Agency Wieden+Kennedy has been at the forefront of bold and strong advertising. You know, that kind of advertising that gives you goosebumps, really gets under your skin and gets you thinking about the bigger picture behind the spot. We talked to Zeynep Orbay, Creative Director at Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam and the one responsible for impactful ad campaigns for the likes of Nike and Montblanc, about what’s behind those strong advertising campaigns. For the first time, Zeynep Orbay will speak at the Forward Festival Hamburg this July.


What is good advertising for you?

Good advertising is a well-crafted piece that is built around a good idea and the best examples touch people in a unique way.


Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam is known for epic campaigns with great impact, e.g. the Nike Victory Swim campaign. When kicking off such a big project, how do you start?

I feel really lucky to have created work for Nike because there is a great dynamic between Wieden+Kennedy and Nike where they both push each other to create bold, brave and strong work. This three-decade-old relationship makes the process really unique as we feel free to explore new territories when we kick off projects. We usually focus on what the idea is before we explore the execution. For example with Nike You Can’t Stop Us: Victory Swim, we knew we wanted to invite Middle Eastern Women back to the water. We built the whole storyline around this one simple idea.



Where do you get your inspiration from when usually people look to you for inspiration?

I watch, binge watch, listen, play with a 5-year-old, find ways to meet friends, run, cook, read and try to discover new insights. I also love looking at good work (past and present) to get inspiration. It could just be looking at what that specific brand has done over the years once again, or what the best work is being produced for other brands right now. I feel like it pushes me to create impactful work.


What is important to you when creating the setting of a campaign?

I worked at some agencies where being fast was the priority. I feel very lucky that at Wieden+Kennedy I’m given more time and space to create impactful work. Sure there are times where it gets really chaotic, as it is the nature of the job, but mostly it is in balance. I am not always great in stress control, especially when the deadline is approaching and if we haven’t nailed the idea yet, but somehow it is the process in almost every project where the solution arrives shortly after the panic moment.


(c) Guney


Advertising is a field that moves at high speed with a “bigger, better, faster” attitude. How do you manage to stay true to your style under pressure?

The production part excites me a lot as words on paper start to come to life. Another part that is really rewarding is when we see online comments from people after the work is launched. To reach the eyes of so many people and create an urge in them to write something about our work feels priceless.


What has been your favorite project to work on throughout your career?

Last year I had an opportunity to work with Spike Lee, which feels like a once in a career kind of situation. We got to shape the script together with him, go around his studio and see film props from all his movies and film with him. I will never forget that production.



A lot of those famous Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam films like the Nike Victory Swim or your personal project “Happy Birthday Mr. Vice President” campaign deal with important social issues. Do you think advertising is going more and more in that direction?

Today people are looking for brands that have a POV, that understand and react to what’s going on in culture and that have something to say. Not every project can be an opportunity to touch on social issues, but we try to find a way to create a unique voice for the brand in every project.



Is there a mission you want to accomplish with your work?

It is not always possible but when your own POV intersects with what the brand wants to say, it becomes unbelievably rewarding. I am hoping to create work worth remembering that reflects where I stand as a person while making ads. Wieden+Kennedy has helped me to achieve this so far, and I look forward to keeping this going.


You have won several international prizes. What’s your advice for people who just graduated from art school and want to get started in the creative world?

Personal projects are great in showing the creative world what you are capable of. There is something quite liberating to be able to create imaginary projects for imaginary brands. You become the designer, the art director, the strategist, the project manager, the account and the client. I would take advantage of this. Create and craft projects without any limitations.


(c) W+K Amsterdam


How will the future of advertising look like?

I don’t have a very clear answer to this question myself, but I don’t think the ‘advertising is dead’ POV is valid. As long as the brands are there, advertising will be there to shape their voices. The work may get edgier, forms could change, media could vary but the value of a good, big, powerful idea will always be there.