Portland/ Retail & Industry
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Published on February 29, 2024
Wieden+Kennedy Trims Portland Workforce by 20%, Citing Industry Shift to Project-Based WorkSource: Google Street View

In a significant downsizing move, Wieden+Kennedy, the venerable advertising firm renowned for crafting iconic campaigns such as Nike's "Just Do It," has slashed its workforce by 20% at its Portland headquarters. This shedding of 90 employees comes amidst a broader trend in the advertising industry grappling with shrinking budgets and a pivot towards project-based work, as reported by OregonLive.

"Layoffs are terrible. There’s no way to sugarcoat it," Wieden+Kennedy Portland President Jason White expressed in a statement obtained by OregonLive. "But, we’ve gotten to a place in Portland where we need to make changes to align better with how our clients work. Saying goodbye to any of our people is always a last resort, and we never make that decision lightly." The spokesperson for the agency also clarified that these layoffs are a product of restructuring efforts and are not tied to client losses or recent job cuts at Nike, a major client.

Wieden+Kennedy's layoffs reflect a pattern among other large Oregon employers cutting their workforce. Columbia Sportswear, UPS, and NuScale Power have announced job cuts, even though the state enjoys a near-historic low unemployment rate of 3.7%, as per the same OregonLive article. Meanwhile, the agency's portfolio remains stout, brandishing alliances with heavyweights like McDonald’s, Sprite, Netflix, and Facebook.

The advertising world is in flux, as noted by the Advertising Age, with agencies like Wieden+Kennedy rejigging their operations from longstanding client models to more dynamic, project-specific approaches. This strategic shift has evolved over the past decade, culminating in the kind of restructuring currently seen at the Portland firm. A Wieden+Kennedy spokeswoman emphasized that the New York office, now the independent network's largest with 479 staffers, remains unaffected. Furthermore, the agency has been treading water revenue-wise, maintaining around $300 million in U.S. earnings, as gathered by an AdAge report.

In the face of these layoffs, Wieden+Kennedy's commitment to the Portland community is cited as unwavering. White reassured in an email shared with the Portland Business Journal, "Wieden+Kennedy Portland is here to stay. Portland represents who we are and why we exist." He recalled the local roots of the agency's founders and their success in radically shaping the advertising landscape from their 'little shop in the middle of nowhere.'