School Reports 2016: Wieden & Kennedy London


If Wieden & Kennedy London was left reeling after losing Tesco’s circa £100 million ad account, the agency has done well to hide it. A drop in staff numbers since 2014 is the only negative consequence that Campaign can discern.

There’s no evidence that bringing in Iain Tait as the new joint executive creative director to replace Kim Papworth, whose near-15-year partnership with Tony Davidson was extraordinarily successful, has upset the apple cart either. Indeed, there’s rarely anything to pick over at W&K beyond the work, so tight is the ship that Neil Christie, the agency’s managing director, runs.

While 2015 didn’t yield any work that was lauded on the same scale as "the other side" for Honda in 2014, there was plenty of quality on show – and the agency was ranked as the joint-ninth most-awarded agency in the world in The Gunn Report 2015, which was a lovely bonus.

It’s testament to W&K’s ethos of rejecting the mediocre that one of its strongest campaigns was for Finish dishwasher tablets. The agency brought a fresh narrative (that everything in life ends with dishes) to a category usually reliant on images of shiny plates and shinier housewives.

W&K also created Trebor’s first ad in more than a decade but, while the execution was distinct, it felt like the campaign lacked the media budget needed to make a bigger impact.

Winning the TK Maxx ad account will begin to fill the void left by Tesco and, while more large retailers would certainly help keep the lights on, you could forgive W&K for wanting to be picky.

How the agency rates itself: 7

"A solid year. We delivered world-class work for Arla Foods, Finish, Honda, Nike and Lurpak, among others. We innovated for WWF, launched Angry Birds 2 for Rovio and we won new clients including Ovo Energy, TK Maxx and Nurofen. And we were named the Campaign Big Awards Digital Agency of the Year and Agency of the Year by Shots, which was nice."

Wieden & Kennedy London
Type of agency Creative
Company ownership Independent
Nielsen billings 2015 £67m
Nielsen billings 2014 £105m
Declared income £30m
Total accounts at year end 22
Accounts won 6 (biggest: TK Maxx)
Accounts lost 2 (biggest: Tesco)
Number of staff 175 (-18%)
Women in senior management 29%
BAME staff in senior management 0%
Key personnel Neil Christie, managing director
Helen Foulder, deputy managing director
Tony Davidson, executive creative director
Iain Tait, executive creative director
Paul Colman, chief strategy officer

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

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