Alistair King - 2018
Alistair has not only been a guardian and pioneer of creative levels within the industry, he has also been a beacon of integrity.
After coming perilously close to pursuing a BSc in Genetics, he opted to pursue a life in writing and advertising. After completing his Bachelor of Arts degree at Wits University, he was accepted into the AAA manpower training programme in 1989 where he set himself the audacious goal of being a creative director by 30 and having his own agency by 35.
He achieved early success. At the age of 25, he relocated to Cape Town to take up a co-creative director post at JWT Cape Town. His stay there was brief. When a junior position opened up at Ogilvy &Mather Rightford Searle Tripp and Makin, Cape Town, the agency he admired most in the country, he leapt at it, joining in 1992, right at the bottom. His first job was Car Magazine, which scored him his first Ad of the Month. Radio became his thing. Over the next 5 years, he went on to win over 250 awards on brands like Volkswagen, Car Magazine and Ohlsson’s Lager.
In 1995 he was awarded the Tommy Young Award, given by the International Marketing Association to the most promising individual under the age of 30 in the South African advertising industry. Shortly after, he was made a creative director and was appointed to the Ogilvy & Mather Cape board. At the age of 30, after a five-year stint at O&M and worried he’d be trapped by golden handcuffs, he left to start King James with James Barty.
Alistair has gone about building what is arguably the country’s most successful independent agency and certainly its most creatively prolific independent, which he has done from Cape Town, not Joburg – a feat in itself.
Having won every accolade along the way, Emerging, Small, Medium, Large and SA Agency of the Year, King James Group is currently voted South Africa’s most Admired agency 2016 & 2017 by industry Survey Marklives.com. Scopen also named King James its agency of the Year 2017.
Creatively, he has driven an agenda of smart creative solutions, not cute executions, and this big business thinking has extended beyond his client base and is also evidenced in his strong entrepreneurial spirit and appetite for creative challenges in the worlds of art, music, popular culture and business.
He was a partner in pop culture brand One Small Seed ™ and ran a record label producing numerous South African artists including Arno Carstens, Kobus, Flat Stanley, Bed on Bricks and Paul E Flynn.
He is currently a partner in a Beehive manufacturer called BeePak™ which has global ambitions.
Today, Alistair believes he’s living the dream. King James Group remains independent while his personal industry recognition has never been greater.
His independence and maverick attitude has been a gale force of fresh air that has yet to die down.
The mark he has left on the industry – and continues to leave – is a bright one and he is well-deserving of his place in the hallowed Hall.
Read Alistair's acceptance speech here.
You can watch Alistair's career story here.