Johannes Leonardo landed Kraft Heinz and endured through CMO changes at a major client
After completing the best year in its history in 2019, earning a No. 3 A List ranking, Johannes Leonardo’s revenue declined in 2020. But the agency maintained enough momentum to keep it on our standout list: It launched 33 campaigns, produced more than 1,000 assets remotely and won 12 new client projects. The wins included a major haul from food giant Kraft Heinz, which handed the shop its Oscar Mayer, Kraft macaroni and cheese and Kraft Singles brands.
Even during tough economic times amid the pandemic, Johannes Leonardo stuck to its principle of only taking on clients that align with its values. It says it turned down 30 pitches for lack of proper fit.
The agency endured through yet more marketing leadership changes at one of its major clients, Volkswagen Group of America, which in late 2020 installed Kimberley Gardiner as its senior VP of marketing. Earlier in the year, Johannes Leonardo unleashed a VW campaign that had “Billions” actor Paul Giamatti starring as an accountant counseling a big-spending client portrayed by Kieran Culkin of “Succession.” The effort pitched the Atlas Cross Sport crossover via a series of plot-driven ads that portrayed the vehicle as “excessive where it matters.” The agency also took a leading role pumping up VW’s electric vehicle ambitions (although it got into some hot water in 2021 with the “Voltswagen” renaming prank that went too far and garnered negative press).
Johannes Leonardo continued to create big-budget campaigns for EA Sports’ “Madden NFL” video game that included lining up Keraun Harris, a.k.a “King Keraun,” a TikTok and Instagram phenom, to star in a campaign called the “spokesplayer.”
New clients included Apeel, which makes an edible-coating product that can double the shelf life of fresh produce. The technology is meant to tackle food waste. The agency helped get the word out with a campaign called “food gone good” that took a playful approach that included short-form content for social and pre-roll. “The purpose is to reach people, not preach to people,” Jason De Turris, Apeel’s VP of brand and marketing, told Ad Age last year.