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SBD/Issue 232/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing
Wieden & Kennedy Looks To Branch Into Other Creative Areas
Published August 22, 2002
While Wieden & Kennedy (W&K) is "one of the most creative [ad agencies] in the business," the agency is "trying to expand its creative reach beyond conventional commercials," according to Warren Berger of BUSINESS 2.0. W&K is putting together a Broadway musical, its Tokyo office "will launch a record label this fall, and in Hollywood, [W&K] is pitching a [TV] series to the networks." Berger: "And don't be surprised to see documentary films, MTV music videos, maybe a lush coffee-table book." Many in the ad business, including W&K co-Founder & President Dan Wieden, "believe that the industry is at an evolutionary crossroads," and Wieden added that W&K's new ventures "can attract clients looking to associate their brands with various forms of entertainment that go beyond the 30-second commercial." But Nike "has been the only client to bite. The company put up an undisclosed amount of seed money for [W&K writer Jimmy] Smith's Broadway show (titled `Ball', it will be choreographed by Savion Glover)." In addition, W&K created a film around Nike endorser Lance Armstrong entitled "Road to Paris," but Nike paid for the production and airtime. The film "took a soft-sell approach, not overtly plugging Nike, though the company's swoosh symbol was on Armstrong's uniform." Nike Global Media Dir Joe Pollard said that the film "was a success because it was watched and admired by the key target group cycling enthusiasts." Pollard: "From feedback, we learned that those people really appreciated that we'd served up a unique insight into their sport." Meanwhile, during the past three years, W&K's Tokyo office "has commissioned cutting-edge musicians and club deejays to create original songs, music sampling mixes or music videos based on the artists' `interpretations' of certain Nike products." W&K hired a band named Air to create a song called "6453/Freedom" "the name of a new Nike shoe. It was released on an album called Freedom, which reached the top 10." In addition, the club scene "has sought out subsequent Nike-sponsored recordings and multimedia DVDs, enabling Nike to penetrate the underground youth culture in a way that conventional ads could not." W&K's recent Nike soccer promo ran on MTV and the ad's soundtrack, which featured an Elvis Presley song, "went to the top of the American pop charts" in July. Berger: "It's one more testament to the cultural impact Wieden's potent ad-pop mix; not only does it sell shoes, it can bring Elvis back from the dead" (BUSINESS 2.0, 9/'02 issue).