Wieden & Kennedy

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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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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

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.

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.

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