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Celebrating 37 years of Wieden+Kennedy

To celebrate our birthday—aka Founders’ Day—we asked our network “What makes W+K special to you?”

April 1st 2019
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The people of Wieden+Kennedy work 364 days a year to create the best work of their lives. Then for one day, we come together to party as hard as we work and call it Founders’ Day. It used to simply be our anniversary or birthday, but some time after David Kennedy retired we began to call it Founders’ Day, with gratitude to our irreverent and wild yet loving founders. Over the years, we’ve had citywide scavenger hunts, volunteer service days at local nonprofits, and go-cart racing, to name a few. It’s a fun gathering that might or might not resemble the first day of a rowdy music festival or the last day of summer camp, depending on the year.

So as we gather together to celebrate our 37th Founders’ Day, we asked employees across our eight global offices what makes this place special. Here’s what we heard:

  • The perfect symbiosis of madness and beauty. —Jorge, São Paulo

  • There’s no pressure to be anything other than yourself. —Sam, London

  • It truly is a ship of fools. What makes it special is when you fall overboard, they are always there to throw you a lifeline. —Jeff, Portland

  • The work is great, the culture is solid, we hold ourselves to a high creative standard, we leave room to be wrong, we leave even more room to be right, we don’t give up, we push back, we debate, we listen . . . we take things seriously without taking them too seriously. —Alison, New York

  • The People built W+K and W+K builds people. —Jimmy, Delhi

  • The excitement of knowing that somewhere in this building at all times, someone is making culture. —Anyaa, Amsterdam

  • The feeling of belonging and support and patience I have from my coworkers. —Jess, Tokyo

  • W+K is just such an amazing place where you can meet very different people of different backgrounds and hear different opinions, and we are all obsessed with doing the right thing no matter how hard it is. —Jason, Shanghai

  • W+K is a crazy zoo, founded by two dudes who hated advertising, filled with people who love each other too much and make the best work in the industry by way of taking risks and f***ing up first. —Phoebe, Portland

  • I was hired for being myself . . . and I've been embraced for being myself. —Crystal, NYC

  • F*** shit up. Have more questions than answers. Ask for forgiveness, not permission. Fail harder. Think bigger. Also we can curse. I like cursing. —Kiki, Tokyo

  • The empowerment to speak your truth. And have your voice be heard. No matter what title you have in the building. —Eden, Portland

  • Its undiminished childlike delight in asking the questions nobody else dare ask. —Martin, Amsterdam

  • Wieden to me is a place where the weird becomes wonderful. Being able to connect with people of all disciplines to exchange not just ways of working but ways of living. It has thrown open doors I didn’t know existed and given me the confidence (and also the permission!) to not just fit in here, but to also question and try to change this place for the better. —Ayo, London

  • Everyone always says the people make W+K special, but what I find truly special is that somehow we are able to find all these amazing people across our network and over the last 37 years because of two people . . . Dan and David. —Scott, Portland

  • I honestly don’t know how to explain to people what it’s like to work here. There’s an energy to the work and the people and the culture that just can’t be rhetorically bottled. And it’s the kind of energy you syphon off and carry with you for the rest of your life. —Chase, New York

  • It feels like home and makes your actual home feels like a messy place you have to go back to every once in a while to do laundry. —Henrique, São Paulo

  • This place asks you to bring your WHOLE self to work, which is liberating on most days and vulnerable as f*** on others. Never had a job like it. Probably never will anywhere else. —Josh, Portland

  • Liberating. Open. Accepting. Inclusive. Fearless. Fierce. Restless. Odd. Disruptive. —Tanya, Delhi

  • Reciprocity, respect. You give your best to W+K, it gives back to you. Which makes you want to give more of your best to W+K. Which seems to make it give more back to you. —Michelle, New York

  • Basically the perfect combination of the people, the culture, and the craziness which makes me feel right at home. —Corry, Amsterdam

  • The people, passion, and pride. —Lee, London

  • I came for the work. I stayed for the chaos and weirdo misfits and stories and spiralling insanity and culture. —Becca, Portland

  • You are not just a number like at the big conglomerates. You can actually make your voice heard and get access to the people who need to hear you. —Amy, New York

  • A lot of institutions claim to house the crazies. But if you’ve worked at W+K, you know that place is a feat of modern creativity. Crazies from wildly different backgrounds gather to collaborate and laugh and cry and scream and dance and find their place in the chaos of the world. It’s barely possible. —Kervins, Amsterdam

  • I love being associated with W+K, because W+K itself is like a hearty, loving person who is strong and can endure a lot, is unpredictable and interesting. Being a part of this place is one way to ensure that your life will never get boring. —Lauren, Portland

  • I’m surrounded by my idols. We even share a dental plan. —Megan, New York

  • W+K, in one word, is home for me. This is where I grew up, learnt everything that I know, and met some of the most passionate and talented people in the business who put work above everything else. —Kartik, Delhi

  • Every day is new walking into this place, and every day you become a new person leaving it. —Jeff, Amsterdam

  • It just is. —Melanie, Portland