When Wieden+Kennedy helped Ford resurrect the Bronco after a 24-year hiatus, the agency’s work did not stop with TV ads and social videos—it even contributed vehicle design elements, like an outdoorsy image for the instrument panel. For KFC, the shop’s marketing went way beyond unleashing yet another celebrity colonel; it teamed with Crocs to make chicken-themed “bucket clogs.” And for Fisher-Price, W+K constructed an elaborate “Toy Museum” on Instagram that breathed new life into classic toys like Chatter Telephone and Granny Doodle.
The outside-the-box moves—which had as much to do with breakthrough products as stellar ads—show how the independent, 39-year-old agency that was built on a legacy of making great films keeps pushing the boundaries of creativity as it evolves to fit the needs of modern marketers.
Karl Lieberman—the shop’s former New York chief creative who was promoted last year to oversee creative for all eight W+K global offices—succinctly summarizes the shift: As recently as five years ago, pitches were pretty standard, involving “a handful of spots, three print ads, out-of-home, and then a stupid digital idea that no one was ever going to make but they thought they needed to have it in there.” Now “they can start with a product, they can start with a change of what the brand is doing or how it will behave,” he adds. “The runway has just gotten so big for us.”
“We used to make five things a year, now we make five things a day,” adds Neal Arthur, who ascended last year to the chief operating officer job.