Dan Wieden will always be linked to one of the world’s most innovative independent advertising agencies. He created Nike’s “Just Do It” slogan as one half of Wieden+Kennedy, which is maybe the most famous catchphrase in history.
On September 30, at the age of 77, he passed away quietly in his Portland, Oregon, home with his wife at his side. Although Wieden never legally left the company he created, he transitioned into a chairman position and stopped being an active agency member in 2015.
After his passing, the organisation issued the following statement: “We are devastated. But more than anything, we are overcome by love and thankfulness. Dan, thank you for creating a space where people can achieve their greatest potential. I appreciate your perseverance, bravery, faith, and unwavering love. I appreciate you enabling me to live this lovely creative life. You will be sorely missed.
Wieden, an Oregonian by birth, graduated from Portland’s Ulysses S. Grant High School in 1945. After completing his studies at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication in 1967, he worked in public relations for a while before transitioning into the advertising field.
Although Wieden’s father worked for Gerber Advertising, the younger Wieden didn’t find the profession to be a natural fit until he began doing commercial freelancing and realised he had a talent for it.
David Kennedy and I began working on the Nike brand while at a tiny Portland advertising agency. At the time, the Nike brand was only starting to expand. Phil Knight, the creator of Nike, saw their talent and advised them to launch their own agency.
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Thus, Wieden+Kennedy was established in Portland, Oregon, in 1982. Current locations for its offices include Portland, London, Amsterdam, New York, Delhi, Shanghai, Tokyo, and So Paulo. Kennedy passed away on Oct. 12, 2021, a year ago.
Nike played a key role in creating the agency from the bottom up, particularly after W+K opened an office in Amsterdam. It’s challenging to understate Nike’s significance as a client. We were trying to help Nike as they were growing, and they were patient with a lot of our mistakes in the beginning over there. Eventually, we were able to pick up additional clients and go on from that, he said in an interview with Adweek in 2003.
For the athletic shoe and clothing juggernaut, Wieden+Kennedy has produced some of the most beautiful work over the years, earning accolades for everything from Michael Jordan advertising to Tiger Woods pieces to the most recent Colin Kaepernick spots. The ability of Wieden and the agency to listen and act was the foundation of everything.
In 2012, he told Adweek, “The client’s bravery is fundamental to delivering effective work.” “Nike did one thing for us—they didn’t think in advertising. They didn’t want us to engage in any of the customary behaviours. They stated, “We don’t want to run an ad more than once,” for example. “OK, why would that be?” I questioned. They responded, “Well, do you really write your pal the same letter over and over again?”