Advertising industry legend Dan Wieden has passed away at 77 years old. Wieden will long be remembered for some of the ad world’s most iconic work including the coining of Nike’s “Just Do It.” According to the agency, Wieden passed “peacefully with his wife by his side” in Portland, Oregon on September 30th.
Wieden+ Kennedy released a statement saying: “We are heartbroken. But even more so, we are overcome with gratitude and love. Thank you Dan, for throwing the doors wide open for people to live up to their full potential. Thank you for your steadfastness, courage, faith and abiding love. Thank you for making this beautiful creative life possible. We will miss you so much.”
Wieden and his late partner David Kennedy, who passed away in October last year, formed Wieden+Kennedy in 1982, and over the years it became one of the highest regarded independent advertising agencies in the world. Though best known for iconic work with Nike, the agency worked with brands including McDonald’s, Bud Light, and Old Spice.
After university, the Portland, Oregon native took a job with Georgia-Pacific, then headquartered there. He eventually took a position as a freelance writer at McCann-Erickson, who handled the Georgia-Pacific account. It was there that he first met David Kennedy.
The two later worked together at a small ad agency where they handled the account for what was then a small company called Nike. Nike founder Phil Knight recognized the pair’s talent and advised them to start their own agency.
Wieden+Kennedy has since grown to a global presence with offices in Portland, London, Amsterdam, New York, Delhi, Shanghai, Tokyo, and São Paulo. Wieden took a chairman role in 2015 and stepped away from active agency life.
Jeff Manning, writing in The Portland Oregonian, said: “Wieden was funny, self-deprecating and hugely ambitious. His greatest gift may well have been his ability to lead and manage the quirky, eccentric, and sometimes difficult personalities behind the best content.”
Posting on Twitter, Wieden+Kennedy wrote: “Thank you Dan, for throwing the doors wide open for people to live up to their full potential.”