the joy of great storytelling

There’s a flattering post about our Impossible Dream Honda ad on Metacool.

Memorable ads, Impossible Dreams and Being Innovative.
By Diego Rodriguez


My colleague Paul Bennett of IDEO has written an insightful and delightful essay for BusinessWeek: Most Memorable Ads of 2006

Here’s an excerpt from Paul:

We’re clearly at an inflection point. I’m not even a traditional ad-guy
and I’ve been asked to write this, so what does that say? We’re all
firmly in this together—marketers, designers, clients, agencies,
researchers, ethnographers, art directors and writers, all being sniped
at, out-thought, and remixed by consumers younger than our own kids.
Hard as it is to say, in most cases, they’re as good, if not better, at
this stuff than we are. Now, together, we must figure out where to go
from here. But before we get in to a whole spiral of circle drumming,
chest-beating and problem-solving, let’s take a quick tour of some of
the highlights of the last year.

But first a warm-up of sorts: Honda’s Impossible Dream spot—which aired in December, 2005, and therefore doesn’t make the official 2006 list—deserves a mention for Not Being Afraid of the Joy of Great Storytelling,
for expansive locations, great nostalgic music, excellent casting, and
a fantastically simple premise. In it, a guy emerges from his trailer,
mounts a scooter, and then seamlessly moves from product to product,
stirring emotions, sweeping us along in his wake, and bringing a tear
to many an eye.

I’ve written before about Honda’s Impossible Dream ad in the context of what I like to call tangible brand matras .  It’s an ad I can
watch over and over (and I have – maybe 50 times; not as many viewings
for me as the original Star Wars, but getting there).  And it’s one
which is authentic and true even though it’s so outrageous and funny.
Honda is a company where the CEO knows whereof he speaks. It’s a company as capable of pulling off revolutionary innovation outcomes as it is innovating  on a routine basis. It’s a group of people not afraid of thinking weird but right. And, above all, it’s a company which solves for happiness because, when get down to the bottom of things, that’s what drives this whole innovation thing.

That sounds like a pretty good summing-up of Honda to me. Cheers, Diego and Paul.

merry xmas to all our readers


Last day of term. Last post of the year. So, that was 2006. How did we do against those objectives we recklessly posted publicly at the start of the year?

Achieve the standard of our best work across all our clients.
As previously noted, it’s impossible by definition for all our work to be our best, so this was a dumb objective that we had to change to ‘across more of our clients’. Possibly a mealy-mouthed cop-out.
In order to evaluate this, we have to start with industry awards to get some kind of ‘objective’ perspective. According to the Gunn Report, W+K London moved one place up from last year in the world’s rankings of most creatively awarded agencies, from number 7 to number 6. We won Best Commercial of the Year at the British TV Awards and  the Grand Prix at the Clios  (both for the third year in a row). And we won two golds at Cannes. And that Grand Crystal thing at Meribel last week that I promised not to mention again. (Oops.) Brilliant. But all of that was for Honda. What about our other clients?
We won Best Poster of the Year at Campaign Poster Awards for our ‘Saint Wayne’ poster for Nike, we had another good Run London campaign and we did loads of small bits and pieces for Nike to a high standard. We’re very proud of our first work for Space.NK. The Visit Wales campaign triumphed at the Travel Industry Awards. Our latest Pizza Hut work is the best we’ve done for them yet and we’ve also done some innovative and fun Pizza Hut digital stuff. We’ve done some very nice work for Orange Romania. We finished the year with another big Honda campaign.
Have we really achieved world class quality across all our clients in the last twelve months? Maybe not. But we’ve definitely done more great work across more clients than ever before.
Make 2006 our healthiest year ever in terms of revenue and profit
Like everyone else in the industry, we were conscious that this was going to be a year in which we would have to fight for success. We worked our butts off and achieved this objective, despite a highly competitive market.
Win two like-minded, profitable UK Clients
In the first quarter of 2006 we picked up the launch of a soap opera you watch on your mobile phone, won an assignment from SBE Entertainmnet and we pitched for Film 4. (The pitch was successful but they decided not to award the business to any agency.) None of these turned into a profitable retained account. Then we pitched unsuccessfully for Yell.  Not a great start. And we turned down quite a few opportunities that we didn’t think met the ‘like-minded’ criterion. But then we had a string of successes, picking up The Guardian, Lurpak and Cravendale. So, we achieved this target. Plus we have one more UK win to announce early in 2007.
Successfully run a large global project
In November we pitched for two global projects. At time of writing we had heard we’d definitely won one of these. The outcome of the other is still undecided. So, we may achieve this one a year late.
And in 2006 we did win a client outside the UK in the shape of Orange Romania.
Learn and profit from new communication channels
We’ve done podcasts for Honda, and the world’s first ad downloadable from iTunes, we built web content for Visit Wales and Honda and we created the first advertiser channel on YouTube for a UK Advertiser (Pizza Hut.). But we need to continue to do more. This is a key area of development for next year.
Continue to build our reputation beyond conventional ads
Though we’ve done this to a certain extent, with some innovative work on Nike and Honda in particular, we’re still best known for our TV work. We want to become more than just an ‘advertising agency’. In 2005 we set up WK Fat to help us do this. In 2006 we put some of this  into practice with the things mentioned above. But we need to continue to do more.
Enhance and develop our working space
We secured planning permission for the roof extension on our building. Work will begin in January 2007.
Become the most enjoyable place in the industry to work
In a survey in Campaign in 2005 we were rated second most desirable place to work (after BBH). We wanted to improve on that, and to ensure that we’re not just highly rated by those people who aspire to work here but, more importantly, have the people who are already here rate W+K as the best. Our annual staff survey suggested that people here are generally very happy, that they understand where the agency is going, what we’re trying to do and what their role is in achieving it. We were reaccredited by Investors in People and got a glowing report, which said:
“There is a culture of professional pride, hard work, development and growth. People feel valued and recognised… There is a strategy in place for improving performance and this is clearly communicated and understood by everyone.
“There is a culture of working with people and including them. There is a strong culture of equality within the company, recognising the different strengths and abilities of its people.
“There is clearly a strong culture of recognition and thanks, which motivates and encourages people.
“There is no question that people are learning and developing effectively and the learning is shared with colleagues.”
So, that seemed encouraging. Not a 10/10 performance but one we can be proud of. And certainly our best year yet.
Enough nostalgia – bring on 2007 and another year of continued development in the ongoing experiment that is W+K London. More forwards please!


Joint Creative Director of W+K London, Kim Papworth, with his little friend.

from russia with emma


Trip to Moscow for a new biz meeting. Group account director Emma T (above) bracing herself for the Russian aviation experience. Unfortunately, we had picked the worst possible time for our trip, as Heathrow was fog-bound. Unlike many, we did manage to make it out  that day, but only after a very, very long wait.


So we finally arrived in Moscow very late, very tired and a bit grumpy.


All this meant we didn’t have time for so much as a peek at the kremlin. Just hotel rooms and meeting rooms. The Russian winter failed to live up to its reputation, with the temperature being a mere -9. So, no children ice skating on frozen rivers. Not even many big furry hats.

The journey back home was equally slow and painful. There were even lengthy delays on the Heathrow Express. But at least we didn’t get stuck in Russia for Christmas, which was starting to look like a possibility. 24 hours of journeying for a 2 hour meeting. Ah, the joy of business travel.

Le reve impossible


Our Honda film ‘The Impossible Dream’ seems to have picked up the main prize at the Meribel Awards Festival 2006. Here’s what I think the article above says, roughly.

The 6th Meribel Festival of Advertising has been won once again by the Honda campaign.

Poetry, lyricism, spectacular images, humour… the film ‘The Impossible Dream’, created by the American agency (sic) Wieden + Kennedy, brings together this rare and explosive cocktail.  Already awarded a ‘Crystal’ for the best European commercial, it also picked up the ‘Grand Crystal’ of the 6th Meribel Festival, held from 12th to 17th December. At the wheel of his Honda and set to the music of Andy Williams, a driver who still has the soul of a child imagines himself on a motorbike, an F1 car, a powerboat and finally throws himself over the the boiling waters of Ignacu Falls, from which he emerges miraculously, saved by a Honda hot air balloon.

Merci, mes amis! Here it is again:

Craigslist meets the capitalists

Fascinating piece in the New York Times here about a culture clash between Jim Buckmaster of Craigslist and a bunch of Wall Street suits. (Link courtesy of Russell Davies.) Buckmaster was speaking at a conference and took questions from the audience, which was bemused to learn that despite the much-touted billions being paid for the likes of YouTube and MySpace, Craiglist is less avowedly interested in earning megabucks than in providing a good service for its users. ‘Monetising’ the site is ‘not part of the plan’.

How about running AdSense ads from Google? Craigslist has considered that, Mr. Buckmaster said. They even crunched the numbers, which were “quite staggering.” But users haven’t expressed an interest in seeing ads, so it is not going to happen.

The piece has sparked a lot of debate at the NYT link above. Interesting to see that views are split between supporters of Craigslist’s modest approach to profit generation, those who think they’re just dumb, and those who are just too cynical to believe that they just plan to make their billions some other way.

If Craigslist are genuine, it’s another example of a world in which advertisers will be increasingly unable to ‘spam’ consumers with unwanted messages. Which can only be good news for those of us who believe in trying to make communications that do more than just pollute people’s lives with irrelevant noise.

christmas party


W+K’s christmas party was a sober affair, characterised by intellectual debate and quiet contemplation of our achievements this year. Not.
I’m afraid I have to report that it was a rowdy affair involving much strong drink and many instances of conduct unbecoming.
There was a lunch with silly hats. Not for nothing are we known as one of London’s most stylish agencies.


We all paid a visit to Satan’s grotto wherein the Lord of the Damned (Matt Gooden) gave out presents to all those who had been bad enough to deserve them.

Then it was on to 54 Commercial Street where we were entertained by The People’s Revolutionary Choir ( and the carousing began in earnest. Recollection is hazy after this point…