Independent agency Wieden & Kennedy, headquartered in Portland, Oregon, is widely regarded as one of the world's finest creative agencies, originally as a result of its superb work over the years for founding client Nike. During the late 1990s, the agency opened a clutch of international offices but was initially hit by a series of staff problems, as well as fickle clients. It had recovered from these by 2002, and has steadily broadened its global reach, initially to service Nike but subsequently adding other blue chip global clients. As a result, Wieden & Kennedy's reputation is arguably as strong in Europe or Asia as it is in the US. Its offices in Amsterdam and London rank among the region's most admired agencies, and there also outposts in China, India, Japan and Brazil. It is the only remaining privately owned agency to operate a truly global network. Dan Wieden still serves as chairman emeritus and majority owner of the business, but day-to-day activities are overseen by global chairman Dave Luhr. Colleen DeCourcy - named as Adweek's Agency Creative Leader of the Decade at the end of 2019 - is co-chief creative officer with Susan Hoffman, and also co-president with Tom Blessington. AdAge estimated global revenues of $330m for the group in 2018, including $208m in the US. The agency was originally formed in 1982 in Portland, Oregon, by former McCann-Erickson staffers Dan Wieden and David Kennedy. The sportswear company was their first client, and it was Wieden himself who coined Nike's legendary "Just Do It" slogan. Although, the agency still retains its original name, Kennedy retired from the business in 1993.
Capsule checked 17th February 2020
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Adbrands Daily Update 1st Oct 2020: "Camp Next Level". With most traditional fixtures curtailed by Covid, Nike too is turning its attention to sports you can play from home. China hosts the company's first big push into eSports, accompanied by a hyperactive, CG-enhanced campaign from Wieden & Kennedy Shanghai. It's still doesn't quite make sense that playing video games can constitute a real sport - what part of your body gets any exercise from it apart from your thumbs? - but plenty of marketers seem to think so. And if that's where the money is, it seems more than likely that gaming could even turn up at the Olympics one day soon. Wieden Shanghai gives us a taste of what that training camp might feel like.
Adbrands Daily Update 26th Aug 2020: "What Moves You Makes You". Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam has unveiled a new global campaign for luxury pen maker Montblanc, part of Richemont's global portfolio. As has become commonplace these days, three celebrities have been selected to straddle Montblanc's global customer market. Actor and singer Chen Kun covers the ground for the huge and important Chinese market; British actor Taron Egerton - who did a fine job of playing Elton John in 'Rocketman' - represents the UK; but the most pleasing by far of the three spots is this one featuring that modern American icon Spike Lee. There's humour and drama in both other films, but this one betrays more than a little influence behind the camera from its star. It displays the humour and grit and grounded reality we've come to expect from this great filmmaker.
Adbrands Daily Update 31st Jul 2020: "You Can't Stop Us". Wieden & Kennedy's latest for Nike is an absolute miracle of top-of-its-game editing, stitching together a succession of great sporting moments both professional and amateur with exceptional skill and precision. Apparently, director Oscar Hudson, and editors Peter Wiedensmith and Jessica Baclesse, working with visual effects studio A52, researched 4,000 sports action sequences and chose 72 of them to combine into 36 split-screen moments. Virtually all of Nike's top endorsement stars take a brief turn in the sun: Serena Williams, Colin Kaepernick, Megan Rapinoe, LeBron James, Naomi Osaka, Eliud Kipchoge, Caster Semenya, Cristiano Ronaldo, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kylian Mbappé among others, along with several unnamed everyday amateurs. Frankly, the script is something else. Call me a cynical Brit, but this sort of inspirational messaging - voiced here by Rapinoe - leaves me a little cold. The visuals, though, are enough to take your breath away.
Adbrands Daily Update 29th June 2020: "Dreams Realised". More perhaps than any other brand in Coca-Cola's portfolio, Sprite has for almost 40 years targeted its message in the US at an African-American audience. Ad man Steve Stoute's book 'The Tanning of America' noted how in the mid-1980's Coke successfully aligned Sprite with the emerging hip-hop movement and has never looked back. From Kurtis Blow in 1986 through A Tribe Called Quest, Roxanne Shante, Missy Elliott and others in the 1990s to Drake, Lil Yachty, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James in the 2010s, the brand has regularly signed up top rappers and sporting stars as its brand ambassadors, making it, in the words of cultural commentator Ann-Derrick Gaillot, "the unofficial 'black people soda', even if no executive would admit it". Yet never before has Sprite politicised that message as openly as in this fine new spot from Wieden & Kennedy New York, created specially for last Sunday's televised BET Awards. "The American Dream - it wasn't made for everybody. It forgot about one very important detail: Black America." Yet now it's really time to level the playing field. "Black Americans woke up a long time ago and set out to make their own dream." Let's finally help to make that dream a reality.
Adbrands Daily Update 18th May 2020: "Still Going Strong". Facebook has been one of the handful of companies that seem to have enjoyed even stronger growth under lockdown than even before. Despite the plunge in revenues, usage is up. How else to keep doing the things you love when you can't leave home? We're not generally the biggest fans of these stitched-together, crowd-sourced spots, but Wieden & Kennedy's latest for the social giant is an inspiring mash-up of user-generated content that demonstrates the ingenuity that comes from being locked up at home for weeks at a time. The joyfully upbeat nature of the whole thing is actually infectious.
Adbrands Daily Update 1st Feb 2020: "Show Up". Is there any Super Bowl advertiser who hasn't already unveiled their commercial ahead of tomorrow's game? Among the latest deluge is Coca-Cola who released the full film for its Coke Energy spot a day after teasing a 15-second edit. Considering the talent involved - the agency is Wieden & Kennedy Portland and the ad stars Martin Scorsese, Jonah Hill and rapper YBN Cordae - it's a shame it's not a better ad. But still, Martin Scorsese! As if he needs more energy. Apparently, Jonah Hill was signed first for the spot and was asked if he had any suggestions for who could play his friend. It was he who suggested Scorsese - they've been pals since 'Wolf of Wall Street'. We bet Coke and W&K couldn't believe their luck when Marty said yes. It's been a busy week for Jonah Hill, who also debuted as a commercials director with a spot for Adidas.
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