In this second part of our exclusive interview with Dan Wieden, the adman talks about the culture inside Wieden + Kennedy, which he says is consistent across the agency’s eight international offices. That culture comes out of a certain lack of hierarchy in the office and from an unusual approach to hiring talent.
“There is not a strong sense of anyone having authority over things,” says Wieden, co-founder of W+K. “Everybody is trying to help everybody else solve the problem.”
When it comes to hiring new people, Wieden believes you need to have an open mind to spot and be prepared to take risks.
“That’s when you get the sense of ‘Ah, I don’t know about this, but I like this. I don’t think I’ve met somebody like you before…’”
The agency is well-known for audacious, off-the-wall work such as Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, which saw the product go from has-been to sold out in certain stores.
“We turned it [the campaign] over to some crazy guys and they did this work that was so outrageous that it popped up and took over number one overnight.”
The most important principle in the W+K culture is seeking original ideas – and sometimes that kind of innovative thinking comes from the creative misfits.
“What you’re looking for is something you’ve never seen before,” says Wieden. “Creative people – they’ll give it a certain twist or something very subtle that’s new.”