W+K’s Colleen DeCourcy on Risk, Responsibility and Change

The agency’s creative chief discusses what’s working, and what’s not

Colleen DeCourcy and David Griner
Colleen DeCourcy discussed W+K's statement that it won’t work with clients, employees or partners who do not support Black Lives Matter. Adweek
Headshot of Doug Zanger

While it’s not the first agency or brand to comment on the state of the world and especially the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, Wieden + Kennedy isn’t shy about its point of view. Recent ads for clients Nike (out of its Portland headquarters) and McDonald’s (out of the New York office) reflect the agency’s leadership and staff position. It’s also a continuation of the work Adweek’s U.S. Agency of the Year started for Nike featuring Colin Kaepernick.

The highly regarded indie put its position in blunt terms Wednesday, releasing a statement that it won’t work with clients, employees or partners who do not support Black Lives Matter.

During the opening session of Adweek’s Elevate: Creativity and Experiential, David Griner, creativity and innovation editor at Adweek, asked Colleen DeCourcy, W+K’s CCO and co-president, about that commitment.

“It was put up there because it should not be a controversial statement,” DeCourcy said. “Hopefully, it is as much of a call to be loud and proud in your antiracist intentions, [and also saying that] we’re here to support you, [we] believe in it and [want to] work with you, as much as it is to say everybody knows that this shit is just not OK.”

In addition to the agency statement, Griner and DeCourcy discussed the following:

  • W+K and other agencies releasing diversity data and why a top-down approach never works
  • The importance, definition and balancing of risk
  • The value of awards and building a creative career
  • How to fix systemic problems in recruiting talent
  • Avoiding the creation of a homogenous industry

@zanger doug.zanger@adweek.com Doug Zanger is a senior editor, agencies at Adweek, focusing on creativity and agencies.
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