A Creative Tour de Force: Jo Espen Johansen Oslo, Norway

campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 16 June 2006 12:00AM

Jo Espen Johansen, 38, joined Grey as the creative director of its Oslo agency two years ago.

He started his advertising career in his home market of Norway with JBR/McCann and he has also worked in Moscow, Prague and Singapore for McCann. In each case, Johansen gained recognition at local and regional awards shows. He has worked for clients in more than 25 countries and created award-winning work for Nestle, Danone, General Motors, Greenpeace, Coca-Cola and Continental tyres among others.

- Where do you live?

On Jeloy island just outside Oslo.

- Describe a perfect day with guests in your city

On Jeloy. A day in my boat with coffee in a thermos and fresh cod in the bucket. Then dinner at the magnificent Hotel Refsnes Gods restaurant - to lie about the ones that got away.

- Tell us where you've chosen to be photographed and why

Beside Gustav Vigeland's statue, the Monolith. It is 17 metres high and is made up of 121 different figures. It reminds me of how we work at Grey Oslo. We swap ideas and creative partners, which we call "creative swinging". If you look closely, the statue seems to be full of swingers, too.

- Tell us about the ad you've chosen to feature on this page

Aker, one of the largest industrial groups in Norway, solves problems few other companies in the world are able to crack.

It builds sub-surface oil rigs, enormous ships and creates other great feats of engineering. When producing its short promotional film, we wanted to deviate from traditional "industry porn" by focusing on Aker's employees - their knowledge, determination and tradition of "cracking nuts" (how Norwegians describe solving problems). The idea to do a musical came about in one of our creative swinging sessions. Practically the entire agency swung with the composer, the choreographer and the director, Erik Poppe.

- List the three most inspiring things about your city

Professionally, I love the fact that Oslo is a huge city in Norway but a small village in global terms. We have an underdog mentality. Also, Oslo is unique in the way the mountains meet the skerries. You can ski in the winter and catch fish outside the office in the summer.

- Give us a quote that encapsulates your city

"Lord Nelson! Lord Beaverbrook! Sir Winston Churchill! Sir Anthony Eden! Clement Attlee! Henry Cooper! Lady Diana! We have beaten them all! We have beaten them all! Maggie Thatcher - can you hear me? Maggie Thatcher ... Your boys took one hell of a beating!" Bjorge Lillelien, the TV sports pundit, after Norway beat England 2-1 in a World Cup qualifier in Oslo in September 1981.

- Name a perfect place to brainstorm in your city

We leave the agency and rent cottages on Tjome island outside Oslo. The southernmost tip of the island is superb for swimming and fishing.

- and to celebrate an account win

First, a drink in our office, the tallest building in the city. Then dinner at the Ekeberg restaurant, designed by Lars Backer in 1927. Finally, Teddy's Softbar for a nightcap and tunes from the Wurlitzer.

- to entertain a client

The same. Why treat them differently?

- to kit yourself out

Ferner Jacobsen for a suit and Angel's Speed Equipment for everything else.

- to go for a run

There is enough running in the office.

- How do you unwind?

By fishing and playing with my two kids.

- What is your greatest extravagance?

I'd love to say my wife, but it's my kids.

- Name one thing about yourself that might surprise others

I am extremely tidy at home.

- If you were an ad, what would your strapline be?

He who laughs, lasts.

- Finally, tell us the best way to ask for a pay rise in your country

Start a union.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk

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