Wieden+Kennedy Decides to be Good(er)

April 19th 2023

Wieden + Kennedy decides to be good(er) by becoming the first global network* to get B-Corp certified, a designation that measures a company’s entire social and environmental impact, putting the agency alongside the likes of Patagonia and Ben and Jerry’s. Getting certified requires a company to meet a specific set of standards set up with the goal of transforming the global economy to benefit all people, communities, and the planet.

It all started when we asked ourselves, “what would Wieden and Kennedy do?”

But when we ask this question, we’re not just talking about the company. We’re also talking about the two humans—Dan and David.

Two visionaries who reckoned that most advertising sucked, but who also respected it and knew it could be better. So instead of making more interruptive landfill, they attempted to make the most loveable version of the most hateable thing. It was a combination of their willingness to fail harder and their commitment to walk in stupid every day. To shut up when someone else is talking. And to hire wrong. At the core of all these mantras were a few things: imperfection, inclusion, inspiration, and above all, humanity.

W+K strived to make advertising a force for good a long, long time ago, back before it was cool. By giving a voice to the outcasts, misfits, and weirdos. To the underrepresented. To the quiet types who needed a home in an industry where everyone always seemed to be screaming. The output? Work that made people laugh. Work that made people cry. Work that made people want to jump off their couch and climb a mountain. Sure, it wasn’t always perfect (because we aren't). But it strived to be good(er). And that felt important.

We still strive to be a force for good. Not just with pro bono accounts, but with everything we do across our entire global network. With our work, our environmental impact, and our hiring practices. So we asked ourselves what would Dan and Dave do? And now, our entire global network is B-Corp certified. Well, except for Mexico City. We had to go and open another office in the meantime.. See? There’s that imperfect shit we’re talking about. (That’s why we had that asterix back up there at the beginning.) But we know they’ll get certified soon enough.

Now, we realize it might not seem like a huge deal, especially while we’re all making predictions as to what will bring on the apocalypse, like AI raising an army of robotic overlords. But if an advertising agency can be good(er), then maybe there’s hope for us yet?

Because if an ad agency can take it upon itself to expose the myth of the The Model Minority, or initiate an exploration of the nuances of Juneteenth becoming a national holiday, or work with its clients to clean up the beaches of Mexico by turning trash into art, or help millions of little girls dream about lifting the World Cup for their country, then maybe anything is possible? Maybe?

So that’s it. That’s the rub. We hope our quest for being good(er) can inspire others to be good(er), too. Because that would be the goodest.



Certified B-Corp


For those of you reading that are interested in what it takes to become a B Corp – it's no mean feat. Involving nine offices (since certification there is a tenth) and 1,500 employees spread across seven countries, the intensive process took us nearly two years. From implementing a global emissions measurement program to establishing new sustainable production guidelines, it required full participation from the entire network – making B Corp certification a true collective achievement, with benefits that will be felt by every employee in every continent.

Here are some of the practical measures we took to become B Corp certified.

We teamed up with outside experts in sustainability and corporate responsibility to ensure our network hits its targets and makes good on its promises. Some of these experts include emission measurement and decarbonisation specialists Zevero, and Klimate, a company that helps responsible businesses offset the carbon emissions they cannot avoid.

With Zevero’s support, we developed a comprehensive, science-backed strategy to reduce emissions, including the decarbonization of our physical footprint and more intentional business travel. With Zevero's partner Klimate, they offset 1,500 tons of emissions in 2022 using high-quality carbon removal methods. That’s equivalent to 9,000,000 km of driving (5,592,340 miles) or 225 trips around the earth (and a very long road trip playlist).

In the U.S, W+K is an active member of Green the Bid, a grassroots initiative supporting the ad industry’s movement to zero-waste, as well as carbon-neutral, sustainable and regenerative practices. With their help, we've implemented several sustainable best practices across numerous client productions, including reducing landfill waste on set, recycling sets, managing energy use, switching to bottle-less water services and recyclable service items and utensils.

Our definition of a sustainable workplace also extends to our people. Career development, financial education, student loan repayment, premium benefits and investment in personal creative projects encouraging passion projects all underpin our intent to safeguard the creativity of the workforce.

Of course, there’s still work to be done. Much like advertising, sustainability is an ever-evolving field, with constantly-shifting targets. In January 2023, W+K opened its tenth office in Mexico City, which will begin the B Corp process after one year of business, in line with B Corp protocol.

WK BCorp

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