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Oregon’s Trailblazing Wieden and Kennedy

On April 1,1982, Copywriter Dan Wieden and Art Directot David Kennedy started their own Advertising Agency in Portland, Oregon, USA. Their founding client from the Beaverton area of Portland, was a sportswear apparel company who owned a brand named after the Greek Goddess of Victory, and that of course, was Nike.

Just Do It.

Wieden+ Kennedy rapidly rose to international prominence with their award-winning print, outdoor and TV commercials for the Nike brand, and Dan Wiedens’s pay-off line, ‘Just Do It.’, that was inspired by the last words of executed murderer Gary Gilmore, became world-famous. Not surprisingly perhaps, is that to this day, Wieden+ Kennedy is still Nike’s Agency of Record.

Following on from Nike, their client roster soon included famous brands from companies such as Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and Honda and in the 2002 the Gunn Report, W+K was named as the most-awarded agency in the world.

Viewing New Horizons

The Agency’s expanding clientele list saw the need for establishing an office in New York City. Offices in London, Amsterdam, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, Delhi and São Polo subsequently followed. Wieden and Kennedy however, retained their independence to become one of the largest independent agency networks in the world.

Wieden+Kennedy on ACES

Viewers familiar with the ACES website would have encountered many examples of the network’s American and British agency award winning commercials for a diversity of brands.

I have however, largely confined this post to the Agency’s noteworthy initiatives for Nike in some of the other international markets in which it currently operates.

1. Nike, Da-Da-Ding

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Delhi, India

The Delhi Agency’s first advertising campaign for Nike was created to motivate registration and participation in Nike’s Training Club events and Run Club sessions in India, under their ‘NTC Live’ banner.

The campaign has a strong feminist focus based on the Agency’s human insight of sociological evidence that female participation in sports impacts positively on self-image and self-assurance by instilling a sense of control, competency and strength.

The ‘Da-Da-Ding’ launch commercial, directed by François Rousselet, was a creative triumph. Featuring Bollywood star Deepika Padukone and many of India’s top female athletes, representing a wide range of sporting disciplines, it rapidly went viral and motivated 2,8 million views on YouTube in less than a week.

Deepika Padukone posted a video on social media that generated further interest and many ‘shares’ with her message: “Everything I am today, and everything I have achieved, comes from my years of playing sport,”

“My goals, my commitment, my focus, my dedication, my discipline, my sacrifices, my hard work; I’ve learned it all through sport. Sport has also taught me how to handle failure and success. It has taught me how to fight. It has made me unstoppable!”

The soundtrack, Da-Da-Ding by Gener8ion featuring American rapper Gizzle, turned the Cannes Gold Lion award winning commercial into an Internet music video phenomenon.

2. Nike Football, Dare To Become

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Shanghai, China

It was a bold move to launch a Nike Footbal commercial during the build up to 2018 FIFA World Football Tournament in a country that wasn’t even a participant.

The Agency and Nike however, saw this moment of heightened football interest as a golden opportunity to make a statement that would spark a conversation about the vast pool of young football talent in China poised to achieve future International recognition and National fame.

Directed by Ian Pons Jewell, real teenage football players from the Nike Football League in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou were recruited to star in the commercial as motivated young players, daring to believe that taking China to the top of the football world could become a reality.

The commercial motivated 170 million views within 3 days after launching and initiated a youthful public and social media debate about the future of Chinese football. The debate was invigorated by enthusiastic praise for the current pool of rising young talent, and a groundswell of optimism about their perspectives.

Russia, The Middle East and Turkey

Nike and Weiden+Kennedy have created three films to commemorate International Women’s Day to target countries where young sportswomen enthusiasts face discouraging societal barriers of gender discrimination, and community pressure to adhere to the age-old traditions of their particular region.

Creative Directors Craig Williams and Al Merry have focused on each chosen region’s unique societal complexities with laudable human insight.

3. Nike, What Are Girls Made Of?

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The story of a little girl on stage bravely changing the words of a traditional Russian folk-song about what girls are made of to something less patronisingly ‘sweet’, was directed by David Wilson.

The Cannes Gold Lion commercial is full of surprises that include some cameo appearances by well-known Russian athletes. The stunned reaction of the audience is a delight to view.

4. Nike, What Will They Say About You?

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Middle East commercial was directed by Fleur Fortuné and features pop singer Balquees Fathi and women athletes from the Arab region.

The athletes include Parktour trainer Amal Mourad, figure skater Zahra Lari, fencer Inès Boubakri and boxer Arifa Bseiso.

5. Nike, This Is Us

Directed by Christopher Barrett and Luke Taylor, this commercial in Nike’s Women campaign trilogy challenges prevailing gender stereotypes in Turkey.

With Beyoncé’s ‘Run the World Girls’ as the soundtrack the story features prominent female figures from Turkey’s emerging sport and fitness scene defying the imposition of traditional female roles.

South Africa

Caster Semenya, the two-time Olympian and 18 gold medals middle-distance runner, has throughout her career been subjected to speculation about her natural levels of testosterone.

After a ‘gender testing’ process her eligibility for competing internationally was withdrawn in 2009, only to be reinstated again in 2010.

Semenya’s middle-distance running career however, is under threat again because of a new IAAF hyperandrogenism rule that is scheduled to become effective in November.

Once that happens, she will be confronted with having to decide whether to take medication to restrict her testosterone level, or move to competing in long distance events.

6. Nike, Caster Semenya

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Nike has received wide praise for supporting Caster with a personal message for her; “When you’re born to do it, just do it.”

In this powerful, short chronicle of her life, directed by AG Rojas, Caster boldly addresses her detractors with some pertinent questions:

“Would it be easier for you if I wasn’t so fast? Will it be simpler if I stopped winning? Would you be more comfortable if I was less proud?”

She concludes by answering: “That’s too bad, because I was born to do this.”

7. Nike, The Next Wave

Advertising Agency: Wieden+Kennedy, Shanghai, China

Directed by Martin Krejci, this entertainingly fast-paced and energetic commercial is essentially a Nike tribute to the passionate pursuit of active interests, whatever they may be, and a celebration of freedom.

The spontaneous athleticism of the featured city dwellers in their diverse activities makes for motivational viewing.