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Alumni Feature: PJ Eales, Group Creative Director at Publicis Machine

PJ completed his Diploma in Copywriting, graduating in 2001. Over the last 18 years, he’s spent time at some of South Africa’s biggest agencies including Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, Lowe Bull, The Jupiter Drawing Room, FCB, King James, Metropolitan Republic and in the last 4.5 years, Machine_
In 2016 he was promoted from Group Head Copy to Creative Director at Machine_ , in August 2019, Group Creative Director and in November 2019, became Executive Creative Director.

Read on to find out more about his Red & Yellow experience and his life since graduating

  1. Give us your elevator pitch… who are you, what do you do, what gets you out of bed every day?
    My name is PJ Eales, I’m 39 years old and I’m the Executive Creative Director at Machine_ in Cape Town. I have the pleasure of mentoring 20 young creatives who look after some of South Africa’s best brands including Red Bull, The Glenlivet Whisky, Martell Cognac, Chivas Regal Whisky, DirectAxis Financial Services and Emirates. Apart from driving the creative output at Machine_ my passion is people and culture, and it’s the satisfaction of mentoring and growing young people that gets me out of bed every day.
  2. When someone says “Red & Yellow”, what are your immediate thoughts, memories or feelings?
    When someone says Red and Yellow I’m immediately taken back to the old school in the AA building on the edge of Woodstock. I remember the “I am a sponge” poster at the front door. I’m reminded of getting a brief, choosing a product, and the sweat and tears that it took to take that brief from strategy to execution, reviewing with Bryan and Allan (our founders) along the way, two very tough customers! But I can honestly say that the way that Red and Yellow was structured was the closest thing to working in an agency, and it prepared me for this business in the best possible way.
  3. Please complete this open-ended sentence: “Red & Yellow taught me…”
    … the importance of a tight strategy and a clear insight, something I still push my teams for today.
  4. Tell us about your most memorable experience at Red & Yellow?
    There are so many, but my favourite was probably giving the graduation speech with Julie Maunder at our graduation ceremony in 2001 Red and Yellow was a journey for me: I went from almost getting kicked out of the school at the end of my first year (they only kept me in because of my copy test) to finishing top of my class at the end of my second year.
  5. What do you believe is critical for career success in the 21st Century?
    I believe the same things are critical for success in advertising in 2019 as they were in 1920, a great idea and the desire to craft the hell out of it. It’s what’s been setting ‘great’ apart from ‘good’ since the very first ad was made.
  6. What is your superpower?
    Haha, I’d hardly say that I have superpowers, we’re not saving lives here. It’s just advertising, but I think my best quality is my leadership ability: I treat people the way I’d want to be treated and mentored, it’s a simple thing but one that goes a long way to getting the best out of people.
  7. Where can we follow you (Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook?)
    Twitter: @PJEales / Instagram @PJ_in_CT / Linkedin
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