How To Friday with Riaan Manser

When it comes to extreme, nothing beats Riaan Manser. Cycling through Africa? Kayaking around Madagascar and Iceland? Starting a charity? Winning a few awards? Riaan has done it all. And now he can cross hosting an Ogilvy “How To Friday” off his list. But first, let’s get to know him a little better…


Q: When meeting someone for the first time, how do you explain to them what you do?

RM: “With great difficulty. I mean, when you meet someone and they say they’re a doctor you think “Great, this person is doing good, they’re intelligent, and so on” and you can create an image. Where for me, it’s difficult because I don’t know where to start. If I’m at an immigration office I tell them I’m an author because, well I am one, and it just makes life easier. When I’m meeting more creative people, like the guys here at Ogilvy, I like explaining to them that I travel and make money in other ways. I like to think of myself as an explorer. If I’m travelling or going through tough times, that feeling of discovering new things, even for me, just blows me away.”

Q: How do you like to spend your free time when you’re not courting danger?

RM: “I love sport, so I like to get out to surf, mountain bike – anything outdoorsy really. I must say I do have ADD so I definitely have a lot of energy. I sometimes sit and think to myself ‘What the hell is keeping you going, Riaan? Sit down. Calm down’. I honestly wish I would relax a little bit more.”

Q: Are there every day activities that you still find daunting?

RM: “I do have a phobia of going to any shopping mall the day before Christmas. I am definitely guilty of last minute Christmas shopping. Also, I was with a group of boy scouts a couple days back, and I must tell you, I was so nervous because these boys idolize me and I just had to keep telling myself not to stuff it up.”

Q: How many languages can you speak?

RM: “I have a grasp of quite a few and I mix them up quite a lot. I can speak Afrikaans, English, some Xhosa, Malagasy, I speak a bit of Arabic and French, also some Portuguese, and I know a little Swahili. Other than that, I can say please and thank you in many countries.”

Q: What would you like your tombstone to say about you?

RM: I don’t know if I’ll have a tombstone but I would just love it if there was even just a handful of people that will walk past my little jar of ash and smile and say “Shucks, that guy did try to live his life”.

Q: What does an average day in the life of an extreme adventurer look like?

RM: “Quite pressurized. For example, if I’m just doing some grocery shopping and someone comes up to meet me, I always hope that when they leave I haven’t disappointed them, and instead, I have taken their idea of ‘Riaan Manser’ and added to it.”

Q: What local and extreme fun do you suggest the Ogilvy crew get involved in?

RM: “I love abseiling off Table Mountain, but you need to go a few times to get the hang of it. The first time I went I was too cautious, but now I have fun with it. Tandem paragliding is also great. You’ll see everything differently when you are up there. And of course, if you haven’t had a soft serve along the Green Point promenade, then you have not lived.”



Say hello to Mark

Meet Mark van der Heijden.


Since January 2014 he has been travelling the world as ‘The Backpacker Intern‘ helping out agencies, brands and charities. While his idea may have started out small – trading a day of work for food and a place to sleep – it has picked up a lot of coverage from international media, TV and blogs, such as AdWeek, Campaign, Marie Claire, and you know… the White House. In the past year he has been to 5 continents, 22 countries and worked at 28 companies – and now he’s arrived in Cape Town to spend a week or so with us.


Naturally, we had some questions for him:

  1. How did this idea come about?

After working in advertising for +6 years I wanted to see more of the world and decided to quit my job at LEMZ Amsterdam, say goodbye to my apartment, donate my bed to an orphanage and toss my belongings in a backpack. After booking an around-the-world ticket I realized that I didn’t had enough money to do all the things that I wanted to do. Smart thinking right? It brought me to an interesting insight, I was thinking like, what do I really need on a trip to survive? Basically it’s food and a place to stay. That’s how I came up with an idea to combine two of my biggest passions; travel and work as a creative. I made it simple enough to explain it in one Tweet: “The Backpacker Intern travels the world helping out agencies, brands and charities for food and a place to sleep.”

2. Which has been your favourite place to visit? (besides Cape Town obviously)

Is that a rhetorical question? I’ve been to a lot of amazing places, can’t really tell what is number one but my three most memorable gem’s are: Rio de Janeiro, Ho Chi Minh City and Antarctica. Let’s see if Cape Town can kick one of those from the list the next coming days ;).

3. What does an average day look like in the life of The Backpacker Intern?

It doesn’t exist. I mean it’s never average because I’m always in different places, different cultures, different continents and with different people. One day I’m creating ideas for TBWA\Chiat\Day in LA, the other day I’m helping ex-drug traffickers with Street Child United in Rio de Janeiro, and today I’m answering question for Ogilvy Cape Town’s blog. The average is day is always different. And I love it.

4. What do you have planned next?

First work hard, play hard with you guys. After that I’m going to help out at a social enterprise on Madagascar called HERi. They build and support solar businesses to increase access to products and services that power community development. Especially in rural areas. I’m really looking forward to helping both of them.


#2OceansMarathon Foodspiration

For all the carbo-loaders getting ready for the Two Oceans Marathon have a look at our top 5 pasta and pizza spots in town.

1. Cafe Paradiso 


Recommended dish: Classic fantasia pasta of bacon, mushrooms, tomato and chili served with fresh fettuccine, cream and parmesan. Add chicken.

2. Woodlands Eatery 

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Recommended dish: Lamb pizza.

3. Andiamo Restaurant & Deli


Recommended dish: The Lasagna. Also, the Chicken & Gorgonzola pasta.

4. Societi Bistro


Recommended dish: fettuccine, aubergine, baked ricotta, chilli, fennel seed, cherry tomatoes.

5. Ristorante Posticino


Recommended dish: brinjals, zucchini, sun-dried tomatoes, red pepper pizza. Add chicken.


#2OceansMarathon adspiration

Running the Two Oceans Marathon? We’re sharing some of our favourite inspirational ads from different agencies all round the world to get you pumped for the race.

Adidas – Take it

Agency: 180LA

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Reebok – Freakshow

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Nike – Possibilities

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy

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Go forth and conquer!

Checking in with the Grads

It has been two months since Kara Levy and Glenn Kisela joined the Ogilvy Graduate Programme (OGP). Kara chose to start off in Client Service and Glenn chose PR. Let’s check in and see how agency life has been treating them.


Q: What is the funniest one liner/pearl of wisdom that has been shared with you since you’ve started with us?

Kara: “Don’t get carried away on Fridays”

Q: Name one high, and one low from your time in your department:

Kara: Highs have been working on pitches and being on a TV commercial shoot with an international agency and client. A low has probably been frustrations with process.

Glenn: A high would be going out on a team building event with the whole department. It’s great working in a department where everyone is able to spend time outside of work together & have a good time. As for a low, that would be the first time I screwed something up. It wasn’t a major screw up but it always sucks to let someone down, even if it’s inevitable. But we live & we learn!

Q: Share one thing people who haven’t worked in Client Service should know about the department:

Kara: It’s a really important department, despite what some people may think. It is the only department in the agency that knows every element of an account. Client service knows everything from the client’s personal life, to budgets, to knowing how to manage and get things done from everyone, be it an internal it external job. There is also a lot of trust and dependence placed on the relationship that client service is able to foster with a client – the best work often comes from a good agency client relationship, in conjunction with great creative because clients that trust agencies are willing to take risks.

Q: Which department are you off to next?

Kara: I’m going to OgilvyOne to get stuck into some digital strategy!

Q: Rumour has it you have decided to stay on in PR for the remainder of the year, what has influenced this decision?

Glenn: That rumour is correct! I know it’s a big decision & it’s not one I made lightly, but I’m confident it’s the right one. The amazing thing about the OGP is that you’re able to explore the whole agency to find a place that you could thrive in and do work that you love. I’ve been lucky in that I found that place in PR right away. I work with amazing people on some amazing accounts & I don’t want to walk away halfway through.

Q: Was it a tough decision to make?

Glenn: It’s difficult in the sense that I’m giving up seeing other departments & I spent a lot of time thinking about that fact. But at the end of the day, it was a decision I made easily because I genuinely believe that the work we’re doing here in PR is incredible & I have so much to learn & to offer. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t have enjoyed working in other departments & had an amazing time but I think being in PR is right for me personally & aligns with where I want to go.