Author Archives: Wieden+Kennedy

Thank you, Brilliant Bicycles!

We were sent a lovely gift from Brilliant Bicycles last month, so we decided to do the only logical thing—give it away in a Scavenger Hunt!

The tension was high as people anticipated when the bike would be hidden. Finally, at 2 pm on Wednesday, the hunt began and people started running around the building in search of the bike.

It was found pretty quickly by the lucky Tony Gambino.

Thanks, Brilliant, for the beautiful bike, and congratulations Tony!




Twenty years of Alvaro Sotomayor

Last week Creative Director, Alvaro Sotomayor celebrated his 20th anniversary of working at W+K Amsterdam.


Described as a one-man festival, a walking anti-depressant and a man who talks in emotions, Álvaro is undoubtedly the soul of the agency. To mark his anniversary we threw him a massive surprise party, which started in the garden, continued on our agency boat and ended with dancing the night away at a tropical themed party at Amsterdam’s Pllek. There were piña coladas, giant inflatable bananas and surprise family and friends from all over the world. All to honor our beloved Alvaro.

But that’s not all.

Over his twenty years Alvaro has had significant impact within the agency and on Amsterdam’s wider creative scene, which has firmly established him as a figurehead and ambassador of the city’s creative industry. Founding W+K’s incubator program – The Kennedys, becoming the first non-Dutch born advertising creative to be inducted into ADCN’s prestigious Hall of Honors and using his art to help ban bullfighting in Spain, are just some of his many achievements.

So we nominated him for the ‘Andreas Award’ – an official honor by the Amsterdam City Council awarded to individuals for ‘exceptional achievements in the domain of sports, art, politics, media or education in the city of Amsterdam with demonstrated influence beyond the city and national borders’.

In one last surprise, Alvaro was presented with the Andreas medal at Pllek by Amsterdam City Council alderman, Pieter Litjens. Once he realized the award was for real and Pieter wasn’t a stripper Alvaro had this to say:

“It humbles me to be officially recognized with this award and for living my daily motto: Live by love. Love changes a mundane day into a day worth being alive for. I want to thank my family and my friends for my surprise 20th anniversary party and for reversing the roles for a day. I felt the love!”

Want more from Alvaro? Below is an excerpt from the email he sent around the office on his Amsterversary and before he knew what was in store for him later in the day…

It was September 1995, when I flew from the airport of Maui, to LAX and from there to Amsterdam to interview at an American start up agency introducing Nike to the European continent. As it was my first official job interview I wore my super fly green velvet three-piece suit and a tan as deep as Jay-Z. I arrived at the quaint city of Amsterdam on one of the most glorious summer sunny days. It was 28 degrees outside so perhaps velvet wasn’t the best choice of wardrobe. But my other option was some Californian bowling attire so I went for the safe choice.

Twenty years later, today, the sun still shines and my life is amazing. Being at an agency where the motto is “walk stupid everyday” you can imagine I felt at home. And I still do, daily. I walk in stupid and I still fall in love with this place and everyone in it. I relate to Dori in Finding Nemo or goldfish. I go round and round this place thinking is an ocean.

I am surprised how little it has changed. And how our traditions persist. But heck some things have changed – we got a boat! And a bar! And ping pong tournaments! This place is amazing. This place really brings out the best in us. I am excited to write this again in 2035. I think we can make people believe there is hope in the world and convince them with our smiles.

Here’s to the next 20 Alvaro!


Photos by Stephania Karathanasi – and view more HERE!   

3percent mini-conference comes to Portland


(Dan Wieden, Co-Founder of Wieden+Kennedy)

On Thursday, September 24th Wieden+Kennedy, along with a handful of other local sponsors, hosted a 3% mini-con in Portland, Oregon. The day-long event consisted of keynotes, panels, networking, a yoga session, and of course, cocktails. Click here for a more detailed look at the line-up of fantastic, inspirational speakers and participants. 

Meron Medhanie, W+K strategist, reflects on the day. 

“They see me.” – Jamie Curl

Trusting your journey, individuality and your genius, as Intisar Abioto said powerfully, is a bit easier to do when you are seen, heard and understood.

But when people recognize your luck, instead of your genius, it completely erases your talent and hard work, making you feel like a recipient of success instead of a creator.


(Sarah Shapiro, Filmmaker, Director and Creator of Lifetime’s Unreal)

Sarah Shapiro shared this through vigor and passion as she hit on a lot of themes covered at the first 3% Mini Conference in Portland.

The first being, never underestimate the power that one person has to make a change. Or as Kat Gordon said, “If something is broken in the world, you may very well be the person to fix it.” And that’s what she set out to do.


Kat Gordon founded the 3% Conference, establishing a community of incredible women and “manbassadors” in 2012, after learning that percentage represented the number of female creative directors in our industry. Since the organization launched four years ago, the number of female creative directors has increased from 3% to 11%. But it was clear throughout the day that there’s still so more work to be done.

As Chelsea Vandiver said best, “The struggles we’re dealing with are real.” Trying to get over the cuteness barrier to be taken seriously, and this idea of matrydom for the work, coupled with an extreme guilt for not “being enough” for your job, family, and yourself led to countless conversations of how do you stay “in it” when it feels like everything is stacked up against. The answer: If you feel like it’s what you have to do, it’s your passion, then you can’t give up. It’s the moment when you “let go of one fantasy and lean into the one you’re meant for,” that breakthrough happens. And really, that’s the space we played in all day.


(Intisar Abioto, Photographer, Dancer, Writer, Explorer, The Black Portlanders)

We listened to powerful stories about what people are creating and how people are changing the game. Women like Mira Kaddoura and Sarah Shapiro who are intentional in who they hire, instead of “hiring the guy that looks like the last guy we hired.” Courageous women who challenged us to speak up when someone describes a woman as wishy washy or emotional, and instead say things like “hmm she actually thinks on her feet and is quite passionate.”


(DeAngelo Raines, Co-Founder + Art Director of Service and Charity Stratos, CEO/Founder of Service)

As much as we all thrive in a supportive environment, Tig Notaro reminded us that the last thing you want is a safe environment. Being in a 100% nurturing environment, you’re not going to really grow. So how do we strike a balance?

I’m not really sure. We can start with creating a space where everyone can come share his or her perspective. And by embracing that awkwardness, as Tig so gracefully does in her stand up. Recognizing that “they don’t get this, lets discuss this” and having trust that we can get through difficult conversations. Or as Charity Stratos shared, being okay with “healthy conflict to find new common ground.”

Dan Wieden added “we are more powerful when diverse.”

The best way to solve a problem is when there are multiple perspectives in the room. Diversity is the best thing that can happen to creativity.

To put this into perspective, Kat Gordon asked the audience: “We see 3,000 ads a day that shape how we see things in all facets of life. Do we want it to come from one perspective or do we want it to be representative of America?”


Getting Here, Going There


W+K is partnering with The 3% Conference to bring an inspiring day of badass creative lady leaders to speak, collaborate and mentor at PNCA on September 24. Tig Notaro, stand-up comic and star of HBO’s Tig Notaro: Boyish Girl Interrupted, will headline, alongside Sarah Shapiro, filmmaker, director and creator of Lifetime’s UnREAL.

The conference will span a variety of creative industries—from communications to entertainment, food, technology and doers/makers. Each speaker will explore how they got to where they are, and where they want to go from here.

The event takes place in PNCA’s super-rad new space located at 511 NW Broadway from 8:30 am – 5:30 pm.

Get your tickets and details here:


W+K September Bike Commute Challenge


It’s September, so that means it’s Bike Commute Challenge month here in Oregon! One of the many perks of working at Wieden+Kennedy is that we support our bike commuters. It’s Portland, after all.

The Bicycle Transportation Alliance, a non-profit bike advocacy group based in Portland, puts on the Bike Commute Challenge every September, during which businesses compete to have the highest percentage of commutes by bike. W+K is always a front runner in the competition (we’ll catch you this year, Reed College!).

We use the month of September to show our bike commuters extra love by hosting parties and workshops, weekly breakfasts, and raffling prizes.

Our cycling club is generously supported by River City BicyclesRaphaAppleFrice PastryKIND snacksCastelliChefStable, and many other local businesses. We couldn’t do it without them.

(Poster credit to Garrett Close of W+K Studio)