On February 26, 2016, two other students from the University of Oregon and I had the chance to visit Wieden+Kennedy in Portland. The visit was part of the Career Center's Career Insight Road Trip, and provided us a glimpse into the world of media and communication from inside a high profile advertising agency.
It can be hard to pay attention to your guide as they take you through the renovated, Pearl District warehouse that is home to the Portland office of Wieden+Kennedy. Kenzie, Caitlin, and I spent an amazing day traveling through the creative bowels of Wieden+Kennedy digesting everything we saw around us and leaving with new perspectives on the industry as a whole.
Here are the eight things we just could not stop staring at:
1. The People
You can't help but stare at the people of Wieden+Kennedy the moment you walk through the door—not because of their appearance, but because their portraits adorn the walls of the entrance. Many agencies and other businesses display their awards for visitor's first impressions. Wieden+Kennedy literally shows that its people come first.
2. The Art
A totem pole and wooden beaver are some of the many great works of art decorating the office, but perhaps none are as stunning as the Bird's Nest. Elements of past campaigns for Coca-Cola, Nike, and other clients also decorate the office, infusing the ambience of the space with an appreciation for past work.
3. The Informal Lounges
Everywhere you look there seem to be couches, tables, and chairs. Every place is good to talk with someone. Every employee dresses how they want to dress. A pattern of equity and community emerges.
4. The View from the Top Floor
The balcony provides a breathtaking panoramic view of Portland, the launching pad from which Wieden+Kennedy became an international agency. By refusing to sell out to a holding company, Wieden+Kennedy has remained an independent agency capable of establishing its own culture and clients.
(From left to right: Kenzie, me, Caitlin)
5. The Auditorium
The whole agency meets at the heart of the building to share campaigns and do some general inter-departmental mingling. The bleacher seating evokes a summer camp atmosphere that reflects the social bonding of the agency, regardless of account.
6. Our Hosts
The three of us were lucky enough to meet with nine(!) media planners and other specialists including Grant, Chris, Matt, Vinu, Danny, Jonathan, Vivian, and two Ryans. We cannot thank them enough for sharing insight on their career development and personal paths to Wieden+Kennedy; spoiler alert—Wieden+Kennedy employees come from very diverse backgrounds. Perhaps the biggest takeaway was the relaxed and rapid-fire interactions among our hosts and other Wieden+Kennedy employees. Comfort and chemistry with coworkers are the number one ingredients for creativity.
7. The Media Plans
As an advertising student specializing in media planning I could spend pages discussing the presentation decks, media flowcharts, and other documents that our hosts shared with us. I found some of the data visualization used to present a plan particularly useful for my own work. Media planners are increasingly working with influencers such as Youtube stars, bloggers, and other digital experts trusted by specific audiences while ad-blocking software continues to confound media buyers and sellers alike. It was great to see how new trends in our own personal online behavior are paramount issues to be understood in the media and communication industry.
8. The Door In
Back on the streets of Portland, you can't help but look back at the big doorway to Wieden+Kennedy's great culture and work. The three of us agreed it would be a thrilling place to work. From our experience came a renewed focus on identifying and honing our professional skills and discovering what we can offer to a place like Wieden+Kennedy.
By Chris Ableidinger