Sasan Saeidi In­ter­view

J.wal­ter Thomp­son’s new chief ex­ec­u­tive for the Gulf, Sasan Saeidi, talks agency cul­ture, cre­ative con­sul­tan­cies and trans­for­ma­tion

ArabAd - - CONTENTS -

JWT is ob­sessed with the fu­ture and be­ing ahead of the game, so I re­ally want to help cre­ate an agency of the fu­ture model, where the cre­ative prod­uct, the in­ter­ac­tions, and the thought process is seam­lessly con­nected and fast.

If there was an award for the best dressed man in ad­ver­tis­ing, the chances are Sasan Saeidi would win it. Con­sis­tently well turned out, with smoothed back hair and de­signer stub­ble, he is the sar­to­rial em­bod­i­ment of Gentle­men’s Quar­terly. If noth­ing else, he’s a man who ap­pre­ci­ates im­pec­ca­ble tai­lor­ing.

For­merly of FP7, where he was man­ag­ing di­rec­tor for the UAE, Saeidi now finds him­self head­ing up J. Wal­ter Thomp­son’s op­er­a­tions in the Gulf, over­see­ing the Dubai, Kuwait and Qatar of­fices as chief ex­ec­u­tive.

For eight years he was with FP7, which makes it hard to pic­ture him with an­other agency. But here he is, all smiles and pos­i­tiv­ity. He is as friendly, ap­proach­able and com­mit­ted as ever.

When we meet, it is down­stairs from his new of­fice in Busi­ness Cen­tral Tow­ers, where he has in­her­ited a team used to the tur­bu­lence of J. Wal­ter Thomp­son Dubai.

“The job is go­ing very well so far,” he says. He has been with the agency since early Septem­ber, suc­ceed­ing Michiel Hof­s­tee. “JWT is a phe­nom­e­nal brand; we have a solid rep­u­ta­tion and I am ex­cited to be part of it. I’m here to help the agency group be­come even bet­ter. And that’s my KPI.”

He has been hired, es­sen­tially, to trans­form the agency. To build a ‘cre­ative con­sul­tancy’ of the fu­ture, with a ‘new spirit, vi­sion and am­bi­tion’. Al­though the nuts and bolts of how this will be achieved are not openly di­vulged, at the heart of it lie tal­ent and cul­ture. Which, given the agency’s past, is un­der­stand­able.

J. Wal­ter Thomp­son has had a tough time sta­bil­is­ing its Dubai of­fice in terms of per­son­nel over the course of the past few years. The de­par­ture of man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Mo­hammed Sabry and ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tor Marco Bez­erra at the begin­ning of this year was just the lat­est in a long line of staffing up­heavals.

Sabry him­self had in­sti­gated a purge fol­low­ing his ar­rival in Jan­uary 2015, with a wave of fir­ings and res­ig­na­tions di­min­ish­ing the agency’s head­count sig­nif­i­cantly. Added to this is the agency’s his­toric in­abil­ity to re­tain ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative di­rec­tors. It cur­rently does not have one, al­though Chafic Had­dad has held the post of chief cre­ative op­er­a­tions of­fi­cer for the MENA re­gion since 2015.

Whether more tran­quil times lie ahead fol­low­ing the ar­rival of Saeidi awaits to be seen, but a re-in­vig­o­ra­tion is nec­es­sary, both in terms of per­son­nel and cre­ative out­put.

“New peo­ple are a must for any trans­for­ma­tion,” ad­mits Saeidi, who is also the In­ter­na­tional Ad­ver­tis­ing As­so­ci­a­tion’s global vice-pres­i­dent for con­tent strat­egy, and re­gional vice-pres­i­dent for the Mid­dle East and Africa. “But we also have a lot of great peo­ple at JWT and I have al­ready com­menced my work with them. What gives me great com­fort is that JWT has a lovely peo­ple-ori­ented cul­ture, and this gives me great con­fi­dence that great tal­ent will al­ways find JWT a real home.

“JWT is ob­sessed with the fu­ture and be­ing ahead of the game, so I re­ally want to help cre­ate an agency of the fu­ture model, where the cre­ative prod­uct, the in­ter­ac­tions, and the thought process is seam­lessly con­nected and fast. Of course, this will mean im­prov­ing cul­ture, im­prov­ing the cre­ative prod­uct, and in­ject­ing strat­egy in ev­ery sin­gle of­fer­ing we pro­vide our clients.”

Key to this is Saeidi’s com­mit­ment to agency cul­ture, which he has been a strong ad­vo­cate of for years: This idea of a com­pany car­ing about its peo­ple and pro­mot­ing ex­per­i­men­ta­tion and en­trepreneur­ship.

It was this de­sire to cre­ate a cul­ture of mer­i­toc­racy and healthy com­pe­ti­tion – free of any ap­petite to mi­cro­man­age an agency’s best peo­ple – that helped turn­around FP7 fol­low­ing its con­tro­ver­sies of the past.

“I joined JWT be­cause it was a great op­por­tu­nity,” says Saeidi, who be­gan his ca­reer as an ac­count man­ager at FCB Canada. “I also feel that I did ev­ery­thing I wanted to do at FP7 and I helped re­po­si­tion the brand and el­e­vate it to where it is to­day. I want to do some amaz­ing things at JWT, and re­ally sup­port it to go from good to great.

“My strat­egy is to fo­cus on build­ing a cul­ture that stands for great work and great strat­egy, re­volv­ing around great peo­ple. My aim is to help the agency be­come the best cre­ative con­sul­tancy. Which means an agency that pro­vides not only the best cre­ativ­ity, but also re­fined mar­ket­ing so­lu­tions for our clients. That will be our edge.” -

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bahrain

© PressReader. All rights reserved.