JohnXHannes Founders Close Up Shop, Form New Ventures
John McKelvey
John McKelvey launches Mirimar; Hannes Ciatti to head Alto
  • LOS ANGELES
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John McKelvey and Hannes Ciatti, co-founders/executive creative directors of JohnXHannes, are closing that New York shop to each form a new venture. McKelvey is launching Mirimar Creative Group, a Los Angeles-headquartered creative agency with a New York operation, while Ciatti will reportedly head NYC-based Alto. More details regarding Alto are to come in the weeks ahead.

Both McKelvey and Ciatti bring an inventive, innovative pedigree to their new enterprises. JohnXHannes made its name thinking outside the box, turning out groundbreaking work and demonstrating a talent for artfully crafting a mesh of advertising and entertainment--two prime examples being the lauded documentary feature Corazon for client Montefiore hospital, and Super Bowl commercial fare for Squarespace. The latter featured actor John Malkovich in his fashion design studio talking to someone who has already claimed the domain name JohnMalkovich.com. This raises the question of who is being John Malkovich as the famous thespian tries to convince the other Malkovich to give him back his “rightful” domain name. The underlying sales pitch is that you better take care of business and get your domain name through Squarespace--or you could wind up being an angry Malkovich. Directed by Miles Jay of Smuggler, “CallingJohnMalkovich.com,” a spot which debuted on the 2017 Super Bowl telecast, went on to win the primetime commercial Emmy Award later that year.

Meanwhile Corazón also made a major splash. Directed by John Hillcoat of Serial Pictures, shot by Oscar-nominated (Arrival) DP Bradford Young and with a cast headlined by Demian Bichir, an Oscar nominee for A Better Life, and Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049, Hands of Stone), Corazón won a Cannes Lions Health & Wellness Grand Prix last year as well as a Cannes Entertainment Gold Lion, among assorted honors at other competitions, including the AICP Next Awards. Corazón tells the real-life story of Elena Ramirez (de Armas), a young Dominican sex worker living in Santo Domingo who is selling her body to provide for her family--only Ramirez’s body is failing her. She has a bad heart and has been given months to live unless she gets a new heart. After fainting, Elena meets a U.S.-based cardiologist from Montefiore, Dr. Mario Garcia (portrayed by Bichir), who is volunteering in his native hometown of Santo Domingo. Ramirez is past the point of help from conventional medicine, but Dr. Garcia gives her a fighting chance to live via a mechanical heart surgery that he and his colleagues can only perform at Montefiore in The Bronx, NY. Ramirez sets out on a journey from Santo Domingo to New York City, facing challenges along the way, but always motivated by her conviction to live. This story of chance, hope, courage, friendship, love and generosity debuted at the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.

But beyond being viable, informative entertainment, Corazón had another dimension in terms of its impact on society. Audiences leaving theaters were prompted to become organ donors by pressing their phones to their hearts, bringing Ana to life in Corazón movie posters and Times Square billboards. Interactive technology helped viewers register with Donate Life America in just 15 seconds. Corazón has also helped build awareness for the importance of organ donations, generating millions of views online. The film helped at one point to generate some 4,000 new organ doners—that’s equivalent to saving or improving more than 30,000 lives in that one person can donate up to eight vital organs.

Mirimar
Like JohnXHannes, Mirimar--under the aegis of creative chief McKelvey--is looking to develop and produce highly impactful creative communications at the intersection of advertising, entertainment and technology.

Mirimar will be structured similarly to JohnXHannes, with a core team supported by a network of creatives who bring diverse and fresh thinking to projects. Mirimar will build on a strong legacy of work that resonates beyond advertising. McKelvey will continue to build on this network of creators for Mirimar, partnering with the appropriate talent for any given project--many in the network for Mirimar collaborated with him at JohnXHannes. McKelvey will also continue to work with many clients from JohnXHannes.

“Working from New York and Los Angeles gives us the ability to expand our network of creators, strategic partnerships and content distributors—it allows us to operate a modern creative agency that capitalizes on where we believe things are heading in advertising and entertainment,” said McKelvey. “Being part of culture is not easy for traditional agencies to do. Their structures, along with having the same talent for every client, makes it nearly impossible to have the right teams for different projects and brands. Mirimar’s approach gives us the freedom to partner with the world’s best people for each unique opportunity.”

McKelvey said of he and Ciatti, “We had a great run, with a lot of great work. Mirimar represents an evolution of JohnXHannes that provides a powerful platform for a new creative endeavor. Although we’re going forward independently, I’m excited for this next chapter of life and Hannes’ (Ciatti’s) future success.”

Prior to founding JohnXHannes, McKelvey held a number of creative leadership positions at Droga5 and R/GA in New York and Southpaw in Sydney. He has spent 15 years partnering with brands, athletes and celebrities to tell authentic stories that resonate in culture. McKelvey has been honored by the United Nations and named number one creative director on the One Club’s rankings in the U.S., among other industry accolades. 

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