truth. It was/is a workshop process unlike anything I’ve ever come across — I invented it to get to rich territories for the brand story, upon which the brief and the resultant creative could be based. We’ve improved it over the years to now include feedback from highly vetted, well-compensated consumers through a process we call Crowd Immersion. We bring these insights into the workshop and ask: “If our consumers feel X about X, what do we have within our brand that could help them?”

Needless to say, the creative is now reflective of a whole lot more than the thoughts of a bunch of clever people who want to win awards. It’s all about how can we most creatively reflect the intersection of what consumers want and what the brand can deliver? Easy.

AME Awards: As a strategic creative, what stand-out attributes do you recognize in award-winning creative and effective advertising…what do ads that have taken the brief and turned it into campaign that transforms opinions, evokes action and raises the bar for the brand have in common?

Eric Kiker: The common thread is always a truth that can’t be refuted — the best work pings off a culturally-relevant happening that creates a tension in the minds and lives of the target consumer. The brand that best relieves that tension has created the best work, in my opinion. And deserves, not just success in the form of peer recognition, but from the marketplace.

AME Awards: Why are effectiveness competitions like the AME Awards important?

Eric Kiker: We ad and marketing people can’t judge what’s good — not really. It’s not our faults; we’ve got a filter consumers don’t have. Plus, we’re not putting our money on the line. So, the marketplace has to decide what’s good and what sucks. If people respond in droves to an ad creatives at the best shops think is crap, I guess that’s too bad.

AME Awards: Why did you agree to participate on this year’s AME Grand Jury and What do you hope to learn by viewing entries into this competition?

Eric Kiker: I’m of the mind, you get when you give. So, giving my time to the show is part of the reason. The other part, I guess, is I love seeing the whole thing — not just the work, but the process that went into creating it. The business problem, the strategic idea, the brief and of course, the cherry on the sundae — the work.

AME Awards: What is your all time, favorite most creative and effective ad and/or ads and why in your opinion did they triumph?

Eric Kiker: Oh my, that’s a hard one — but I choose this spot, “Last,” from Nike — because it’s not just a spot, it’s the embodiment of a brand, a promise that’s been around for decades — the idea that, if you have a body, you’re an athlete.

Anyone who’s ever had that feeling as a younger person, knows what it means — it’s more than climbing on an elliptical with a copy of the Wall Street Journal, because athletes WORK. They grind, get ground down and leave the field, mat, pool or whatever, completely drained. And I think, if more people felt that way, more often as adults, we’d be less fat and unhappy. So, I applaud Nike with every grinding, ground down, drained, utterly exhausted memory of my athletic days:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ptoi8BIdRRQ

AME Awards: In your personal work what are the hallmarks of creative and strategic success? What campaign or campaigns are you most proud of?

Eric Kiker: When I started freelancing so many years ago, a designer buddy took my name, Copywrite 1958 (yeah, I’m 60, what of it, punk?) and turned it into a business paper package that won a New York Art Director’s Club award and ended up in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress. It’s still there. Big deal.

A Marketing Director I knew from another brand moved to Naked Juice when it was still so-cal only in terms of distribution and awareness. After writing some bottle romance copy for her, she asked me to consult on their big shot agency’s work. It was horribly off-strategy and I ended up winning the whole damn account. Big deal.

A couple months ago, I wrote a messaging strategy for an alcohol/drug rehab brand called FaceItTOGETHER, that centered on the idea: while everyone in the industry views sobriety as the only measure of success (stupidly), FIT judge’s recovery based on the improvement of life events and feelings that cause the drinking/drugging — and help it naturally stop. Hopefully a big world-changing deal.

AME Awards: What advice or guidelines would you give to potential entrants on earning an AME Award?

Eric Kiker: Be all about effectiveness. And please be able to prove it from square one.

AME Awards: AME’s Grand Jury, emanating from 5 regions around the globe provides the opportunity to earn trophies within a region and on the global stage.  Why in your opinion is the idea of AME’s Grand Jury judging both regional and then the entire Grand Jury judging all the Gold winning work to select Platinum winners and Best in Show important to both entrants and to jurors?

Eric Kiker: The bigger the stage, the better the trophy, right?

AME Awards: What is one secret of your success that no one knows about you (till now)?

Eric Kiker: It’s no secret — look for people to work with whom you really like and who like you. It’s not work after that.

AME Awards: What philosophy or iconic individual inspires you in both your career and life?

Eric Kiker: Recently, everything I’m doing from a professional standpoint is being driven by trying to emulate Lin Manuel-Miranda’s depiction of Alexander Hamilton (okay, that’s cliché, what of it, punk?). So, I’m being more brash, taking more chances, writing with more passion and verbosity and dreaming of glory — this wonderful bit of happenstance has me working on two related personal projects in a way I don’t think anyone has ever attempted.

 
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