Wieden+Kennedy has been shuffling the deck chairs in Portland although in its case the liner seems to be sailing serenely on.
CCO Colleen DeCourcy and Tom Blessington, who’s returning to the agency after a year at YouTube, are its new co-presidents with predecessors Dave Luhr and long-time creative boss Susan Hoffman moving into chair roles alongside W+K co-founder Dan Wieden.
COO Neil Christie is returning to London as CEO of the London office, the first time it’s had one. Helen Andrews remains W+K London’s managing director alongside executive creative directors Iain and Tony Davidson.
(Clockwise Hoffman, Blessington, Luhr, DeCourcy)
Luhr joined W+K in Portland to run the Nike business back in 1986. Hoffman came to W+K as its eighth employee 35 years ago and has since worked on many of the agency’s most notable accounts. She will receive a Lifetime Achievement award from the Clio Awards in October.
Luhr says: “Dan Wieden and David Kennedy started this agency with a unique and long-lasting vision. Those foundational values have provided us with a hunger to construct a future agency even stronger than the one we have enjoyed to date.
“It is time to pass the torch to a new generation of visionary leaders to run the agency that I love so much. Colleen and Tom are two of the strongest creative and business minds I have ever met. They are inspiring and driven by the desire to make interesting work with great partners. I feel very confident about the future leadership of this agency and fortunate to have such a strong team paving the way for our next chapter of creativity.”
New co-president DeCourcy says: “To say I feel a huge responsibility would be an understatement. We’re just going to continue to follow Dan’s best advice: ‘Loosen up, don’t let the brand get too polished and predictable. It ain’t mathematics, it’s jazz.’”
Blessington, who joined W+K in 1990, says: “Suffice it to say, I didn’t expect to be at YouTube for only a year. It’s an amazing company that I respect and admire greatly. But I’ve spent almost a quarter of a century helping W+K become the agency it is today, so when Dave asked if I would return to take the reins and co-lead the network, it felt right to come home.”
W+K began in Portland at almost the same time as Bartle Bogle Hegarty in the UK but has stayed resolutely independent, riding out the long period in which the holding companies bought anything of worth. It has recently become the agency of choice for big advertisers in the US wishing to sprinkle some stardust on their creativity: beginning with Procter & Gamble (most notably Old Spice) and, more recently, KFC and Bud Light.
It has also been chosen to handle Ford’s forthcoming fall ad campaign in the US ahead of WPP’s GTB.