Nike to Wieden: Just Do Digital

nikelogo.gifNike is ditching Wieden + Kennedy for some of its running shoe business, and the Wall Street Journal knows why: the agency has been dissing digital.

“What really unnerved Madison Avenue was that one of the main reasons for Nike’s move was dissatisfaction with the agency’s digital expertise, according to people close to the account,” notes today’s story.

One W+K insider went so far as to say digital is “afterthought” at the agency.

Another interesting wrinkle in the story is the tale of a would-be alignment between the traditional agency and AKQA to co-pitch business and collaborate on shared accounts:

“On paper, the two made a good fit. Both are at the top of their respective areas, and they share major clients such as Coca-Cola and Nike. But after several meetings to discuss the idea, [Wieden principal Dan Wieden] couldn’t be persuaded. People familiar with his thinking say the executive has long been fearful of tying up with other firms for fear of spoiling Wieden’s culture. Instead, he believes in broadening the agency’s skill set by hiring people with different types of expertise — as he did with Mr. Gleeson.”

(Earlier this year, according to the story, Wieden + Kennedy hired “digital expert” Renny Gleeson, previously from Carat Fusion.)

Tribal DDB CEO Matt Freeman has a great quote in the piece: “The thing is all these things look good on paper but so did communism….At the end of the day it’s all about who is in charge….Traditional ad people are in favor of integration as long as they are in control. It still comes down to who reports to who and egos.”

To make a reference to another top creative shop with digital chops, Crispin Porter + Bogusky, I guess this is the subservient chickens coming home to roost for Wieden.

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