David F. Kennedy, Whose Ad Agency Put Nike on the Map, Dies at 82


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He also served six years in the Marine Corps reserves.

Mr. Kennedy met Kathleen Murphy in 1961 in Colorado through a fraternity brother who was dating her sister. They married in 1963, moved to Chicago and had five children. He is survived by his wife; his daughters Cathlin, Erinn and Siobhan; and a son, Brendan. Another son, Ian, died in 2016.

In Chicago, Mr. Kennedy worked at agencies including Young & Rubicam, Leo Burnett, Needham and Benton & Bowles. But after more than 16 years in the city, he ached to return west. In 1979, he was hired in Portland as an art director for the agency that was then known as McCann-Erickson, where Mr. Wieden was working as a copywriter.

“Instead of quietly riding the Chicago Northwestern train into work, he was now driving an old Chevy pickup truck with Miles Davis or Flatt and Scruggs playing on the radio,” his daughter Erinn Kennedy said in an email.

Later, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Wieden moved to the William Cain agency, where they worked on advertising plywood for a lumber purveyor and making pitches for a small but growing company from nearby Beaverton — Nike.

Feeling creatively stifled, Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Wieden struck out on their own. They started Wieden+Kennedy out of a labor union hall with a borrowed card table as a desk and used a pay phone down the hall. At one point they worked out of a restaurant, buying coffees to avoid being kicked out.

Nike was their first client. Mr. Wieden’s father, who had run the Gerber Advertising agency in Portland, helped them with the basics of running a business. It grew rapidly.

Much of Wieden+Kennedy’s success was tied to Nike and to popular campaigns like “Bo Knows,” featuring the baseball and football player Bo Jackson, and “Mars and Mike,” with the filmmaker Spike Lee and the basketball star Michael Jordan.


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