Wieden+Kennedy hunts for new global ECD as John Jay goes to run innovation company W+K Garage

From time to time creative agencies dip their toes into other waters and Portland’s Wieden+Kennedy appears to do so rather more skilfully than some of the others.

It also manages Portland business incubator Experiment and technology outfit W+K Tomorrow. Now global creative boss John Jay (left) is stepping aside to run a new innovation company called W+K Garage. This, says the agency, will focus on concepting, creating and investing in innovative experiences, content and technology. W+K Garage will start in W+K’s Portland and New York offices before moving into its own home.

Before joining W+K Jay was creative director of upscale store Bloomingdales and then ran W+K’s new Japan office. Jay told Ad Age’s Creativity: “One interesting conversation Dan and I have had is about constantly challenging me, how best I can give back to this agency and affect change. One of the things I enjoyed in Japan was the freedom of running an organization and having the ability to be a true creative director and not a managing or ceremonial creative director.

“Obviously I believe very much in the craft of our industry still. While strategy and technology are important, I say that no great idea can meet its fullest potential without beauty. I think that return to beauty, and the ability to get back to my craft was important, but the ultimate thing was really about answering Dan’s brief to me of ‘How can we get the best out of you?'”

So is there likely to be any money in this aesthetic pursuit? Agency co-founder Dan Wieden says: “If you’re a client and want a personal relationship with someone, not some cast of characters to play with your cast of characters, this is where to go. It’s an elevated proposition. That’s why it’s so intriguing. He (Jay) is extraordinarily connected at the top levels of the industry, so I think you’ll see a lot of magical things when you don’t have to work through agency or client bureaucracy.”

If Jay and Garage can become the client’s best friend, maybe there will be.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.