Young, Gifted & Killing It: Mukondi Ralushayi & Nkgabiseng Motau
by Veli Ngubane (@TheNduna) In their four years in the ad industry, copywriter Mukondi Ralushayi and art director Nkgabiseng Motau have been involved in some particularly creative campaigns, such as the award- winning Share a Coke with Bobby TV commercial and an Old Mutual renewable energy social impact campaign. Adding to a great 2015, they even attended Cannes Lions! Now they’ve gone on their own and plan to keep killing it through their recently established creative hub, THINK.
Veli Ngubane: Where did you grow up and how did your parents react when you told them you wanted to be a creative?
Mukondi Ralushayi: Where DIDN’T I grow up? We moved around a lot, but we probably spent the most time in Polokwane (Limpopo). My parents tried numerous attempts to make me study [a] BCom Accounting but I was a stubborn kid, so they eventually let me follow my heart.
Nkgabiseng Motau: I grew up in Witbank and Bronkhorstspruit between my grandparent’s house and my mom’s place. My parents hoped I’d get into mining engineering (I guess a very Witbank career choice) but they were nice enough to let me go my way and hope for the best.
VN: How did you a) get interested in advertising and b) break into the industry and land your first job?
MR: I told my high school guidance teacher I want[ed] a job that involves writing and not being stuck behind a desk, so he recommended advertising. I then studied at Vega and was afforded an internship at Ogilvy & Mather.
NM: I actually wanted to be an actress but I wasn’t brave enough to tell my mom that idea so I went for what I thought was in between theatre and business… I thought that was an easier sell. I also studied at Vega and interned at Ogilvy with Mukondi.
VN: What are your specialisations/creative processes/most important tools of the trade?
MR & NM: We stay up to date with anything creative happening around the world. This helps us to stay inspired and up to par with the level of great work that’s out there.
VN: What is it like to work as females in a male dominated industry and how do you think the industry can attract more female creatives?
MR & NM: We’ve found that working in a male dominated industry has actually given us an added advantage as most buyers are women. So we tend to understand the market better. (Sorry boys.) A good place to start might be making an effort to keep female talent. The higher up the ranks you look, the less female talent there is. It’s clear that women leave the industry at some point and we need to address the reasons behind that. If there are no good examples of what a successful woman in advertising looks like, it’ll be hard to attract good female talent from schools.
VN: What characteristics do you need to have to succeed in the advertising industry?
MR & NM: You need to be interested in people and on what’s happening in the country, because the best communication is based on real insights. Oh, yes, and a sense of humour goes a long way.
VN: Interesting hobbies/second jobs/bits of information that make you pop as an individual?
MR & NM: We are interested in creativity as a whole; we love the many different expressions of it and how it has the power to change the world. So much so, that we just started our own creative hub [THINK} where we use our creativity, curiosity and passion to create all sorts of solutions. Whether it be social change, advertising or product Innovations, we’re doing it all and just enjoying not having any creative limitations.
VN: What is THINK?
MR & NM: THINK is a creative hub where we use our creativity to come up with different solutions and ways to effect change, beyond advertising. We think innovation, social change, advertising, design… there are no limits really.
VN: What inspired the name?
MR & NM: We wanted a name that says exactly what we do. Since we are a startup and our offering is different from what’s currently out there, we wanted to make sure that people get a sense of who we are right away… so “Pink Furry Dragon” was out of the question.
We THINK about how we can use our creativity to find solutions and effect change. We THINK innovation, we THINK advertising, we THINK social and economic change, we THINK branding, we THINK storytelling, we THINK design, we THINK about our people, we THINK like our people, we THINK big, we THINK wide, we THINK out of the box and we THINK differently. So when you THINK about finding new solutions to your problems, THINK us. Think THINK.
VN: What inspired you to start THINK?
MR & NM: Like most creative people in the advertising industry, we had a lot of creative outlets on the side that we were dying to pursue. So, when we went to Cannes last year, we realised that advertising is changing and creativity no longer needs to be limited to traditional [media]. We were also inspired by all the young speakers who were brave enough to follow their hearts and start their own businesses, no matter how crazy their ideas sounded.
VN: You got the chance to attend Cannes last year; please tell us more about that experience?
MR & NM: It was reinvigorating! Sometimes, one can become uninspired and start to feel like everything has been done. Going to Cannes is the easiest way to snap out of that feeling. There are people just like us all over the world with great ideas that want to entertain, educate and change the world. There’s nothing more electrifying than being amongst those people and that work. It’s definitely an experience that every creative should have.
VN: Please would you list two or three pieces of work you have been involved in?
MR & NM: Share a Coke with Bobby; Ingram’s Roll-on; and Old Mutual Responsible Business, all at FCB Africa, with Nkgabiseng as art director and Mkondi as copywriter. Nkgabiseng was involved with the Nelson Mandela Children’s hospital brand identity while at Vega.
VN: You were two of the creatives behind the smash hit Coke Bobby ad; did you ever think that the ad will gain so much success?
MR & NM: We knew it would do well because the entire team put so much passion and insight into it, but we couldn’t have imagined that it would also be so well-received around the world.
VN: How do you switch from working on a fun and vibrant ad such as the Coke Bobby ad to working on an insightful ad such as Old Mutual’s positive social impact ad?
MR & NM: Being a creative requires you to be versatile because the brief and the target market [are] never the same.
VN: Mukondi you have served as a judge for the 2015 Creative Circle Awards; what are the/your motivating factors for award-winning work?
MR: Winning work is original, impactful and well-crafted. Not to mention, it leaves you wishing you had actually made the ad.
Veli Ngubane (@TheNduna) entered the world of advertising with a passion after completing his BSocSci (law, politics and economics) at the University of Cape Town and a post-graduate marketing diploma at Red & Yellow, where he also currently serves as advisory board chairman. He is the chief creative officer and founding partner of one of the fastest-growing agencies in the country, AVATAR. A full-service marketing agency with digital at the core, its clients include Brand South Africa, FOX Africa, National Geographic, SAA and Chevron. Veli hails from Kosi Bay in the rural KwaMhlaba Uyalingana area of KZN. In his monthly column “Young, Gifted & Killing It”, he profiles award-winning, kick-ass black creative talent in South Africa.