Wieden & Kennedy London has tended to play a supporting role to the main HQ in Portland and the European hub in Amsterdam, especially on global accounts. However it has gained considerable acclaim for a series of campaigns for local advertisers, such as Honda (until 2017), Arla's Lurpak and Cravendale brands and Nike. Its biggest gain to-date came with the capture of the Tesco account in summer 2012, but the rigours of that business proved too much. The client moved agency again in early 2015, but a little over a year later W&K returned to the supermarket sector with the capture of Sainsbury's, for whom it has carved out a highly distinctive marketing profile. Launched in 1998, W&K London got off to a very rocky start, before finally finding its feet in 2001 under new managing director Amy Smith and creative directors Tony Davidson and Kim Papworth. Brilliant work for Honda put the agency on the map, and that evolution continued under Smith's successor Neil Christie, from 2004. He moved up to a global role in 2017 as network COO, then was reappointed as UK CEO the following year following a management restructure at the parent agency. He finally departed the agency in 2021, and was followed out of the agency by joint executive creative directors Tony Davidson (after two decades) and Ian Tait. Their successors have not yet been confirmed but there has been little sign so far of a downturn in creativity. Helen Andrews ran the agency as managing director until 2022, when she was succeeded by Ryan Fisher. Nielsen (in Campaign) estimated billings of £91m in 2020, placing W&K among the Top 20 agencies. In its accounts for 2020, Wieden & Kennedy UK Ltd reported turnover of £26m - down from £32m the year before as a result of the pandemic - but a net profit of £326k. See also Wieden & Kennedy Global.
Capsule checked 20th July 2021
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Historical profile information for W&K London
Marketer Moves 26th Jan 2022: New managing director at Wieden & Kennedy London. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 16th Nov 2020: "Helping Everyone Eat Better". Wieden & Kennedy London continues to break the mould in its excellent advertising for UK supermarket Sainsbury's. Here it combines its Sainsbury's trademark style of blended colour and monochrome with humour, an unsual angle on food photography, environmental activism and even Stephen Fry. And all in the space of 60 seconds. Truly no other groceries retailer on earth has advertising quite like this. Top notch.
Marketer Moves 10th May 2021: COO international growth markets departs at Wieden & Kennedy London. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 23rd Feb 2021: "Open That Coca-Cola". "Ooooh! Ahhhh!" indeed. Wieden & Kennedy London just delivered what is almost certainly Coca-Cola's best and most infectious ad in a decade. There's no attempt to be serious or offer any sort of message (like last year's "Be Open" campaign with Natasha Lyonne). This is just about pure pleasure, and as a result it's probably the first Coke spot in years that might actually persuade someone under the age of 25 to rush out and buy one. Commissioned by Coca-Cola GB, it looks like it's designed to roll out across all European markets. Tyler the Creator created the accompanying dance track, which gets its own release on streaming platforms next week.
Adbrands Daily Update 16th Nov 2020: "Perfect Portions". British supermarket Sainsbury's has opted this year to forgo the one-off Christmas blockbuster in favour of three lower-key films from Wieden & Kennedy London that celebrate what is perhaps the central feature of the holiday season: family reunions. The two released so far are both beautifully realised, combining recreated retro home video with audio of a modern day phone call between family members looking forward to the big day. The second spot carries an additional emotional depth-charge. Subtly but powerfully, it acknowledges the fact that many families - after such a difficult year, more families than would normally be the case - will have one or more empty chairs at the Christmas table for the first time.
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Nov 2020: "The Magic of Coca-Cola". In different hands, Coca-Cola's latest Christmas ad could have been a soppy throwaway, as most of its seasonal predecessors have tended to be. Instead Wieden & Kennedy London and star director Taika Waititi use clever but respectful comic exaggeration to turn dross into gold. The sentimentality remains intact, but the unusual settings and the inherent absurdity of this Dad's globe-spanning quest to fulfill his mission removes the saccharine, with the result that those swelling strings at the end might even bring a tear to your eye. It's probably Coke's best Christmas ad since the polar bears.
Adbrands Daily Update 4th Aug 2020: "Keep On Connecting". Wieden & Kennedy London's swansong for Three UK is less epic or lavishly expansive than its extended-length predecessors but it shares a similar CG-heavy playfulness. W+K has set the bar high over its decade on the account, and it will be interesting indeed to see how well new agency Wonderhood Studios rises to the challenge.
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