Tony Davidson to depart W&K London after two decades of leadership

Agency is searching for new creative leaders to replace Davidson and Iain Tait.

Tony Davidson: one of the most esteemed creative leaders in British advertising
Tony Davidson: one of the most esteemed creative leaders in British advertising

Wieden & Kennedy London creative leader Tony Davidson is leaving, after more than 20 years at the agency. 

Davidson, who is executive creative director, will exit W&K London in the summer, at the same time as his creative partner Iain Tait, who announced last year that he would also depart the agency in 2021

W&K is currently searching for replacements for Davidson and Tait. 

Davidson is one of the most esteemed creative leaders in UK advertising. During his tenure at W&K, he has overseen campaigns such as Nike’s “Nothing beats a Londoner”, Honda’s “Power of dreams”, Three’s “Silly stuff. It matters”, Sainsbury’s “Live well for less” brand refresh and TK Maxx’s “Ridiculous possibilities”. 

He also led agency initiatives including in-house creative crash course The Kennedys, local school outreach programme Forever Curious and the Makers’ Residency windows.

In 2016, the British Arrows gave Davidson the Chairman’s Award for his contribution to advertising. He has regularly been named among Campaign’s top creative leaders each year. 

He joined W&K in 2000 with then creative partner Kim Papworth and became a global partner in 2009. After Papworth left in 2014, Tait joined to be Davidson’s fellow ECD in London.

Earlier in his career, Davidson was a creative at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, Leagas Delaney and Boase Massimi Pollitt.

Davidson said: “It’s never easy deciding when to leave one of the best jobs in advertising, but throughout my time here I’ve always tried to put Wieden & Kennedy ahead of myself. After an amazing 20 years at the helm of the London office, it feels like the right time to step away and let some new voices lead and make their mark on the future of this place. 

“When I joined, W&K was a tiny start-up agency on Great Titchfield Street. I am hugely grateful to Dan Wieden for giving me the opportunity then, and I’m now eager to pass the torch. I owe a huge debt to all the people who passed through this place during my tenure and made me look good. While I’m proud of the work we made, I’m most proud of the culture we built. 

“Beyond Wieden I’m excited to flex my creative muscles in different ways, including several green projects that are close to my heart.” 

At the same time that W&K revealed Tait’s departure last year, it also announced that chief strategy officer Ben Armistead was leaving. He was replaced by Dan Hill, who moved to the UK office from W&K New York. 

W&K said at the time that Tait and Armistead’s departures were not connected to its wave of redundancies last year. W&K cut its global workforce by 11% in 2020.

At the start of this year Ryan Fisher also returned to W&K London as head of growth after more than two years in the Tokyo office.

The agency has been led by managing director Helen Andrews since 2017. 

Andrews said: “Anyone who has been part of W&K London over the past 20 years, knows that Tony's impact on our work and our culture cannot be understated. His passion for creativity and nurturing a truly creative culture hasn't once wavered in two decades. We'll miss his energy, legendary creative talents and just how much he cares about the place and the people in it. 

“He's leaving the agency in an incredibly strong position for our next creative leaders to play their part in making the next 20 years as successful as the last. Thanks, Tony, for everything you've done for the agency and all our clients – and for giving us the opportunity to bring in a new era of creative leadership, with all the excitement and energy that comes with it.”

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