Advertising Agency of the Year 2019: Wieden+Kennedy

At Wieden+Kennedy, it's still all about the creativity.

In 2019, the agency progressed from being a place that was creative with advertising to becoming a creative partner for product innovation, customer experience, employee communications and more.

"When you’re a true partner, you care about the business top to bottom," stated W+K.

Fiercely independent, W+K’s work for longtime clients Nike, Old Spice and KFC proves it can unearth fresh insights and unveil new executions. 

In 2019, this legacy helped score some big wins in Fisher-Price, Ford, HBO and McDonald’s— 20 new clients in all—from full partnerships to project work. Estimated revenues increased by 14.1 percent in the United States through the third quarter, this before W+K’s McDonald’s win.

This team of independent and creative-minded spirits is channeled by a stable leadership team of Neal Arthur and Karl Lieberman in New York and Jason Bagley, Eric Baldwin, and Karrelle Dixon in Portland, Overseeing global operations are co-presidents, Colleen DeCourcy and Tom Blessington. Perhaps this steady hand frees everyone else up to create. 

Out of all the work by W+K in 2019, KFC’s broke the boundaries of literal thinking. The Colonel brand campaign switched pitch men from actors Jason Alexander to Sean Astin to Robocop, each playing the Colonel, playing their signature roles.  

Outside of advertising, the agency commemorated Mother’s Day, a top sales day at KFC, by creating sassy videos of the Chickendales dancers. The agency got on the ground floor of vegan options with the "Beyond Fried Chicken" launch, including painting a store green.

Stories about female athletes inspired many through 2019, few more memorable than Team USA’s women’s soccer team and Nike’s laudatory campaign, which garnered over 1.3 billion impressions.

Team USA’s winning season unfurled as if written by a W+K copywriter. It began with a moving "Dream with Us" that spot connected viewers to the players and continued with "Dream Further" as the matches began. By the time the team showed up for a ticker-tape parade in New York City, the crowd was cheering on its fight for equal opportunity and pay for all women, holding signs that read, "When this team wins, everyone wins," straight out of the final "Never Stop Winning" ad.

A simple premise kicked off work for Fisher-Price. As the industry tinkered with brain-development toys, W+K grabbed the fun positioning.

The "Let's Be Kids" inaugural ad had John Goodman reminding all adults what childhood is really about. 

W+K’s secret sauce is a culture where wacky ideas and pipe dreams are welcome. "Bring your entire self with you to work everyday" is an HR mandate. 

The agency is a staunch supporter of industry inclusion efforts, including The 3% Movement and ADCOLOR. In 2020, a partnership with TimesUp is helping to combat sexual harassment through workshops and trainings.

W+K continues to seek creative spirits outside of ad agencies. One project neatly ties stated beliefs together. It held a branded-content course for high-schoolers at New York City’s Ghetto Film School to nurture hidden talent. More than lip service, the students created social-story videos for agency client Sprite, from concept to editing, giving the students real experience, something for their resume and perhaps launching the next generation of W+K creatives.