AME Awards Grand Jury Spotlight Interview: John Barker

The AME Awards Grand Jury is representative of the industry’s most highly awarded multidisciplinary marketers, media planners, strategy directors, social media experts, and creatives from five regions around the globe.

This week, AME spent a few minutes with Grand Jury member and branding /advertising superstar, John Barker, CEO and Chief Idea Officer for Barker and asked him to share his creative insights with AME’s international community.

Grammy and Emmy award-winning John Barker is the recipient of over 100 international awards during his 30-year career. Before founding the Barker agency in 2003, he served in senior positions within Grey Worldwide and Sony Music. John’s created campaigns for the world’s most prominent brands including Procter & Gamble, PepsiCo, Sprint, Estee Lauder, Hasbro, Bloomberg and McGraw Hill.  During his career he’s launched over 50 original television series including Gilmore Girls, NYPD Blue, Roseanne, Twin Peaks and more, and has marketed music legends such as Billy Joel, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and Gloria Estefan and served as Creative Director of Def Jam Recordings and repositioned the History Channel.

In the interview below, John shares the hallmarks of a winning campaign, his most favorite ad he created, what inspires him and more!

AME Awards: Why did you agree to judge this year’s AME Awards?

John Barker: There are dozens of major award shows that honor creativity, but the AME's have celebrated ingenuity and effectiveness for over 20 years. And that’s the point of advertising and marketing, isn’t it? Breakthrough work that solves complex challenges. It’s an honor to be part of that.

AME Awards: What are the hallmarks of an award-winning campaign?

John Barker: Creativity alone isn’t enough. Neither is effectiveness alone. We’re looking for inspired solutions to very complex marketing problems. The truth is, just about any good agency can make a funny Super Bowl spot. But it takes a great agency and client team to solve the most perplexing challenges.

AME Awards: What’s your favorite ad that you created?

John Barker: It was very early in my career, when I created the 'Who Killed Laura Palmer?' campaign to launch the 'Twin Peaks' television series. The truth is, everyone expected that series to fail miserably, because it was so flat-out bonkers. But I figured that everyone loves a mystery, and it debuted as the most-watched series premiere in history at that time.

AME Awards: What inspires you?

John Barker: Great work inspires me, but in an odd way. I get angry. I get fiercely competitive. I want to work with my team to do even better. I suppose that it’s natural and healthy, but the truth is, I’m not sure.”


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