When some clients look at the Wieden+Kennedy portfolio, they wonder if their product or service can match the "fun" and "exciting" nature of clients like Nike, ESPN, or Miller. "We have to remind them that the category wasn't so exciting before we came in. If you look at the sneaker category in 1971, it wasn't even a developed category. If you look at the cheap beer category before we got into it, I mean, who wants to advertise cheap beer? That blue-collar thing was probably the most rejected idea you could think of," Todd Waterbury notes. By working with the client to communicate the potential of the product or service and to show and describe the creative strengths of the Wieden+Kennedy teams, Waterbury feels he can help companies take risks they might not otherwise want to take. "At the end of the day, the success of a project relies on people, not on companies," he says.
Waterbury and his teams seek out people within the corporate structures of the companies they work for, identifying those who make up what he calls the "microworlds" of the company culture. People who are changing the landscape or taking a risk are the people with whom Waterbury wants to work. If they end up moving from one job or industry to another, Waterbury follows them, because he knows that they will be able to offer a potential openness and influence as they shift from place to place.