School Reports 2018: Wieden & Kennedy London

Sainsbury's
Sainsbury's

Type of agency & ownership:  Independent creative agency
Nielsen billings 2017: £115m (+£55%)
Declared income: £26.4m
Total accounts at year end: 19
Accounts won: 5 (biggest: Niantic)
Accounts lost: 2 (biggest: Finish)
Number of staff: 174 (-3%)
Key personnel: Tony Davidson, executive creative director; Iain Tait, executive creative director; Helen Andrews, managing director; Bronwen Hemming, finance director
Star player: Debbie Jones, head receptionist

Wieden & Kennedy London’s former client Tesco had never been an easy fit, so the pressure was on the agency to prove its chops after nabbing Sainsbury’s from 35-year incumbent Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO in 2016. Its first work for the brand, a black-and-white ad in which people dance around their kitchens, debuted in January to mixed reviews. The brand held on to this motif throughout the year, culminating in a Christmas campaign that ditched the festive blockbuster for a singalong featuring real people and employees. The jury remains out as to whether W&K has cracked the winning formula.

W&K had hit its stride in the dull dishwasher detergent category, with dazzling work for Finish, but the agency lost the account when parent RB moved it back to Havas after three years. Fellow RB brand Nurofen also left for McCann London. But Wieden & Kennedy’s swansong for Finish, a tongue-in-cheek musical about people’s love of washing up, was further proof of the shop’s creative merits, despite the loss.

On the plus side, it won Niantic, which developed Pokémon Go, and Formula One, as well as a project for the FA and more Honda activity.

W&K has built a strong creative reputation in the UK in the past two decades, with work such as a campaign for Nike celebrating Mo Farah’s career. In 2017 it made sleek spots for Honda, turned billboards into "PokeStops" for Pokémon Go and helped launch Bud Light in the UK.

At the start of 2018, strategy chief Paul Colman departed amid claims of harassment. With that gap to fill, W&K joins the ranks of agencies that must prove they can foster positive workplaces, not just inspiring work.

SCORE THIS YEAR

SCORE LAST YEAR

SELF RATING

6 8 7

Agency's year in a tweet

We continued making the best work of our lives for an inspiring bunch of clients.

Score 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

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*indicates where agencies claim the corporate governance constraints of the Sarbanes-Oxley legislation

 

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