we don’t suck

George Parker of Adscam, one of the industry’s most scathing commentators, has done a piece for PSFK on ad Industry blogs. You can read it here. I’m delighted to say that Welcome to Optimism is cited amongst ‘Ad Blogs that don’t suck’. George says ‘Most ad agency blogs are pathetic efforts that transparently shill on behalf of bean-counter management. Weiden & Kennedy, London, doesn’t do that, and isn’t afraid to take the piss out of itself’.

On behalf of bean counter management I can tell you that if you’ve read any of George’s pieces about ad agencies you’ll realise that this is high praise indeed. So, in return I can recommend Adscam as a consistently provocative and amusing point of view on the pomposities and perversities of the Business of Ad.

frighteningly humongous

Received via email:

I used to get really upset about all the dross that spilled out of advertising agencies…The folly of my youth twinned with an insatiable enthusiam to do great work didn’t permit me to see the profound wisdom in all that garbage. Now, I am able to forbear, forgive, overlook and even entertain thousands upon thousands upon thousansds of atrocious adverts, if it means that I can have the privilege of watching just one single…. ‘Impossible Dream’.

You really have identified, trapped and hit a very poignant nerve here. The universal recognition and application of the ‘impossible dream’ is formidable. It’s beyond colossal, it’s frighteningly humongous . Easily the most heart wrenching advertisment I’ve seen for a long time; So much, that it has galvanised me to write this email. (coming from a young, very embittered man, having turned his back on industry which he deemed to be his ‘impossible dream’.) For me, the power of communication is in the tragedy of this man’s quest. It’s a very, very sad advert, yet it’s still positive (you redeem him in the end with the ballon) but the very thought of him chasing a ‘hopeless dream’ softens your heart towards him. His desperation triggers an even stronger despair in the viewer, a hope that maybe, just maybe he will realise his dream. Though your rational mind tells you it’s impossible.The story of a man who is so deluded by his own will to suceed that nothing will stop him in his journey.

Thank you.Thank you for giving me ‘The Impossible Dream’.

The work you boys produce with the help of your agency is the very last vestige of what advertising should be.


Impossible feedback


We’ve had some really encouraging feedback about our new Honda campaign. You can see the campaign here. It’s genuinely touching to feel that we’ve made a connection with people. We don’t want to blow our own trumpet too much (yeah, right) but here are just one or two of the remarks that were particularly appreciated here at W+K London:

We’ve never met, but I wanted to send you a note regarding your work for Honda Motor Europe. "The Impossible Dream" is . . . corny? . . .  NO, it’s curious . . . no, WAIT, it’s intriguing . . . no, (20 secs into the spot now) it’s emotional . . . it’s inspirational . . . it’s spellbinding . . . it’s BRILLIANT! Your creative team has engaged and captured the Honda brand.  Keep up the great work!  It’s inspiring (to those of us who appreciate and strive for great marketing.)


I would just like to say that I think the Honda advert is absolutely brilliant, I work for an exhibition graphics company so come across all sorts of logos, icons and brands every working day, I am very interested in how companies sell themselves as it’s something that I am involved in daily. I’m fortunate work with companies and exhibitions from every single industry in the UK, the British Potato Exhibition a personal favourite of mine…not. Many years ago my late father brought home a Gold Honda Civic he purchased from a car auction in a very dodgy part of Birmingham, it was the kind of car that the car auction should have paid him for just to get it off their forecourt. I had the pleasure of driving this hideous looking thing to work on a few occasions, desperately thinking of ways to disguise myself in case any of my friends saw me (a visit to the local joke shop for a false moustache was on the cards). Anyway since that memorable time in my life I have never driven another Honda and never been interested in buying a Honda… until now. I understand Honda sales have increased since WK worked on the campaign and rightly so, the ad is fantastic and one I admire greatly. Aong with the Guiness back in time advert,  it’s one of the best adverts I have seen.  It seems with WK’s ingenuity the Impossible Dream can very much become possible….(That’s a naff pun isn’t it?)


I like that balding handlebar moustache man. He is a hero.

Dear Sir/madam, I have checked on the internet to see who made the new Honda advert with Andy Williams singing, and I believe it is your company. I would just like to congradulate everyone involved, what a fantastic advert, It’s the kind of advert that’s makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck every time I see it. Please could you give whoever was responsable my best wishes, you have made an old man very happy…..

Many Thanks


You really can”t say fairer than that, can you?

How we work

Trish Adams, MD of Wieden + Kennedy Tokyo, put together these notes on the basic tenets of how we work with Nike. We’re lucky at W+K that we have clients prepared to have relationships of this nature. I thought I’d post these notes on here as I think they’re inspiring and relevant as something to aim for in all client/agency relationships.

Great advertising and communication starts with a great relationship; one based on mutual understanding and respect, between client and agency and between brand and customer.

The consumer is intelligent. We refuse to treat customers like a research statistic or talk to them as if they are not highly intelligent people. Advertising can and should make people think.

Communication is a conversation. Great communication should feel human and conversational, not like a one-sided monologue from a corporation.

Chaos breeds creativity. The best ideas don’t come from a process, but are the result of an atmosphere where unpredictability, chaos and creativity are encouraged. That doesn’t mean there can’t be a process, it just means that we don’t let the process get in the way of good ideas.

Be willing to recognize and run with a big idea. Briefs should be a jumping off point, not a contract. Sometimes a great idea strays from the original brief, but is a much bigger idea than the initial strategy. Be courageous enough to recognize that and let genius happen.

Reward failure. Never lose your capacity to invent and learn because it becomes too risky. Take risks. It’s better to learn from glorious failures than from losing in the marketplace due to fear of failure and inaction.

Let the marketplace judge success or failure. Don’t rely on research to make decisions, but to inform your thinking. Research should not be used to minimize risk, but to bring you closer to the person you’re talking to.

Keep it fresh. Break the rules. Never adhere to the status quo. Innovate with products and with advertising. One of the problems with advertising is how categories develop a standard — an unspoken belief system so that all cereal commercials need to sound like cereal commercials. But the real power comes when you can break with that belief system and treat the category in a fresh manner.

Life is too short and competitive to spend time in debate over nuance. Time spent haggling over words on a page or processes is time spent not being impactful in the marketplace. Immediate and gut feedback on creative work is critical to keeping the process moving and creative people (both client and agency) motivated and engaged.

Media is a strategic weapon. Integrating media into the strategic and creative process is essential because choosing the perfect media platform for a creative idea can make the difference between failure and success.

Think like an athlete. Without risk, there is no genius. Go big or go home. No guts, no glory. Failure isn’t in losing, failure is in not trying. “The team that makes the most mistakes is the team that wins”. These are more than just sport clichés. Thinking like an athlete can help inspire innovation in the work place, as well as on the playing field.