My Career Journey: Tony Davidson

Wieden + Kennedy London’s legendary ECD is passing on the torch after a 20-year tenure. He discusses the highs and lows of agency life, and how to know when it’s the right time to go

Tony Davidson is fizzing with the ­energy of a fresh-faced junior creative. As he chats away animatedly over Zoom, discussing life, work and everything in between, the only giveaway that he has over three decades’ worth of skin in the ad game is his silver-hued hairdo, which is tied back in a presumably lockdown-inspired man bun.

Davidson’s 20-year tenure as executive creative director at Wieden + Kennedy London has coincided with the agency producing some of the most memorable ads of the 21st century so far – from Honda’s Power of Dreams, to Sainsbury’s Live Well for Less, to Nike’s Nothing Beats a Londoner. He was also the first non-American to be officially knighted by the agency’s founder Dan Wieden as a global partner, along with his former partner Kim Papworth.

As the saying goes, though, all good things must come to an end. Davidson recently announced that he will be leaving the Wieden fold this summer, along with his current partner Iain Tait. Having had some time to reflect on his impending departure, it’s got him thinking about journeys more ­generally.

Top: Still from W+K London’s Nothing Beats a Londoner ad for Nike, 2018. Above: Tony Davidson with former partner Kim Papworth

“It’s funny, your journey in life is partly about your circumstances, but then it becomes very much about the people you engage with on that journey, whether that’s a teacher, or a parent, anybody,” he tells CR. “I think you are born ­creative, or born scientific. You’ve got your DNA, and then I think it [depends on] how curious you are to flex that. But I wonder how many people find their true journey?”