Nike China Moves From JWT to Wieden

LOS ANGELES Independent Wieden + Kennedy has won the Nike business in China from the eight-year incumbent, WPP Group’s JWT, after a review, a Nike representative confirmed.

A source valued the annual spending in U.S. dollars at $15 million, but the account is expected to increase in value as Nike boosts its retail presence in China in anticipation of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Officials at Wieden in Portland, Ore., declined comment.

A Nike statement said in early November it had invited JWT, W+K, Publicis Shanghai, DMG and Nitro to pitch the business. John Jay, executive creative director in Portland who opened the Shanghai office last year, led Wieden’s team, according to a source.

The Nike statement added: “Nike believes that, with its knowledge of the local cultures and solid experience with the Nike brand, Wieden + Kennedy China will help Nike China build stronger connections with the Chinese consumers.”

“JWT is extremely proud of the work that it produced over the past eight years, a period during which Nike emerged as a Chinese youth icon,” said Tom Doctoroff, JWT’s Northeast Asia director and CEO of Greater China. “We regret that as Nike gears up for the 2008 Olympics, it has decided to align with its global agency, Wieden + Kennedy.”

Doctoroff declined to describe JWT’s pitch last month. He said that from 1997 creative has been led by Lo Sheung Yan, executive creative director for JWT Northeast Asia. Recent work includes a series of 5- and 10-second spots for the “Anytime” campaign and commercials based on the Beijing marathon and the upcoming Olympics. In the past, JWT spots featured current National Basketball Association player Wang Zhi Zhi and Olympic gold medalist Liu Xiang, also a Nike athlete.

Despite the work, which includes below-the-line and grass-roots sponsorship efforts, Doctoroff said, “Nike has never contributed more than 4 percent of JWT China’s mainland revenue, even as spending was ramped up in the past couple years.”

Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike spent an estimated $350-400 million advertising globally last year.