2013 so far at W+K London

Easter weekend is a natural point at which
to scoff buns and chocolate, yes, but also to pause and consider how the year
2013 is going for us so far at Wieden + Kennedy London.

Winning new business was a key goal for us
in 2012. We succeeded in bringing in a number of new clients, including
Schweppes, Finlandia, Maximus, Southern Comfort, FUZE tea and arguably the win
of the year, the UK’s largest retailer, Tesco. We landed the Tesco account in
and at that point we shut up shop for new business so as to focus on
existing clients and make sure we were not so busy that the quality of our work

Christmas 2012 and the first few months of
2013 have seen the fruits of that focus, with new work breaking for Honda,
Lurpak, Tesco, Three, Visit Wales and more.  Here are a few recent highlights at W+K London:

– We were delighted that Tesco was able to
report its best Christmas sales results for three years, which led to a 3% rise
in share price.
Our Tesco Christmas campaign was described by Retail Week as
‘top ranking’ of all supermarkets’ efforts
in terms of popularity on social
media; they credited it with giving Tesco a ‘significant boost’. The results
were certainly an encouraging start to our work with Tesco.

– In February the One Club teamed up with the American International Auto Show in Detroit to name its list
of the ten greatest car ads of the last 25 years. Our work for Honda took the
first and second places. And we helped Honda to launch the new Civic across
Europe with a campaign that transcended language, despite/because of being
based around a palindrome.


– Our new work for Visit Wales launched and
seemed to go down well. It was described in Campaign as, “A great piece of thinking… clever stuff…charming… well executed…”

As Britain grumbled its way through recession and winter, we launched a
new campaign for Lurpak celebrating the power of “good, proper food” to put
fire in the nation’s bellies.

This work also went down well at Campaign. “This, surely is why we are all in the
business. A brilliant idea when it launched and one that just gets better with
time and development. This latest execution is beautifully crafted, with the
same perfect tone of voice we’ve come to expect from Wieden + Kennedy.”

AdWeek described it as “visually astonishing… another sensory masterpiece”.


Another execution from the Lurpak campaign.

Around the same time, one of our earlier
Lurpak posters was inducted into the Outdoor Hall of Fame. (It’s a bit like the
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but with posters.)

– We created a psychedelically colourful
London Transport campaign for Lactofree
to encourage grumpy commuters to say
yes to breakfast.

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– Our
plucky little wonder pony launched for Three at the beginning of March and quickly
moon-walked his way to the status of full-on internet sensation.

Gazillions of
views, umpteen shares, a million remixes, Fleetwood Mac back in the charts –
Socks the pony smashed Twitter, topped the world’s viral video charts and
appeared on national news from the USA to Japan. The Mail wrote: As the government's
austerity programme rolls on, and the UK tightens its belt, Britain is a nation
in need of something to smile about. And it seems a Shetland pony moon-walking
to the strains of an '80s pop tune could be just the thing. An advert for
mobile internet firm 3, which sees a pony tapping its hooves to Everywhere by
Fleetwood Mac, has been lauded as 'the best thing ever' by fans on Twitter.

Moreaboutadvertising.com asked “Is W+K London’s ‘little pony’ ad for Three
the most successful UK campaign ever?”

went on to say: Agency Wieden+Kennedy London is sometimes criticised for trying to
be original and different with
everything (often a rather painstaking process). But who else would be so
accepts criticism, blushes collectively at praise*

– Our print campaign for Tesco setting out their
response to the horsemeat scandal was described as “poetry” by the Standard and
compared to a Shakespearean sonnet by the BBC
, who said the copy had "an incantatory quality, in the way it repeats certain
phrases, trying to cast a spell on the reader with words

– We helped launch a new initiative for
Tesco – the Price Promise
. Here’s how it works: when you shop at Tesco, online
or in store, they will compare your basket against the prices at Asda,
Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. If your shopping would have been cheaper there,
Tesco will give you a voucher for the difference for up to £10. The Price
Promise campaign has rolled out nationally on TV, posters, press, online and in-store. Price Promise has been described as a potential ‘game changer’ by Retail Week.

The art direction on the print work, meanwhile, has been described as "Exquisite. Crafted. Considered. Clever"


And in between making adverts, we survived
explosions in the street outside our office, attended the Vodka Cup in Finland,
reported back from TED and SXSW, picked up a couple of gold arrows at the
British Telly Advertising Awards, got an ‘excellent’ school report from
Campaign, hired some great new people, and created an online Easter egg hunt
for virtual eggs with real prizes.

No wonder the first quarter of the year
seems to have passed so quickly – we’ve been busy.

2013 is shaping up to be another tough year
for the advertising industry. I’m not particularly positive about prospects
for the business in general (though UK ad spend is forecast by some experts to
grow, I don’t necessarily see this translating into increased agency revenue),
or the UK economy – forecasts seem to be generally gloomy – but, based on the
first quarter of the year, with more hard work, continued focus on our people
and the quality of what we do, and the support of some amazing clients, I am
very optimistic, with custard on, about the outlook for Wieden + Kennedy London.


OK, back to the buns and choccy eggs. Till
Happy Easter.

Awards for fake ads are a poor show for our industry

There has been a recent furore about the Ford ads created by JWT India featuring celebrities and bound, gagged women. It’s unsurprising that people were upset, given recent reports about gang rape in India. The ads apparently were not the unofficial creation of ‘rogue’ creatives, but were approved by the Ford India client and senior JWT execs.

The shocking thing about this story is not just the nature of the ads, it’s the astonishing lack of sensitivity displayed by those whose job it is to be culturally aware. How did these experts come to judge the public mood so wrongly?
The controversy led to a follow-up piece in AdAge about the celebration of ‘offensive’ scam ads (i.e. ads not approved or endorsed by clients that have never run in bought media) by UK-based scheme the Chip Shop Awards.

AdAge describes the Chip Shop Awards as existing “to highlight crude ads that have been rejected — or, in most cases, created entirely without the knowledge of marketers.”

The article goes on: “Scam ads have been a problem plaguing the industry for decades and after doing little to stop them, Cannes International Festival of Creativity and others have cracked down and threatened to yank awards and bar creatives who have been found guilty of entering unsanctioned work, or work that is run once locally merely to send into an awards show. Yet it's clear that despite all the talk of wrist-slapping, fake ads remain a persistent problem. The question is, should the ad business be promoting this activity in the name of creativity, as Chip Shop describes it, "with no limits?"

An online poll on AdAge’s site suggests that opinion is split 50:50 on this question.

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Gordon Young, founder of the Chip Shop Awards, has responded to the article and comments: “I have never bought into the theory that America was trapped behind the 'irony curtain' but after reading your report I fear for Ad Age. The key point you fail to understand is that those who enter the Chip Shop Awards, do not purport to represent the brands featured in their work. Our entrants do not even pretend to represent the clients, a point which most would deem obvious.”

There is a debate here about the wisdom and legality of appropriating trademarks and logos and putting them to uses that their owners have not sanctioned. (It seems like a dumb thing for an agency to do.) But as AdAge asks – is this kind of work the sort of thing we should be celebrating in the name of creativity? I don’t think so.

The Chip Shop Awards describe themselves thus: “The Chip Shop Awards is about fostering and recognising creativity with no boundaries and no rules. It's an international creative awards (sic), open to anyone with great ideas. Since its launch, these awards have produced some of the cleverest, funniest, worst taste advertising and design ever seen.”

Looking at recent winners, there is little evidence of ‘cleverest’ and ‘funniest’ ideas but much of 'worst taste': most of the work awarded by Chip Shop seems to seek to shock. There are some smart, witty executions but they seem to be in a minority. The award categories include ‘best use of shocking copy’, ‘best politically incorrect’ and ‘best use of bad taste’, so the organisers clearly intend to encourage entrants to be ‘offensive’.

The Grand Prix winner from last year is a campaign purporting to be for Transport for London, encouraging people to kill themselves at home, not on the Tube, so as not to delay others’ journeys.

Kill yourself

Other popular themes among 2012 winners include anal sex, genocidal dictators and farting. I enjoy some good honest filth as much as the next pervert, and I love work that is provocative and ground-breaking, but much of what is on display here seems merely immature.

Scam ads created for the sole purpose of award entries are a shameful part of this business. Their very existence is offensive. I commend the efforts of reputable shows to stamp out such entries.

The Chip Shop Awards are designed to encourage ads that are not just fake but also 'shocking'. Agencies pay to enter these awards, they are judged by people who work in the business, and sponsored by an industry publication. It’s disappointing that these respected parties would want to be associated with such efforts. This is not great creativity and not worthy of celebration. It's not my fragile sensibilities that are offended, it's my pride in what we do. We work in an industry that already struggles to win credibility and respect for what we do. Shouldn’t we be celebrating the best we can be, rather than indulging childishness?

will bitcoins bail us out for good?

There’s been a lot of buzz around bitcoins
recently. What is a bitcoin, you say? In short: a currency made by the internet. No bank controls it. No government taxes it. You fabricate them by using your computer to solve maths problems (sort of). It’s been around for a while but has remained rather niche. Until now.


It’s become popular largely because people have started to talk about using bitcoins when they don’t trust existing currencies. Specifics? There’s
chatter of entrepreneurs setting up a bitcoin ATM in financially-battered Cyprus. Douglas
Rushkov says
that this kind of money might be a clever way out of too-big-to-fail banks, government control, and all sorts of other financial pickles that we have wandered into.


Why is it relevant? Well, it's yet another example of how the Internet's collective brainpower is great at making up mad/democratic solutions to problems. There’s always another perspective:

Bitcoin’s devotees are right, and it’s the currency of the future. Or perhaps
it’s a ridiculous joke—a speculative, hilarious enterprise taken to its most
insane conclusion. Given that the founder is nowhere to be found, it feels like
a hoax, a parody of the global economy. That the technology used to implement
it has, so far, sh
own itself to be impeccable and completely functional, and
that it’s actually being exchanged, just makes it a better joke. The truth is,
it doesn’t much matter if it’s a joke or not. It works.

You heard it here first: bitcoins are the new instagram/crowdfunding/google glass. Ironically enough, they don't come cheap: you can snag a single bitcoin for about 64 quid.


(Thoughts courtesy of Planning Placement newbie James.)

Welcome to the Internet: 28th March


Never fear, your weekly dose of Internet is here. So sit back, relax, crack open an Easter egg and stuff your mouth-holes with cheap chocolate while you gorge on the finest web action to hit our screens this week.

It's been a week of throwbacks on YouTube this week as '90s pop sensation the Backstreet Boys have tried to get 'down wid da kidz' and release a Harlem Shake. Sorry lads, bit late on that one I'm afraid. We've also seen a resurgence from Britain's favourite rap supergroup, PJ and Duncan. After performing their one and only song (I'm sure there were more but couldn't care less) 'Let's Get Ready to Rumble' on TV on Saturday, they've managed to storm the charts and are back at no1 in the hit parade. Fair do's boys, fair do's.

Other orders of business include high levels of image search traffic for Lizzie Velasquez after she was mentioned by video blogger 'KSIOlajidebt'. He's recently amassed a massive 1 million subscribers for his rants on FIFA13, which appeal massively to young males. It's not exactly politically correct but perfectly on point for his audience. Take note.

Enjoy Easter, one and all.

Get the full report

The Tipping Point

Hot on the heels of Jim Hunt, our new Technical Director, we're delighted to welcome another newbie into the interactive team: Luke Tipping.

Luke joins us as a Senior Creative, specialising in emerging platforms, media and technology. He comes to us from 101.

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Luke's possibly the best connected man in London. When not writing for people like Wired, speaking at various events and in-between creating cutting-edge creative ideas for our clients he also runs this, which is pretty awesome. 


London East End fashion, Wieden + Kennedy style

Buttoned up
Just too late for London Fashion Week, the book above has inspired Welcome to Optimism to consider London East End fashion. Buttoned-Up is a slim volume in a series of books called Penguin Lines, published by Penguin to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Tube, London's underground railway. The books are another fine piece of design from Penguin – desirable and collectable physical objects that are handily pocket-sized and so, aptly enough, ideal for reading on public trasnsport. Buttoned-Up was edited by the founders of supremely stylish fashion mag Fantastic Man. Its role in the series of books is in relation to W+K's local line, the East London Line, and it explores a curious local phenomenon: the habit of buttoning one's top shirt button without wearing a tie.

"When departing the East London Line on Shoreditch High Street, one might choose to visit one of the many menswear retailers that thrive in the Borough of Hackney. It is likely that one will notice a distinct similarity in the way these shops' employees and customers have dressed themselves: they'll be wearing their shirts with the buttons done up all the way to the top, the collars closed tight around their necks. This approach to dressing is not the most comfortable one by any means, but in this area of London and many other corners of society it is miraculously popular."

The essays in the book trace the roots of the style from a number of antecedents, including the supressed sexuality and anger of the '60s mods and the anti-'rockist' thrift shop chic of post-punk Glasgow band Orange Juice.


Edwyn Collins of Orange Juice in the early '80s, perfectly attired for Hoxton in 2013.

(Orange Juice had a sudden and dramatic impact on impressionable Scottish teenagers at the time, of whom I was one. We immediately rushed out to Millett's to buy tartan shirts, which we wore buttoned up to the neck, along with '60s-style suede jackets foraged from jumble sales or the Oxfam shop. Happy days.)

Simon Reynolds argues, "Buttoned up is smarter and more formal than having the shirt loose at the top but the absence of a tie is a glaring and pointed gesture. It suggests that you're not headed for a conventional workplace, but that neither are you dressing sloppy (as with the classic image of the office worker, arriving at home or in the pub, finally free to loosen his tie)."

Paul Flynn summarises the East End look as follows: "Healthy beard, groomed moustache, trousers half an inch too short, lustrous hair side-parted, shirt buttoned up."

With this in mind, Welcome to Optimism decided to investigate the influence of East London street style on the Fantastic Men of Wieden + Kennedy. 


Planner Tom is buttoned up in a fitted tweedy shirt, rocking a sort of military / gamekeeper vibe.

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Group Account Director Alex strikes a pose, buttoned up in blue chambray.


Creative Director Kim is buttoned up in plaid.


Double denim, double buttoned-up for Luke.


Creative Ollie has buttoned up a classic white button-down.

words from a planning intern: fifth week at Wieden’s

 This week I have learnt to make mistakes. And
that failure is ok – necessary, even. In other words, I’ve learnt that you have to make mistakes in order to get something really good.
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Yes, that’s right, I’ve been introduced to
the marvelous Soichiro Honda. For the unitiated, he’s the chap who came up with the whole Honda
business – and an awfully clever chap at that. I particularly like his take on baby
spiders (a bit like thinking outside the box, or, the best way to get from A to B is via Z, P, J and F).

From my perspective, it’s really interesting to see how clients can affect an agency’s philosophy. It isn’t a clinical or purely commercial
relation that ties the two together; there’s symbiosis and exchange between them. For someone new to advertising, this is both surprising and rather nice.


(Thoughts courtesy of Planning Placement newbie James.)

More Easter treats

If a geo-located online treasure hunt for decorated virtual eggs with great redeemable prizes isn't for you (and we would ask "why on earth not?") you can instead celebrate Easter the more traditional way. Just like those in our latest TV spot for Tesco. With friends, family, feasting and a good old Easter egg hunt.


We've also created some mouthwatering press to inspire seasonal inlugence.

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Hungry yet?

Happy Easter from all of us to all of you.

Campaign’s school reports in league table form

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Each year Campaign magazine does its
‘school report’ evaluation of the performance of UK agencies. For some reason –
possibly to avoid indignant complaining by agencies outraged at their ranking –
Campaign don’t present their scores in league table format. But for ease of
comparison, we at W2O have done just that for the 2012 school report scores.
Media agencies have been removed from this table, as have agencies that
describe themselves as DM/direct agencies. (There are fewer and fewer of those
every year, as the distinctions between ‘direct’ and ‘digital’ become subsumed
into the catch-all designation ‘integrated’.)

9 – BBH, Work Club

8 – AMV-BBDO, AKQA, Grey, Iris, Jam, Karmarama,
Lean Mean Fighting Machine, Leo Burnett, Mother, Wieden + Kennedy

7 – BETC, Brooklyn Brothers, Creature,
CP&B, Gravity Road, Havas, Inferno, JWT, LBi, Leith, M&C Saatchi, Now,
PAA, R/GA, Saatchi & Saatchi, Sapient Nitro, VCCP

6 – 101, BMB, Brothers & Sisters, CHI
& Partners, Corner, DLKW Lowe, Krow, Leagas Delaney, McGarry Bowen,
Profero, Publicis Chemistry, TBWA, TMW, WCRS, Wunderman

5 – Agency Republic, Dare, Draft FCB, G2
Joshua, Glue Isobar, Kitcatt Nohr Digitas, MBA, O&M, RKCR/Y&R

4 – Albion, AIS, CMW, Elvis, Fallon, McCann,

3 – Red Brick Road

key 9
Outstanding 8 Excellent 7 Good 6 Satisfactory 5 Adequate 4 Below
average 3 Poor 2 A year to forget 1 Survival
in question

When you see the scores laid out like this,
it suggests that Campaign has actually been quite generous. Only one agency
merits a score of 3 or less. Only 8 score below average.

There are some interesting juxtapositions,
where agencies that appear to have had quite different years achieve the same
score. And some agencies whose work has been patchy at best have scored
surprisingly highly.

Anyway, there’s the table (above). Draw your own

For thoughts on their assessment of Wieden + Kennedy, see here.