Agency of the Year

Wieden, Beyond 'Halftime'

A smash Super Bowl spot kicks off a winning season for much-admired Stumptown shop

Going into the London Summer Olympics, P&G global marketing chief Marc Pritchard wanted to give the “Thank you, mom” campaign a global makeover. Previous ads, from Wieden Portland, focused on U.S. athletes (P&G sponsored the American team at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada). Back then, Wieden global chief operating officer Dave Luhr had challenged Pritchard to create “world-class marketing” for a “world-class event.” This time Pritchard pushed Wieden to “surprise us.” He approved the moms-on-the-job concept on the spot. “When you see something that makes your spine tingle, you’re onto something,” says Pritchard. “I knew immediately that this was a winner.”

While the maternal message is universal, local customs vary. That’s why one scene shows a Chinese mom watching her daughter compete on television. In China, moms don’t attend such events, explains John Jay, Wieden’s global ecd.

“Best Job,” from CDs Danielle Flagg and Karl Lieberman, launched in April, and the global push is on track to generate $500 million in incremental sales gains across 34 brands, including Tide, Crest and Pampers, says Pritchard. One of every three people on YouTube has shared the two-minute ad.

In the spring, the challenge facing Wieden’s Amsterdam office in marketing around Heineken’s sponsorship of Skyfall was to build on the brand’s existing “Man of the World” campaign. The campaign’s 30-ish leading man gets most of the screen time in the 90-second spot, in which bad guys chase the hero through a train full of colorful characters. The star of Skyfall, Daniel Craig, does have a cameo, though.

The ad broke in September and is still running in 34 countries. It is the centerpiece of a broader sponsorship push backed by an unprecedented $70 million in media spending, according to Sandrine Huijgen, global communications director at Heineken. Huijgen, who also works with Wieden’s offices in New York; São Paolo; and Delhi, India, says of agency leaders like Amsterdam ecd’s Eric Quennoy and Mark Bernath: “They push things and I think it works well with Heineken in terms of the personality of the brand. You know, we just want to do things that are different, and Wieden is very, very good at that.”

That reputation led Facebook to approach the agency in October 2011. The social media giant wanted to launch its first brand campaign to celebrate its upcoming billion-user milestone. Facebook execs worked with a small group at the agency including CDs Flagg, Lieberman and Eric Baldwin to develop “The Things That Connect Us,” a 90-second ad that broke in October and has generated massive buzz (not all of it positive) which Facebook shared via its own network. Asked about negative reactions to the spot, Facebook brand marketing chief Rebecca Van Dyck says, “I’m not afraid of that at all.” She adds, “It’s important for iconic brands. I think that’s what Wieden + Kennedy actually does well.”

Tesco’s Matt Atkinson likes what he sees thus far in Wieden’s London office, which, led by managing director Neil Christie, beat TBWA, VCCP and JWT in July to claim one of the most coveted accounts in the U.K. The retailer, which each year produces more than 1,000 ads and spends about $175 million in media, last month broke a campaign that centers around a familiar object in England this time of year: the holiday hat.

Wieden brings “an ability to help you express yourself in the new world,” says Atkinson, Tesco’s group marketing and chief digital officer. “That was what we were looking for.” 

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