Anthony Williams II
Brand Executive, Wieden + Kennedy
As a Brand Executive for Wieden + Kennedy’s Nike account, Anthony is responsible for managing all internal and external communication between his own team and clients including creative, production, business affairs, traffic and media. He also manages and produces campaign deliverables of broadcast spots, digital and social content and quick-strike executions while facilitating the completion of all project concepts.
While looking at the Brand Executive role, an all-encompassing description is a point guard. As an advocate for the internal teams and the external client, the brand executive “controls the ball,” orchestrating the dynamic and tempo for what goes in, what goes on and what goes out. With collaborative input from the team, the brand executive is then responsible for facilitating productive conversations between all parties involved and contributing to endgame project efforts. The person in this role builds strong relationships to establish trust, while delivering quality work with the team’s reputation attached. A brand executive discovers the root of problems and vocalizes solutions to move forward, all towards the best overall project outcome.
Anthony began the day with a morning prayer over a bible verse, which is occasionally supplemented with meditation. Afterward, he practiced yoga to stretch and spark movement before hitting a workout on his Nike Training Club app. Other days, he will head out for a two-mile run. Once his workout was complete, he washed up and got dressed for the day.
With a religious upbringing, Anthony learned from a young age to lead with gratitude in the present moment. Before reaching for Instagram or zoning in on emails, he sets the foundation of his day with his routine of prayer and mindfulness. This allows him the opportunity to set an intention for the day ahead.
As most of us are experiencing now, life can change at the blink of an eye. And for Anthony, remaining grounded is important for his well-being. Joining his daily dose of mental health and wellness is physical activity. Prior to landing Nike as a client (which we’ll cover later on), Anthony has utilized the Nike Training Club app to motivate himself, his colleagues and his friends to stay moving. For Anthony, training clears his mind and pushes him to be his best self physically and mentally.
On a normal day, Anthony would leave for work and grab two local buses down to the inner city of Portland for the quick 25 minute trip to his office. However, as Coronavirus continues to speed across the world, Wieden + Kennedy has enforced a work-from-home policy, so Anthony’s commute is much shorter now… Anthony posted up at home!
This time, more than ever, the culture of Wieden + Kennedy is showcased to be supportive, wholesome and operating from a “people-first” lens. The recent and ongoing pandemic of Covid-19 has Anthony and many others working from home testing the flexibility and adaptability of not only employees, but employers.
Anthony mentions W+K to be going above and beyond with the adjustment. The agency stresses employees balancing time, taking breaks and setting boundaries. Shorter meetings are implemented to promote incremental movement and the fitness teams from the office have set up live, virtual Zoom workout sessions. The teams have google documents of recipes, T.V shows and conversation topics to maintain a connection while apart. Anthony harps on the importance of the company environment and feels incredibly humbled to be a component of the wholesome vibe.
When it comes to his sans-Covid commute, Anthony chalks up the city of Portland as a much easier city to navigate than Manhattan! He’s a fan of the bus system with locals running routinely and seamlessly around the city.
If it’s not the bus, he’ll grab a seven–minute Uber to his office. During his commute, he’s catching up on emails or solidifying his agenda for the day. If he’s not jump-starting his workload, he’s listening to music or a podcast to ease into the day.
Throughout this article, we’ll lay out what a day is like in the office, as well as how Anthony achieves the same amount of work successfully from home.
Anthony began the day with administrative tasks and looked ahead to his calendar to map out his agenda; all of which taking place from his desk or couch!
While working from home, Anthony advises to separate spaces of leisure and those of productivity. He avoids lounging, or opening his laptop in bed and works primarily between his desk and couch. He is also an advocate for movement. To keep his day and mentality moving, he takes frequent, short breaks to walk around or stretch. On his lunch break, he will often wander down the street to grab takeout and support local restaurants. Turning off at a reasonable time is another best practice and establishing some sort of “normal” routine helps to keep things balanced.
His schedule often varies and starting his day on the earlier side to knock out a few key tasks is Anthony’s effort to set the day up for success. He will share the internal/external OOH (Out Of Home) status document with his team that details what creative is live in the NYC-and-LA-owned media units.
This document is a weekly note for the team to have a clear representation of campaign details, reactive work, industry news, relevant emails or upcoming meetings. In addition to updating the team, Anthony confirms calendar invites with clients, reads over client emails and ensures his knowledge of each project status is up to date.
While W+K functions like a well-oiled machine virtually, Anthony’s energetic and lively work environment at the office is one to boast about. The office is like an adult playground complete with a basketball court and various games to keep the teams alert and moving. Sports, music, pop culture and food are all common topics of discussions that circle the pods leading to robust debates. The dynamic team keeps relevant information flowing throughout the unit, furthering their capability to decipher the current world and culture that surrounds communities today and connect to various demographics.
Once Anthony’s supervisor arrives at the office, or in this case, checks in with Anthony virtually, he will touch base with her to run through project updates, ideas and concepts needing support. The team works with an open-door, or, open-desk mentality—everyone bounces ideas off each other, continuously. With multiple facets to each project, the days can involve work across many areas of the team. Spending time with his supervisor in the morning is a great chance to slow down and dig into certain details of different project components.
Anthony has a great deal of responsibility, creative freedom and flexibility to determine the run-of-show which contributes tenfold to his confidence in his role. The trust placed in him allows for his skills to flourish through direct experience with a cushion of support available when needed. His work, voice and leadership abilities are clearly valued at W+K!
Anthony utilized this time in the morning to align with his project manager and the creative teams.
Within Wieden + Kennedy’s current client, Nike, there are several accounts or branches within the brand including Basketball, North America and global teams. Anthony’s primary focus within these branch accounts is North American, of which athletes and events pertaining to this region and across various sports are tackled directly.
Before moving forward with project details, the creative team meets with the Creative Director for the green light on proceeding. If the Creative Director approves the work for the team to begin, Anthony then connects with the studio members to start preparing the deck to flesh out the details of the project with the clients.
If this doesn’t happen, then Anthony will flag the delay to the clients and collaborate on another deadline. If they are in post-production, Anthony will utilize the time to regroup with the creatives and the production team to communicate the most immediate feedback from the clients and the strategies to move forward. If any ideas are unclear or need more discussion, Anthony will reach out to the clients to reach a middle ground.
Communication is the name of the game here. Anthony plays as a mediator and in the off chance that things don’t go as planned, knowing about the problem as soon as possible to troubleshoot is key. Sometimes, the execution isn’t always the same as initially planned, but you adjust to make it work… that’s the name of the game from time to time! A quick pivot with a clear strategy will turn things around.
Without one set formula of how to handle certain situations, trust, strong foundational relationships and anticipation of the client’s needs all play vital roles in the level of success on the job. Once the foundation is established, clients and the team are more likely to allow the work to be done with an understanding of the quality that will result. At the end of the day, Anthony and the team ensure they are proud to have their names on the final product.
Anthony assembled a few last things for a deck presentation and drafted notes for the team.
A deck presentation is a cohesive and smooth flowing body of work, showcasing the strategies Anthony and his team plan to implement to achieve the client’s project goals. Every aspect of the presentation is intentionally considered to attract the target demographic, from the verbiage to the visual elements while details of social media campaigns, OOH experiences and activation’s outline future project phases for the client to visualize. While preparing for a presentation in the office, Anthony rehearses his points of communication to make sure he delivers the information in a way the client will digest easier. He also checks the room a few minutes beforehand for IT and equipment compliance.
As the recent pandemic of Covid-19 has changed his routine slightly, Anthony utilized this time to review the project’s status and took notes for the team on what is left to accomplish during the remainder of the day or in the upcoming week. Open communication and collaboration bring success to this process, as the team works together to improve the quality and precision of the creative concepts. As the brand executive, it is again Anthony’s role to serve as the liaison between his team and the clients.
Anthony stepped away from the computer to grab lunch and read a book in between calls. With a few team regroups and small committee meetings later in the afternoons, this was a convenient time to squeeze in a break and separate the tasks of the day.
While at the office, Anthony would be headed to another meeting or connecting with his project manager about the status of a project. He would also be drafting his internal and external recap note that details the next steps for the near future. Anthony prioritizes the recap note, as keeping his team in the loop is imperative for things moving smoothly. He forwards the note to clients, as well, to harvest transparency across the board.
Recap notes are a great way to keep a paper trail of information in case you need to drop a good, ‘per my email’ on someone… if you know, you know.
Anthony called his clients to work through any immediate updates. He also secured a Zoom call for the next day so the team could regroup. Afterward, he jumped on a virtual happy hour with the We+Black Affinity group at Wieden + Kennedy to discuss various things happening outside of work (live IG battles, like T-Pain vs. Lil Jon, for example.)
If Anthony were at the office during this time, he would be sharing recaps with the teams and answering outstanding emails. Recaps include meeting notes or additional supportive information needed from clients to propel the project’s next steps.
Other times, he would be running upstairs or across his building to chat with production or finance teams to avoid the back and forth email chains. If he was in post-production, he would be catching up with the internal team at this time, updating the status of certain project tasks and client feedback.
Anthony got ready to head home for the day and luckily… he’s already there!
While working in the office, Anthony routinely stays after hours to organize his inbox from the day. What would seem late for others is standard for Anthony. He is joined by other brand managers and creatives who linger to finish up remaining tasks that require immediate completion. An example of something that would keep Anthony at the office is finishing a production schedule for a client, which he knows to be reviewed in the mornings by leadership teams. Time sensitive tasks and anything that will be needed early the following day are at the top of his priority list.
If he’s not finishing things up in the office and there isn’t a pandemic going on, Anthony is meeting up with a team for happy hour, celebrating a birthday or exploring a new endeavor.
Since working from home, by this time of day Anthony is preparing dinner and listening to a podcast or a new album. He winds down and takes time to call friends, colleagues or family on FaceTime.
Anthony responded to emails that came through at the last minute and started to get ready for bed.
If he and the team are in production or are in post-production, this time would be utilized to draft emails that will be sent the following morning. If the topic is urgent, preparing the communication at night keeps him organized and ahead of schedule.
He admits time sheets and expenses to be tasks that often linger for the end of the day, especially while in production. Although these things are always completed… they aren’t often on the top of the list! He’ll knock these things out after hours, or wait until the next day to tackle them.
After work or on the weekends, Anthony frequently checks out movie theaters, sport events, bars or industry night events. Portland offers numerous art shows or exhibitions that keep him inspired.
Attending Northern Illinois University, Anthony graduated with a major in Corporate Communications and a minor in Marketing. Like most college students, he ventured through his courses with slight uncertainty as to what his career ahead would entail. This changed after following a recommendation from an older fraternity brother, to check out an 11-week marketing course known as The Marcus Graham Project.
The MGP was designed for diverse aspirants in the field of marketing and advertising to submerge themselves in an all-encompassing workshop, or “boot camp,” as they call it, to learn the ins and outs of the field and ultimately solidify a career in the industry.
The Summer of 2017 during the boot camp paved the way for Anthony and his future, as he worked under mentors with ample experience and invaluable teachings. After falling in love with the work, Anthony maintained close contact with the connections he established and upon graduation, accepted a summer residency program in Portland where he worked at Wieden + Kennedy to support clients Nike and Amazon Music. A few months later, this led to a permanent position with Wieden + Kennedy. Anthony unpacked his bags for the long haul and has been growing with the company’s home office, ever since.
Anthony speaks volumes about seizing internship opportunities. Jumping into programs to learn the details of a field and experience the day-to-day before entering the workforce, can solidify one’s understanding of the various roles in the industry and what it takes to be successful.
Get those coffee chats… meet with people on teams and learn about what it takes to make things work and function. Take advantage of each conversation as an opportunity to know more.
What is your advice for a young person, aspiring to follow in your footsteps?
Anthony advises to be hungry. With complexity in the industry of marketing and advertising, the independent initiative to step out and learn with a willingness to go above and beyond is crucial. Brands in the current climate are receptive to and feening for new ideas.
They are eager for fresh perspectives and look towards future employees to showcase unique values or points of view that will add new layers of depth to a team or company. Anthony emphasizes the importance of networking, as well, in advocating for connection and conversation to gain clear insight on the various roles available.
The world is huge! Everyone has different learning styles and techniques. Don’t be afraid to outdo yourself. In fact… make it a priority.
What skills are necessary for the role?
For Anthony, learning the ins and outs should be a focus before committing fully to a career path. There has to be a willingness to do the grunt work and have the grit to do the things that others won’t.
Anthony mentions, Grit by Angela Duckworth, to be a book that inspired him to establish this mentality and shift his focus towards what exactly he would bring to the table. When asked about this, Anthony mentions his point of view and insight to be his ‘superpower.’
With a fresh-off-the-block mindset and an ear to the street, Anthony can provide relevance to topics of social conversations, trends, aps., culture/pop-culture, music and sports. He furthers this by advocating for speaking up within the crowd and letting your voice be heard; share insights and opinions often!
Sometimes, it’s less about the work and more about what you bring to the table—your insights, point of view and talents. There has to be a reason for someone to bring you on board.