School Reports 2012: Wieden & Kennedy

Wieden & Kennedy suffered every agency's worst nightmare last year. It parted ways with its biggest client and had to make a vast round of redundancies.

Recent Cravendale work
Recent Cravendale work

Score: 4

Agency fact file: Wieden & Kennedy
Type of agency Creative
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Neil Christie managing director
  Tony Davidson executive creative director
  Kim Papworth executive creative director
  Paul Colman head of planning
  Kevin Chesters head of planning
Nielsen billings 2011 £59m
Nielsen billings 2010 £40m
Declared income £20.9m (estimate)
Total accounts at year end 10
Accounts won 3 (biggest: Three)
Accounts lost 1 (Nokia)
Number of staff 125 (-37%

Nokia and W&K, the brand's global agency of record since 2007, split in August. The move followed Nokia's appointment of the roster agencies Inferno and Fallon to a global brand campaign and its global advertising account for its mobile phone division, respectively.

In addition, The Guardian put its brand campaign for 2012 out to pitch and moved its business to Bartle Bogle Hegarty. Though not particularly significant in financial terms, the pairing of the newspaper brand with W&K had resulted in some great work.

The rest of adland reacted with sympathy to the agency's woes. As W&K is one of the few bastions of creativity in the agency world, its troubles are deemed rather worrying for the industry at large.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom. W&K picked up Three's £18 million account at the start of the year and won its UK client Lurpak's global business by year end.

W&K, led by the joint executive creative directors Kim Papworth and Tony Davidson, also managed to put out some great work. Highlights included the brilliantly executed Cravendale "cats with thumbs" spot, Honda's Channel 4 idents and the lovingly crafted Lurpak "kitchen odyssey" spot.

Neil Christie, the managing director, was made a partner in December, giving a vote of confidence to the top team. But W&K London will now need to recoup its losses and nurture and reinvigorate its remaining staff after an extremely tough 2011.

Score last year: 8

How Wieden & Kennedy rates itself: 5

"In 2011, we did some excellent and innovative work (especially Cravendale and Kaiser Chiefs). We won some new business (Three, Stride, Lurpak global). Awards included Creative Review Agency of the Year, Blades Digital Agency of the Year, Webby's Agency of the Year, Engage runner-up Agency of the Year, five golds at the British Arrows, and Nike 'write the future' was the most-awarded campaign of 2011. We also parted company with Nokia, our largest client. This was traumatic but liberating. We are now smaller, hungrier and better able to focus on our founding principle: to do the best work of our lives with inspiring clients."

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