Keith Rose

Life of a leg­endary ad man

Sunday Times - - Insight - — Chris Bar­ron

● Keith Rose, who has died in Cape Town at 63, was the largely self-taught film­maker and di­rec­tor of many of the most mem­o­rable TV ads made in SA or any­where else.

His work won ev­ery top in­ter­na­tional and lo­cal award go­ing, in­clud­ing seven gold Li­ons at the Cannes Li­ons fes­ti­val. He was pres­i­dent of the fes­ti­val’s film craft judg­ing jury in 2011.

Rose was one of a se­lect few in­ducted into the Clio TV Hall of Fame. He was named by UK trade magazine Shots as one of the top 100 ad­ver­tis­ing peo­ple of all time and by Cam­paign magazine as one of the top five di­rec­tors in the world.

He was in­ducted into SA’s Cre­ative Cir­cle Hall of Fame in 2000, and the Lo­eries Hall of Fame in 2014.

Many of his ads re­mained vividly in the mind long af­ter he made them: the Chap­man’s Peak ad for Mercedes-Benz, the mouse on the BMW steer­ing wheel, the Leg­end and Beau­ti­ful ads for Al­lan Gray.

They were more than com­mer­cials, they were works of art, and his ap­proach to them was as metic­u­lous, ec­cen­tric and ob­ses­sive as any Hol­ly­wood film di­rec­tor’s, mi­nus the ego.

He knew ex­actly what he wanted and stopped at noth­ing to get it. Bud­gets and dead­lines were slaves to his art.

For the BMW mer­cury ad, in which a blob of mer­cury is made to look like a car driv­ing on the road us­ing a com­puter graphic, he im­ported a com­puter so large that he said he needed mil­i­tary clear­ance be­cause it had the ca­pac­ity to build a nu­clear bomb.

It took six weeks to train the mouse for the BMW steer­ing wheel ad. It was de­scribed as the best car ad ever made, won two gold Lion awards and put SA on the in­ter­na­tional stage.

Rose was born in Johannesburg on March 24 1955 and grew up in Krugers­dorp near the gold mine where his fa­ther worked as a sur­veyor.

Af­ter ma­tric­u­lat­ing at Rand­fontein High School and com­plet­ing his mil­i­tary ser­vice he worked un­der­ground at the mine for a year be­fore get­ting a job at the SABC as a sound tech­ni­cian.

He did ev­ery course the SABC of­fered and free­lanced on film sets, do­ing what­ever dogs­body work was needed. But the cam­era was his first love and when the cam­era­man film­ing Zulu Dawn fell ill he took his place be­fore any­one could ar­gue.

Af­ter leav­ing the SABC he spent sev­eral years work­ing on movies in the UK and Europe, then re­turned to SA and worked as a cam­era­man on com­mer­cials.

By 1990 he’d made four of his most iconic ads and started his own pro­duc­tion com­pany, Ve­loc­ity Films, with US pro­ducer Barry Munchick.

“In this game the com­mit­ment has got to be to­tal,” Rose told the De­sign Ind­aba in 2009. “There are no half mea­sures, the stress lev­els are big, and some­times you pay the ul­ti­mate price.”

Rose com­mit­ted sui­cide on Chap­man’s Peak Drive.

He is sur­vived by his wife, MarieLouise, and four chil­dren.

Keith Rose

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.