Has Wieden+Kennedy finally cracked how to win and keep big accounts?
It’s had Nike of course, pretty much since setting up in Portland way back in 1982, which is an impressive piece of account management even though the two are on each other’s doorstep.
But others have come and gone, most recently Heineken which has departed to the rather unlikely environs of Publicis. But in the US recently W+K has also won Bud Light, Verizon and KFC, all from ‘establishment’ agencies: BBDO, Mcgarrybowen and FCB respectively.
We did say, though, win and keep.
Well it’s just won Procter & Gamble’s Secret deodorant from Leo Burnett. Secret is nowhere near as big as the other three, at least in terms of measured media spend, but it does represent an important further expansion of P&G work following the plaudits earned by the agency on Old Spice and, in some quarters anyway, for its Olympics ‘Mom’ corporate work.
And P&G is busily hacking away at its massive agency roster in a bid to save $500m in agency costs. So, presumably, there’ll be more to come. P&G, which has about a third of the $3bn US deodorant market, says: “This will give us one agency that has a core expertise in our antiperspirant and deodorant business.”
To a degree such progress has been replicated at W+K London too. Over here it failed to bed in Tesco although, given Tesco’s widely-advertised problems during the disastrous Phil Clarke tenure, that might have been beyond any agency. Replacement BBH doesn’t seem to be finding it easy to get Tesco work out either. But it seems to have established a strong relationship with RB (formerly Reckitt Benckiser – a P&G rival in many categories) and be winning getting the lion’s share of Honda and 3.
Some observers think they detect a more conservative streak at W+K HQ. The latest Old Spice campaign (lumping together two sub-brands) and the KFC campaign featuring the return of ol’ Colonel Sanders are certainly client pleasers. But that’s the way of the world and it is their money, after all.
The acid test, perhaps, will be Bud Lite. Sister brand Budweiser has scored mightily (if YouTube is any guide) with two cutesy doggy films by Anomaly in the last two Super Bowls. You can’t see W+K going this route for Bud Lite although the brand would doubtless welcome some love, however it was secured.
We’ll see. Whatever you think about some of the new work coming out of W+K it’s no mean achievement for an agency that’s remained independent for 33 years to be picking up brands like these from America’s biggest, most corporate advertisers.