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Wieden & Kennedy

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Agency rating: 2.5

Wieden & Kennedy began 2000 in new digs in Portland's trendy Pearl District. The new office provided a creative environment for the shop as it returns to its roots as the keeper of the Nike brand with new campaigns for the Shox line of shoes and a bevy of strong interactive efforts.

The independent Wieden also picked up additional Coke brand assignments from Coca-Cola Co., which has increasingly been consolidating business at shops owned by Interpublic Group of Cos. Wieden has turned around its fortunes with Miller Brewing Co. through its Miller High Life campaigns. It also recently added an assignment for the Henry Weinhard beer brand. Wieden also has taken a lead on integrating TV and the Internet with campaigns for Nike as well as Miller, Alta Vista and ESPN.

But some creative material grabbed negative media attention, including a pulled Olympics spot for Nike featuring a chainsaw-wielding madman chasing a female athelte, and a print shoe ad describing the disabled as "drooling" and "misshapen."

Wieden claims worldwide billings jumped 5.4% in 2000 to $823 million compared with 1999. Its wins include Robertson Stephens, 800.com and, through its Tokyo office, MTV Japan. The agency lost a handful of dot-com accounts and Nestle USA's PowerBar brand.

On the positive side of the ledger, the troubled London office stabilized and offices in New York, Tokyo and Amsterdam are contributing more to the agency's overall billings, with the Portland, Ore. percentage moving down last year to 52% from 81% five years ago.

LOOKING AHEAD

After years of simply answering the phone for blue-chip clients begging the agency to take their business, Wieden now needs to further ramp up its new business activities. Will the last of the independent shops with strong creative be sold? "Independence continues to be a strong asset to this company and our clients and will be as well in the years ahead," says Dave Luhr, chief operating officer.

Last year's rating: 2.5

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