What Has Nils Leonard Been Doing Since Leaving Advertising?

By Erik Oster 

Back in June, Grey London CCO Nils Leonard, who was also named a chairman back in 2014, left the agency along with CEO Lucy Jameson and managing director Natalie Graeme. A statement explained that Leonard was leaving to “start a new venture.”

Well, if you’ve been wondering what Leonard could possibly be up to since leaving Grey behind: wonder no more. He’s launched a new coffee company, along with partners Richard Hardwick, David Foster and Andrew Richardson, called Halo, which Adweek describes as producing “the world’s first fully compostable coffee capsule for home coffee machines.” The capsules are compatible with home Nespresso machines (Richardson is a former Nespresso director) and include premium coffee varieties formerly unavailable in that format. So, all jokes about the crowded coffee market aside, Halo does have a unique angle at least.

Of course, there’s an ad announcing Halo’s arrival. The 60-second spot focuses on the environmental impact of typical, non-biodegradable coffee capsules, before informing viewers there’s now an environmentally-friendly alternative and concluding with the tagline, “The world’s best coffee. In a way that’s best for the world.” (A tad misleading since a French press doesn’t require a pod or filters.) There’s also a separate launch anthem.

“My theory is that within a year everyone will be using biodegradable pods,” Leonard told Adweek.

“It should be fucking illegal. I mean, it’s insane,” he added, in reference to non-biodegradable pods, whose inventor, John Sylvan came to regret their creation. “The stats are sickening. So, I think in a year that will be the case, and then it’s about who has the best coffee. And I’d say that would be us.”

Leonard didn’t want a typical launch campaign for the product.

“I was desperate with the guys, when we sat down, to say, look, I don’t want to do advertising,” he told Adweek. “I don’t really want to make any advertising at all. What I want is for the product to be the advert for itself. And I think that’s where we are.”

It sure seems like they made an ad (or two), though. And Leonard is expected to renter the ad industry in some sort of new venture alongside his former Grey chairmen in the near future. Until then, though, he’ll be focused on Halo — and presumably drinking a lot of coffee.