by Brandon Burns
Originally published: July 12, 2016
A former Wieden+Kennedy employee says the advertising titan's bold statement following a week of violence risks concealing deeper issues.
Last week, two black men were killed by police officers, five police officers were killed by a revenge-seeking vigilante, and, to much acclaim, the advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy posted a statement on the matter on its home page. In publications from Adweek to the Washington Post, the message, which was originally delivered by a black employee to colleagues via an internal email, was applauded after the company's management team amplified its words by featuring the statement on the company website and promoting it to the press.
On the surface, this was a commendable effort by one of the strongest voices in advertising. To start, there was the message itself. Also, at W+K, black employees are few and far between, so the decision to feature the work of a black staff member so prominently deserves kudos. Clearly, intentions were good.
The effort, however, is likely net-negative.