Johannes Leonardo



Inspiring the communications industry to re-imagine the possibilities of display advertising.


Despite years of innovation, display ads were still perceived as a derivative medium and relegated to a second-tier of creative work, used to disrupt more than they were to connect, engage, and entertain. Getting the industry’s attention was one challenge, but getting the industry to reassess the potential of the medium was another entirely.

Could Advertising’s biggest ideas fit into the smallest of ad spaces?

To create an immediate change in perception we put display ads to the ultimate test. We asked five legends of American advertising to re-imagine their most iconic advertising campaigns for a medium they knew almost nothing about: the web.

Paula Green, Harvey Gabor, Howie Cohen, Bob Pasqualina, and Amil Gargano, the creative minds behind Avis’ ‘We try harder’, Coca-Cola’s ‘I’d like to buy the world a coke,’ Alka-Seltzer’s ‘I can’t believe I ate the whole thing’ and Volvo’s ‘Drive it like you hate it’ joined Project Re:Brief to demonstrate the potential of display and mobile advertising. The challenge was to retain the integrity of the creative vision that inspired this iconic work, but bring it to life in an entirely new way.

Overall, Project Re:Brief garnered more than 150 million earned media impressions globally, with an additional 35.7 million estimated impressions on Twitter from 7,214 mentions by 5,804 users -- with 98.2% of the sentiment confirmed as positive/neutral in the initial six months of launch. These online conversations were led by industry influencers - our ideal audience - as exhibited by the reach we achieved in comparison to the amount of shares.

The Coca-Cola ad enables users to actually 'Buy the world a Coke' from their computer or phone. The experience averaged 9 minutes of engagement per interaction with over 7,000 Cokes and messages shared in multiple languages, across 57 countries.

Our tablet app for Volvo allows viewers to become part of Volvo-owner Irv Gordon's unique journey in real-time as he counts down to the 3-million-mile mark.

We invited Avis' customers to write about their rental experiences in the banner. Each story of Avis' "We Try Harder" customer service was instantly turned into a personal animated video, which they could share on the web.

For Alka-Seltzer, we re-imagined The Day Ralph Ate The Whole Thing. Set up as a 1970's sitcom, we follow his day via interactive display and mobile ads. Each ad is personalized to the viewer.

Project Re:Brief went on the become one of the most awarded campaigns of the year and was awarded the Cannes Grand Prix in the inaugural mobile category, further solidifying the impression it left on our audience - the advertising industry.

"A machine created an emotional experience. That's seismic. It's going to change the way things are done in the business. It reminds me of when print went to television."

Harvey Gabor

A feature length documentary.

Emmy award winning director Doug Pray chronicled the human journey of the ad legends as they transformed from experts of the past into believers of the new.

Six different ad units. One logo.

The logo in turn defined the parameters of the entire design system used throughout the campaign.

The logo in turn defined the parameters of the entire design system used throughout the campaign.

Project Re:Brief on tour.

The New Museum. SxSW. Cannes and One Show.

Each event served to galvanize the community around the idea of improving display advertising.