GENICOS' John Kirk on His Work for Immunocore and the Evolving Health Space
Muse: How'd you get into the marketing world—particularly, how'd you choose the health vertical?
John Kirk, SVP/Group Creative Director of GENICOS, powered by Syneos Health: I was always the "artist" in high school and went on to graduate from The Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD) as an advertising major. CCAD hired me right out of college to work for their internal advertising group, which gave me the total freedom to explore creatively and push my sense of design. From there it was a natural leap for me to an ad agency and I never looked back. I've always been fascinated as much by the business side of advertising as I am the creative side—in my overthinking mind, one just can't exist without the other.
Talk about a recent project you're especially proud of.
I am especially proud of the metastatic uveal melanoma DSE campaign we did for Immunocore. Far less common than cutaneous melanoma, uveal melanoma can be no less deadly and extremely hard to detect before it has metastasized—most often to the liver—and often with predictably grim results. This campaign for Immunocore powerfully captured this dilemma using the flow of ink from the eye to the liver.
The video we produced in partnership with our U.K. Syneos Health colleagues, (Andrew Musumeci, ACD) was a very visceral way to get eye care practitioners and oncologists to Think Fast if they spotted a lesion in the choroid layer of the eye. This message needed to break out of the clutter, and it did exactly that. It was a great collaboration with the clients, the U.K. teams, and with Ember Films.
Talk about ads or media that inspired you to get into this biz ... and what inspires you now.
One of the first ads I remember having the power to impact culture was the 1971 Coca-Cola commercial "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." I was only 6 then but I can still sing every word of that song. I'm not sure I realized its power at the time, but I knew that I liked it, and it started my journey on the road to commercials and videos as a preferred storytelling medium. When you're able tap into simple human truths the results can take on a life of their own.
How do you see the health space evolving in the next five years?
We need to be cognizant of how the constantly evolving market will impact patients as well as HCPS. Feedback from patients will be more important than ever in shaping marketing strategies and treatment paradigms for HCPS. That in turn will have HCPs starting to demand real-world evidence to help support their treatment decisions. The clinical trial data that has traditionally driven promotional messaging will no longer be enough.
In the health space, especially from a creative standpoint, we tend to forget that HCPs are human too and we need to build our communications to them with a balance of rational and emotional elements. We must think more along the lines of consumer advertising and not get locked into a pharma-only mindset.
What do you do when you're not working? What are your hobbies, hustles, passions, etc. away from the office? What do you enjoy doing most?
I'm always trying to invent stuff and MacGyver things. I'm re-learning how to drive a stock car. Love anything and everything to do with being outdoors. I'm a bit of a foodie. And… before it's all said and done, I will finally learn how to play the banjo.