Little things can have a significant effect on our lives. Take the fact that human touch is really good for us.
Neuroscientists have proven that little incidental touches are vital for happiness and wellbeing to humans. Did you know that holding hands can decrease symptoms of depression? That a cuddle can help a premature baby gain weight? Or that a little pat on the back from a teacher can double a student’s confidence to speak up in class?
Being the curious bunch we are, we stumbled on to these findings recently and we were astonished how something so simple, and something we can all have access to, can make such a difference. We were even more surprised to discover that ethnologists recently found out that us Brits touch each other the least out of any other country in the world. Which means here in the UK, we're the most touch deprived.
So we decided to make an interface to try and change that, through the simple act of holding hands.
The really great thing about holding hands is that it’s one of the most effective ways to release the happiness neurochemical oxytocin into the body.
Using a simple Makey Makey, a team of W+Kers including Luke Tipping, Joseph Haigh and Daniel Smith built a giant conductive controller that only works when users hold hands with a playing partner. With this experiment, it really does take two to play the game.
We hooked the In Your Hands controller up to a game and debuted the project at the Wired 2014 Next Generation event in London last weekend, alongside projects from Google and MIT. Next Generation aims to excite and inspire curiosity in 12-18 year olds with talks, workshops and interactive exhibits themed around technology and creativity.
The results of our In Your Hands exhibit were fascinating, with Wired guests queueing up to take a spin on the controller and getting competitive in trying to smash their previous high scores. The best thing about the day was feeling a buzz in the atmosphere, thanks to all the oxytocin flowing through players' systems, as well as a constant flow of high fives. Great stuff.
Get a glimpse of the day here:
Thanks to Wired for having us, and to all the W+K guinea pigs we tested the controller on.
Today we celebrate the victors. W+K Creative Director Carlos and his rotation of multiple teammates are basking in the glory of last night’s agency ping pong tournament win. It’s finally beginning to sink in that they hold the crown as W+K's top table tennis doubles team. Competition was tough, stakes were high, tears of joy and heartbreak were shed. Mostly all by Tony D.
The championship served not only as a month of nail-biting agency drama with its own internal promotion campaign (natch) but it also acted as a fundraiser for fellow creative Ben Shaffery’s upcoming trip to Malawi for TIE. We’re sending him there to work as a creative in a charity which helps improve farming practices in Lilongwe.
At last night's much awaited finals, W+Ker Danni Mohammed made us some fancy, tea-based cocktails from her Loose Lips Tea company and there were hot dogs on sale too - all in the name of 'charidee'. A good time was had by all.
As we stow away the ping pongs and nets for a while, Carlos and co await their bespoke printed table tennis bat trophies. For the rest of us it's business as usual, until the rematch...
We’ve had a sweet little idea over here at W+K Towers. Based on an insight about human touch, brought to life through the power of gaming.
We’ve been testing it today in the agency. We’re premiering it tomorrow at Wired’s Next conference.
Check out these W+Kers getting involved.
More to follow when we unleash it on the digital youth…
Five W+K runners headed out to Paris last weekend, to compete in Nike's 10km race.
The night prior to the race saw the sort of flawless professionalism you'd expect: a bottle of red per head and steak tartares all round. Classic pre-race fuel.
Read the full feature here.
Since we added Trident gum to our confectionery brand shelf, where it sits alongside our other Mondelez brands Halls, Stride and freshest new addition, Trebor, we’ve been busy chewing their entire catalogue of sugar-free flavours and developing our first campaign.
The campaign introduces the sugar-free gum brand’s clever new product, Trident Unwrapped, a bottled soft gum that puts the product people love in a clever new wrapper-less format. Super useful, right?
The TV spot is accompanied by a 30” online film, hosted on Trident’s YouTube channel.
Sugar-free gum has never felt so convenient.
Clearly there are more important issues than marketing to consider when thinking about Scottish independence, but being up in Scotland on business in the days before the referendum led me to think about what a yes vote for independence might mean for brands that use aspects of Britishness to define their appeal. Ones that come to mind include Burberry, Lambs Navy Rum, Hovis, Mini and BA which, since the days of ‘the world’s favourite airline’, has had an assocation with national pride in international success. What would a ‘yes’ vote for Scottish independence mean for these avowedly British brands? If Britain no longer includes Scotland, what will ‘Britishness’ signify to the Scots? If a vote for independence is a vote for disassociation from ‘British’ values in favour of distinctively Scottish values, does that deposition British brands and put them at a disadvantage when targetting the Scots? And will it change what Britishness means to the English, Irish and Welsh? Might ‘British’ values effectively become a synonym for English, leading to a lack of relevance in the rest of the UK?
I’d argue that it’s not hard to think of attributes that are distinctively Scottish rather than British: proud, rebellious, dour, wry, frugal, etc. It’s harder to think of attributes that are distinctively British rather than English. And if British brands become merely English, that may narrow their appeal.
Mind you, it's not hard to imagine Irn Bru running a campaign along similar lines to the one above if Scotland were to vote yes for independence: "I'm Joe Broon and I drink Irn Bru! Come and get me, ye auld Etonians!" Smart Scots brands will no doubt be hoping and planning to tap into the popular mood, whichever way the vote goes.
Over the past week, you may be forgiven for thinking Dave Gorman is stalking you. He’s been popping up outdoors, on screens and in the press, telling you in not-so-subtle ways to watch the second series of his new show, Modern Life is Goodish. And he’s rather spot-on in his targeting, isn’t he?
UKTV briefed us to create a campaign to promote his new TV series, starting on Dave at 10pm tonight. Together, we wanted to challenge the norm in marketing just like the witty comic challenges the norm in his critically acclaimed show.
From popping up in your Facebook feeds and honing in on your Twitter chat, to disrupting the tried and true grid system of a magazine layout just because he can, the comedian is reaching new and existing fans by exposing the quirks of ad placement and social media targeting.
Taking cues from the series, which points out life’s absurdities by making viewers think twice about the humour in everyday moments, the print, digital and OOH campaign pokes fun at the smoke and mirrors techniques used in advertising.
On Facebook, Dave highlights the eerily specific targeted ads that pop up on users’ newsfeeds. Promoted ads address users with playful graphics mirroring their own profiles, speaking directly to curiously specific groups including Scottish men interested in cooking and frequent travellers interested in home appliances.
On Twitter, Dave is spooking twitter users by tweeting images directly at users based on the keywords they use.
And online, he’s exposing the elaborate labels digital ad targeting applies to us. Energetic optimist? Sure. We'll take that one.
Keep an eye out for more of Dave Gorman interrupting your thoroughly modern life, and make sure to tune in for the first episode of Dave Gorman: Modern Life is Goodish tonight on Dave at 10pm.
Win when you spend, win when you don’t. That’s the idea behind our new Tesco Bank ‘Win Win’ campaign celebrating all the benefits the bank’s customers experience by choosing its current account.
As a Tesco Bank current account customer, you can collect Clubcard points on almost everything you buy with your debit card and even earn extra points on your shopping at Tesco when you spend. When you don’t, your current account balance earns interest. That’s a win-win situation.
We created a pair of TV spots which play on the contrast between two alternate scenarios to echo the win win experience. Comparing the thrill of a family day out at the aquarium with a budding amateur biologist's rather less extravagant fascination with his pet goldfish, and the glamour of a pastel-hued dog grooming parlour with the hands-on (if slightly damp) fun of the DIY version, the films capture the bright side of very different experiences.
Our print and outdoor campaign also uses the juxtaposition of alternate sides of familiar objects to articulate the campaign message in a clear and simple way.
Read more about the new current account here.
W+K Managing Director Neil Christie is speaking at the Marketing Society of Scotland event tomorrow on Inspiring Creativity. To generate a state of fevered anticipatory excitement they've posted an interview with him online here.
Here are the words of wisdom:
What’s your golden rule?
Work hard and eat more fish.
Who has been your biggest influence?
Impossible to pick one: Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Mark E. Smith, Captain Beefheart, The Beatles, Tom Verlaine, David Bowie, John Updike, John Lydon, Tove Jansson, David Lynch…
What is your most hated business expression?
'What’s the smartest business idea you’ve ever had?
Which leader do you admire most and why?
Captain James T. Kirk – leader of men, explorer of new worlds, defeater of monsters, inter-species romancer.
What’s your favourite word?
Tell us a secret
I promised not to tell
Our neighbours in the City wanted to interview MD, Neil to get an insight into how we create our work. The result - in the form of a full-page interview in daily business paper, City AM - greeted commuters on their way in this morning. If you missed picking up a copy, read on for an insight into how we made The Pony, how ads become viral, and our stance on staying independent in an increasingly interconnected industry.
New W+K creative team Thom Whitaker and Danielle Noël (these guys) popped down to the Barbican for a bit of creative digital inspiration. They write:
This week, we decided to let our inner geeks run free by visiting the Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican. The exhibition itself takes viewers on an interactive journey allowing them to see how far digital creativity has advanced over the years and what the future potentially holds for it. But in short, it’s just really fun.
The first part of the exhibition was like stepping into a teenager's bedroom in the 80s (minus the Duran Duran posters). It’s full of old video games and computers that you’re encouraged to interact with. One of the things that struck us the most about this part of the exhibition was that, despite being both out of date in appearance and function, the queue to play Pong was still longer than any queue we’ve ever seen to play Call of Duty. Makes you wonder whether we’re over-complicating things a little, doesn’t it?
But, as we moved further through the exhibition and towards the present day, that thought was soon dispelled. We were blown away by some of the installations and film pieces exhibited. One particular highlight was the giant animated version of Will I Am’s face that appeared to follow you around the room wherever you were standing. On paper that sounds like the stuff nightmares are made of, but it was strangely fascinating. Of course, once we figured out the illusion the magic was broken slightly, but for at least 30 seconds we genuinely felt like Will I Am was stalking us.
Another standout piece came from renowned digital artist Chris Milk. His piece, The Treachery of Sanctuary, allows people to stand in front of three screen panels and see themselves transformed into a bird before their very own eyes. The piece is designed to explore all three stages of life, death and rebirth, and on the final panel you are encouraged to flap your arms hard enough so that you can watch yourself fly off the screen. This not only provided an insight into how far the digital arts have come, it also provided people with that all-important Instagram opportunity to fill the void left by the Hayward Gallery's recent attraction, the balloon room. Let’s face it, we’re all a bit guilty of it.
By the time we finally made it to the future it was difficult to think of what could possibly be next, and the truth is no one actually knows, but the exhibition did highlight some interesting pieces of research that are being done at the moment. One particular piece that interested us explored the idea of wearable solar panels so that people can create their own energy through the clothing they wear. We’re not entirely sure we’re going to rush out to Urban Outfitters and get some, but who knows… maybe next year.
In ancient Egypt cats were sacred animals, worshipped like gods. Today, things aren't all that different. People love cats, using their charms to market all sorts of things and flocking to conventions to worship the internet's most famous feline stars.
In this week's issue, Newsweek looks at the phenomenon of 'arstorcratic cats' treated like rock stars by some of the most luxurious hotels in the world. Whatever next?
Newsweek asked Luke Tipping, senior interactive creative and member of the W+K Three team responsible for creating our Sing It Kitty campaign, for his thoughts on what makes cats so popular with brands.
You can read the whole story on Newsweek's site here.
There had been banter and boasting between W+K runners Goss and Winek about who was fastest. It was time to find out once and for all. So we (unofficially) closed Wilkes Street outside the office to stage the first-ever Jack the Ripper Memorial 100m sprint. The result? Decisive victory for Goss.
Nice work, lads.
We’ve also developed several product-focused campaigns across the Natural goodness platform, starting with Arla Kærgarden butter in Germany and a campaign supporting Arla Finland’s commitment to sourcing local milk.
There's much more dairy goodness to come from Arla in 2014, so keep an eye out for new work supporting Arla Buko cream cheese and the Arla Ko breakfast range.
In this month's Marketing magazine, Richard Huntington, chief strategy officer at Saatchi & Saatchi, wrote a feature about client-agency relationships in perfect harmony. And fancy that, he used our Three work as an example, calling us a "very tight client and agency team."
We'd certainly like to think so, and as Richard says, it takes a pretty special client to buy an idea invovlving (in his alliterative words) "a CGI Shetland pony dancing its fetlocks off to a Fleetwood Mac floor-filler."
"Some agencies and clients are just made for each other. By which I mean, they seem to get one another, and the result is confident work and a confident brand - partnerships such as The Economist and Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, Audi and BBH and more recently John Lewis and Adam & Eve/DDB.
And so it is with Three and Wieden & Kennedy. You don't get away with a CGI Shetland pony dancing its fetlocks off to a Fleetwood Mac floor-filler without a client and agency relationship that is locked in step. A relationship in which there is a heap of mutual trust within a team with real empathy for the brand. Testament to this success is the fact that I have no idea which agency worked for Three before Wieden, and no recollection of any of its work.
But it's not just the brand fluff that it excels at. It is pretty tasty with the harder-working communications that land Three's propositions, too. Like this month's resident of the second spot in the Adwatch likeability table: the TV commercial for its #holidayspam campaign.
Here's the deal: Three has decided that data should cost no extra when its customers are on holiday in any of 16 selected countries. It's a top proposition, albeit that Three has cannily avoided most of the places that Brits tend to actually like going on their hols - Israel is currently a war zone and Denmark's only attraction is a statue of a diminutive mermaid.
To bring this to life, Wieden has found a neat creative insight that it's only the cost of using data abroad that stops all manner of horrendous holiday spam gracing our news feeds, courtesy of friends enjoying the beaches of Finland or wherever else. So Three is apologising to Britain for the irritation that this is likely to cause.
It's not the most slickly executed campaign, especially in comparison with the brand spots, and, frankly, the outdoor and digital elements, such as the Holiday Spam Crisis Centre, are stronger than the TV. But this work delivers the business proposition like a sledgehammer. In a mobile market where you can run around the streets naked shouting "everything free forever" and people would ignore you, that's no mean feat.
So, all in all, a nice proposition, a sharp insight and decent work from what appears to be a very tight client and agency team. And thank God it is so tight, since Three is going to need all the help it can get from Wieden as 4G becomes standard issue."
For the last couple of weeks, some of the Honda team (Scott, Graeme, Alex, Lou, Tom and client Dean) have been roaming around Slovenia and Croatia shooting a forthcoming project together.
There were drones! Sweet, sweet non-miltarised Drones.
We summoned Ancient Egyptian deities!
Scott became a gnome!
After a week's location work followed by six long, long day/night shoots (including one epic 24hr marathon) we've finally wrapped with something that we think's going to be a little bit special. Watch this space for more soon.
Neil C writes:
I was asked to contribute to a piece in today's Herald about the advertising campaigns running to support the two opposing sides in the imminent Scottish independence referendum.
Here's what I wrote:
Two independence referendum ads have been running this week, one from the pro-independence Yes campaign and one from anti-independence Better Together. Both groups of campaigners will have hoped to generate discussion and debate around their ads and BT has certainly done that, though surely not in the way they intended. Public reaction to the BT ad has been overwhelmingly negative, with people describing it as patronising and offensive towards women.
Some say that it perpetuates a stereotypical view of women as failing to understand politics. Online, the #PatronisingBTLady hashtag and meme gained a lot of traction, with some amusing responses, many of which can be seen at the Patronising BT Lady Facebook page.
Why have the two ads generated such different responses? Both try to appeal to the emotions. But each takes a very different approach.
The Yes campaign’s “Yes Means” film is a sunny, optimistic montage featuring Scots of all ages preparing for a new day. “Look out world, here I come,” says a long-haired student, as highland lochs sparkle, children play happily in the sunshine, and active old folks joyfully dance in a presumably comfortable and fulfilling retirement. The ad ends with a classic, perhaps clichéd, symbol of hope – a baby’s hand reaching for that of its parent.
The No campaign’s ad, “The Woman Who Made Up Her Mind” also references the next generation, but in a very different way. This film features only one character: a housewife, sitting in her kitchen, who talks directly to the viewer as if to a friend who’s dropped in for coffee. The housewife feels she lacks the facts required to make an informed decision about independence. “All this uncertainty bothers me so much,” she says. The more I think about it, independence seems like one big gamble”. She seems anxious but “There’s one thing I do know: I will not be gambling with my children’s future….So that’ll be a no from me.”
One positive ad that offers optimism, one negative one that evokes fear. One says – vote yes in the hope of something better. The other says – vote no for fear of something worse. Which approach is more likely to be successful? There’s no clear evidence as to whether positive or negative messages are more effective in political campaigning. Obama swept to power on the back of a message of “hope” but arguably Britain’s most famous political ad is “Labour Isn’t Working”, the iconic poster of the Conservatives’ successful 1979 general election campaign. So you could argue that either approach can be successful, it just depends on how well you do it.
How well have the Yes and No campaigns done it here? The No film appears to be a potentially disastrous mistake. The undecided woman is transparently a Frankenstein’s monster cobbled together from spare parts of strategy and research group comments. At no point do we believe in her as a living person with real concerns that we can share. She’s a voter segmentation profile brought unconvincingly to life – “Fearful Fiona”. It’s easy to see why the ad has been criticised and in places ridiculed for its patronising approach.
The “Sunshine On Leith” approach of the Yes ad, on the other hand, presents a range of likeable characters who are proud and positive about the future. We don’t believe in them as real people, they’re obviously actors, but they’re not so obviously fake as to undermine the message. This is a feel-good, confident piece of work with a welcoming, upbeat tone.
For any ad, the ultimate test is whether it moves us and makes us feel and think differently. Which of these has the power to do that? Ironically, Fearful Fiona, the ad that all too obviously tries hard to show that it understands voters, gets it so badly wrong that it has the reverse of the intended effect: it shows that BT don’t understand women voters at all. We can’t empathise with this implausible character and we feel irritated and patronised.
The Yes ad presents a vision of Scotland that is arguably a bit too much Coca-Cola, not enough Irn Bru, to touch the heart as powerfully as it might have done, but its more sympathetic characters and rousing mood do inspire feelings of pride, of optimism and of hope. In the battle of the ads at least, the Ayes have it.
The language of cute animals is truly a universal one. And if advertising is anything to go by, YouTube's favourite kind of star has definitely hit the mainstream.
Over the years, we've had our fair share of success in the animals-in-advertising arena. From our cats with thumbs campaign for Cravendale to our moonwalking pony and singing kitty for Three, it's easy to see we have a bit of a soft spot for animals.
Last night, a documentary titled Star Paws: The Rise of Superstar Pets aired on Channel 4, examining the internet-age phenomenon that is animal fame – from Grumpy Cat and Andrex puppies to our furry friend Bronte, the Starship-singing kitty from our Three 'Sing it Kitty' campaign.
Our MD, Neil, was interviewed for the series in our log cabin meeting room, complete with a secret squirrel, and the crew even popped in to film us all hard at work on what may or may not be another animal-starring campaign (okay it was).
If you're in the UK, you can watch the whole thing right now on 4OD.
In June, we introduced the Civic Type R concept with a roar, to kick off a whole host of campaign activity over the coming months showcasing the 'Other Side of Honda’. Now we’re back with a new pan-European, multi-channel campaign that celebrates the Civic range and Honda’s unparalleled dedication to thorough testing.
The campaign is based on the idea that ‘there’s testing, then there’s Honda testing’, showcasing the dramatic lengths the manufacturer will go to when testing their vehicles, specifically the Civic model. (To be precise, cars at Honda’s European manufacturing plant in Swindon are tested in a specially controlled climate chamber from -30’c to +80’c conditions.)
The campaign launches with a 30” film, which brings to life these extreme environments by encasing the car in ice before slowly melting it away against a changing backdrop. This is further supported by print executions, as well as a rich media ad featuring an interactive version of the film.
Under the direction of Johnny Hardstaff, production team watched the car and snow-covered set melt of over a 5-hour sequence, filming 200 takes of the process on a motion control rig. MPC's team, led by Adam Crocker, developed a technique that enabled the director and creative team to navigate intuitively through hundreds of motion control takes, giving them full creative control over the rate at which the car and floor was melting/ freezing. MPC's 3D team enhanced the scenes to augment the snow-covered environment, turning a skeleton into a snowman and a cactus into conifers.
Our beloved agency basement takes many forms. Kitchen, co-working office, client hotdesking space, meeting room foyer, and yesterday afternoon, stage to singer-songwriter Alex Clare, whose incredible voice and guitar playing put its acoustics to the test (turns out they're excellent).
Opening with the headliner of his new album, Three Hearts, and ending on an impromptu encore, Alex lulled us all into a mellow state of mind - the perfect note on which to end a rainy Thursday.
Big organisational thanks to W+K Culture Club, who have swapped surprise ice cream vans for evocative melodies (accompanied by dark & stormies) now that's it's apparently not summer any more. We can't wait to see what they bring us next!
This young man right here is the very talented Josh King, one of the latest creatives to join our ranks.
Before finding his way here, Josh studied graphic design at Kingston University, he made all sorts of cool stuff over at Lean Mean Fighting Machine and M&C Saatchi, and he's part of a design collective called King Zog.
Josh was recently invited to speak at the Institute of Contemporary Arts here in London. Here are a few of the top tips he shared with the aspiring creatives in the audience:
A few weeks back I was invited to talk at an event that focused on the transitional period between uni and getting a proper job. For any grads that missed it, here's my 20 minutes of 'wisdom' summed up in three points:
Further to previous posts here on the topic of procurement here and here, which highlghted problems with focusing on cutting costs in relation to marketing services, rather than increasing the value of the services provided, I was interested to read the Procurecon Benchmarking survey. This survey was conducted among 2,000 procurement professionals across Europe by the team behind the Procurecon conference, as blogged about here.
The results are pretty clear. "'Total cost savings' came out top as the most popular metric for measuring the value of procurement (85%)... The second most popular answer was 'cost avoidance', with 77% of respondents using this metric."
(The respondents to this survey may not have been limited to marketing procurement specialists, which might skew the results. But even at the Marketing Procurecon, a show of hands poll indicated an overwhelming focus on cost-cutting as the key measure of procurement effectiveness.)
The report's final conclusion: "Savings continue to be the default way of measuring how well procurement is doing its job."
So that's unequivocal: the job of Procurement is to buy the same, or more for less. Success is measured by reducing agency fees and associated costs.
But, as previously noted on this site, Marketing is an investment not a cost. (Nothing is easier than cutting marketing costs – if you don't believe it’s adding value, just stop spending.) Nobody makes an investment decision based solely on price. (Who buys a share in Microsoft because it’s cheaper than a share in Coca-Cola?) Marketing Procurement should not be about minimising costs, it should be about maximising the value of the investment. As someone once said - nothing is more expensive than cheap legal advice. The same goes for marketing services.
This report makes grim reading for agencies and reminds us that we need more than ever to be focused on accountability for what we do, so that we can prove the value we are providing. We must do this in close partnership with client marketers, who share our interest in accountability. Without this, the debate will only ever be about cost.
It's definitely summer in London; you can tell by the baking heat that cooks up an effluvious reek of human ordure and rotting trash around Shoreditch High Street station. Like Proust's madeleine in faecal form, this olfactory cocktail reminds me that we're more than half way through 2014 and that it's a suitable time for a wee review of the year so far.
How was 2013?
First of all, just to remind ourselves of a few hghlights from last year.
We won Shots ad of the year (for Honda Hands) and were Shots Agency of the Year. They said “Wieden+Kennedy has demonstrated once again how to create iconic work, irrespective of the category in which it plays. They don't just create great content, they seem to create new benchmarks - with freakish consistency." Nice.
We were YouTube’s most-watched UK agency of 2013, with campaigns created in 2013 attracting over 43 million views throughout the year, 13 million of which were attributed to our Nike spot 'Endless Possibilities'.
We welcomed 88 new joiners – that’s about 40% of the agency who were new in 2013.
We won some new business, including Halls (globally) and Arla Foods (international).
And we were rated ‘excellent’ by Campaign in their annual agencies 'school report'. They commented that '"the pony" spot for Three, released in February, was a genuine viral smash and easily the 2013 highlight. That said, its spots for Honda and Lurpak would make anyone’s highlight reel for the year too.They also said it was “a good year for an agency that seemed to be enjoying itself”
So a pretty good 2103. Now, on to 2014.
We’ve done some great work so far this year across all our clients. Here are a few highlights:
One more thing on the work so far this year: it was particularly sweet to win gold at Cannes for Lurpak in both effectiveness and creativity. This combination of great work and demonstrably great results is what we’re aiming for on every client. It builds clients' business, bonds relationships, and protects our bottom line. All of which is nice.
We’re continuing to roll out internally our revamped WKEd training and development programme to help everyone develop new skills and realise their potential.
We’ve launched the ‘Handy Little thing’ skills-swap scheme, where people teach others on their areas of knowledge and expertise, from 'How to be a powerpoint ninja', to 'An introduction to Catalan culture', to 'Essential tips on punctuation'.
We sent people to all sorts of conferences and seminars, from TED to SXSW to Cannes and had them report back on what they learned.
And we did a bit of restructuring to help us manage growth and work smarter, promoting Helen Foulder to Deputy MD, Andy Kay to Head of Account Handling and Beth Bentley to Head of Planning. All those guys are getting to grips with their new responsibilities and figuring out how we can maximise the inspiring and minimise the tiring.
And IT switched us all over to G-mail, which I know has been really popular, especially with me.
We launched our Forever Curious project to help inspire creativity in local kids. Last week, following an inspiring series of 'my creative spark' card creation sessions and spark card workshops with pupils from Millfelds and Newport primary schools, we held an exhibition of the work we've been creating together over the past couple of months, at The Rag Factory, just off Brick Lane.
In partnership with Enabling Enterprise, we hosted a challenge day for a group of 20 students from Stamford Hill primary school where, over the course of a day, we attempted to give these kids a taste of what it’s like to work in the creative industry.
We expanded into the Wilkes Street wing, giving everyone some much-needed breathing space.
We’ve also tried to freshen up the Hanbury Street space with things like the Biscuit Room and the undersea world of the lift-space.
We continued our commitment to The International Exchange and Ben Shaffery will be the next person we send off to share their skills with organisations, people and communities from the emerging world.
We launched the Spore fund to support our people in getting their personal creative projects off the ground.
We’re currently working on launching the London arm of what has variously been called Platform / 12 / The Kennedys – our own school for emerging, diverse creative talent. The plan this time is to link it up internationally across the US, London, Amsterdam and Shanghai to offer a magnet for young talent across the world.
And we adopted a flamingo.
We’ve continued to strengthen and broaden our team, with 36 new joiners so far this year across all departments, taking our numbers up to around 220 permanent staff.
We’ve had bake-offs, an easter egg hunt, stairwell exhibitions, a Eurovision celebration, gallery trips, a visit from a Findlandia mixologist, a giant edible version of Tony’s head, a cult meeting on an island, parties, piss-ups and all sorts of celebrations. Some of which were actually “fun”, I’m told.
And we got hold of some Google Glasses (or do you say 'a Google Glass'?) and as part of an extensive experimentation and learning programme, we got Sandra the landlady from the Golden Heart to wear them. Not sure where they are now.
We picked up new business from Finish (globally), Trident (North America), Chambord (international) and UKTV (the clue to geography on this one is in the name). A 100% conversion rate and a strong performance in a very quiet and highly competitive new biz market. We’ve also been successful in growing our business with existing clients.
The new business pipeline is currently busy with opportunities in sectors including technology, drinks, sports, airlines, health, baby products, and entertainment, so things are looking healthy.
What next? There’s plenty more to come in the second half of the year.
- Iain Tait joins in a few weeks to partner with Tony D and to help continue to push our creative work in new and innovative directions that will help give our clients an edge against their competitors.
We’ve nearly signed the deal on extending our building. The plan is to rent the old stable block diagonally behind us, between Hanbury Street and Commercial Street. We’ll connect it to the current space at number 16 Hanbury, transform it into workspace without buggering up its original character and also renovate and rejuvenate number 16. Quite a lot of time and money later we should have an amazing new home without actually having to move house.
Beyond that there is not, and has never been, a secret Wieden+Kennedy Master Plan. The plan is pretty straightforward: find lots of great people, help them do the best work of their lives with great clients, and repeat as necessary. Sounds simple, but it takes lots of talent, trust and hard work, some great talent and some awesome clients.
So that’s the plan for the rest of the year. And beyond.
Time to introduce two new faces to the London family.
This is Leo, he joins us as our new office manager. He was previously at Profero for 3 years, where he dipped his hand in to all sorts of office manager/HR/IT related tasks. He's already won us all over by hooking us up with our own ice cream van. Winner.
A big hello to Harriet Lowson who joins us from LBi, where she's spent the past few years as a digital, interactive and social strategist on Netflix, Carlsberg, UGG, ghd, and Sony Mobile.
Things to know about Harriet: she's a snowboarding, half-marathon-running history graduate who visits a new country every year. This year she's ticking off two: Nigeria and Ghana. Nice.
"Ice cream man, upon my street,
I heard your truck outside, it's really neat."
Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers don't work at W+K, but if they did, today they could be singing that song, because on this hot Thursday, our very own ice cream van turned up to relieve us of the heat.
Here's how it works: 1. You pick up your ticket from reception.
So who's behind all this goodness? None other than the newly founded W+K Culture Club, who chose this much appreciated stunt to announced its arrival into agency life today with the sweet sound of ice cream van chimes.