Dan Wieden, Co-Founder of Wieden+Kennedy, Dies at 77

On September 30, 2022, Dan Wieden, the co-founder of independent advertising agency Wieden+Kennedy, passed away peacefully in his home in Portland, Oregon at the age of 77 years old. Wieden was born on March 6, 1945, in Portland, Oregon. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1967 with a degree in journalism and briefly worked in public relations before trying his hand at copywriting, beginning a life-long career in advertising.

While at a small Portland agency Dan Wieden and creative partner David Kennedy started working on the Nike brand, which was just beginning to grow at the time. Nike founder Phil Knight saw their talent and suggested they start their own agency. In 1982, Wieden+Kennedy was born. The pair set about making some of the most iconic advertising campaigns in history. Wieden famously coined the Nike tagline “Just Do It.” in 1988.

Today, Wieden+Kennedy is the world’s largest independent advertising network with offices around the world, over 1500 employees and thousands of alumni. The agency works with some of the world’s most well-known brands and is known for its iconic advertising. Wieden always championed the agency’s independent status, famously saying he would burn the place down before selling the agency, and ultimately put the agency into a trust, ensuring that it will remain independent forever.

Wieden was incredibly philanthropic, actively devoted to causes and organizations close to his heart, family and hometown. In 1996, Wieden and his family founded Caldera Arts, an arts and environmental summer camp in Central Oregon. The idea was to bring young people with limited opportunities together with talented creative professionals to encourage youth to find their voices. Today, Caldera has transformed creativity and growth from a small summer camp to a year-round community that enriches thousands of lives every year.

Widen was honored with many awards and accolades during his life. He was inducted into the One Club Hall of Fame, the Art Directors Club Hall of Fame, and the American Advertising Federation Hall of Fame, he received the President’s Award from D&AD, and the lifetime achievement award from CLIO, and in 2012 was given the Lion of St. Mark award by the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.