Europe's John Doe Plots America Invasion via Accomplice Media
Directing duo brings strong credentials in comedy storytelling and a shelf of awards including a Cannes Gold Prix.
(October 07, 2013)
Tiago Guedes and Stjepan Klein, the European directing duo who work under the pseudonym John Doe, are bringing their smart, funny, occasionally provocative and always original style of storytelling to the United States. The pair, whose work includes both traditional and viral campaigns for such brands as Blaupunkt, KFC, Nestle's, T-Mobile, Vodaphone and motorbike maker Bajaj, have signed with Los Angeles-based Accomplice Media for exclusive stateside representation.
Guedes and Klein have been collaborating as John Doe since 2003 (originally with Milovan Radovic and Masataka Namba) and have worked with ad agencies across Europe as well as in South America and India. Along the way, they've collected scores of awards, including a 2007 Cannes Lions Direct Grand Prix for a campaign promoting Spain's Banco Gallego that employed footage of a Barcelona sportscaster fainting during a live television broadcast. John Doe's work has been short-listed at Cannes in six consecutive years.
"Despite their name, John Doe has been anything but anonymous outside the U.S.," says Accomplice Media executive producer Jeff Snyder. "They have won the attention of agencies on three continents by consistently delivering fresh and original work. We've been fans for years and are very excited to have the opportunity to introduce them to the American market."
Klein notes that he and Guedes met Accomplice Media executive producer Jeff Snyder at Cannes several years ago. They became friends and Snyder was the first person they contacted when they decided to seek representation in the United States. "We asked Jeff to take a look at our work and he responded immediately," Klein says. "We only want to work with companies where we have a strong personal attention. We think that's essential to success."
Guedes and Klein met as students at New York's Film Academy and began working together as John Doe three years later. One of their first projects was an ad for audio maker Blaupunkt in which a pair of stuffed animals sitting in the back window of a car are propelled into a number of sexual positions by the pounding bass of the car's sound system. The ad became a viral sensation and established John Doe's international reputation.
Although much of the pair's output comes from a comic perspective, they are shrewd storytellers, with an impeccable sense of character and emotion. They can as easily provoke audiences to wistful empathy as laughter. Among their more recent efforts is a public service announcement for Vodaphone's RED service plan, which is composed from actual cell-phone videos collected from the pair's friends and family. The idea was to capture "real life" emotions.
"We're always looking for good concepts," Guedes says. "Whether they are comic or dramatic doesn't matter, we like good ideas." Guedes adds that their passion for great ad concepts is what is now driving them to pursue work in the United States. "The creativity of U.S. advertising is really strong," he says. "The U.S., along with England, Argentina and Brazil, is the place to be."
Guedes and Klein also have busy, separate careers outside of advertising. Guedes has more than a dozen credits as a director of feature films, television and short films, including Odisseia, a critically-acclaimed television series for Portuguese broadcaster RTP. Klein is currently in post-production with a feature-length documentary about a one-night-only concert given by a German rock band in Tokyo.