"We're just exploding with growth right now and new opportunities around the world, and these guys have created a culture that created an office that created some amazing work," says Dan Wieden. "It's those kind of talents that we sorely need as we grow."
Since the pair joined Wieden in 2000, they have added numerous accolades--and dimension--to the agency's creative legacy. The two have been the leaders behind the agency's "Power of Dreams" campaign for Honda which has included groundbreaking efforts like "Grrr," the animated Cannes Grand Prix and Black D&AD Pencil winner that had audiences singing along to the power of "Hate," as well as other innovative spots like "Cog," "Choir," and "Impossible Dream."
Prior to Wieden, Davidson and Papworth first teamed up in 1985 at Boase Massimi Pollitt, followed by stints at Leagas Delaney and BBH. In those 15 years they were behind notable work for VW, Sony, The Guardian, Pepe, Adidas, BBC and the beloved "Flat Eric" campaign for Levi's.
As for what it takes to make partner at Wieden, "Well the [partners] pay us, and then we deduct that from their pay," Wieden jokes. But seriously, "I think we really look for people who are our antennae, who have some sense of where things are going and know how to help the rest of us look to the future in a positive way, and both of these guys are not satisfied with the status quo, either of the individual pieces of work or the direction in which we're going. So it's that kind of 'what can we do next' that we really do need to incorporate at the highest levels in this place." Moreover, "they're not so good individually," laughs Wieden. "But what they have is this incredible ability to inspire the people that work at that office and bring out the best in them and to spot new people and new trends. They're more than adequate, but they get the whole place doing it."
"It's quite a responsibility being handed a Wieden office and everything with that, which is about you trying to get your head down and be around some good work," says Papworth. "I suppose a similar thing is happening now to Tony and I—we've sort of been handed this and we'll do the same with that—you try and get in there and do your best, really."
"I think if you go to any of the offices around the world, you sort of feel that DNA within each office," adds Tony Davidson. "I think the main responsibility is to make sure the other offices, including the London one, have the right people to keep the DNA, but lead it to a new place. The world of advertising as we knew it changed in the '80s and has changed again now radically with new technologies. What Wieden + Kennedy will be in 30 years, you have to start looking at that and thinking about that and who's going to lead you there and try and make sure you get those people in the right places and allow them to breathe."
"Kim and I don't necessarily know what we're doing, there are people far more focused," Davidson admits. "But Wieden's quite an intuitive place, and it doesn't quite work like some other organizations and that's why we've stayed here and agreed to become partners. There is something that Dan has that we've learned from that I think Kim and I have a little of too--this intuitive, feely thing, always wanting to flip what seems logical slightly on its head, this theory of, if you know exactly what to do, it's probably a path that's been trodden. We feel very uncomfortable about the work we're doing, we always think it's not good enough. If you lie on your haunches and think that's it, and you can just do a load more of those, you're never going to move forward."