Player Profile: Diesel creative Jonason joins Euro's Wnek Gosper

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Joakim Jonason's status as Sweden's advertising god was confirmed when his irreverent work for Diesel denim wear won the print Grand Prix at the International Advertising Festival in Cannes in June, four years after he took home the festival's TV Grand Prix for another Diesel campaign.

Despite that unprecedented dual win, Mr. Jonason and Diesel have both moved on. The creative director left Sweden and Paradiset DDB, Stockholm,the agency he started in 1990 that produced the award-winning Diesel work, to open a short-lived shop in London last October.

This month, as the first print ads break from Diesel's new agency KesselsKramer, Amsterdam, Mr. Jonason joins fast-growing London agency Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, owned by Havas Advertising, as creative director. The hope is the irreverent, ironic style that was the hallmark of his Diesel campaigns will appeal to Euro RSCG's clients-he will initially work on the Citroen car account-and help the agency's aggressive new business efforts. The London office has a growing international role, taking over, for example, regional coordination for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Euro RSCG's Intel business earlier this year.

"I do have a different profile from the agency, and that is of course one of the reasons I was hired," Mr. Jonason said.

His final Grand Prix-winning Diesel campaign inverted the world economy to feature affluent, trendy Africans living it up in print ads with superimposed news stories about the poverty and political chaos of Europe. In an earlier award-winning TV spot, a clean-cut hero in Diesel jeans prepares for a duel against a sleazy villain and is shot dead.

In his own country, where even advertising stars are expected to be modest, low-key and self-effacing, Mr. Jonason, 44, is revered but regarded as highly un-Swedish. Armed with an MBA degree, he started as an account manager at a local Stockholm ad agency. Becoming an art director was "a fluke" after he knocked out an ad one night for Lee Jeans. As he gravitated toward the creative side, Swedish fashion chain H&M hired him as marketing director. A year later, he started Paradiset with two college friends.

But the relationship wore thin, as Paradiset DDB proposed TV ideas and Diesel insisted on a cheaper print campaign last year.

"I worked with Diesel for almost 10 years and maybe we should have split earlier," he said philosophically.

Searching for a new direction, he started Cave Anholt Jonason with Mark Cave, a Lowe Group executive, and Simon Anholt, chairman of World Writers, but the three partners didn't get along and the agency never took off. They pitched against Paradiset DDB and Kessels- Kramer for the Diesel business and lost. The only client they managed to win, Timberland Co., handed them its European business then almost immediately plunged into a global review. The agency folded in June, after just eight months.

"The chemistry was the problem," Mr. Jonason said. "We simply had different views on how to run the agency. There are probably those who see this as a failure, but I don't care."

Although several creative directors have come and gone recently at Euro RSCG Wnek Gosper, Mr. Jonason and his wife Anna are confidently moving the two youngest of their four children and six horses to their new U.K. home in Oxfordshire, outside London.

"This [job] is what I really should have done from the start when I moved to London," he said.

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