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Wieden+Kennedy and Nike: 40 years of advertising revolution

The love story between advertiser and agency that has created great creative in 50 years.

Wieden+Kennedy | 40 years of advertising revolution

If there is a lasting relationship in the world of advertising, that is the pairing Wieden+Kennedy and Nike. This is the story of 40 years of marketing and advertising campaigns.

When in 1974 the collaboration between Blue Ribbon Sports and Onitsuka Tiger came to an end, Phil Knight was clear that he should launch his own line of footwear. To do this, he decided to apply everything he had learned selling the Japanese brand’s shoes and go one step further to, instead of selling a product, sell a sensation.

For this, he began his relationship with different advertising agencies to start his campaigns. During this time he met two creatives whom she encouraged to leave where they were and found his own agency. Thus was forged what is the longest-lasting relationship in the advertising world: Wieden+Kennedy and Nike.

Wieden+Kennedy history

Wieden+Kennedy | Nike

In Portland, Oregon, Dan Wieden was working as a copywriter for David Kennedy at McCann Erickson, an agency that handled the account of a newly founded company: Nike. But soon, the disagreements between client and agency caused Phil Knight to break relations with her. He was not happy with the deal, but he was happy with the creative people who work there.

Therefore, he approached Dan Wieden and David Kennedy to make a proposal that would change their lives. Phil Knight told them, “I appreciate your talent, but I’m not that excited about the agency. If you’ve ever thought about starting your own agency, give me a call.” Soon after, Dan and David left the agency with three more employees and a small client: Nike. Thus, the Wieden+Kennedy agency was born in 1982.

Wieden+Kennedy and Nike, the beginning of a 40-year relationship

The philosophy of the new agency was clear, a place where people could perform at their best without the structures or bureaucracies that were in style in the big agencies of the time. A site where creativity would be enhanced as it grew. Dan Wieden hated cut-and-dried advertising campaigns. He believed in stories where you think big where products are sold along the way.

Dan Wieden was the creator of the famous “Just Do It” slogan that was featured in a 1988 campaign. The slogan was chosen by Advertising Age as one of the top five slogans of the 20th century.

They opted to provide Nike with a new style, with fresh advertising that is different from anything seen on the market. With this, the brand sought to sponsor icons of sport and later of culture, to reach those people who inspire others to change the world.

The advertising campaigns created over time have marked the trend and the step to be followed by those brands that sought to differentiate themselves from the competition.

Three decades later, the legacy of Dan and David continues. What started with three employees has grown into one of the largest multinational advertising companies with offices in Portland, New York, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, Shanghai and Delhi, with nearly 1,000 employees working for the corporation around the world. world. It has an annual capitalized turnover of more than 2,000 million euros and works for some of the most recognized brands in the world apart from Nike such as Levis, ESPN, Coca-Cola, Electronic Arts, Honda, P&G and Nokia.

In 2021 David Kennedy died, Co-founder of the agency passed away at the age of 82. He had abandoned advertising activity in 1995 to cultivate his passion for sculpture and work on charity activities.


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