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.

5 thoughts on “How we work”

  1. I like to think that deep down we all know that is right. Maybe we just need help realising it.

    The proof is in the proverbial pudding. How many businesses as big as Nike stay with the same ad agency? How many ad agencies constantly produce quality and engaging campaigns for big clients? Very few in both sadly.

    A great line from that which sums it up perfectly is “Without risk, there is no genius”. Maybe that should be the WK motto. Or maybe, we should think beyond a motto.

    So many companies have huge campaigns that say nothing new, that do nothing new, that fail to inspire or engage anyone. But they KEEP doing it because they are too scared of change. Too scared to take a risk or be the odd brand out.

    I suppose as an agency its your job to convince them that difference is best. And I hope that the success of WK will prove a good influence to other agencies and clients.

  2. The best article I have come
    accross online,
    in a nutshell cure is better then
    prevention not the other way round.
    Quality progress can only be made by taking risks not avoiding them

  3. allow me to begin be sending out mad, mad, mad, mad, mad props to the entire wk team who worked on getting the new Honda stuff from concept to execution. it is a tremendous feather in your cap.
    huge, gigantic, frighteningly humongous, indeed the idea behind ‘the impossible dream’ is huge.
    but there’s another word being overlooked with regard to the advert, and i think it’s more powerful than the frighteningly humongously gi-normous.
    that word is: simple. at it’s root it is a simple idea bent on giving someone a good feeling about the many ways honda can move you.
    may we all find the courage and conviction to throw ourselves off the Victoria’s Falls of simplicity.

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