All told, the agency landed 21 new business wins, including work with Facebook, Fisher-Price, HP OMEN, Magic Leap, Michelob Ultra, Trolli, media for Quibi and, in a move that stunned the industry, nailed the U.S. creative account for McDonald’s, just three years after the fast-feeder’s last industry-shaking review. Perhaps even more amazing, it won McDonald’s while still maintaining its long-running relationship with KFC, a move that is turning old notions of client conflicts on its head.
At the same time, the agency lost ABC Media and Instagram due to restructurings at Disney and Facebook, respectively, and parted ways with RXBAR and Lyft post-IPO. After an award-winning campaign for OKCupid, parent company Tinder opted to move the account to Mekanism.
Nonetheless, W+K’s global revenue was up 14.1 percent in the U.S. and 8 percent globally. Portland notched its second-best year ever, and New York had its best year for the third straight time.
“The world right now isn’t really set up for a company like ours. The contracts aren’t written for a company like ours. Non-competes weren’t created to help a company like ours. Media infrastructure, none of it has been set up to be in our favor,” says Colleen DeCourcy, co-president and global chief creative officer. “And I think that there are a set of clients in this business who see the value of what we bring, and they really want to help us face those headwinds. And so rules get broken.”
A steady hand
Account wins get the glory, but no agency can survive on new business alone. After the pitch, there is always the work, and few agencies have shown that they can iterate and reevaluate and continue to deliver culture-leading creative better than Wieden.
To follow up on the Cannes Lions-winning “Dream Crazy” work for Nike, the agency expanded the campaign’s purview. In February, “Dream Crazier” highlighted the challenges that female athletes confront and overcome to be the best in their sport with a spot narrated by tennis champion Serena Williams. “Dream With Us” followed Team USA to the Women’s World Cup, where it shifted from celebratory to inspirational after the U.S. won the tournament, lobbying for equal pay for the winners, who earn only a fraction of what their less successful male counterparts do. By the end of September, Nike’s women’s business was growing at double digits.