Walid Kanaan

CCO - TBWA/RAAD MENA

ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

The com­pet­i­tive spirit in the Le­banese mar­ket is some­how lost.

The times I joined the ad industry…

It was 1992 and Le­banon was ris­ing from 15 years of de­struc­tive wars. I grad­u­ated “Ma­jor de pro­mo­tion de Pub­lic­ité” from ALBA, re­ceived the IAA Award for best ad­ver­tis­ing diploma and got show­ered by dozens of of­fers from renowned net­works, ul­ti­mately con­vert­ing my child­hood dream, comic strips pro­duc­tion, into the ob­vi­ous and joined Publi-graph­ics (Publi­cis) as ju­nior art di­rec­tor.

The one thing I have al­ways loved and still do about this pro­fes­sion…

The cre­ative side will al­ways be the most ex­cit­ing as­pect of ad­ver­tis­ing, sim­ply be­cause it has no bound­aries and just doesn’t fol­low any rule book. Cre­ativ­ity doesn’t have laws and reg­u­la­tions; it doesn’t have a sys­tem that you can pass-on. Cre­ativ­ity is an open path that any­one can join, and nowa­days more than ever, cre­ative ad­ver­tis­ing is un­der im­mense pres­sure to keep prov­ing it­self.

Some of the good old things about the ad busi­ness back in the 1990s, which no longer ex­ist to­day…

The com­pet­i­tive spirit in the Le­banese mar­ket is some­how lost. In the 90s, there was a hunger for vis­i­bil­ity driven by all brands and I be­lieve that was trig­gered by many fac­tors, but mostly the amount of spe­cialised lo­cal award shows (Phenix for TV com­mer­cials, ARABAD/IAA for print awards, VDL for ra­dio awards, Pikasso for out­door awards…). The live broad­cast of the Phenix de la pub of­fered high ex­po­sure for brands, clients and agen­cies; it was a bench­mark and had a huge ef­fect on in­creas­ing the qual­ity of the work. It drove healthy com­pe­ti­tion and marked a golden era of Le­banese ad­ver­tis­ing. Nowa­days, only few lo­cal agen­cies in­vest in re­gional and in­ter­na­tional award shows, while the only re­main­ing lo­cal show is Pikasso d’or.

Ad­ver­tis­ing’s ‘Won­der Years’…

De­spite all the suc­cesses, I still be­lieve the won­der years are yet to come. Ad­ver­tis­ing is rein­vent­ing it­self, es­pe­cially with the growth of so­cial me­dia plat­forms and their im­pact on con­sumer be­hav­iour. The ad­ver­tis­ing ma­trix has changed; it is mu­tat­ing so fast that in­ter­ac­tiv­ity be­came key for any suc­cess­ful cam­paign. In the old days, brands used to spon­sor the news. Nowa­days, brands want to be the news.

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