ADVERTISING FACES TO WATCH 2017
MEET THE YOUNG TALENT RISING THROUGH THE RANKS OF REGIONAL AGENCIES.
REA S OWAN 24 JUNIOR PLANNER, MULLENLOWE DUBAI
Rea Sowan grew up a third- culture kid, perpetually asking too many questions and seeking new ways to experience and understand the world around her. Twenty- four years down the line, it simultaneously seems an utter coincidence and makes complete sense that she would find herself sitting at her desk as a junior planner at MullenLowe Dubai. With a background in psychological and brain sciences, Sowan brings to the table a true ( read: truly geeky) passion for understanding human behaviour, while a lifelong collection of eclectic experiences and interests make her at home in an industry that is constantly pushing boundaries and reinventing itself.
In her six months since joining the MullenLowe team, industry rookie Sowan has already earned her own portfolio of brands, developing strategic frameworks for the likes of Unilever, Red Bull and Pizza Hut.
“If I am to summarise the best of the new generation,” says Mounir Harfouche, CEO of MullenLowe MENA, “Rea is the way I would describe it: passionate, intelligent, multi- cultural, analytical, intellectual and disciplined – then add to it confident and fun. Rea is a great asset to us and her contribution will always stand out. People like her reignite my passion in advertising and remind me that no matter how much technology we invest in, nothing replaces the genius of the human mind.”
NOORA AL QASSIMI 26 ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE, MULLENLOWE DUBAI
When Noora Al Qassimi featured in Campaign’s Graduate issue in 2012, talking about the challenges of finding a career in advertising as an Emirati, she definitely did not expect to find herself on the magazine’s pages again a short five years later. An eventful few years down the line, Al Qassimi, now a senior account executive at MullenLowe Dubai, is nothing short of a success story.
In her time at the agency, Al Qassimi has managed an impressive portfolio of local client groups, including Majid Al Futtaim, mGovernment, Abu Dhabi Media, and its subsidiaries. In addition to obsessing over perfectly- structured presentations, she has brought a much- needed local perspective to the team, truly carving a place for herself as a GCC expert and quickly becoming a go- to resource for her clients.
Mounir Harfouche, CEO of MullenLowe MENA, says: “Noora is the symbol of resilience, ambition, maturity, commitment and being self- made. Her passion and dedication are rare. Her thinking abilities, combined with her great management skills and a truly genuine personality, make her a unique talent and an essential team member. I am proud to have a colleague like Noora, who sometimes teaches you things while learning, a leader in her own way with a successful future crafted by mind and heart.”
NISHANT S HAH 29 CREATIVE DIRECTOR, MULLENLOWE DUBAI
A storyteller, a compulsive grammarian and a serial optimist, Shah’s affair with writing started long before any sign of his signature moustache. With an MBA in marketing and that diploma in “chatting-up- randompeople”, he has grown from a bullied production assistant on the streets of Mumbai to an award-winning creative director in the emerging Asian scene. His journey through advertising has taken him to agencies such as JWT, MullenLowe, Y& R, Bates and Publicis, creating acclaimed work on global brands including Unilever, Nike, Pepsi, Red Bull, Qatar Airways, Al Jazeera and Nokia. Apart from being a winning pitchmaker, he has also managed to add some chrome to his cabinet at creativity conventions in India, Singapore, Thailand, France and Dubai. But when he’s not writing a sales pitch, he is desktop surfing around the world. So while his dream is to be a travel diarist, he is happy being a guide to any Indians who visit Dubai.
Mounir Harfouche, CEO of MullenLowe MENA, says: “Nishant brings back authenticity to advertising. A great thinker who has a good grip on strategy, only to turn it into a brilliant concept. Then comes the part where he uses the magic of words that makes one ’feel‘ instead of read or hear the message.”
AL AN HONG 24 DESIGNER, SAATCHI & SAATCHI DUBAI
Straight from graduation into advertising, one year and eight months on, this young creative is hungry to make a change to the world. In under a year, he won a Bronze at Dubai Young Lions, competed in Young Lynx and is currently awaiting results for D& AD Young Blood. He is constantly striving not just to win awards, but also to create work that can make a positive impact on the world.
Prior to his successes in advertising, he worked across four different continents, in creative companies including Landor and Nexus Productions. He was commissioned to exhibit at London Science Museum, showcasing his creativity to educate and make a change.
It is only the beginning. As a young creative, Hong understands success will not come straight away and that it has its failures.
He continues to pursue greatness every day, regardless of day- to- day struggles, which will lead to his goal of being one of the best.
That’s what makes him one of the Faces to Watch. Not just his accomplishments so far, but the passion and desire to embrace the grind and constantly challenge himself, until he makes it to the top.
Komal B. Sohal, chief creative officer of Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai, says: “Alan Hong, a young, hungry designer, smart and sharp, thinks out of the box with a big potential to create and shine. He has no limits.”
Tala Ali, senior copywriter, says: “Alan is one of the most passionate human beings I’ve worked with. His energy and spirit feeds into the stars – the ones that others can’t help but look up to.”
C ARL BOU ABDALL AH 29 SENIOR STRATEGIC PLANNER, FP7/BEY
As a planner, Carl Bou Abdallah is a bit of a misfit. He is creative who believes in the power of strategy. He is rigorously analytical and relies a lot on the power of insights. And he describes himself as liking to eat dinner for breakfast in the afternoon. His colleagues say he is someone who is versatile enough to find what he loves in his job but is looking for new roads to explore and master.
“Carl is not just a planner, he’s what I like to call an all- encompassing ad man, the real thing,” says Emile Atallah, MD of FP7/BEY. “His passion and dedication are second to none. I am so happy I have the chance to work close to him, as his contributions to our brands are nothing short of inspirational. Carl still has lot of contributions to make, and will only grow stronger.”
ALI CHEIKHALI 28 STRATEGIC PLANNER, TB WA\ RA AD
With an MSc in Marketing Strategy in hand, Cheikhali only made the switch from account management to account planning after spearheading his account planning bootcamp at Miami Ad School just a year and a half ago. He hasn’t looked back since.
A couple of months into joining the planning department at TBWA\RAAD, he became an instrumental element to his colleagues, to the department, and to the agency as a whole.
Before being a great planner, Cheikhali is a great person, say his colleagues. He is the friend, the helpful colleague, the trusted partner, the Fifa opponent – and also the charmer – for many at the agency.
Cheihali has already helped build brands, proposed work that shapes culture, forecasted trends, held workshops, led trainings, and won more than 15 awards, among which are a Gold at the Effies and a Grand Prix at the Lynx.
The Key? His wittiness, maturity beyond his years, cultural intelligence, and disruptive thinking. Colleagues say his smart humor – often sarcastic – and different perspective on everything in life can turn the agency around and produce great work.
GHIDA ARNAOUT 30 SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGER, SA AT CHI& SA AT CHI DUBAI
“I took a leap of faith and completely changed my career in 2015 to join Saatchi and Saatchi and start my creative journey,” says Ghida Arnaout. “I juggle between my job and my outdoors and adventure blog ( monkyseemonkydo. com), making my life revolve around constantly creating content for brands and for myself and following up with the ever- changing trends in the social and digital world.”
She adds: “The best ideas come when you are disconnected from your surroundings and closer to where you originally came from. That’s why you will always find me climbing rocks and mountains.”
JEAN-PIERRE DE VILLIERS 28 ART DIRECTOR, M& C SA AT CHI
JP de Villiers is an integrated Art Director at M& C Saatchi, from Jozi, South Africa.Having worked with various award-winning agencies, and picking up a few shiny statues himself, he wanted to try something different. Way different. After googling where on earth it was, he soon found himself on a flight to Abu Dhabi,to work on Abu Dhabi’s tourism account. Which, ironically, he has now helped put on the map with his ‘Extraordinary Story’ campaign. His work in the tourism market inspired him to start an Instagram account called @ southbest, which curates the best photography content of his home country,and has managed to attract a few thousand followers. He is hoping that after this article it will grow further.
ANI KAMA R YA 29 ART DIRECTOR, SAA AT CHI& SA AT CHI DUBAI
There’s a joke at Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai: Anika Marya can make a bag of fertiliser look awesome. She won’t back down from a challenge. Thought and idea, craft and graft, she puts this into everything she takes on. She’s led a design team right from when she was just three years into the business.
She’s worked with some of the best, has been quick to pick up from them and put it into practice. Her work has been recognised and awarded at Dubai Lynx and the Cannes Young Lions.
“Driven and passionate about her work, she gives it her all. The best part is, she has a great time doing it,” says Komal B. Sohal, CCO, Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai.
Adil Khan, CEO, Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai, adds: “Anika is super talented, smart and works hard, really hard. I’ve known her from her first day here at Saatchi & Saatchi, and her quiet energy has been consistent; it helps her in being disciplined and reliable. Anika’s skills are versatile, she is aesthetically sound and is able to consistently exceed expectations. She is eager to do better and be better, every day.”
FABIO TRIDENT I 29 SENIOR ART DIRECTOR, Y&R DUBAI
You can easily tell that Tridenti is a talented art director – from his portfolio, list of awards and moustache.
But there are a few things you won’t get just by looking at him. “First of all, working with Tridenti is fun,” says Y& R ECD Kalpesh Patankar. “We laugh a lot, and we laugh out loud. It doesn’t matter how difficult, challenging or intricate the brief might be. Whether it’s a pitch, a spell to summon a demon or a crucial, world- saving politician’s speech, with Fabio you always feel that everything will be OK. And it will.”
Patankar adds: “I started working with Fabio in 2010, long before the advent of his perfectly art- directed curly hair. His energy has always been contagious and impossible to extinguish. Late nights, endless meetings and seemingly insurmountable problems don’t come close to dampening his spirit. He’s into everything: art, design, animation, cinema, photography. And his work embraces all of them.”
An “aggressively friendly” attitude means Tridenti is always prepared to fight with anyone for the sake of great work. And they only love him the more for it.
“To be clear, he’s also annoying,” adds Patankar as a proviso. “He always asks for shorter headlines, he’s excessively accurate and overly- picky with food. But at the end, it doesn’t matter.
“In advertising, all you need are great ideas and someone who believes in them as much as you do. And we have that.”
ANS HUMAN B HAT TA CHAR YA 27 SENIOR COPY WRITER, THE CLASSIC PARTNERSHIP
Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘n’ Microsoft Word seems to sum up Anshuman Bhattacharya’s priorities.
He has consistently worked towards breaking the conventional norms of mainline and digital advertising and developed a skill set that helps him adapt to the ever- changing integrated landscape. He is a writer by profession, but music has always been his first love.
“I always feel that being an effective creative is about more than being a copywriter/art director, and Anshuman is a good example of that,” says Alok Gadkar, general manager and ECD of the Classic Partnership. “He constantly indulges in other artistic avenues to keep his right brain well oiled. Back in Mumbai he used to play bass for a death metal band named Orion. Here in Dubai, he plays for one of the city’s most sought after hard rock bands named Point of View.”
Last month, Bhattacharya’s band opened the show for the legendary Guns ‘n’ Roses in Dubai, performing in front of 22,000 people.
Over his seven-year career, Bhattacharya has also been awarded some AAAI Goafest Abby Awards and D& AD Blue Elephants. He has also won the Campaign Digital Crest Award and the Promax Media Award.
With a diploma in sound engineering, Bhattacharya has given voice- overs to popular TV shows such as Chota Bheem. For almost two years, he was also the voice of Coco the Monkey, the Kellogg’s Coco Pops brand mascot.
His take on the industry is: “The only hope for brands to survive in this digital age is to become more human. The time has come to stop creating communication and start having conversations.”
Z AM INDH AR SI 29 BRAND DIRECTOR, AL SA YEG HMEDI A
Zamin Dharsi packs almost a decade of agency experience and has proven himself an invaluable member of the advertising and media community in the UAE. Ever the pioneer, Dharsi built the first fully- dedicated infographics division in the Gulf for Alsayegh Media after launching and managing the creative department for Weber Shandwick MENA.
His multifaceted background in creative, social media and PR made for another shift once Alsayegh Media’s infographics division was well established – to brand and communications director for the agency. Today, Dharsi is credited as the maestro behind the movements of the agency, from helping it win a multitude of awards to leading its brand strategy, to managing both its internal and external communications both online and offline, to leading its training and development strategy, and most recently designing a nursery in the office to accommodate a surge in new mums.
“Zamin is the ideas man and a creative problem solver at his core. Put him in a room with a tough deadline and give him a target audience and he will work out the rest,” says CEO Abdullatif Alsayegh. “The culture and energy of an agency is its heartbeat, and Zamin brings optimism and joy to ours.”