W+K Finds Its First Ads Ever, for Nike, on Dusty Old Tapes

Client's first national broadcast work had been lost for decades

Headshot of Tim Nudd

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Wieden + Kennedy made quite the discovery earlier this month. The agency says it's "pretty damn pumped" to have finally found the first ads it ever made—which happen to be the first national broadcast ads Nike ever aired. The three spots ran during the New York City Marathon in October 1982. Two of the three had been lost for decades.

The agency writes on its blog:

For all you ad geeks out there, we're pretty damn pumped to share something very special with you. We've uncovered the first-ever ads made by Messrs. Wieden and Kennedy, Nike's first-ever nationally broadcast work. Until today, two of these were considered lost and never vaulted. Our digital librarian Phoebe Owens has spent the entire time she's been with W+K searching for them, alongside Nike historian Scott Reames, with the help of David Kennedy. Today, some old, poorly-labeled tapes proved to have what we've been searching for.

These aired during the NYC marathon. They were shot and cut within a couple of weeks, with a skeleton crew. They were a tiny team and they made it happen, and the rest is history.

See the ads below.

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.