2019 AME Grand Jury Perspective: Stefanie Kuhnhen

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Introduction

The AME Awards honors campaigns that are not only creative, but campaigns that hit the bullseye for brands, triumphing in both creativity and effectiveness. AME’s Grand Jury are the genius minds behind many of AME’s award-winning entries.

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. Their dedication result in truly award-worthy work being recognized.

2019 Grand Jury member, Stefanie Kuhnhen is Managing Partner/Strategy and is responsible for the strategic product for GRABARZ & PARTNER, one of the leading creative brand agencies in Germany. Her core expertise lies in communication planning and brand management.

With more than 20 years of practical experience, she has extensive specialist knowledge in the design of brands such as EDEKA, IKEA, Volkswagen or Burger King through visionary thinking, branding strategies, communication strategies or holistic brand implementation in companies. Her belief is that brands serve as a link with people and are growing increasingly important. Nowadays, they act as the operating system of the entire company – a development that she also reflects in her agency by means of a comprehensive strategic portfolio. Stefanie Kuhnhen’s work has repeatedly won strategy awards both in Germany and internationally.

 

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?

Stefanie Kuhnhen: Firstly, we always start with a thorough analysis of the business problem through our impact team. Hence, we sometimes need to re-frame it and win the client over to look at the problem in a new way, which consequently also means defining new KPIs. Secondly, having that clear understanding of the problem in our hearts and minds, we search for an inspiring creative playground that delivers a right solution to that problem. This is a process based on deep people understanding and creative thinking that adds a surprising twist to an insight. Therefore, this phase is mainly implemented through strategic, creative and systemic people that together understand motivations, ideas and how we can use technology to make people do something. So, yes, our ideas are infused by strategic deep dives and twists but also by an integrated team that understands systems as well as storytelling and together creates a new and meaningful solution. Thirdly, we fill the communication pipeline and execute the idea in various touchpoints working with all the different experts needed. Our process is thus very much guided by the business problem we define and by finding something surprising to answer it.

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?

Stefanie Kuhnhen: To me all great work has a single-minded thought at its core that is fairly easy to tell and that is rooted in a strong human motivation or current cultural topic. And most of the time It has a surprising twist to that familiar motivation or cultural hook. Thus, it makes you think: “Shit, this is brilliant, because I know this problem or topic, but I’ve never thought about it like this.” If you feel that an idea has caught you red-handed in your thinking or behaviour and adds something new to it, then it’s mostly an award-winning piece.

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

Stefanie Kuhnhen:
These effectiveness competitions remind us all that we are here to help our clients’ businesses and hence prove the value of our work for our clients in a very substantial way. Nevertheless, we should look out for one common flaw: Advertising does not necessarily need to have an immediate effect. At the end of the day we are salesmen, but also – and most importantly – showmen. We fascinate people for our clients’ brands and through that create long-term brand value. We should never neglect that important long-term impact part our work has!

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?

Stefanie Kuhnhen: To me awarded work sets a benchmark of what is possible, sometimes against all odds. To create better work yourself it is important to know these benchmarks. Additionally, by viewing these entries you learn, as you train your creative muscle and logical thinking at the same time. To me it’s still one of the best methods to grow yourself.

AME Awards: In your personal work what are the hallmarks of creative and strategic success? What campaign or campaigns are you most proud of (don’t be shy brag about your accomplishments)?

Stefanie Kuhnhen: Two ways of answering that question: For Germany’s biggest grocery chain EDEKA we created 13 years ago the brand platform “We love food” in a purely price-driven German food market. Through that game-changing move we not only changed the whole market, but we also created a long-lasting brand platform that until today inspires EDEKA with its meanwhile new agency to create groundbreaking communication and services. Having developed something that substantial, universal and long-lasting is very exceptional to me.

On the other hand, we created four years ago the epic one-off prank “Nazis against Nazis” that is one of the most awarded pieces of all time until today. I’m proud of it because it provided a clever solution to a problem in the German society that was applied to various use cases since then. Creating something that useful is also such a satisfying feeling!

Being creative means creating new and useful things – whenever we reach that sweet spot with our teams this is where the pride is. :)

 
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