The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Farewell You Generous Soul …
October 13, 2021, 8:00 am
Filed under: Advertising, Attitude & Aptitude, Comment, Human Goodness, Wieden+Kennedy

Yesterday, David Kennedy – creative partner of Dan Wieden and founding partner of Wieden+Kennedy, sadly passed away.

There will be so many people deeply saddened by this news for a whole host of reasons, but I’m pretty sure common to all will be stories about his humanity.

Put simply, David bubbled with goodness.

His entire ethos seemed to be putting others first. He certainly never looked for credit, accolades, awards or fortune … in fact his main objective seemed to be wanting to help others help themselves to achieving something better.

Didn’t matter if it was something big or small or if you were just starting out or an old hand … David wanted to help, whether that was by listening, encouraging, contributing or collaborating.

I didn’t see him often – only when I was in Portland – but every time he saw me, he would always say hello, despite not knowing who the hell I was.

And then one day, we were in the lift together and someone told him I was visiting from W+K Shanghai. That was it …

He asked me for coffee and then gently peppered me with questions, mainly because he was fascinated that this agency he started had somehow opened up in a land about as far away from Portland as he could ever imagine.

And when I told him I was going to be starting The Kennedys there – the creative incubator of Wieden – and I hoped I wouldn’t fuck it up, especially as I was a planner and it’s normally run by creatives … he looked at me and said …

“I doubt you will, especially if you have fun doing it.”

While I didn’t see him too many times after that, he never forgot who I was and always asked how things were going.

Kindness aside … I’m pretty sure if you were to ask others about the things they remember most about him, they’d say things like his black t-shirts, his huge bunch of jangling keys that were always hanging from his jeans and his dry sense of humour.

Oh that last part was especially wonderful.

And while there are many examples of it, Mel Myres – W+K’s wonderful global creative talent recruiter who was there for decades – wrote something on her Facebook page that captures it perfectly.

There was a founder’s day where we flew both Portland and NY offices to a remote destination in the Arizona desert, even though the NY office was told they were headed to a spa. We landed, boarded busses, drove through incredible heat and dust, and as we pulled up to this literal shit-hole, David gazed out the bus window at the desolate landscape filled with tiny tents and said, “That must have been one hell of a website”.


While I’ve not worked at Wieden for a few years, it is a place that will always be special and dear to me, which is why I want to take this opportunity to say a huge thank you to Mr David Kennedy.

Thank you for your words, your interest, your kindness and your generosity.

Thank you for making a place so special that no one can even describe what the hell it is, let alone explain how it happens. Mind you, given your personality, I imagine that’s exactly as you’d want it … and you deserve nothing less.

While I have done many great things in my life, one of the greatest has been having the privilege, pleasure and honour of being part of your crazy, little adventure.

I mean that, with all I’ve got.

There’s many people in this industry who are talented.
There’s many people in this industry who are generous.
And there’s even people in this industry who are compassionate.

But there’s very few in this industry who who would ever have all 3 of those words used to sum them up. But then you were never like most people.

My deepest condolences go out to the family you loved so much, the Wieden family [including those who were part of your namesake, The Kennedys] you helped grow and nurture and all the people you touched who will be feeling incredibly sad at this very sad news.

I’m definitely one of them.

Thank you for everything David. I am sure one of those keys on your chain will unlock the door to another adventure.

5 Comments so far
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nice one campbell. love the mel myres story. fucking class.

Comment by andy@cynic

Lovely post Robert.

Comment by George

What a lovely tribute Robert. The stories show a very kind and generous soul. I am sure there are a lot of tears for him around the world.

Comment by Lee Hill

Didn’t some people mistake him for a kindly janitor because he shuffled around WK occasionally sweeping up? He sounds an exceptional human being. Lovely post Rob.

Comment by Pete

Sounds a complete legend.

Comment by Bazza

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