Dubai: So­phis­ti­cated, Ad­ven­tur­ous, In­ter­est­ing

ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

What sets Dubai apart from other coun­tries in the Mid­dle East? Dubai is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly at­trac­tive to top global ta­lent. This can be at­trib­uted to the Emi­rates’ re­silience in the face of a world­wide eco­nomic stall, and all the ram­i­fi­ca­tions that come with it, such as fewer op­por­tu­ni­ties for ta­lent to ex­press it­self, lack of money, so­cial un­cer­tainty. I’ve wit­nessed first­hand how clients are tak­ing us by sur­prise – not so much be­ing open to chal­leng­ing ideas but rather chal­leng­ing us to be more dar­ing, more in­tru­sive.

What ad­jec­tives best de­scribe Dubai’s ad­ver­tis­ing scene? Not sure I can pro­vide ad­jec­tives but I can give you some pretty mean­ing­ful nouns. So­phis­ti­cated (it has to be, we live in the most dig­i­tally-sat­u­rated re­gion on the planet). Ad­ven­tur­ous (a prod­uct of more tol­er­ant lead­er­ship). In­ter­est­ing (not sure where else on the planet you could work along­side – and there­fore learn from – so many dif­fer­ent cul­tures).

What is still miss­ing for greater recog­ni­tion? There’s noth­ing miss­ing. We’re do­ing what we have to do with the tools at our dis­posal. And why should we be seek­ing more recog­ni­tion?

With Dubai be­ing a widely di­verse land­scape of peo­ple and cul­tures, is there an ef­fort to craft ad cam­paigns within a cer­tain frame­work for the widest ap­peal? This ques­tion is a bit ‘us and them’, I find. Our man­date is to cre­ate di­a­logue with the peo­ple to whom our brands are tar­geted. Of course we try and find uni­ver­sal truths but we are def­er­en­tial to all the cul­tures we reach out to, be it Asian, Euro­pean, African, Amer­i­can, Latin or the highly di­verse Ara­bic mar­kets.

What are the great­est chal­lenges fac­ing ad cre­atives to­day? The same as they have al­ways been. Orig­i­nal­ity and rel­e­vance.

Are there any trends in Dubai’s ad­ver­tis­ing scene that you specif­i­cally dis­like? Award chas­ing. It hap­pens ev­ery­where, but there seems to be a com­plete lack of shame about it here. It’s given rise to an en­vi­ron­ment of dis­hon­esty and even worse, cre­ated a gen­er­a­tion of cre­ative peo­ple who think that awards are our busi­ness. Well, awards are not our busi­ness. Cre­at­ing di­a­logue be­tween brands and con­sumers is our busi­ness. An award is the grat­i­fi­ca­tion of peer recog­ni­tion. Nice. But that’s not why we’re here.

Do you find it pro­fes­sion­ally re­ward­ing and per­son­ally in­ter­est­ing to be lo­cated in Dubai? Re­cently, I’ve found it very pro­fes­sion­ally re­ward­ing to be here. The man­age­ment struc­ture above me is su­perb – fo­cused and un­com­pro­mis­ing. Who wouldn’t be in­ter­ested in Dubai? It seems to know where it’s go­ing. I love it, my fam­ily loves it.

What made you pick Dubai? I was orig­i­nally slated to start up an ad agency within a gi­ant Nige­rian telco, in La­gos. And then the Dubai of­fer came along. So af­ter com­par­ing an­nual rain­fall, and the fact that one of my ‘perks’ in La­gos would be an armed body­guard/driver, I thought I’d take my chances here.

Novem­ber 2016

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