how to get the best work out of your agency

The
following is a longer version of a letter published in Marketing Week on September 20th
2012.

It
was written as a response to a piece in the same magazine consisting of views
from senior UK marketers on what makes for a happy marriage between agency and client.
(Agency relationships: Keys to a happy marriage / CMO Strategy
September 2012 | By Maeve Hosea

I
wrote the letter because I thought it might be useful to offer an agency
perspective on the same topic. It’s very much based on the philosophies and
approach of W+K but I hope some of this may have wider relevance.

Learn to be stupid


Walk in stupid

Agencies and clients have to learn together to be stupid. At Wieden +
Kennedy we have a saying: WALK IN STUPID EVERY MORNING. This is a reminder to
us, and our clients, that we know nothing. Whatever business you’re in the world changes
overnight and if you assume you know all the answers, then you’re not just stupid, you’re dead. So, forget
everything you know about advertising. The only rule is: there are no rules.
Forget everything you’ve learned about methodologies and proprietary strategic
tools and insight-mining workshops and all the rest of it. Not because these
things aren’t
useful. But because they’re useful for developing campaigns that are like everyone
else’s
campaigns. They’re useful for developing advertising that is just…
advertising. Which is boring. Which people ignore or avoid when they can.

Great marketers and great agencies break the rules. They
never adhere to the status quo. They Innovate with products and with strategies.
The real power comes when you break with established belief systems and treat
your category in a fresh manner. Boring, undifferentiated advertising that looks like your
competitors’ advertising is the last thing that you need. So don't ask or allow
your agency to do it.

Embrace failure


Embrace-Failure-T-shirt_800

W+K T-shirt – above.

How prepared are you to encourage your agency to take risks? Great
marketers are prepared to fail sometimes. In organizations where the first
priority is ‘not
to fail’ – those
places where the philosophy is ‘Whatever you do, just don't screw it up’ – there will never be
innovation. Because innovation, by its very nature, is all about trying
something that has never been tried before. And innovation is vital in your
marketing as much as it is in your product design – you don’t get extraordinary
results from ordinary strategies.

Feeling some safety in risk-taking is vital in the creative process. No
one likes to make a mistake, but creative people must have room to manoeuvre.
We need to feel we can take a risk without losing the account, without losing
our jobs. Please allow your agency to fail every once in a while. They will
create bigger and braver ideas as a result.

The brief is
an inspiration, not a rule-book

The best way to build partnership with your agency is to get them
involved sooner in the process. Don’t sweat ‘The Brief’. The strategy is
critical – you have to know where you are going. You have to be clear about
what you want. But it’s not an end in itself. 
Sometimes the writing of the ‘perfect’ brief gets in the way.

You don’t run the brief, you run the work. The work –
and what it does for you out there in the real world – is the only thing that
matters. The brief should be an inspiration, not a set of rules that inhibit
thinking. Be willing to recognize and run with a big idea. 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 magic happen.

The fewer the decision-makers, the better the work

Agencies can take rejection. We're used to it. But what we hate is the
slow death of an idea at many hands. The quicker and simpler you can make your
decision-making process, the better. A general guideline is that the more
people in your organisation who need to input into creative development and
approval, the worse the work will become and the more likely your agency team
will be to give up striving for greatness and instead just focus on getting off
your account ASAP or getting their CV out to the headhunter. Because smart, talented
people have options. They want to enjoy what they do. And if they don’t enjoy
working on their account they’ll leave it. What you’ll end up with on your
account is the people who have fewer options. Because they’re that bit less
smart, less talented. And your business will suffer.

Make no small plans

Agencies are populated by hungry, hard-working, ambitious dreamers.
Recognise this and set the creative bar as high as you possibly can. Inspire
us, challenge us and encourage us to do the best work of our lives. Show that
you believe in the power of insight and creativity to drive your business.
Champion excellence and innovation, and we will move mountains and neglect our
beloved children for your sake. Think small, and you'll get small ideas and
small results. Dream big and together, you and your agency might just change
the world. And sell shedloads of stuff while you're at it.

Update: conicidentally, here's a post on the same topic by Martin Weigel, planning director at Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam from his blog Canalside View.

WIEDEN+KENNEDY LONDON APPOINTED SOUTHERN COMFORT UK ACCOUNT

Southern Comfort has announced the appointment of W+K London as its new lead creative and strategic agency for the UK which will include above the line and digital.

The win has come off the back of Wieden +Kennedy’s New York agency, who were selected in August as the brand’s new agency of record for Southern Comfort’s global marketing and communication services across all traditional, digital and emerging media channels. 

W+K London will be implementing their new creative strategy “Whatever’s Comfortable” which follows W+K New York’s first work for the brand that launched last month. The first television spot celebrates the awesomeness of being comfortable in your own skin.

The triumph is a continuation of W+K’s relationship with the Brown –Forman Group, which includes Finlandia and Maximus.

Wieden + Kennedy’s Neil Christie says “We're delighted to add Southern Comfort to the WK London drinks trolley. It's a truly iconic brand and we look forward to working on it with the Brown Forman team”

W+K also took over all of Southern Comfort’s community management from September 21st.
 

we won the Southern Comfort UK account!

Southern Comfort has announced the appointment of W+K London as its new lead creative and strategic agency for the UK which will include above the line and digital.

SC_Original 1L HI-RES

The win comes off the back of Wieden +Kennedy’s New York agency, who were selected in August as the brand’s new agency of record for Southern Comfort’s global marketing and communication services across all traditional, digital and emerging media channels. 

W+K London will be implementing the new creative strategy “Whatever’s Comfortable” which follows W+K New York’s first work for the brand that launched last month. The first television spot celebrates the awesomeness of being comfortable in your own skin.

The Soco success is a continuation of W+K’s relationship with the Brown–Forman Group,which includes Finlandia and Maximus – the vodka brands we won earlier this year.

Wieden + Kennedy’s Neil Christie says “We're delighted to add Southern Comfort to the WK London drinks trolley. It's a truly iconic brand and we look forward to working on it with the Brown Forman team”

W+K also took over all of Southern Comfort’s UK community management from September 21st.

Epic Straws

As well as taking over the world, one milkman at the time, Bertrum Thumbcat is yet again back. This time, his paw and thumbprints are (literally) all over Cravendale’s new on-pack promotion – Epic Straws

What, on the surface, may look like a fun toy for milk-loving kids, is actually a cunning customizable tool for stealing milk – Extreme Pilfering Instrument for Cravendale. By getting them into every household in the country, his comrades are perfectly placed to pilfer the Cravendale when the feline uprising happens.

Bertrum has even written and produced a film to promote the offer:

Is there no end to his thumbed talents?

Our latest addition to the office

A big welcome to Ollie Pym, our newest member of the Account Handling department. Ollie joins us from
Publicis where he's been since he was a grad. He recently worked on Garnier. Presumably because he's worth it.

Oliver Pym photo

Ollie's background is actually in art and so he's come to WK seeking more creative opportunities. He went to Central St Martin’s for a year and read Fine Art at
Leeds University for his degree. Some little facts about Ollie are that his best friends from the Art course have since
formed the Mercury nominated band Alt-J and he owns three Nerf guns at home –
there is no explanation or rationale for this.

Nerf-gun1

Pot Luck Lunch – Round 2

This tasty get together was instated here at W+K by our Antipodean Creative, Kirsten Rutherford. Main purposes are to eat fab food and natter. Gathering at irregular intervals, each hungry attendee brings some food and then indulges on an array of delicious nosh. Simple as that.

Round 2 brought much glorious fare. Standouts include a ham & egg pie; a macaroni (triple) cheese; a double chocolate & dulche de leche cheesecake. 

To Round 3: our tastebuds await.

PotLuckLunch1

PotLuckLunch2

 

D&AD CELEBRATES THE BIG 50 AND THEIR TOP 1O

On the 18th September D&AD celebrated 50 years of world leading design and communication.

They scoured their records and discovered the top ranked agencies, studios and people of the first 50 years of D&AD

Top 10 Most Awarded Agencies.
W+K Portland positioned 10th and London 9th as the most Awarded Advertising agency in D&AD history. Also, Honda placed 7th and Nike 3rd in the Top 10 Most Awarded Brands category.

We also picked up two yellow pencils for Kaiser Chiefs Bespoke Album Creation Experience in the Integrated & Earned Media / Integrated Category, and Digital Advertising / Digital Solutions & Use of Social Media category.

Dan Wieden won this year’s Presidents award. Chosen and presented by Rosie Arnold (D&AD President for 2012) this is an award given to persons who have made an outstanding contribution to creativity.

To view all the winners of the night please click through to the D&AD website.


 

De La Soul! And 50 years of D&AD

It was D&AD last night – and a celebration of 50 years of world leading design and communication.

DAD

We picked up two yellow pencils for Kaiser Chiefs Bespoke Album Creation Experience in the Integrated & Earned Media / Integrated Category, and Digital Advertising / Digital Solutions & Use of Social Media category.

Dan "Daddy" Wieden won the President's award – a special award given to outstanding creative contribution, chosen and presented by the current president each year (2012's fabulously glamorous Rosie Arnold). 

Nike won the 3rd most Awarded Brand in the 50 years of D&AD. Honda was the 7th most Awarded Brand. And W+K London became the 9th Most Awarded Agency in D&AD history. Not bad for a 14 year old. With W+K Portland taking 10th place.

But more exciting than all of that… we met De La Soul!

Screen Shot 2012-09-19 at 17.58.01

Two D&AD presidents, De La Soul, and little Ben Terrett who ran away to design the government. Note Tony D rocking next season's 'Maths Teacher chic' on the right. Smoking.

Dan Wieden honoured at D&AD 50th Anniversary Celebrations

At its 50th anniversary celebrations last night, D&AD honored Wieden + Kennedy co-founder Dan Wieden.


Each year the reigning president of D&AD bestows a President's Award on someone who, in their opinion, has made a major contribution to the creative world. At D&AD's 50th birthday celebrations last night, current president Rosie Arnold gave that honour to Wieden + Kennedy co-founder Dan Wieden.


“Dan Wieden is one of the most inspirational advertising brains of our age,” Arnold says. “His spirit remains restless and free, and he continues to champion independent thinking and behavior. His work and that of his now numerous agencies lead the way across all disciplines. I've lost count of how many times I've seen a piece of work that has surprised and delighted me, and made me run up and down the corridors at work showing it to other creatives, only to discover it came from Wieden+ Kennedy. So when I asked myself if I should give Dan my President's Award, I told myself, ‘Just Do It'.”

Past recipients include Sir Alan Parker, Jonathan Ive, Spike Jonze and Sir John Hegarty.
 

Our lovely new faces

We're pleased to welcome 3 new members into the W+K family.

Tom Lloyd

Firstly, we have Tom Lloyd, who joins the Planning
team from DDB. Tom worked on the likes of VW, Marmite, Flora and Diageo
whilst out in Paddington, but has moved East to join our team on Tesco.

Lara Chapple

We also welcome back Lara Chapple who helped us on the
Tesco pitch earlier this year.

Lara went off to spend the summer in Saatchi's grad
scheme where, amongst other things, she discovered that they do things very
differently to us. Thankfully, we have her back for good as the new Account
Exec on Tesco and Finlandia, so she can teach us what we’re missing.

 

OLLY wEST

And finally, we have Olly West, our brilliant new
runner. He has never worked in an ad agency before, so we're
not quite sure when to let him know that not everywhere stocks a Blenderman and has a padded cell for a meeting room.