Wieden & Kennedy Will Not Take Part in Nike Review

Newly Created Global Running Category up for Grabs

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SAN FRANCISCO (AdAge.com) -- Dan Wieden won't just do it.
A 'category alignment' at the marketer has prompted the new agency search.
A 'category alignment' at the marketer has prompted the new agency search.

The Wieden & Kennedy co-founder and principal, who made the Nike swoosh and its "Just do it" tagline an advertising icon, will not pursue a newly created running category that the world's largest sneaker and apparel maker has decided to put into review, an executive familiar with the situation said. The agency, which holds the bulk of Nike's $220 million account, will instead focus on the parts of the account it has.

Expanding creative roster
Nike informed Wieden & Kennedy, its agency for some two-dozen years, earlier this week it was expanding its creative agency roster, the third time Nike has reached out to other shops. In the 1980s, Chiat/Day worked on the account, and in the 1990s Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners briefly handled women's apparel and other brands. Each time after Nike's flirtation, Wieden was there for the rebound.

A "category alignment" at the marketer prompted the agency search. Nike traditionally has divided its business into footwear, apparel and equipment, with the footwear group handling everything from basketball to soccer shoes. Under a reorganization begun last year, Nike created five global categories : women's fitness; running; basketball; men's training; and soccer. Each category is responsible for all its elements; for example, the women's fitness group encompasses shoes, apparel, and equipment. Nike, in a January news release, said its sports-culture business will be handled across all consumer categories.

The creative work up for grabs include the running category, which includes Nike Plus in the U.S. A smaller piece of business, a football category in the U.S., also may go up for review.

Nike spent $220 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2006, and $200 million in 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

Still an anchor account
Although Nike continues to be an anchor account for the agency, and one on which Wieden built its reputation, the independent shop now has an international network with offices in Europe and Asia. Its billings top $1.4 billion globally, with clients including Coca-Cola Co.'s Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Procter & Gamble Co.'s Old Spice and Eukanuba pet food, Target, Starbucks and Electronic Arts. Billings in the Portland, Ore., office were $607 million in 2006. Wieden's New York office handles Nike's Brand Jordan.

"Dan has decided to focus on what [Nike billings and accounts] the agency has," said the executive, who added the shop expects to continue to handle on the bulk of Nike's work.

A spokeswoman for Wieden declined to comment on the Nike announcement and referred calls to the marketer.

Interactive capabilities
Neither Nike nor Wieden officials would get into specifics about the change, but a number of industry executives believe one area of concern for the marketer was Wieden's interactive capabilities. The agency, however, last year hired Renny Gleeson, a former Carat Fusion managing director as global director-digital strategies. The agency also incorporates its interactive experts into account teams. As part of its annual submission to Advertising Age for the magazine's Agency of the Year consideration, Wieden listed a number of interactive projects for Nike among its case studies. For example, Wieden said its "I Feel Pretty" work featuring Maria Sharapova more than doubled sales orders on Nikewomen.com.

Nike has long worked with at least two separate interactive shops, R/GA in New York and AKQA in Europe.
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