Jock of all trades

‘I’m a strate­gist but I don’t have a strat­egy for my­self’

Finweek English Edition - - PEOPLE - SVET­LANA DONEVA svet­lanad@fin­media24.com

POP­U­LAR CIN­EMA and lit­er­a­ture can be held to blame when it comes to the mis­guided glam­or­is­ing of cer­tain pro­fes­sions. For ex­am­ple, Stieg Lars­son’s The

Girl with the Dragon Tat­too se­ries bears lit­tle re­sem­blance to the ac­tual trade of fi­nan­cial jour­nal­ism, aside from the oc­ca­sional homi­ci­dal in­stinct ex­pe­ri­enced on dead­line. So too with ad­ver­tis­ing: that fa­bled pro­fes­sion of flashy cars and all-night par­ties re­sult­ing in the mar­ket­ing cam­paign of the decade.

“There’s a per­cep­tion ad­ver­tis­ing is all about the sex, drugs and rock ’n roll. Sadly, that hasn’t al­ways been my ex­pe­ri­ence,” says Andy Rice about the myth­i­cal perks of the in­dus­try, in which he’s oc­cu­pied var­i­ous en­vi­able po­si­tions, in­clud­ing head of strat­egy at Ogilvy, and founded one of South Africa’s lead­ing brand­ing con­sul­tan­cies – Yel­low­wood – which ser­vices blue chip clients such as BMW and Sa­sol.

At age 61, Rice is at turn­ing point, hav­ing let go of op­er­a­tional con­trol at Yel­low­wood last year in favour of pub­lic speak­ing on the brand-fo­cused themes. He says he’s al­ways been “fond of talk­ing”.

Rice was born in “a lit­tle town north of Lon­don” and found him­self in Jo­han­nes­burg at age 22 fol­low­ing a trans-African road trip. SA was in­tended to be a pass­ing at­trac­tion as op­posed to his fi­nal des­ti­na­tion. Rice found a mar­ket­ing job at the Jo­han­nes­burg branch of Ger­man chem­i­cals group Henkel. Sev­eral years later he joined ad­ver­tis­ing heavy­weight Ogilvy, then op­er­at­ing un­der a dif­fer­ent in­car­na­tion.

Rice moved jobs and con­ti­nents sev­eral times, end­ing up as head of strat­egy at Ogilvy in Jo­han­nes­burg in 1991 and found­ing Yel­low­wood in 1994. Other achieve­ments in­clude a weekly ra­dio slot on Talk Ra­dio 702, me­dia com­men­ta­tor on the in­dus­try and judg­ing panel po­si­tions at the Lo­erie awards, the PRISM awards for pub­lic re­la­tions ex­cel­lence and Finweek’s Tony Koenderman’s AdRe­view rank­ing pro­gramme, among oth­ers. He re­mains chair­man of the board at Yel­low­wood re­spon­si­ble for at­tract­ing new busi­ness.

In per­son, Rice is charm­ing and funny – an em­bod­i­ment of that fa­mous dry, self­dep­re­cat­ing Bri­tish hu­mour. He’s al­most en­vi­ably age­less, as men who tend to take the good and the bad in life with equal good hu­mour tend to be.

“Many years ago – when I was still sin­gle in Lon­don – I was sitting op­po­site an ex­tremely beau­ti­ful woman at a din­ner party,” says Rice. “I asked her about her am­bi­tions and she gave me a de­tailed life plan for the next 10 years. I found it all very un­ap­peal­ing and not at all sexy. I’m a strate­gist but I don’t have a strat­egy for my­self. My plan­ning hori­zon isn’t very long term.” Rice is cur­rently in­volved in the Jock of

the Bushveld 3D an­i­mated film pro­duc­tion – based on the much-loved South African story of a Stafford­shire ter­rier runt which goes on to have a se­ries of ad­ven­tures with his owner in the African bush. It’s the first film of its kind to come out of SA and Rice is its full-time mar­ket­ing di­rec­tor, look­ing af­ter the char­ac­ter li­cens­ing of the film, which in­cludes all man­ner of re­lated mer­chan­dis­ing that fre­quently makes more money than box of­fice rev­enues.

Pro­duc­tion of Jock be­gan three and a half years ago and is sched­uled for (de­layed) re­lease later this year in both SA and the United States.

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