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Wieden & Kennedy: The New Global Powerhouse

Shop Lost Nike Running, but It Nabbed Nokia and Is Growing in India, China

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Wieden & Kennedy is back on track.

After being dealt an ego blow by losing Nike's running account, the shop in less than a month has scooped up an astounding $400 million in new billings. It added to its coffers Careerbuilder.com, Visa International's World Cup sponsorship, and the global creative and strategic duties for the Nokia brand.
The Nokia win adds to Wieden & Kennedy's roster, which already includes major global brands such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Honda in Europe.
The Nokia win adds to Wieden & Kennedy's roster, which already includes major global brands such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Honda in Europe.

"If anyone still doubts that Wieden is a global force as a network, wake up," said Neil Christie managing director of Wieden's London office.

As if to underscore the point, the agency is opening its sixth global office, in Delhi. Dave Luhr, global chief operating officer, said that "India is an incredibly important market in the world today. Clearly, clients want to take advantage of the opportunity."

He said the new office, like other Wieden offices and unlike the branch offices of major agencies, will be developed from scratch and will not involve the purchase of another shop. He expects to have between 20 and 30 employees there by the end of the year.

A wide net
Wieden already has two offices in China (Shanghai and Beijing), in addition to Tokyo, London, Amsterdam and New York. Because an agency based in Oregon has no illusion of growing with local clients, he said, it has to extend a wide net. "There's some advantage to being in Portland," Mr. Luhr said.

The Nokia win adds to Wieden's roster, which already includes major global brands such as Coca-Cola, Starbucks and Honda in Europe. Through 2006, Wieden reported global billings of $1.4 billion with 750 employees worldwide. The agency grew 40% in the past three years, Mr. Luhr said.

The Wieden-style "micro" ad network is what budget-conscious clients desiring great creative want, observers said. "This is what marketers are looking for today -- creativity -- and they don't want to pay the overhead of a gigantic network," said Russel Wohlwerth, principal, Ark Advisors, Los Angeles, an agency consulting firm. "Wieden's micro network is clearly for today's times."

Other consultants, however, aren't convinced Wieden has solved the integration and new-media issues that led to the loss of the running portion of the Nike business. "They're limiting their future by not being sufficiently integrated," said one consultant. "It's the Achilles' heel for them."
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