Alain Shoucair: On a Bluetrain off to a Stellar Start
Alain Shoucair started his career in 1991 as an Art Director at Leo Burnett Beirut. Two years later, he co-founded Mind the Gap, a renowned design and communication hot shop. In 1996, Alain took a two-year sabbatical to concentrate on his other passion: playing and composing music. He then returned to the business, working for Saatchi & Saatchi as well as Grey, before joining Drive Dentsu in 2011 as the Executive Creative Director for the Levant and North Africa region. Throughout the years Alain has won numerous prestigious international awards. In 2017, as Drive Dentsu ceased operations, Alain decided to leave the comforts of global agencies behind to pursue the exciting adventure of founding and running his own company: Bluetrain. Presented as an unconventional set up, Arabad had a talk with him to learn more.
What prompted you to leave an enviable job with all the advantages that come with it to take a plunge into the unknown?
It was an idea I’d had for some time. It’s no secret that Drive was, for whatever reason, coming to the end of its life. Sometime events just take control and tell you ‘OK now’s the right time to do it’.
Do you think there is still room in Lebanon for another advertising agency?
There’s always room for something new in Lebanon. The business has to regenerate itself. Whether it’s here or abroad, we’ve seen the relentless conglomerisation of advertising and marketing to the point where we’re all working for one of two or three global companies. We need to have a fresh perspective. We can’t stand still and become stale.
Having worked in boutique agencies and network companies, where do you feel you fit best and why?
Right now, I fit perfectly where I am. Everything I’ve done in the past is the right background and experience for this. You learn from everywhere you’ve been; both the good and the bad experiences.
What’s behind the Bluetrain name?
Ha, ha. Maybe I should keep that a mystery. It could be about some simple music chords or just a long and enjoyable journey. I’ll let you decide.
Every agency positions itself as different from all others, though that difference may not always be clear. However, your agency does come across as an exception to the traditional norms, why is that?
I look at agencies today and I see them hiring the same types of talent. Everyone fits a formula and when that happens, we approach a problem from the same perspective and end up doing the same type of work. There’s plenty of talent out there that can look at applied creativity in a different way. Let’s get people involved who bring something new in the way they think. Yes, we’ll need the experience of people grounded in the business, but why not involve mavericks and unusual talents who can shake things up? We have a belief that if you only know advertising then you’re only going to do the same type of advertising.
Can you tell us about any project or account you’re currently working on?
We’ve got an exciting product launch and some clients who’ve moved from Drive. It’s full on.
We’ve seen the relentless conglomerisation of advertising and marketing to the point where we’re all working for one of two or three global companies.