Why adland has to become more Arab
For this region to really define itself in creative marketing it needs more Arab leaders in the creative department, says
For this region to really define itself in creative marketing it needs more Arab leaders in the creative department, says Paul Shearer.
The United Kingdom has it, America has it, and Sweden has it. A culture that defines its advertising creativity. So why doesn’t our region have it? Because we haven’t fully embraced Arabic. For this region to really define itself in creative marketing it needs more Arab leaders in the creative department. People with real power to instil Arabic insights.
For my part I feel honour bound to make sure this happens. Without insight and culture in our work we will always be seen as copiers. Always chasing what other trends and fads are fashionable. You only have to look at Egyptian directors like Omar Hilal and Ali Ali to truly understand how important it is to believe in your own culture and its values. These guys along with many more are globally renowned.
Not just from where they come from but how they use it. It is no coincidence that they have both come from advertising backgrounds. I would hazard a guess that they both struggled to express their culture through advertising.
Also, Marwan Hamed is the director of one of my favourite bad guy movies, The Blue Ele
phant. Why is it so good? Why is he so good? Because it’s the culture within the story. This culture makes it unique and defines his own uniqueness. If we can take these lessons and support Arabic in our advertising more then there is no reason why we cannot achieve the same results.
Look, I am not saying there are no good Arab creatives. Areej Mahmoud, Firas Medrows, Mohamed Hammady and our very own Summer Elbosraty are to name but a few. What I am saying is they are not using their culture enough. We rely too much on Western-type ideas when right in front of us is a gold mine of local ways of looking at things. We spend too much time analysing what type of work wins awards instead of realising that original work is the only thing that will.
I have the good fortune of working for a great Arab champion. Someone who knows the power of the language and the creativity that lives around us. It is a powerful tool in our locker and something that grounds us. I am reminded daily why it is important. Our office is full of incredible Arab talent.
Being a creative, I can also see how Arabic can help our work stand out when it comes to award shows like D&AD and Cannes. The Brazilians have been cleaning up with their unique perspective and the Swedes have been quietly doing the same for many years. Why? Because the rest of the creative world knows hardly anything about our culture and what it does is usually a cliché. The more we prioritise where we are from the more chance we have to win at the top shows. And isn’t this what most creatives want?
So if you ask me, it’s time to make the pendulum swing. Be more Arab. Employ more Arabic speakers and let them express themselves. Let them lead meetings and dictate strategies. And I mean let them. It is not enough to have an Arab in a meeting to appease an Arab client. They must be the voice and eyes of the agency.
Okay, so a few countries in the Arab world are already doing this. But why can’t the Kuwaitis do what the Egyptians are doing? Why can’t the Saudis do what the Lebanese are doing? They can if they look down at the ground they stand on. Use the thoughts, humour and insights that they have at their disposal. And most importantly, if the agencies they work for give them the power to do so.
Power to the Arabs if you ask me.
Identity… Egypt has embraced its culture and language, so why hasn’t the Gulf?