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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Marketer Moves 10th Jun 2021: New ECDs at Wieden & Kennedy Portland. See Marketer Moves (members only).
Adbrands Daily Update 5th May 2021: "Love Leads To Good". As the countdown to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics belatedly begins, Procter & Gamble launches its corporate sponsorship campaign for the Games, led once again by Wieden & Kennedy. I'm sure I don't need to tell you by now but this extended anthem film is definitely a four-hankie job. There will be tears, my friend. As before, W&K focus on the binding relationship between athletes and their mothers, who provide all those essential years of support and love - sometimes a bit of tough love - that transform any sportsperson from competitor to potential champion. Fine, fine work, as we have come to expect from this lifelong Gold medallist among creative agencies.
Adbrands Daily Update 9th Mar 2021: "Drink True". So long, dancing babies... Danone's flagship mineral water Evian has quietly shifted its global account from longtime holder BETC to Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam. That agency unveils its first work for the brand this week with not one but two powerful campaigns. (Why, though, launch both simultaneously? Seems like a shame not to give each its due.) The more traditional of the pair has teenaged freeskier Manon Loschi takes us on a guided tour into the mountains where Evian is naturally filtered before emerging from its source. However, the starrier of the two spots marks what is probably the first mainstream commercial endorsement by Anglo-Kosovan superstar Dua Lipa, performing a cappella (more or less) for your listening pleasure.
Adbrands Daily Update 3rd Dec 2020: The Visa creative review ended in triumph for Wieden & Kennedy, which will take over from BBDO (in the Americas and Asia) and Saatchi & Saatchi (in Europe) as lead global creative agency. Media remains with Publicis-owned Starcom, and the Groupe has also been retained for local creative implementation and production, filling for W&K where that agency doesn't have a regional presence.
Adbrands Daily Update 19th Oct 2020: "Oda Is Live". There's nothing ordinary about the Oda music system, and Wieden & Kennedy's bizarre and beautiful animations do full justice to that fact. Although these high end devices also double as traditional speakers you can use for your own music, arguably their primary purpose is to provide an auditory portal for a program of unique live weekly performances by a collection of noted experimental musicians and spoken word artists, available exclusively through the Oda system. "Oda artists play to you in your home, not on a phone or in a browser. It's like two cans and a string. As it should be." A weird and wonderful concept; whether it's sustainable in the long term is another matter altogether, but the idea is extraordinary.
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.
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