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WPP backs start-up creative agency in New York, Johannes Leonardo

19 November, 2007

Former Saatchi & Saatchi Executive Creative Directors Jan Jacobs and Leo Premutico, who helped take the agency from creative obscurity to Cannes and Clio ‘Agency of The Year’ in just over two years, have left that company to launch Johannes Leonardo with the backing of WPP.

Jacobs, 37, and Premutico, 29, were recently recognized as the world’s fourth most-awarded creative directors by Creativity magazine. Between them, the duo has won over 30 "Lions" at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes, and many other industry accolades. Since arriving at Saatchi & Saatchi in May 2005, the agency has experienced something of a renaissance with significant new-business success, including JC Penney and Wendy’s International accounts.

In addition to their new-business contributions, Jacobs and Premutico were the major force behind the creative turn-around. Their ‘Stains don’t stand a chance’ work for Tide this year resulted in Procter & Gamble winning its first Cannes "Grand Prix" in many years. Their "Red Wig" campaign for Wendy’s has given that brand a strong voice in the fickle youth market, something that the company has struggled to regain since the passing of its founder and advertising icon Dave Thomas in 2002.

Jacobs and Premutico developed the "Talking Stain" campaign for Tide detergent, establishing a unique point of difference for the Tide to Go brand. Their work lead the Saatchi & Saatchi New York office to become the second most-awarded agency in the world (Creativity’s August 2007).

Premutico and Jacobs have worked as a team since meeting in the London office of Saatchi & Saatchi in 2005. Shortly after that, they collaborated on the moving "Ventriloquist" commercial for the UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, which in that year was the world’s seventh most-awarded commercial (Campaign magazine ’05).

Together and separately, Jacobs and Premutico have worked in agencies in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom, continental Europe and the United States. They have also influenced other brands such as BMW, Land Rover, The New York Times, Bank of America, Avis and Olay. Their work has won effectiveness awards on four continents.

Before teaming up with Premutico, Jacobs had already radically improved the creative output at a number of shops around the world. At the former Bozell, New York, his work helped the agency become the most-awarded US agency at Cannes ’02, including his poignant "9/11 Norman Rockwell" campaign for The New York Times which touched the nation. While in South Africa his four Loerie Grand Prix contributed to TBWA Hunt Lascaris being named that country’s "Agency of the Century" by Financial Mail, and the 8th best agency in the world on Advertising Age’s Zenith list.

Premutico is arguably the world’s most awarded creative talent under the age of 30 ever. He was named Australia’s best young talent in 2000. Five years later in the UK, Campaign magazine rated him the best young talent in that market, as well as featuring him in their ‘Faces to watch’ feature. In between those recognitions, he was ranked the No. 1 creative talent by Campaign Brief’s ‘The Work’ ‘03. At the age of 26, he became a Creative Director and member of the leadership team at Saatchi New York, being promoted to Executive Creative Director of the largest office in the Saatchi & Saatchi network just two years later.

Johannes Leonardo will be based in New York.

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