Pic taken by photographer and friend Robert Imhoff
The Australian advertising industry will be saddened to hear of the passing of creative legend Cesare Leonardi, who passed away at home on Friday.
Leonardi was educated at the academy of Fine Arts in Milan, and in 1982 he co-founded, with Rod Curtis, Australian hotshop Leonardi & Curtis.
He created many great campaigns throughout the decade, including RSPCA ‘For All Creatures Great and Small’ (writer: Sean Cummins. Art Directors: Cesare Leonardi and Kaye Schirrman) in 1987, still on air occasionally to this day, making it the longest running commercial on Australian national television. The spot won Gold and the President’s Award at the MADC Awards that year.
The RSPCA ‘Trap’ spot won 1987 FACTS Commercial of the Year.
Other awarded work included campaign for Ikea, Freedom Furniture, Chub, Sportsgirl, NSW Cancer Council, Dorf, Tetley, Portmans, Valencio and Comalco.
The agency, which has offices in both Melbourne and (for a few years) in Sydney, attracted some great talent during its heyday, including Sean Cummins, Kaye Schirrman, Phil Atkinson, Simon Reynolds, George Betsis, Rodd Martin, Alan Wooding, Ted Horton, Bruce Baldwin, Andrew West, Terry Comer, Fiona Leeming, David McIntosh, Nick Coombe, Geoff Denman and Chris Burgess.
In 1991 the agency folded into DDB Melbourne, which he led creatively until starting Leonardi Advertising in 1993, which became Leonardi Brandhouse later in the 90s.
In 1993 he received the ‘Most Outstanding Contribution made by a Creative Person’ award from the MADC.
Ron Mather, former ECD of The Campaign Palace and Saatchi & Saatchi, pays tribute to his old friend: “Cesare you were a legend. You were a great inspiration to a lot of people. You did some great work. Your agency gave a lot of clever people the opportunity to display their talents. Apart from that, you were a really nice caring person. And no one could say ‘Ronnie’ quite like you. Vale mate.”
Adds former colleague Russell Howcroft: “On the day Cesare turned 60 he picked me up – as he often did – in his Ferrari. He had a new white T Shirt on, with some small type (in dynamo typeface) that required you to get up close to read it. It said:
Adds Siimon Reynolds: “I joined a very low profile Sydney agency as a junior writer aged 19, that in a miraculous turn of events, Leonardi and Curtis took over.
Suddenly I was working at one of the hottest creative agencies in Australia.
But everyone in it was vying to keep their jobs
There was a big pitch happening and the CD of this agency chose his own work to present to Cesare over mine. Just before Cesare was to view the work, to the CD’s dismay I asked Cesare if he could look at my ads too. He generously said yes, they were chosen and soon I was the only person in the creative dept who kept their job.
What followed was Cesare’s warm and expert mentoring, including inviting me to work in their Melbourne office, putting me up at the best hotel in Melbourne for several weeks. To a teenager only a year or so in advertising it was nirvana.
The truth is had Cesare not allowed me to present those ads and then be patiently nurtured at this truly stellar agency, so many great things in my life would simply not have happened. I am very grateful to you Cesare. RIP.”