cruel agency creative derides cute hedgehogs’ thespian efforts

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There's a nice piece over on AdWeek about our new Lactofree 'Hedgehogs' spot. Here's what it says:

The folks at Wieden + Kennedy love their spokescreatures.

Last year, for Cravendale milk, the London agency filmed a charming pack of scheming cats with a thirst for milk—and opposable thumbs. (ITV viewers voted it the best TV spot of 2011, and it was on Adweek's list of the year's 10 best ads, too.) Now, W+K is out with another sweet commercial starring hedgehogs to promote the virtues of Arla's Lactofree dairy products. The spiny beasts are told they can enjoy treats like latte, crumpets and pizza if they use Lactofree—because they're not intolerant to dairy, only to lactose, which is the the sugar in dairy.

A wonderful detail in both campaigns is the element of truth in the whimsy: Hedgehogs really are lactose intolerant, just as there really are polydactyl cats with a genetic mutation that gives them extra toes. "Hedgehogs are a gift from the advertising gods," says Hollie Newton, the W+K creative behind the Arla spot. "They are lactose intolerant, wonderful and very sweet." Still, she adds, "they are rubbish actors."

Of the five African Pygmy hedgehogs on set, half of them ran really fast, while the others would just curl up in a defensive ball. W+K built a little seat for the one with the Parisian latte, while the two with the pizza have their own tiny sofa. Newton, who's still not sure how the agency was able to attach the blue bow to the supermarket-shopping hedgehog, says she would never have wanted anything but the real creatures in the spot.

And the agency got a great souvenir: The miniature commercial set, with its six-inch milk aisle, is on display at the agency's gallery space.

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Here's the TV ad again:

Cravendale ‘cats with thumbs’ makes Adweek’s top ten of 2011

Adweek magazine has named Wieden + Kennedy’s ‘Cats with thumbs’ commercial for Cravendale one of its ‘top ten of 2011’.

Adweek magazine has named Wieden + Kennedy’s ‘Cats with thumbs’ commercial for Cravendale one of its ‘top ten of 2011’.

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Adweek magazine has named our 'Cats with thumbs' commercial for Cravendale one of its 'top ten of 2011'. Here's what they say:

Why do cats stare when you're pouring milk? The answer seems obvious. They're cats. They love milk. But this irresistible spot by Wieden + Kennedy for British dairy Cravendale wondered if the cute little kitties might not have a more nefarious agenda. After a lifetime of waiting on their owner's generosity, perhaps they want to take matters into their own paws. Maybe they're ready to band together and raid your milk supply. They would need just one thing, and this spot humorously gives it to them—opposable thumbs. Suddenly, the polydactyl felines are seen picking up balls, filing their nails, flipping through books, and doing a little needlepoint. But they're just biding their time and honing their sinister plot. Sure enough, soon they're snapping their fingers, West Side Story style, and preparing to gang up on the selfish, cereal-eating human and steal his milk. Cats are always big in ads, but this spot chased off all rivals this year. And we may get a sequel. As one of the spot's feline stars wrote on Twitter this fall: "Know this: you have not heard the last from me."

Chuffed with this news, Bertrum Thumbcat plots the next stage of world domination:

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And here is the TV ad again, in all its 8th place glory.

Wieden + Kennedy is Adweek’s agency of the year 2010

US trade publication AdWeek has named Wieden + Kennedy its agency of the year 2010. This comes in addition to the ‘network of the year’ accolade from Campaign magazine, Agency of the Year from Shoot magazine, and being named the UK’s #1 digital agency 2010 in a survey conducted by YouGov for Pitch/Marketing Week magazine.

US trade publication AdWeek has named Wieden + Kennedy its agency of the year 2010. This comes in addition to the ‘network of the year’ accolade from Campaign magazine, Agency of the Year from Shoot magazine, and being named the UK’s #1 digital agency 2010 in a survey conducted by YouGov for Pitch/Marketing Week magazine.

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US trade publication AdWeek has named Wieden + Kennedy its agency of the year 2010. This comes in addition to the 'network of the year' accolade from Campaign magazine,  Agency of the Year from Shoot magazine, and being named the UK's #1 digital agency 2010 in a survey conducted by YouGov for Pitch/Marketing Week magazine.

AdWeek says:

Thanks to its breakout campaign for Old Spice’s Red Zone Body Wash—which broke with a Super Bowl weekend TV spot—Wieden is the agency your agency could smell like.

The work, a slightly twisted, tongue-in-cheek production starring a towel-wearing Isaiah Mustafa, was part of a concerted effort by the agency to strengthen its digital offerings. The results have landed the shop in its own version of Bizzarro World, a place where other marketers are looking to “The man your man could smell like” for ideas on how to run their own campaigns. The creative has garnered the brand a 2,700 percent increase in Twitter followers, 800 percent increase in Facebook fan page visits and a 300 percent increase in traffic to the Old Spice Web site. It’s also generated an estimated 140 million YouTube views.

According to Marc Pritchard, global marketing and brand-building officer of Old Spice at parent company Procter & Gamble, it has helped the brand lead market share and is “growing sales in double digits.”

Indeed, the Portland-Ore.-headquartered indie has had one of its best performing years in its 28-year history. It saw client growth in both Portland and New York, and increased its U.S. revenue and billings nearly 22 percent (billings to $1.5 billion, revenue $145 million).

For the most part, it mined existing client relationships. Chrysler added Jeep, Target gave Wieden lead agency status, P&G added a corporate branding assignment as well as Ivory North America, Nokia added North America, and Coca-Cola digital assignments for Diet Coke and Coca-Cola targeting teens.

The agency has also produced some of its best work for Nike, a client Wieden calls “the soul” of his agency. (Its running business returned to the shop in 2008.) “We were born in that cauldron of the early ’80s, when [Nike] wanted to be the Saturday Night Live of the Fortune 500,” he says.

Wieden’s best Nike work this year was the stop-motion spot “Human Chain” and its “Write the Future” commercial directed by Babel’s Alejandro G. Iñarritu. The latter spot, which starred more than a dozen pro-soccer stars and debuted on Facebook, was also in play during the World Cup as a digital installation on a Johannesburg skyscraper. It received so much positive buzz that World Cup sponsor and rival adidas ended up looking as battered as England after being drubbed by Germany.

The creatives that led the effort, Mark Bernath and Eric Quennoy, were promoted to ecds of the Amsterdam office, which had produced the work with assistance from Portland. (And London.)

And this month, Wieden opened a new office in Sao Paulo, Brazil, headed by Icaro Doria, ecd, and Andre Gustavo Soares, managing director.

Improving the shop’s digital output took four years. To start on that path, in 2006 the agency hired Renny Gleeson, former managing director at Aegis Group’s Carat Fusion, as global director of digital strategies. He built up the shop’s digital production capabilities, adding digital creatives, developers, designers, coders—”folks who help iterate,” says Gleeson. He also worked on communications planning—what he describes as “changing the way the media team approaches what it does, how ideas evolve”—and community management.

“It’s not like we flipped the switch,” Gleeson adds. “It was a build. And we needed the spark to set it off. That’s where Iain comes in.”

Iain Tait, recruited last April from Poke London, which he co-founded, joined Wieden as global interactive ecd. Within months of  his arrival, the Old Spice team let loose its “response” campaign. For three days in July, the agency created nearly 200 customized videos starring Mustafa that responded to mentions of the Old Spice TV spots on blogs and social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook. These videos spread virally and, in some cases, became ongoing two-way conversations, engaging participation from celebrities like Alyssa Milano and Ellen DeGeneres, not to mention a  random consumer who wrote in seeking help from Mustafa in proposing to his girlfriend.

This social marketing component generated 1.8 billion PR impressions for the brand.

Even before the Old Spice response campaign, Wieden was being recognized for its new digital expertise at Cannes. It won the Cyber Grand Prix for its 2009 Nike “Chalkbot” campaign—a collaboration with Deeplocal for Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong charity—and the Integrated Grand Prix for the Livestrong campaign of which it was a part. (Wieden also won the top prize in film, and a Best Commercial Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for its Old Spice work.)

With its global growth looking strong as well—it had a 10 percent jump in billings and revenue this year (billings to $2.3 billion, revenue $230 million)—the agency is especially optimistic about the future.

Update: Wieden + Kennedy also named agency of the year 2010 by OMMA Magazine. They say: OMMA’s Agency of the Year Awards celebrate the agencies that were able to rise above the rest over the past year, the shops that represented the best of class in the online advertising community.

Wieden + Kennedy continues to hit ‘best of decade’ charts

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Welcome to Optimism is proud, delighted and a wee bit overwhelmed about the end of year/decade 'best of' lists as Wieden + Kennedy continues to pick up plaudits in the trade press roundup of the last ten years in advertising. AdWeek named WK Portland's Coca-Cola spot 'It's mine' best Superbowl ad of the last ten years.

Meanwhile, Advertising Age named WK New York's Beta 7 campaign for Sega as one of their ten best non-TV campaigns of the decade.

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And Wieden + Kennedy had three entries in Ad Age's best ten TV commercials of the last ten years:

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Nike 'Move' from WK Portland:

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Honda 'Grrr' from W+K London.

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…and Coca-Cola 'Happiness Factory' from WK Amsterdam.

Honda gets Adweek’s jingle of the decade

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Wieden + Kennedy's 'Grrr' commercial for Honda diesels has been named 'best of the decade' in their best of the 2000s roundup by Adweek magazine.

They say:

It's not often that you see cynical ad mavens shuffling out of the
Palais de Festivals in Cannes not only smiling about a commercial but
also whistling the jingle. But Honda's "Grrr"—created by Wieden +
Kennedy, London—is a special case. An unlikely mix of cute animals
frolicking in a CGI Eden, flying diesel engines and the
gravel-on-velvet voice of Garrison Keillor, the spot won a slew of
awards in 2005. It gets ours for the best of the decade, period.