Book Extract: Growing Greatness — Pepe Marais cuts his teeth on booze
MarkLives is running five extracts from Joe Public United founding partner Pepe Marais‘s first book, “Growing Greatness — A Journey Towards Personal and Business Mastery”, over the next few weeks. Here’s the second, “Cutting my teeth on booze”.
by Pepe Marais (@pepemarais) It was 1994, the year before the historic 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa, and I had been working on a tactical print advertisement as part of Smirnoff’s ‘Through-the-Bottle’ global advertising campaign. It was a concept where the Smirnoff bottle was placed over various situations, each time transforming that situation into something spectacular on the inside of the bottle, whilst remaining the same on the outside.
My idea was a simple, visual pun. I wanted to place the bottle over what would seem to be the front row of the Australian rugby team, transforming the hooker into a hooker — a prostitute. My creative director loved the idea, but he wanted us to ‘push’ it. We decided to make the hooker inside the bottle a transvestite. Our client, Mark Morris, somehow trusted us enough to approve this risky direction.
We managed to cast a transvestite from Woodstock in the role and chose a Cape Town photographer by the name of Jan Verboom to execute our idea. We also cast our three rugby lookalikes, two props and a hooker, from a local rugby team. On the day of the shoot, we chased them up and down the hill on Roodebloem Road, putting them in the correct position as they returned to the studio, huffing and puffing. This approach resulted in the most spectacular and authentic action pictures, with sweat and drool dripping from their exhausted faces and mouths.
The same could not be said of our transvestite, who we shot separately. No matter how hard we tried, he just did not add any flair to the shot; in fact, he pretty much took the humour away from it. In the end, the client ‘bombed’ the idea, insisting that we cast a Julia-Roberts lookalike as our hooker — a challenge we delivered on by finding the perfect candidate from London and booking her for our reshoot.
And, so, through this sequence of events, I found myself in my office one morning with sweaty palms and my heart beating in my throat. I was about to meet my first international model, an extra from the latest James Bond movie, who happened to be in Cape Town for the summer season. I had some weird premonition that something was going to go wrong, and repeatedly recited my introduction in my head, “Hi, I’m Pepe Marais, the art director, would you like to step into the boardroom? Hi, I’m Pepe Marais, the art director, would you like to step into the boardroom?”
But what if I stuff it all up? I thought. What if I embarrass myself by saying the wrong thing? Looking down at the Polaroid camera in my clammy hands, I decided there and then that I would leave it behind, as a Plan B, just in case I put my foot in it. I could always make some lame excuse to go and fetch my camera if anything did go pear-shaped. But, why would it? I knew that I was a shy guy, but I also knew that I was pretty good at my job, and equally well prepared in my head, “Hi, I am Pepe Marais, the art director, would you like to step into the boardroom? Hi, I am Pepe Marais, the art director, would you like to step into the boardroom?”
The phone on my desk rang. My heart nearly popped out my mouth as I grabbed the receiver and pushed it to my ear. It was our receptionist Gill. “Pepe, I have Sandra here to see you,’ she informed me. Gill also happened to be dating our Smirnoff client and eventually married him. I got up and, with my heart thumping in my chest, I started walking down the long passage towards reception. “Hi, I am Pepe Marais, the art director, would you like to step into the boardroom? Hi, I am Pepe Marais, the art director, would you like to step into the boardroom?”
I turned that final corner to see her standing there, her hair blowing backwards in slow motion. She was drop-dead gorgeous. I walked up to her, giving my sweaty right hand a quick wipe on my trousers before confidently thrusting it towards her and saying, “Hi, I am Pepe Marais, the art director, would you like to step into the bedroom?”
I remember that moment of confusion in her brown eyes before her questioning, “Excuse me?” Feeling hot blood rushing to my face and beads of sweat forming on my forehead, I blurted out, “I have to go and fetch my Polaroid camera!”
- Book Extract 1: Growing Greatness — Pepe Marais tells us his story
- Book Extract 3: Growing Greatness — Pepe Marais on meeting Gareth Leck
Pepe Marais (@pepemarais), founding partner of Joe Public United, officially launched his first book, “Growing Greatness — A Journey Towards Personal and Business Mastery”, on 27 August 2018 in Cape Town and on 29 August in Johannesburg. Filled with scribbles from the mind of an adman, the book inspires innovation, creativity and showcases the entrepreneurial spirit. Through his growing awareness of what purpose means in both business and personal terms, Pepe points the way to growing your own greatness. Published by Tracey McDonald Publishers, “Growing Greatness” is available in print and electronic format from leading bookstores.
“Motive” is a by-invitation-only column on MarkLives.com. Contributors are picked by the editors but generally don’t form part of our regular columnist lineup, unless the topic is off-column.
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