merry xmas to all our readers

Party_1

Revellers at last week’s Client Xmas Party.

Time to close down the blog for the holidays. But before Welcome to Optimism dons its paper hat, loosens its belt and settles down in front of the TV with a few tinnies, let’s look back over 2007 and revisit the objectives Wieden + Kennedy London set itself at the start of the year.

We had a bloody good 2007. But that doesn’t mean we’ve done everything we set out to do.

1. Continue to try to produce the best work of our lives, across all of our clients

This is always job number one. And we’ve done well this year at broadening the quality of what we do from a couple of clients to a broad range. We’ve launched new work for new clients of which we can be justifiably very proud. Plus we continued to pull in accolades for our work with long-standing clients. Arguably in 2007 we didn’t have a world-conquering blockbuster on the scale of ‘Cog’, but our portfolio has never been stronger across the board. This is the kind of objective where you can never really say ‘job done’, but we’ve given it a damn good try in 2007.

2. Have our best year yet for revenue.  Keep our costs in check.

We achieved the first of these and though we went WAY over budget on freelance costs, the second was otherwise under control. Even our big building project, the third floor extension, came in pretty much on target.

3. Win a big new account.  (Big revenue.  Big creative opportunity.)

We had an awesome year for new biz: Save the Children, Nokia flagship stores, Visa World Cup sponsorship, The Observer and of course the Nokia global account. In fact, we achieved our targets so resoundingly in the first half of the year that for the last few months we closed our doors to new business opportunities in order to focus on existing clients. This meant turning down some juicy opportunities but it was the right thing to do.

So, we achieved this objective and then some  – we couldn’t possibly have won bigger, or have won business with more potential to do exciting, innovative work.

4. Develop our international reach

With the wins of Visa and Nokia, both of which are global assignments that we’ll run from London, we did well on this. If you add to these our work internationally for Emeco, in Romania for Orange, and in China for Nokia flagship stores, we can reasonably claim to have become an agency of global scope based in the UK.

5. Fully embrace interactive media and turn W+K into the UK’s first agency to offer genuinely integrated, creatively brilliant offline/online campaigns.

We invested in digital talent, bringing in a number of new people, and did a fair bit of digital work this year for Honda, Nike, Save the Children and Pizza Hut. We completely overhauled the Visit Wales website and created Emeco’s first e-commerce site. We built an interactive microsite for Cravendale and we created the interactive ‘Meet your City’ campaign for Nokia flagship stores. Rather than treating interactive as an add-on, we’ve approached these jobs in a completely integrated way from the outset.

Perhaps we couldn’t honestly claim that we’ve fully achieved this objective as expressed above but we’ve definitely fully embraced interactive media. And we’re making real progress on the second part of the goal. Our appointment to Nokia’s interactive work will see a continuing focus on this area next year.

6. Do more to share people with other W+K network offices

There are legal barriers to this (work permits and Visas and stuff) but we think it benefits the individuals involved and helps to improve shared culture and good working relationships round the network. So it’s a Good Thing. We managed to do this quite a lot this year, both bringing people into London for a spell from round the network, particularly on Nokia , and sending our people off to other offices. We definitely made significant progress on this objective, and W+K London felt much more connected to the wider world of Wieden as a result.

7. Do more good

Our aim is to do a bit more for our people and the community than just making adverts. This year we started working with Save the Children. We also introduced a new provision to allow staff to take time off to do charity work. And we got involved with a scheme that sponsors our people to visit charities and aid organisations in developing markets to consult on comms issues. Account Director Penny Brough spent a month in Brazil under this initiative. We connected with a local school to do creative days with the kids. We also helped our neighbours at Old Spitalfields Market to maintain business during the redevelopment of the market site, by developing a promotional campaign for Christmas shopping at the market.

And we did a lot of work on recycling and the like to reduce our environmental impact. Combined with offsetting (via a Chinese hydro power scheme,  and Indian wind power scheme and a German waste gas power project), the installation of solar panels on the roof and the change of our energy to supplies from renewable sources, we are now carbon-neutral.

8. Find ways of improving our efficiency without compromising on quality

The old question: does it always take a long time and a lot of pain to get to great work? Maybe, but we need to find ways of at least minimising the pain. To be honest, this year was probably as hard as ever in this respect, because we’ve been so busy. This is an area we need to continue to focus on, to ensure that we find ways of working that will accommodate the increased workload brought by growth, without causing log-jams / meltdown / nervous breakdowns. One key development here is our decision to merge the historically separate functions of broadcast, print and interactive production into one department responsible for the execution of all work.  We hired Rob Steiner in the new role of Director of Operations to head this up.

Rob’s appointment is a key step in our plan to deliver 360 degree integration of ATL and Interactive. But more than that, Rob will lead our search to find the people and partners who will enable W+K to execute ideas in new, diverse areas: product design, retail, content, brand creation and beyond. Our dream is to stretch the definition of what an agency can become. We want not only to create strong, provocative relationships between good companies and their customers; we want to create ideas and properties of our own that will influence culture and build our business. We want to create connections and partnerships with the most innovative and creative thinkers, doers and entrepreneurs around the world.

9. Create our own content and start to create new models for making money from our own content

Progress on this goal was disappointing as we focused on client and new biz demands for the majority of the year. We produced all sorts of new content for our clients, and for Honda in particular. But beyond some small bits and pieces we didn’t do much in the way of Wieden + Kennedy content. And we certainly didn’t make any money from it! However, we did hire Content Planner Andrew Stirk with specific responsibility to drive this area and, now that he’s on board, we expect to make bigger strides on this in 2008.

10. Dial up the crazy

Wieden + Kennedy has never been a conventional agency and we have no intention of becoming one. As we get older and bigger we need to make sure that we don’t lose our edge. We need to keep our thinking, our people and our environment fresh, provocative and surprising. In Kim Papworth’s words, we want to stay ‘wrong side of the tracks’. Because the craziness is what generates the big creative leap and what makes this a stimulating, challenging, fun place to work. It can be difficult to remember this when you’re working as hard as we did this year. And maybe at times we were driven to follow the most direct route rather than to try the random divergent path that may lead to somewhere more interesting. But on the other hand, we continue to make decisions that we would never consider if our primary goal was profit. We hire ‘wrong’, we resist the easy option, we encourage debate, we try to ‘walk in stupid’ every day – no assumptions that we know the answers. And we have a variety of cultural initiatives to keep everyone connected and stimulated: Sophie Dollar’s film nights, Stu’s thirsty Thursdays, and of course a number of exceptionally debauched parties.

Still crazy (after all these years)? Let’s hope so.

Looking back over the year, we’ve done well against these objectives. We haven’t nailed them all, but then we deliberately aimed high. We started the year at around 75 people and we’ll finish it at nearly 130 strong. That’s some rapid growth. We’ve done some great work along the way, we’ve continued with initiatives like WK Side and WK Circle and we’ve continued to push into new areas like designing the Regents Street Christmas lights, making short films for Honda, creating exhibition stands for Emeco, working on a documentary based around the interactive football world cup for EA and redesigning the interiors at Cardiff Airport for Visit Wales. All in all, 2007 has been our most successful year yet.

Here’s to an even bigger, better, bolder 2008.

Party2_2

Agent Lynch in action at the party.

And how about that horoscope we looked at back in January with predictions for W+K for 2007?

Here’s what they said:

‘You have been going through a speedy maturing process in the past couple of years and are finally emerging from the shade. 

‘Your fortunes are moving through a phase of expansion… Your spirit
of adventure and enterprise will be the main driving force in the
improvement of your fortunes in the coming year. Make the most of your
energy and creative powers to enhance your financial situation.

‘Altogether it seems that you are heading for a time of increasing
success and now feel more in control of your destiny. Start the year
with ambition and it’ll soon pay off handsomely.’

Amazingly accurate!

Merry Christmas and Happy Hogmanay to all our readers. See you in 2008 for more fun.

E104

Hello Emma and Candi here.  Yesterday we built a monster out of bad food to answer an anti-obesity brief set by Boomerang postcards. We’ve called her E104.

When we started building it was hard to resist a little nibble here and there: "one for E104, one for us." But it quickly turned to: "all for E104, none for us" as it was a long, sticky, sicky day. One thing we did learn though is there’s no easy way to glue gun a sausage.

One

Two_3

Three

blast from the past

Hes_dead_jim

This blog isn’t generally used for shameless self-promotion but I (Neil C) am now going to abuse management privileges by using the Wieden + Kennedy blog to announce that you can solve your last minute Christmas present problems by purchasing a copy of the excellent CD release by He’s Dead Jim: Colour Climax/Monochrome World (Aberdeen D.I.Y. Punk 1981-83). I can commend this to you in glowing terms because it’s a collection of recordings of the appalling racket made by my old band. The tapes are finally being released, 25 years after we made them in a freezing Aberdonian garage. Yes, I am another sad, middle-aged advertising bloke still harbouring ridiculous fantasies of rock and roll stardom.

We’ve been signed up retrospectively by the excellent and possibly misguided Messthetics label in the US and you can buy the album from their website here. 

Here’s what they say about it:

Messthetics proudly presents the should-have-been greatest hits
  of He’s Dead Jim
  – from the first half of their four-year Aberdonian "rammy" of trash
  culture and lo-fi melodic punk. HDJ were one of D.I.Y.’s most obscure (and least
  likely) prodigies. Despite the evidence of their (charmingly aberrant) songs
  on Messthetics #105, He’s Dead Jim were a complete pop band, and they were also
  prodigious songwriters, from their first lo-fi garage recordings to their very
  last …lo-fi garage recordings. They released
  eight full-length cassettes locally – each of them elaborately decorated and
  bursting with hummable tunes – but they never darkened the door of a proper
  studio. (If they had, they’d be all over Bored
  Teenagers
or This
  is Mod
, but they weren’t mods at all, so maybe that’s just as well.)
  The name derives from the immortal (and oft-repeated) words of Star Trek’s Dr.
  McCoy (although Scottie was the one who came from Aberdeen), and HDJ pay regular
  homage to all the usual school-band pop-culture icons from Fireball
  XL5
to The
  Prisoner
. Pure [trash] punk, a lot of Mark E. Smith and maybe some
  Billy Childish, as well.

So, what next – a triumphant reformation world tour? Induction into the rock and roll hall of fame? If the Police and the Sex Pistols can do it, why not He’s dead Jim? Other than the facts that we were never popular or talented in the first place. The early 80s Aberdonian lo-fi post-punk bad noise revival starts here.

Hes_dead_jim_pic

The mighty HDJ live in action in their long-forgotten ‘heyday’. L-R: Neil Smith, Allan Bell, Neil Christie.

orange christmas

Orangefinal_2

To support our Christmas campaign for Oraneg Romania, Orange’s local agency in Bucharest built snowmen of
the two animated characters from our campaign: Millidge & Doig. Images will be used in various media for a competition they’re
running over the next few weeks.
It was our concept (Vicki & Pete) to build the snowmen,
and we approved the location they’ve used to build them in.
Hooray – so cute!

 

dinner with Campaign

Party1

Last night we hosted a dinner at the the agency for some of the team from Campaign. There was booze, balloons and lovely grub catered by Fifteen.

Party_4

Party3

MD Neil Christie (above) explains to Campaign Deputy Editor Francesca Newland why he still hasn't had a haircut.

Party6

Helium

Creative Director Ben Walker  applauds Kate Nettleton's attempt to eat a balloon.

This shameless buttering up of the press was in no way connected to the positive stories in today's Campaign, which in its review of the year, named Wieden + Kennedy runner-up network of the year.

They wrote:

"This was the year Wieden + Kennedy resoundingly proved it had all the network credentials to compete against the old-world network juggernauts and – in most cases – win…Meanwhile, as creativity moves further up the agenda, the independent nature of the agency leaves it in pole position to capitalise. The work across Coca-Cola, Honda, Lurpak, Nike and Electronic Arts has been exceptional and the agency has ratcheted global billings of $1.4 billion."

And in their annual 'best of' lists we got a few mentions:

– Nike rugby World Cup campaign was number 3 best press ad and number 2 best radio ad.

– Stuart Smith was number 4 best planner

– Tony and Kim were number 2 best creative directors and number 6 'best double act'

– And W+K London was number 1 best place to work.

"Wieden + Kennedy seems to have it all. If you work there you can contribute to some of the best advertising campaigns in the world, and it has a reputation for treating its staff with respect. There's a knitting class, 'thirsty thursdays', a generous pension scheme and free language lessons. Trendy offices near Brick Lane complete the picture."

Meanwhile, Marketing magazine published its 'agency of the year' thing today. We didn't win it. AMV did. But we were named as a runner-up. Here's what they said:

"Wieden & Kennedy scored consistently highly in all categories. In terms of new business, it performed well, winning four out of the five pitches it took part in, scooping Nokia's global advertising brief and flagship stores account, as well as work for Save the Children. It was also awarded The Observer account by existing client Guardian Media Group.

The agency is probably best remembered this year for its work with Honda, and this account provided evidence of its contribution to clients' business. The marque registered its highest sales figures in
the UK in September, and Honda's market share has risen by 16% year on year."

Well done, us.

Party1

Last night we hosted a dinner at the the agency for some of the team from Campaign. There was booze, balloons and lovely grub catered by Fifteen.

Party_4

Party3

MD Neil Christie (above) explains to Campaign Deputy Editor Francesca Newland why he still hasn't had a haircut.

Party6

Helium

Creative Director Ben Walker  applauds Kate Nettleton's attempt to eat a balloon.

This shameless buttering up of the press was in no way connected to the positive stories in today's Campaign, which in its review of the year, named Wieden + Kennedy runner-up network of the year.

They wrote:

"This was the year Wieden + Kennedy resoundingly proved it had all the network credentials to compete against the old-world network juggernauts and – in most cases – win…Meanwhile, as creativity moves further up the agenda, the independent nature of the agency leaves it in pole position to capitalise. The work across Coca-Cola, Honda, Lurpak, Nike and Electronic Arts has been exceptional and the agency has ratcheted global billings of $1.4 billion."

And in their annual 'best of' lists we got a few mentions:

– Nike rugby World Cup campaign was number 3 best press ad and number 2 best radio ad.

– Stuart Smith was number 4 best planner

– Tony and Kim were number 2 best creative directors and number 6 'best double act'

– And W+K London was number 1 best place to work.

"Wieden + Kennedy seems to have it all. If you work there you can contribute to some of the best advertising campaigns in the world, and it has a reputation for treating its staff with respect. There's a knitting class, 'thirsty thursdays', a generous pension scheme and free language lessons. Trendy offices near Brick Lane complete the picture."

Meanwhile, Marketing magazine published its 'agency of the year' thing today. We didn't win it. AMV did. But we were named as a runner-up. Here's what they said:

"Wieden & Kennedy scored consistently highly in all categories. In terms of new business, it performed well, winning four out of the five pitches it took part in, scooping Nokia's global advertising brief and flagship stores account, as well as work for Save the Children. It was also awarded The Observer account by existing client Guardian Media Group.

The agency is probably best remembered this year for its work with Honda, and this account provided evidence of its contribution to clients' business. The marque registered its highest sales figures in
the UK in September, and Honda's market share has risen by 16% year on year."

Well done, us.

 

Kev In China

As part of our further immersion into all things Nokia; Kevin Chesters (WK London), Fanni Ho & Weiling Jang (WK Beijing) and Nusrat Madraswala (WK Delhi) spent last week in China furthering their knowledge on the entry level customers.

Kev_1

Kev_2

Kev says: ‘Most fascinating bit apart from all of it (!) was the cultural immersion in Bazhou – a tier 4 town about 100k outside Beijing – followed by some research depths in a small village of sweetcorn farmers further out in the sticks. Incredible to be able to get face to face with this kind of consumer in their own home and see how technology is changing the way all people on the planet connect with one another. Brill stuff.

Kev_3

Kev_4

Great experience, good learning and a jolly good time.’

Penny in Brazil

Penny_team

Above is one of our account directors Penny, second from left. We sent her to Brazil just recently via TIE, an organisation that provides the opportunity for people in the communications industry to work on short term contracts with NGOs in developing countries. Here’s a note from her about her experiences:



In November I went to Recife, Brazil to work with Plan International, a
Non-Government Organisation, who specialise in promoting the rights of
children.  The trip was a month long placement arranged by TIE and W+K
to help the NGO with their communications planning and implementation
for a local programme they are running on the outskirts of the city.

It was a bit daunting before I went: my lack of Portuguese, no other
English people, working with a new agency and a sense of wanting to do
something really great for the charity (and not let everyone down).

The charity hadn’t done a large amount of communications at a local
level (well, none at all really) so there was a lot to do, but they were
really receptive to starting something new.  Working with the children
on the project was also an eye-opening experience, especially as I’m not
known for my love of kids… But, although they had never done anything
like this before, they were extremely creative, intelligent and
enthusiastic and really added to the planning of the communications.

Together we ended up recommending a film festival, which will run for a
week in February 2009, using the Children’s own films to promote Human
Rights topics and also raise awareness of Plan itself within the
community. They are also thinking of making it an annual event.

It was a hugely rewarding experience, I felt like I learnt a hell of a
lot living and working in a completely different environment. The best
news I had at the end of the placement was that Plan are now starting to
look at all of the project initiatives to see what communications
element they can add to each, which is fantastic.

Team

wieden’s wood

For wieden + kennedy london’s festive greetings message this year, we created ‘Wieden’s wood’.

Wiedens_wood

It’s featured as a 3D environment in the window of our offices:

Window

Tree

It’s entirely made from recycled cardboard, as you can see from the back view:

Back_view

Other_back_view

It also exists as an online environment at www.wiedenswood.com.

Picture_1

Visit the site and you can plant, decorate and nurture your own virtual christmas tree.

dig the new breed

Nic_and_kevin

More new faces. Belated welcome to Group Account Director Nic Owen and Planning Director on Nokia Kevin Chesters, above.

Rob_steiner

And the return of an old friend – Rob Steiner. He was our Head of TV a few years back, left us for a spell in the wilderness, but has been welcomed back in the new role of DIrector of Operations, heading up the integration of all our production and execution functions.