Wieden + Kennedy on the advert company of the longer term

One of the most curious things about the advertising industry, which sets it apart from other creative jobs, is the amount of store that it places on partnerships. Those keen to enter creative departments are encouraged to join up with another creative at university or on entering an agency, and these pairings often last decades, far longer than many other personal relationships in our lives.

The roots of this structure stretch back to the mid-20th century and the hugely influential ad icon Bill Bernbach, who first saw the power of pairing art directors and copywriters to most efficiently get to great creative work. This idea was birthed in the era when the poster was king, though is still deemed an effective route to magical creative in the complex media of our modern age – perhaps in part because these long-term partnerships allow for trust, experimentation and the sharing of ideas.

So putting together a new creative leadership team is actually a pretty complex business in advertising. And yet this is what’s just happened at Wieden+Kennedy’s flagship office in Portland, home to a team of over 500 people and the key agency for clients including Nike, P&G, and HP.

L-R: JP Petty, Hermeti Balarin, Ana Balarin. All images courtesy Wieden+Kennedy Portland

Wieden+Kennedy is most famous for two things: its incredibly creative work and its independence. It has eight offices around the world but its Portland space is arguably the most significant – it is where the agency began 40 years ago with a single client, Nike, and its positioning away from the main advertising cities and hubs, plus its dedication to creativity, has always given it a somewhat talismanic quality to creatives.

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