I’m Richard Bates,
Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a love of art and there was not a time that I wasn’t painting or drawing. This led me to attending a unique school – the Johannesburg High School for Art, Ballet and Music; an experimental government-run high school where there was no sport. Instead, you took on other art subjects like sculpture, stage design or photography, to name just a few.
I so desperately wanted to become a fine artist, but quickly realised there was no money in it and life would be tough taking that route. So I put a portfolio together and went to see an ad agency called Rightford Searle Tripp and Makin, which today is called Ogilvy. It was there that I went on to create advertising that won a number of prestigious awards, including the much-loved ‘Staffie’ TV commercial for Dunlop Tyres – which won a prized Loerie, and was voted South Africa’s ‘best loved ad of the year.’
I spent my fist 10 years with them and I loved the job so much I remember telling Robin Putter, the creative director, that even if they didn’t pay me I’d still come to work. In 1990, I moved to Ogilvy & Mather Cape Town, where I worked with Roger Makin and Brian Searle-Tripp, before going on to Young & Rubicam, The White House, DDB and Network.
In 2002 I helped to co-found Machete.
Though my awards cabinet – which includes two Loeries, two Plums, one Cat and one New York finalist – speaks to my passion for original thinking and creativity, I have no doubt that my strategic nous is just as valued at Machete.
I’ve spent my entire working life in advertising and have loved every minute of it! They say if you love what you do, it’s not a job.