Two start-ups this week - one traditional and accessible; the other
controversially signposting a changed communications environment.
Wieden & Kennedy is the easy one. The US’s sexiest agency is to launch
here belatedly, buoyed by the comfort blanket of Nike. Dan Wieden, proof
nice guys can finish first, expressed surprise at the rush of creatives
seeking a job working for his formidable creative director, Susan
Hoffman, and the well-chosen managing director, Mike Perry. To many
W&K’s lustre is matched only by Bartle Bogle Hegarty on the world stage,
and Nike is seen as a ticket to the walk at the Grosvenor House.
Wieden’s ’I’m just a boy from Portland, Oregon’ demeanour hardened
tangibly as he made it clear to us this was not the sort of employee he
was looking for.
With an air of nonchalance about awards only frequent winners enjoy,
Wieden talked of a different kind of motivation, including an ability to
be involved in disciplines beyond advertising.
In short, he was expressing remarkably similar views to the founders of
Cynical advertising eyes will roll skywards at the term ’communications
consultancy’, Circus’s stress on internal as well as external
communications, the multi-disciplinary philosophy, and an operational
model, based more on the notion of partners at law or accountancy firms.
To be honest, Campaign found the launch presentation a tad jargon-heavy
and abstract; so much more difficult to precis than ’we’re gonna do
great ads for Nike’. But that may be our problem.
It’s too easy for us to affect weary cynicism. We’ve heard the terms
communications, strategic, consultancy, integrated, through-the-line,
holistic, media neutral and the rest too many times from people who
can’t fulfil the promise. This time I believe it’s different.
Campaign readers will think they know a lot about Messrs Twivy and
Ashton, but they may not know how closely Twivy has worked with the
dreaded McKinsey for the BBC since leaving Bates Dorland. No-one doubts
his intellectual ability. Tim O’Kennedy most recently worked at the Lowe
Group, but was the Nike international marketing director. Dilys Maltby
also has a client pedigree at the Body Shop, and was previously client
services director at Imagination. Her influence will be crucial in
persuading people that this is not just another dressed-up ad agency.
Having worked with her briefly at Imagination, I know a) just how
difficult it is to explain what you do when you step outside of
traditional media, and b) that if anyone has the intellectual rigour to
achieve it, she does.
Our challenge will be not to force an agency persona on them, theirs
will be to demonstrate what lies behind the jargon. But they will. I
predict Circus and W&K will become influential players in the UK