A Creative Tour de Force: Mike Barnwell - Johannesburg, South Africa

Mike Barnwell is the executive creative director of Grey South Africa.

Thousands of miles from his native Manchester, the 34-year-old, whose work has featured consistently at Cannes and The One Show, has been making waves since he joined in July 2005. Before Grey, Barnwell spent six years at FCB South Africa, including three as a creative director working on Toyota, Lexus, Classic FM, Netflorist and Vodacom.

Barnwell worked at Network BBDO before joining FCB. His work is frequently showcased by Lurzer's Archive.

- Where do you live?

Bryanston, Johannesburg.

- Describe a perfect day with guests in your city

Sitting in a box at Ellis Park rugby stadium watching the Aussies getting another thumping (as long as my guests aren't Aussies, of course).

- Tell us where you've chosen to be photographed and why

The Nelson Mandela Bridge in Newtown, central Johannesburg. There's a huge drive to rejuvenate and renovate the central business district after years of neglect. For me, this encapsulates the attitude of a country determined to put the past behind it and move from strength to strength.

- Tell us about the ad you've chosen to feature on this page

The ads for the Mazda Wildlife Fund put a different slant on the importance of wildlife conservation. South Africa, like many sports-mad countries, names its teams after its flora and fauna. So instead of taking the obvious route of highlighting the sights of our beautiful country, this campaign demonstrates how our wildlife is a source of national pride. The creative suggests what we would have to name our sports teams after if we no longer had our wildlife. Electric pylons, cooling towers, oil rigs. The sporting badges were designed and embroidered to resemble the real thing and then shot on a blazer, cap and jersey.

- List the three most inspiring things about your city

Energy, vibrancy and an overwhelming sense of optimism. (The weather's not bad, either.)

- Give us a quote that encapsulates your city

"Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be caught. Every morning, a lion wakes up. It knows it must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle: when the sun comes up, you'd better run."

- Name a perfect place to brainstorm in your city

Drinking the unbeatable coffee in Tasha's in Sandton. The perfect place to kick-start any brain, however hungover.

- and to celebrate an account win

At two of the best restaurants in town: Delux and Blah, Blah, Blah. Then go next door to the Colour Bar for something a little less sophisticated: loud music and tequila.

- to entertain a client

African cuisine at Moyo in Newtown. There aren't any grubs or beetles on this menu. Tuck into a Moroccan lamb tagine while listening to live African music.

- to kit yourself out

The South African designer Craig Native.

- to go for a run

Along the river in front of my house with my dog, Alex.

- How do you unwind?

By playing in my band, Helvetica Extra Bold. (Yes, we're a bunch of art directors.)

- What is your greatest extravagance?

Long Sunday brunches with my wife. (It comes in handy that she also happens to be a psychologist.)

- Name one thing about yourself that might surprise others

I studied art because I originally wanted to be a cartoonist.

- If you were an ad, what would your strapline be?

In about 10 point, evenly kerned and in the bottom right-hand corner.

- Finally, tell us the best way to ask for a pay rise in your country

Let your work do the asking for you. If that fails, then ask very nicely.


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