Johannes Leonardo’s Wes Phelan on Successful International Marketing


Wes Phelan was recently hired as senior art director by creative agency Johannes Leonardo. Previously, Wes was the creative director at MetropolitanRepublic in Johannesburg. Phelan will now work with clients such as Coca-Cola, Google, Nike and Sprite. The Makegood recently spoke with Wes about his new role and how to make campaigns work across nationalities.

Congratulations on your new position. Can you elaborate on your new priorities and your vision for Johannes Leonardo’s future?

Thank you, first of all. In my new position at Johannes Leonardo, I’m responsible for making great work that propels the agency to new heights on existing clients and potential new clients.

You will work on campaigns for Coca-Cola, Google, and Sprite. What can marketers learn from these brands and what is the secret of connecting the audience with the brand in a unique and memorable way?

Insight is everything, and working on global accounts means the idea needs to be universally understood. If a great idea is based on a human truth, it has the possibility of winning hearts on a global scale.

Prior to your new position in New York, you worked at MetropolitanRepublic in Johannesburg, South Africa. What are the differences in the use of media and what do marketers have to be aware of when communicating internationally?

Digital is still one of South Africa’s weakest categories every year in Cannes. Hopefully the growing penetration of smartphones in South Africa will change its media landscape and the playing field for marketers. For marketers to succeed in any marketplace, they should know that a simple human truth has the ability to cross language and cultural barriers.

Can you provide examples of memorable projects that demonstrate outstanding strategic solutions and creative concepts?

The Old Spice campaign is still one of my favorite pieces of work. The fact that, strategically, the campaign spoke to the women who purchase the product for their male counterparts was a great way to get a conversation started. The response to this campaign was phenomenal; big thumbs up from me.

What’s next in social media, moving imagery, and mobile, and how does Johannes Leonardo stay ahead of the game?

The communication industry is constantly evolving. Having a forward-thinking client like Google really keeps an agency like Johannes Leonardo at the forefront of the way the world is moving.

The Makegood: Thanks, Wes.