Why Wieden + Kennedy Changed Its Homepage Into a Note on #BlackLivesMatter

By Patrick Coffee Comment

In case you weren’t already aware, Wieden + Kennedy has been receiving a fair amount of attention over the past 20-plus hours for turning its website into a note on the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the events of the past week (excluding the horrific shooting spree that killed 5 police officers last night in Dallas).

Around the end of the work day yesterday, W+K’s homepage went down to be replaced by this:

wk BLM

It’s a fairly self-explanatory note in some ways, but the backstory helps put it in the proper perspective.

No one at W+K has spoken directly to us or other publications about the site, and an agency representative declined to comment today.

But sources with direct knowledge of the matter tell us that the change started with an internal email written by a black W+K employee that consisted of the same message seen above. It went out on Wednesday, the morning after the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. (Again, this was all before the death of Philando Castile and the shooting in Dallas last night.)

We obviously can’t assign any motivations to the person who wrote that email, but it reads like an attempt to convey his/her emotional state to co-workers.

Over the next day, agency leaders discussed this note and decided collectively to place it on the agency’s homepage; at the moment, viewers cannot access any other pages via wk.com. As we understand it, the decision stemmed from a desire to show support for W+K employees internally while also demonstrating to at least a few outsiders that the movement is much more than a hashtag and that it stems from a very real and very raw emotional response to events that feel like they are beyond any given individual’s control.

Some former employees seem to appreciate the gesture.

Of course we have no idea how effective the site will be in that respect, but we see it as a summary of the agency’s own current status. In that way, W+K is so far unique in the ad industry.

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