If advertising could have holy people, Dan Wieden was certainly one of them. There is a cold wind in Portland tonight.
It was 1983 and I was talking on the only phone we had in the tiny office of our new company. On the other end of the line were two guys named Dan Wieden and David Kennedy, calling on a pay phone down the hall from their warehouse place.
What did we talk about? It’s lost in time. I just remember the let’s-blow-the-cover-off-this-advertising-thing energy of it all. We were like teenagers planning a party with our parents gone, and Wieden was talking like the guy who had the fake ID.
We all know what happened next—or at least we think we do. Their first client, Nike, is running ads about waffle sole construction. Phil Knight writes an obscene manifesto vowing to—same deal—blow the cover off the advertising thing. Wieden, happy to oblige, says maybe this now-famous Walt Stack commercial we shot should end with, I don’t know, something inspired by the words of a guy about to be executed in Utah.
And from there: "Revolution," "Don’t Settle for Walking," "Bo Knows," "It’s Not About the Shoes," Mars Blackmon, "If You Let Me Play," SportsCenter, "Ford Proud," multiple Kentucky Colonels, "Runways," "Grr," "Cog," Kap, "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like," and a whole bunch of things now forgotten that are better than 99.999% of the stuff in the history of advertising.