School Reports 2013: Wieden & Kennedy


Score: 8  Last year: 4

2012 was mostly about Tesco for Wieden & Kennedy. The agency pulled off a major coup by landing the £110 million advertising account.

It was the most-talked-about pitch of 2012, which concluded with the shop beating VCCP and TBWA\Manchester to bag the country’s fourth-largest advertiser.

The win couldn’t have come at a better time for W&K, which had been through the wars after losing its key Nokia account in 2011. The agency went on to make some distinctive work for Tesco, which may not have been to everyone’s taste, but was certainly a complete departure in tone from anything it had done before.

The shop also won the £4 million Schweppes account after a pitch, the Fuze tea business (like Schweppes, owned by Coca-Cola), the Southern Comfort UK ad account (after the appointment of W&K New York to its global business), and the Finlandia vodka account in Europe and Africa. Understandably, W&K battened down the hatches after picking up Tesco and kept out of the pitching circuit in the latter part of the year.

Notwithstanding the large hike in billings last year after the Tesco win, there must have been disappointment at the agency regarding Honda’s decision to appoint Mcgarrybowen London to a European campaign for the new CR-V model after a pitch among its roster shops, including W&K. Nonetheless, the agency continues to make standout creative for the brand, a highlight being Honda’s "the great unknown" campaign, which was greeted with much acclaim.

Other creative highlights for W&K included its stunning Lurpak "rainbow" spot, which won two gold Lions at Cannes, some charming Lactofree work, humorous Cravendale activity, and the much-viewed Nike "my time is now" spot.

The agency is in a much better place than it was in 2011, but here’s hoping Tesco’s round-the-clock demands don’t swamp it too much.

Wieden & Kennedy
Type of agency Creative
Company ownership Independent
Key personnel Tony Davidson executive creative director
Kim Papworth executive creative director
Neil Christie managing director
Nielsen billings 2012 £122m
Nielsen billings 2011 £60m
Declared income £20.6m (2011)
Total accounts at year end 18
Accounts won 7 (biggest: Tesco)
Accounts lost 1 (Nestea – not UK)
Number of staff 142 (+13%)

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

How Wieden & Kennedy rates itself: 7

"2012 was a good year: we did some excellent work, we achieved some great results for our clients, we won some new business, including Tesco."