AD scene in a state of pro­longed emer­gence

ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

What sets Dubai apart from other coun­tries in the Mid­dle East-- es­pe­cially when it comes to craft­ing award-win­ning cam­paigns?

I would guess that what sets Dubai apart from the rest of the re­gion is its cre­ative di­ver­sity. We have ex­pats from all over the world work­ing to­gether, giv­ing their unique touch to the ideas. Ev­ery year more and more cre­atives join from Europe, Asia, North and South Amer­ica adding to the re­gional mus­cle.

Are clients be­com­ing more open to chal­leng­ing ideas?

I don’t think you as a client CAN be­come more or less open to ideas. I think there are clients that have an open mind­set from the start and they will con­tinue to have it no mat­ter what brand they work for, and then there are those clients that even with the most ir­rev­er­ent brands, would still be too con­ser­va­tive and less open to some­thing dif­fer­ent. Clients don’t be­come more open to chal­leng­ing ideas, they just get re­placed.

What ad­jec­tives best de­scribe Dubai’s ad­ver­tis­ing scene?

I feel that the Dubai ad­ver­tis­ing scene has been in a state of pro­longed emer­gence. Yes, it’s fas­ci­nat­ing and mul­ti­cul­tural. Yes, for many years it has been de­scribed as full of cre­ative op­por­tu­ni­ties and the po­ten­tial to be­come one of the lead­ing coun­tries in the in­dus­try. How­ever, for what I have seen in my few years here, we have failed to con­sol­i­date our­selves as that; a lead­ing coun­try in cre­ativ­ity.

What is still miss­ing/needed for greater suc­cess/recog­ni­tion?

Don’t get me wrong, I know al­most ev­ery year an agency or two per­form very well in Cannes, but it is al­ways on an in­di­vid­ual scale. I think what the UAE is miss­ing for greater recog­ni­tion and con­sol­i­da­tion is get­ting its agen­cies to go to award shows as a coun­try, search for col­lec­tive glory rather than an in­di­vid­ual one. If you see coun­tries like Ar­gentina, Brasil or Aus­tralia, their jury rep­re­sen­ta­tives go as a coun­try, will­ing to fight for and pro­mote the best work from their mar­ket even if it´s not their own. I’m not sure we have reached this level in UAE yet.

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?

Dubai’s di­ver­sity is both awe­some and trou­ble­some or rather chal­leng­ing. How to craft mes­sages that fit so many cul­tures at the same time in­clud­ing that still im­por­tant chunk of the pop­u­la­tion that are lo­cals? And it gets even more chal­leng­ing when you add other re­gional mar­kets like KSA or Qatar. The chal­lenge is left for us to find sto­ries and in­sights that are uni­ver­sally rel­e­vant. I some­times do feel we over­es­ti­mate the term “cul­tur­ally rel­e­vant”. Do I have to show Asian ac­tors, to be rel­e­vant to Asian ex­pats? Why??? I ac­tu­ally got told once while pre­sent­ing a cam­paign, that a me­teor was not rel­e­vant to the cul­ture… I don’t think it’s a “thing” of any cul­ture, it’s just as rel­e­vant as the plan­ets and the stars I guess.

What are the great­est chal­lenges fac­ing ad cre­atives to­day?

I think the big­gest chal­lenge cre­atives have to­day is not fall­ing into that zone of com­fort and be­com­ing stag­nant, and a mar­ket like Dubai can dan­ger­ously put you there. You will prob­a­bly get a bet­ter salary and qual­ity of life in Dubai than in your own coun­try, and win a cou­ple of awards here and there, but it’s a clean slate ev­ery year and you have to be con­stantly hun­gry for great work. As they say, “you are only as good as your last ad”.

Are there any trends in Dubai’s ad­ver­tis­ing scene that you specif­i­cally dis­like?

Can’t think of any in par­tic­u­lar… But I will tell you I dis­like all the in­cred­i­bly over­acted ra­dio spots here in UAE. I hon­estly do not know how they make their way through the speak­ers into peo­ple´s ears. Such a waste of a truly fun me­dia.

Do you find it pro­fes­sion­ally re­ward­ing and per­son­ally in­ter­est­ing to be lo­cated in Dubai?

Well I wouldn’t be here if I thought oth­er­wise. I be­lieve this is a mar­ket that will only be­come stronger, more com­pet­i­tive and more cre­ative.

What made you pick Dubai?

I was head­hunted while I was work­ing at Puerto Rico, and had no opin­ion of Dubai at all, just ev­ery­thing you hear of its lux­ury craze. First thing I did was to google how life was here, and thank­fully it ended up be­ing a lot less re­stric­tive than what it said it was. For me, it was a new and exciting chal­lenge in my life. I came here to try it for a year and that turned into three and counting.

What the UAE is miss­ing for greater recog­ni­tion and con­sol­i­da­tion is get­ting its agen­cies to go to award shows as a coun­try, search for col­lec­tive glory rather than an in­di­vid­ual one.

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