Wieden+Kennedy backs new indie Callen – so long as it stays independent

Wieden+Kennedy is backing new indie agency Callen – based in Austin, Texas – with one proviso: that Callen can’t sell.

W+K has been proudly independent for 35 years – with the not inconsiderable help of foundation client Nike – and expects the same of Callen, formed by departing W+K group creative director Craig Allen (right) and partners Holly Petitjean and Niklas Lindstrom.

W+K president Dave Luhr says: “Craig and his partners represent a bright future for this business. When you give great talent the confidence and room to experiment, and the permission to even fail, great work follows. Independence has allowed us to do this for 35 years. We not only believe in independence, we practice it. By backing Callen, we are doubling down on an agency model and talent that we know leads to great work.”

W+K CCO Colleen DeCourcy says: “Craig is a unique voice. He’s willing to pull himself up on the work and do it for the long term. Our contribution is to believe in Craig, Niklas and Holly, provide some starter cash, and get out of the way. Craig will pay us back, we’re not worried about that. The only thing we ask is that he never sell.”

Allen says: “We are driven by our shared relentless desire to make things people need, want and love. This is about creating a legacy and experimenting on how to do things differently. Going home to Austin is personal for me — the community of Austin is a really exciting place to launch a creative endeavor. I’ve dreamed of doing this my whole career and now it’s a reality. We are fortunate to be backed by the fiercest, most highly awarded creative company in the world.”

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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.

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