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!
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.
A month or so ago, W+Kers and visitors to 16 Hanbury St will have noticed a new addition to our reception, in the humble form of a pin board with some bits of card stuck on it. This is the home of Handy Little Thing - an informal way for W+Kers to share their knowledge with others on a topic they're passionate about.
We're keeping it lo-fi with an old school noticeboard system of pens, pins and cards. W+Kers, our friends and our clients who have a skill or interest to share fill out a card for the board, and those who are interested can sign up to learn about it. A talk is then arranged, allowing everyone to share their skills, learn some new ones, have some laughs, and maybe even make new friends in the process.
Handy Little Thing is off to a roaring start, with topics such as UX, flower arranging, promoting personal projects, and Catalan culture on offer so far. Nice.
The inaugural Handy Little Thing talk kicked off yesterday, with Planning Director Theo, who enlighten us on 'how to be a powerpoint ninja'.
It takes someone with great wit, humour and congeniality to make the MS Office Suite sound even remotely interesting, but as his slides were met with laughter, clapping and sharp intakes of excited breath (we're not even kidding), it became very clear that we were in excellent hands. With his focus on personal presenting style, simplicity, and a generous number of easy technical tricks, we couldn't have asked for a better talk to kick off the project.
Watch this space for regular updates on the handy little things we'll be sharing!
Over the past couple of weeks, the average age of the W+K office has dropped sharply, due to a series of educational visits from various corners of the world.
We hosted students from the Universities Oklahoma and Delaware and West Herts College, Watford, who stopped by to check out our offices and get a feel for the ins and outs of adland, thanks to presentations by creative Jason & Joris and Mark & Paddy.
To top it all off, our ECDs Tony and Kim gave a talk for the D&AD New Blood festival, allowing soon-to-be ad grads to lap up a little of what life is like here at W+K.
Students from West Herts with our Vikki and our Guy.
We were delighted to receive a rave review from the University of Watford, who wrote on their ad course blog:
“There were lots of treats at the agency on Friday. Guy Featherstone, self-confessed skate boarding sneaker head and soon to be Head of Design at W&K Portland, treated us all to a talk about his design philosophies. Amazing stuff it was too. Vikki Kottler treated us all to breakfast. […] As always, the W+K experience was truly different, immensely inspiring and hugely enjoyable."
By now, the emotional rollercoaster that is the World Cup feels like it's been going on forever, but boy are we going to miss all the fun after this weekend's final.
Back at the start of the tournament, in the heady days before goalpocalypse (yes, that semi final shocker of a score), we unveiled a thematic window installation titled World Cup Wishes. It features 3000 traditional Brazilian 'Senhor de Bonfim de Bahia' wish ribbons with a sporty twist arrnaged to spell 'football' in Portuguese, with each ribbon carrying the wish of a football fan or a reaction to the latest drama on the pitch.
The window – much like the tournament – is still going strong, with crowds of curious passers by and football fanatics stopping by throughout to grab their own wishes.
We made a video that captures the whole thing. Enjoy!
Don't forget, you can still tweet your wish with the hashtag #WorldCupWishes, and you may find your own message on display in time for the final.
He followed someone into our Wilkes Street office yesterday and was caught on video. One of our laptops was stolen from the desk shown below at exactly the time this man gained entry to the office and, judging from the video footage below, it looks like this gentleman may be able to help the police with enquiries in connection with the theft.
He comes into the building, tailgating someone who has unlocked the door, and sits by the door, apparently to case the joint. First of all he checks out the laptop by the window but that's secured and not easily removable. At around 1.10 he goes over to one of our desks and, concealed by the pillar, seems to put something in his carrier bag. Then he makes a swift exit. When our staffer returned to the same desk a few minutes later, his laptop was missing.
Clearly there are lessons here for us about our security measures, and this just shows how vigilant people need to be in any office open to the street.
This guy may be local and known in the neighbourhood, so if anyone reading this recognises him, in his Nike Airmax T-shirt (how aggravating is that, given that Nike is a client), then we'd love to hear from you. If you have a business in the area you may want to watch out for him.
And, if this is you in the video, and there's an innocent explanation for what you were doing in our office, then please let us know and of course we'll take down the video.
Our office looks surprisingly tidy through the lens of photographer Paul Barbera, who stopped by recently to capture 16 Hanbury St for his project Where They Create, a visual documentation of creative working environments around the world.
For more glimpses of life inside W+K London, click here.