A traveler in advertising universe, Johan Ohlson found his next stop: Saatchi&Saatchi Romania


Armed with creativity and a Nordic “Can do and also like it!”attitude towards life, Johan Ohlson came in Romania to take over the creative duties at Saatchi&Saatchi Bucharest, attributions previously held by Jorg Riommi, now at Saatchi&Saatchi Frankfurt.

Ohlson was born in Stockholm from a Swedish father and a Polish mother. He began his journey in the advertising  world since he was a child, as his father had his own advertising agency , a “cool” place for a kid.

I want to work in Advertising

[youtube eaoIsPZAgck nolink]

Although he couldn’t do his internship in family’s agency, because his dad dropped the business until his apprenticeship age, he had father’s help to join an agency and make an idea how life is in the creative world. As he remembers, he worked on a “crappy MacIntosh” and, after his first day as an intern, Johan went home and said “I want to work in advertising”. And that’s what he did ever since.

He started in ’95, working as graphical designer with a passion for fonts and colour psychology and, in ’98, he was hired as Junior Graphical Designer, a job he marks as “the first real job”.

Because he wanted to test the real waters of advertising, he moved to London in 2000. London was his “reality check”, as he wanted to get a job in the business but had to get a job in a pub so he can survive. Anyways, Johan says that the pub job was “an interesting experience” and a source of rich insights in people’s lives, especially when clients got chatty, usually after 10p.m. or after one too many drinks.

From London, he went for Germany, where he established a business under the umbrella of an UK company. “I had to hire 10 people and all of them were older and had more experienced than I was”, he remembers. Eventually, the company that owned Ohlson’s German branch went out of business and he restarted his journey.

He joined BBDO Hamburg as Junior Art Director, as agency liked the passion he put in his works. “They actually liked better what I was doing in my spare time” than the work stuff, he said.

After 3 years at BBDO Frankfurt, where he did mostly BTL, he decided he wanted more, like “TV ads and stuff” so he went out again looking for the best suited job. He decided to go to Miami, where he joined Miami Ad School. After the 1st year there and with a Miami Ad School branch in Europe, he went back to Germany, working for Oysterbay, than Scholz & Friends Hamburg.

“I spent there most of my life”, he said, mentioning that some of the agency team’s members were literally living in the agency. As he explained, German agencies are teaming up people and integrate them as a “family”, so they spend most of the time together, a thing that helps them work excellent together and boosts synergies and creativity. While he was at Scholtz&Friends, he won his first 2 Lions at Cannes International Creativity Festival.

Searching for new ground and new experiences, Johan Olhson joined Saatchi&Saatchi Budapest and, one year later and after a Saatchi network “tribe”, moves to Saatchi Poland.

Another year passed, Ohlson goes back to Germany and starts freelancing in Hamburg, until he is recruited by DDB Warsaw as Group Head, spending there another 2 years before joining an independent Polish agency, that eventually stopped doing business following disagreements between partners.

Ohlson made the decision to come to Saatchi &Saatchi Romania following a meeting with Jorg Riommi – former Creative Director at Saatchi Bucharest, actually working as Creative Director at Saatchi&Saatchi Frankfurt – and John Pallant- Regional CD EMEA at Saatchi & Satchi

His first travel to Romania was in December, when he met the creative team of the agency and started looking for accommodation. He moved in Bucharest 3 weeks ago and started making the plans for 2012 business year.

At Saatchi & Saatchi Bucharest, one of his objectives is “to become a lovemark ourself”, by making the employees proud to work in the agency and to transform Saatchi Bucharest itself in a standard for the people in the business, by making them wanting to be there.

Ohlson thinks that the lovemark must apply to all brands, as people need to buy one particular brand brands rather because of its history and life, than due to the price.


Ohlson says that one cannot anymore think strictly ATL or BTL, because the world today has a more suited concept, “Forget the line”. Detailing, he explained that, nowadays, there isn’t a right set of media anymore, the whole shape of a campaign  – including the channels to use – coming from the idea.

“It all starts with the idea. If the idea is strong enough, it will be obvious which channels to use” in order to maximize its value.

Besides improving the daily business by raising the bar when it comes to creative executions, Johan Ohlson says that awards also have their importance, as long as one obtains them without sacrificing the real work.

Another important focus for Ohlson at Saatchi&Saatchi Bucharest will be, of course, the new business, as winning new clients is always good for agencies, but also the consolidation and increase of creative department’s digital competencies.

People don’t like advertising

Speaking about working in advertising, Ohlson said that people in this field must be realistic and honest about their work, considering that people don’t like advertising.

“The only way to fix a problem is to know what the problem is; 95% of people don’t like ads”, he said.

Johan considers that the agencies, in nowadays circumstances, have to offer clients more than just a strict set of services and go beyond that, offering possible solutions for promoting their products or solve their problems with smaller costs. He also said that, to work better, the client and the agency must build a relationship based on “let’s help each other” principle.

When it comes of online, Ohlson says that internet had lower costs, providing the same GRP with less media investments.

Have fun!

[youtube CpxTWweUX3s&feature=player_embedded nolink]

Johan Ohlson believes in a job where you both work and enjoy what you are doing, because when you have fun, it doesn’t feel like work.

“We need to build a team to be happy about what they are doing”, he said, appreciating the synergy between team members gives the best creative results.

For now, in his first 3 weeks in Bucharest, Ohlson  already worked on projects for clients such as Raiffeisen and Astra Zeneca.

And, of course, he met the journalists during a press conference at agency’s headquarters. He was joined in the press conference by Cristina Iordanescu, Managing Director Saatchi&Saatchi Romania, and Radu Florescu, CEO Centrade Group, which includes the agency.

Cristina Iordanescu: New plans and a fresh creative start of the year from creative point of view

Cristina Iordanescu, Managing Director Saatchi&Saatchi Romania, explained the agency is having new plans for 2012 and entered the year with a fresh start from the creative point of view. Also, she said the agency is going to continue to be faithful to Saatchi’s international credo -“Create Lovemarks” – and will do everything to do so for the clients, but also for itself.

She also said that Saatchi Bucharest’s credo for 2012 is “be ambitious”. According to her, the agency will start by competing with itself, raising the bars in stages. Iordanescu also remarked that, compared to 10 years ago, the Romanian advertising progress is tremendous, although the market is still young compared to the ones in UK or other Western European countries. In spite of that, Romanian agencies can work and deliver on international standards, as Saatchi Bucharest proved it with Peroni TV ad and as Romanian McCann showed it with the awards it received at Cannes Lions 2011.