Advertising agency Wieden Kennedy’s motto is, “the work comes first.” Which is obvious from their reputation and the industry accolades they receive each year. But, what has family got to do with it? Seemingly a whole lot.
- Herengracht 258-266
- 1016 BV Amsterdam
Due to a typical Amsterdam day that started with a thunderstorm early morning and cleared up to humid sunshine, I arrived at the office of Wieden+Kennedy wearing far too many layers. Cumbersome clothing aside, sunshine is far by the best weather to see their glass office. I was ad-fangirl excited about having a look inside W+K and Account Exec turned PR Coordinator Andrea Dicu was kind enough to show me around and share their story.
When people talk about Wieden + Kennedy they often talk about the work – and rightly so. This was the least that Andrea and I spoke about.
First thing you see beyond the lobby is not work, but a wall filled with kooky framed photos of employees. Meaning also that before you see the employees, you see the employees (if you catch my drift). Over cappuccinos in their kitchen – which overlooks a garden shed converted to an art studio by CD Alvaro Sotomayor – Andrea filled me in on the W+K way. The Amsterdam office turned twenty this year (ten years junior to Portland) and has moved three times before settling the last five years on the well-known Herengracht. An office in Amsterdam? Just do it.
What I’ve really enjoyed in doing these insider visits is the surprising insights you learn, so excuse me if I use those words often. What surprised me about W+K is how the staff have acted differently to other Amsterdam advertising culture I’ve heard of. In a city where the airport is a fifteen minute train ride away for the next country stop in an ad career, employees at W+K…stay. Expats settle! Buy houses! Get married! Have kids!
People stick around for W+K, why go home when you have one here?
The family vibe is apparent when you walk around the office, I saw trophies casually strewn amongst filled book cases and remarked to Andrea how that was kind of refreshing to see. Seeing the appreciation of that she had to add a bathroom to the tour, in which you find the common place awards are stored. How’s that for putting things in perspective.
Another nice thing to see in 3D was The Kennedys set up. With an awesome neon-flashing-gif-filled website there was indeed a real sign in a workspace. For this, six young creatives are picked out of applicants (938 of them applied last year) to be here six months, on full throttle. They get the chance to work on local clients as well as boring ones like, eh… NIKE?
With programs like The Kennedys, a building full with mixed experience and employees who work together outside of work (see Toby and Ignasi’s art installations) I got the feeling that maybe the work doesn’t come first, but the people.