CREATIVE 101: ADWEEK CHRONICLES NIKE/W&K PARTNERSHIP
Since Nike signed S.F.-based Goodby, Silverstein &
Partners as a "project shop" in March '97, long-time Nike
agency Wieden & Kennedy "has watched its once-exclusive
relationship with its signature client -- a relationship
many industry members regarded as an ideal -- loosen and
fray," according to Voight & Parpis of ADWEEK, who examine
Nike's relationship with both agencies in an extensive must-
read. Dan Wieden, whose agency has worked with Nike since
'82, called Goodby's involvement "a wake-up call for our
agency," and added that his agency's relationship with Nike
"is more like family than it is business." However,
insiders "use words like 'anxious' and 'paranoid' to
describe the mood at Wieden's offices," and account and
creative employees "are said to be deeply worried." Wieden
recently laid off 37 workers in Portland, after Nike's
recent "sales drop-off" caused billings cuts (ADWEEK, 6/22).
LOOKING FOR MR. GOODBY? In March '97, Goodby was given
four "noncore assignments: women's sports, performance
apparel, ACG outdoor products and retail." Goodby's winning
pitch suggested a "more humble, caring tone for the brand."
And, while Nike and both agencies at the time downplayed
Goodby's account as "Wieden's leftovers," sources claim that
"in reality the loss of women's sports stung Wieden."
Currently, "including projected cuts," a tally of current
Nike U.S. billings gives Goodby about $70-80M, while Wieden
"has taken a major hit," with its domestic billings down
from $210M to the $100-120M range (ADWEEK, 6/22 issue).
CORPORATE MIDLIFE CRISIS? Voight & Parpis write that
Nike Chair Phil Knight "faces a quandary" as the company
prepares its advertising strategy: "Should Nike reinforce
its brand essence as the sexy, brazen young rebel? ... Or,
plagued with changing consumer values and stinging criticism
over its labor practices, should the company embrace a new
role as a conscientious corporate citizen, as Goodby tends
to advocate?" For now, Nike's answer "is unclear, as both
agencies are painfully aware" (ADWEEK, 6/22 issue).
THE AGENCY'S FUTURE: Voight & Parpis report that Goodby
"is not exactly enjoying smooth sailing" with its Nike work,
as creative turnover on the account "has been high." As for
Wieden & Kennedy, "the old days are gone." Even Wieden has
said, "Nike is not our future. [Top client] Microsoft is
our future." Although people close to the account "remain
convinced that as long as Knight is part of Nike," Wieden
will stay in the picture, Voight & Parpis conclude, "there
comes a time when everyone has to hang up their cleats and
leave the field for the last time. Then it's time to move
on to something new" (ADWEEK, 6/22 issue).