John Hunt

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John Hunt (1954- ) is a South African advertising executive, writer and playwright.


Born in Zambia in 1954 and named (his father claimed) for the leader of the first expedition to summit Everest, Hunt was schooled in England and at Parktown Boys High where he received his military callup and served in the army, before registering at the University of the Witwatersrand for a course in psychology. However, he decided that he would rather sow some wild oats first.

He began to write freelance articles, and so impressed the sister of a girlfriend that she gave him introductions to people in advertising. He paid for lessons from Dave Said, a doyen of the trade, and eventually got a job at Hands, working with Reg Lascaris. Hunt says that “In those days l would work for a year and then take off to work on my own.” In this period he wrote TV scripts, plays, and so on. Among these was a novel, Joker in the Pack, which was published but made no real money.

After each creative spurt he would go backpacking in Europe, North America and the Far East, but finally, took the plunge and in 1983 John and his partners founded TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris, an advertising agency that has since then won countless awards. For example, in 1993 John Hunt was intimately involved in Nelson Mandela's first ANC election campaign. In 2003, John moved to TBWA’s New York headquarters to assume the role of Worldwide Creative Director. John returned to South Africa in 2006 to continue his Worldwide role from Johannesburg.

He has served as juror across every major industry awards show, including as President of the Cannes Film, Press & Outdoor Advertising Festival in 2005. He has also found time to write a number of television and theatre plays and books, including The Art of the Idea: And How It Can Change Your Life (2009) and the novels, The Space Between the Space Between (2015) and The Boy Who Could Keep a Swan in His Head (2018).

>> Read an extract from The Boy Who Could Keep a Swan in his Head.

Contribution to SA theatre, film, media and/or performance

Besides his executive role in advertising, he is an award-winning playwright, having received the Amstel Playwright of the Year award in 1989 for Vid Alex. His other plays include Fireking1, Piano Man (1989),Stand in the Sun (1999).

He also wrote the script of the TV film Satan's Shutes (1987).


Who's Who Southern Africa [1].

Saturday Star, 27 march 1999.

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