Headquartered in Portland, Oregon, the agency was founded by Dan Wieden and David Kennedy in 1982 and branched out to open 10 other offices worldwide — including one soon to be established in Seoul. It will open in July in Jung District, central Seoul.
Wieden+Kennedy, also known as W+K, already has other offices in East Asia, such as locations in Shanghai and Tokyo, but decided to open an office in Seoul, seeing potential in promoting domestic brands and their products worldwide in the midst of Hallyu — the Korean wave of pop culture, which includes K-pop, K-content and Korean food.
Suzuki has led the W+K’s office in Tokyo since December 2020. Before joining W+K, he worked as an executive strategy director of global marketing company R/GA’s Tokyo branch.
“I think Korean content, the creativity that is pushing out, is really focusing on the commonalities of us being humans, that’s why everybody gets touched by the creativity that the Koreans have,” referring to the potential of Korea’s soft power. “It doesn’t focus on people’s differences. That’s why it’s very pure. It reaches, touches and engages everybody across multiple channels, countries. That’s why it’s so powerful.”
W+K is working with food conglomerate CJ to promote the Bibigo packaged food brand. The agency will begin promoting the brand with a new campaign this summer. Including the campaign for CJ, W+K has 5 ongoing projects in Korea.
“I believe Korea is at this market stage where its people have predominance in food and entertainment, but it shouldn’t stop there,” he said. “We want to work closely with local brands here. I think that whilst we may start out with a small network, we’re in the right places in the world and we can really help them export more value through other industries.”
The Korean office will start out small, according to Suzuki, with maximum of 10 to 15 people in the first year.
“Our desire is not about large numbers,” he said. The Shanghai office has some 80 employees, while the Tokyo office has about 70. While smaller than main headquarters’ offices in New York, Portland, London and Amsterdam, the Asia offices — Shanghai, Tokyo, Korea and Singapore — will “operate together almost like one company,” he said.
“We want to work with ambitious marketers,” he said. “How we work with clients has to be based on a foundation of trust, which means that the clients need to challenge themselves and the agency on everything we do. But at the same time, we too encourage and challenge our clients. It’s having that healthy discussion or argument because that’s the only way to get to the real solution that actually works in the real world. If a marketer is not ambitious, it’s very hard to get the best work out of W+K.”
This person must also believe “their product or brand can really help people’s lives to be a little bit better, a bit more effective, a little bit more something, to know at least to the point it’s moving in the right direction.”
BY LEE JAE-LIM [email@example.com]