Red Antler Names Kiser Barnes Partner and CCO to Grow at Scale

Barnes will strengthen the agency with his brand experience and design

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Brooklyn agency Red Antler named Kiser Barnes as partner and chief creative officer to elevate the work of its client roster, expand its portfolio of global business partners and solidify the agency’s creative reputation.

Barnes comes to Red Antler from Digitas, where he served as executive vice president, head of design. His years of design savvy and a varied background that found him raised in west Africa and the Middle East made him the right fit for an agency that was founded in 2007 by JB Osborne and Emily Heyward and built on a reputation of brand building and design.

Adding a partner at the top of the C-suite wasn’t easy for Osborne and Heyward, who already had solid chemistry in the agency’s executives, but Osborne said that after meeting Barnes, he knew the hire would help the agency reach the next level of success.

“The fact that Kiser has spent time within different types of agencies—he spent time in house, at brands, he’s worked across all of the different types of capabilities and disciplines of design and, beyond design, he has a tremendous passion for technology—just all lined up to feel totally obvious and easy,” Osborne told ADWEEK.

Red Antler has been at the forefront of industry trends, from the rise of direct-to-consumer ecommerce to telehealth, Web3 and, most recently, robotics and artificial intelligence, and the company has expanded its client base beyond the venture-backed ecosystem with clients including Allbirds, Casper, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Figure, Google, Hasbro, Hinge, Levain, Prose, Ramp and Supergoop.

With Barnes joining the team, Red Antler is ready to redefine brand building, thanks to his technology-forward approach to building immersive brand experiences. He has led client initiatives including Publicis Groupe’s LVMH media win, Crocs, Walmart’s entry into the metaverse with Walmart Land and the acclaimed Delta Wonder Window CES experience.

“We’ve never had an outside senior leader join our team in a role like this, so this is a big step for us. We feel like we’re at the beginning of our journey. It’s like a constant evolution and reinvention,” said Osborne.

With design and agency experience spanning two decades, Barnes will leverage a breadth of knowledge across multiple industries and a diverse set of brands including Campari Group, Google, Lincoln, Sephora, Visa and more.

“CCO at Red Antler and partner just felt like this combination of all my experiences across diverse ranges of capabilities. I’ve led design, advertising, experiential and, more recently, innovation and across industries and sectors,” Barnes told Adweek.

Barnes will lead a team of 40 creatives across brand identity, user interface/user experiuence, content, advertising, social and experiential.

An industry inflection point

Barnes sees the industry at an inflection point, with an increasingly diverse ecosystem of consumer experiences combined with accelerated innovation and technology, and AI accelerating things.

“What that’s going to lead to ultimately is an audience of one,” said Barnes, adding that the way brands are going to have to show up in the future will be differentiated and personalized.

Barnes said this will obliterate the traditional playbook and hierarchy of brand building, and brands have to now figure out the most impactful spaces for them to show up in a diverse ecosystem of consumer experiences.

In Barnes’ previous roles, working with big, global brands at scale, those brands wanted visionary agencies that could deliver not just on brand building, but on business strategy, as well, which he sees that Red Antler does well.

“There’s tremendous appetite in the big brand space, as well, for them to capture that startup energy of capturing new audiences, creating new ventures, forcing reappraisal, taking smart, creative risks, but doing all of that at the speed of culture and innovation,” said Barnes.

Osborne wants Red Antler to take the necessary risks to succeed and build deeper connections with the customer, building on the shop’s strengths in design and brand building and growing at scale.

Last year, Red Antler launched a business called Wild Fruit, a presentation design agency, working with companies that are raising capital funds. And now, Red Antler is looking for other spaces where it can build complementary services to help businesses succeed,

“Kiser’s passion for the intersection of technology and creativity is incredibly exciting and feels really relevant for this moment in time. We want to be at the forefront of thinking about how to leverage AI, and how technology can drive brand building,” said Osborne.

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