Nike Cuts Bring Wieden Layoffs

The other shoe has finally dropped at Wieden & Kennedy. The shop last week laid off 37 employees at its Portland, Ore., headquarters–about 11 percent of the office’s staff–due to budget cuts from flagship client Nike, said an agency representative.
The move came as no surprise after Nike’s recent announcement that it would cut its marketing and ad budgets by about $100 million worldwide due to slumping sales.
Wieden spokeswoman Liz Hartge confirmed the layoffs were “a direct result of decreased billings from Nike.” Sources estimated the cuts, combined with a shift of some business to Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, have reduced Wieden’s Nike billings from about $210 million in 1997 to $100-150 million. Neither the client nor the agency would comment on those figures.
Chris Zimmerman, Nike’s director of U.S. advertising, downplayed the company’s role in the layoffs. “These 37 people did not just involve Wieden’s Nike people,” he said.
Hartge, a former Nike public relations manager, said all the employees that were cut worked on Nike. Roughly 300 staffers remain in Portland.
Both Nike and Wieden executives said their relationship remains strong. A general training campaign created by Wieden for Nike will break next week, sources said.
Separately, Goodby last week broke a new TV campaign featuring WNBA players for Nike’s line of women’s basketball shoes.
–with Joan Voight