Ad Close & Per­sonal

Sabia Fatayri: Medi­ocrity is not an Op­tion


Sabia Fatayri, an Ogilvy cre­ative grew up dur­ing the war, yet was not af­fected neg­a­tively be­cause she was sur­rounded by love. When she be­came her own per­son, he took it upon her­self to bring joy back to peo­ple’s lives and ev­ery pass­ing day af­fords her many chances to do ex­actly that. Fol­low­ing are some of the in­sights the Se­nior Art Di­rec­tor at Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai re­vealed about what makes her ex­cel.

What first sparked your in­ter­est in ad­ver­tis­ing?

Grow­ing up in a war-torn coun­try al­lows you to un­know­ingly grow sur­vival skills and be cre­ative. I re­mem­ber when my sis­ter and I would be watch­ing a movie and the power would go out leav­ing me to imag­ine what the end­ing could have been so I could tell her. On that sub­ject, my favourite movie was E.T. I love E.T.! In my mind, he never left and al­ways stayed with El­liot. I also re­mem­ber when we had to run down to the shel­ter to es­cape the shelling. We used to call it our ‘Cave of Fun’ and would come up with the best games to kill time. We didn’t fully understand what was go­ing on, but knew some­thing was wrong. Al­though I was ex­posed to harsh cir­cum­stances, I didn’t want sad­ness to tri­umph and I promised my­self that one day, I will bring joy to peo­ple who have lost the abil­ity to feel it. That, cou­pled with my sense of imag­i­na­tion drove me into ad­ver­tis­ing.

What gets you up in the morn­ing?

Know­ing that ev­ery­day I have an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing that can pos­i­tively af­fect peo­ple and how they live. The first award I won in 2009 was truly an eye-opener; it made me re­alise that even though I am not a politi­cian or a busi­ness­woman, I too have a pow­er­ful tool in my hands: the power of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. As a cre­ative and along with my team, we con­stantly think of in­no­va­tive ways to com­mu­ni­cate to peo­ple, raise aware­ness on is­sues and most im­por­tantly, en­cour­age them to take ac­tion by cre­at­ing so­lu­tions for them. So, what gets me up in the morn­ing is know­ing I can cre­ate ads that speak to peo­ple, cam­paigns that an­swer prob­lems and just like that, start global con­ver­sa­tions. I’m proud to have cre­ated an idea that did ex­actly that, and as a re­sult won the Mid­dle East’s first Ti­ta­nium Cannes Lion for “UN Women -The Au­to­com­plete Truth”.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The un­known. Ev­ery morn­ing, there is an is­sue that needs new so­lu­tions and in­no­va­tive ideas. It’s such a di­verse in­dus­try, which leaves no time to get bored. I could be look­ing at a new way to sell di­a­pers one day and the next cre­ate an aware­ness cam­paign for women’s equal­ity.

What would you say is your strong­est skill?

Pos­i­tiv­ity. I don’t fo­cus on the neg­a­tives. In this in­dus­try, we are con­stantly fac­ing chal­lenges and hav­ing to come up with so­lu­tions, which is why to sur­vive, you have to take on feed­back with a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and find a new so­lu­tion that suits all par­ties.

Who do you ul­ti­mately want to be­come?

I want to stay my­self. I want to achieve many things in the fu­ture, yes; but I’ll get to them in the fu­ture. For now, I am happy to grab ev­ery op­por­tu­nity and con­tinue to achieve my goals. I want to touch peo­ple’s lives and draw a smile on their face. I want them to see that they de­serve so much. And for them, I want to come up with ini­tia­tives that will make them and my­self proud. That’s why I want to stay my­self.

What do you do to keep your ideas fresh?

What don’t I do! Of course, like many other cre­ative souls, I visit a whole list of web­sites and try to watch as many movies as pos­si­ble, no mat­ter what lan­guage they’re in. I also travel ev­ery chance I get. See­ing how other cul­tures live helps me understand how trends are born. And best of all, it feeds cre­ativ­ity and in­spires in­no­va­tive ideas.

What’s your motto in life?

My motto in is in­spired by Rumi’s say­ing: “Re­spond to ev­ery call that ex­cites your spirit.”

What keeps you in the game?

As a cre­ative in a fast-mov­ing in­dus­try, I con­stantly have to chal­lenge my­self to im­prove my skills, strive for per­fec­tion – medi­ocrity is not an op­tion – I al­ways have to learn new tech­niques and stay up-to­date with the lat­est trends.

What keeps you up at night?

My neigh­bours hav­ing fun at their house party!

What mu­sic have you been lis­ten­ing to lately?

I’ve been hooked on reg­gae mu­sic lately. There’s some­thing about it that’s so sooth­ing to the brain and the beat just puts me in such a good mood!

What is the gad­get you can­not live with­out?

Definitely my phone! Nowa­days, our phones are what keep us con­nected to one an­other and to what’s hap­pen­ing around the world.

What can we find on your phone?

My dad’s pic­ture. He is my role model, a de­ter­mined man who, in times of war, spoke his mind, stood by his be­liefs and died for his be­liefs. I have grown to know him through the legacy he left be­hind. And he is the rea­son I don’t give up.

What qual­ity do you most look up to in a woman?

Con­fi­dence. A con­fi­dent woman will achieve what­ever she sets her mind to.

Who would you like to sit next to on a seven-hour flight?

I would love to be seated next to a sto­ry­teller and let the words take me into a dif­fer­ent world.

What busi­ness tip would you give the new­bies?

Con­form­ity is cre­ativ­ity’s kryp­tonite. Peo­ple stand out from the crowd be­cause they’re dif­fer­ent and to be dif­fer­ent, you have to be your­self.

What is your idea of per­fect hap­pi­ness?

Hap­pi­ness is peace of mind. It’s when you’re con­tent with your­self and who you are.

Where can we find you on a Fri­day night?

Hav­ing fun re­gard­less of where I am.

If you could choose one su­per­hero power, what would it be and why?

The power of heal­ing, be­cause if I can con­trib­ute in any way to help some­one, I wouldn’t hes­i­tate one sec­ond to do it.

What is the one word you catch your­self say­ing too of­ten?

“Why” – While some be­lieve that cu­rios­ity kills the cat, I be­lieve it’s what makes us bet­ter hu­mans.

If you could be any­where in the world right now, where would you be?

Every­where and any­where. Ev­ery place in this world has its own unique charm and peo­ple.

What’s the last book you read or movie you saw?

I re­cently watched the movie “Ever­est” and was rather dis­ap­pointed. The script had no un­ex­pected twist, or up­lift­ing end­ing; not even a morale to take out.

What is the one thing you wish you have de­signed?

I will let you know once I de­sign it.

Con­form­ity is cre­ativ­ity’s kryp­tonite

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