Roger Hal­aby In­ter­view

The founders of Quse have cre­ated an agency with a philo­soph­i­cal and in­spi­ra­tional edge

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Chat­ting with Roger Hal­aby is more a philo­soph­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence than a mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tions one. Jean-jacques Rousseau, Descartes, the Greek muses of an­cient mythol­ogy. All fea­ture heav­ily in his con­ver­sa­tion.

A for­mer Memac Ogilvy, In­ter­mar­kets and AGA/ADK staffer, Hal­aby is sit­ting in the of­fice of Quse Qom­mu­ni­ca­tions in Busi­ness Bay, the agency he co-founded with Nina Shi­bly Cham­lian and Leopold Ajami three years ago.

“We are crack­ing the proper con­cept of com­mu­ni­ca­tion,” he as­serts. “The way com­mu­ni­ca­tion is done in this re­gion is so wrong. So wrong in terms of re­spect for the com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try. You learn com­mu­ni­ca­tion at univer­sity, ei­ther with a mas­ter’s de­gree or a PHD. It’s not ‘I take you out, we have lunch to­gether and you give me the busi­ness’. It doesn’t work like this.

“Be­fore we launched we did our home­work, go­ing back to the in­cep­tion of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Where did it start? We talked to pro­fes­sors, we talked to philoso­phers, we talked to nov­el­ists, we talked to psy­chol­o­gists. We trav­elled to the US, we trav­elled to Europe. Some peo­ple thought we were los­ing it, un­til we fine-tuned the con­cept and launched it in the mar­ket.

“Sur­pris­ingly enough, af­ter six months we had a huge port­fo­lio of clients. Sim­ply be­cause we were do­ing proper com­mu­ni­ca­tion. No nonsense.”

By no nonsense Hal­aby means de­liv­er­ing novel so­lu­tions and ask­ing the right ques­tions, all while us­ing the muses of Greek mythol­ogy as in­spi­ra­tion. Af­ter all, Quse is sim­ply a play on the ‘ques­tion­ing muse’. That is, the one un­usual ques­tion that will de­fine ev­ery­thing re­lated to a brand.

“What we found out af­ter a lot of re­search is that, yes, the muse of ideas ex­ists, but it has to come to you in the form of a ques­tion.”

For Hal­aby, René Descartes cre­ated ra­tio­nal mar­ket­ing; Jean-jacques Rousseau, emo­tional mar­ket­ing. Both, in­clud­ing David Ogilvy, are an in­spi­ra­tion.

“We al­ways say, ‘what would hap­pen if a philoso­pher or a nov­el­ist ques­tioned your brand from their own per­spec­tive?” asks Hal­aby. “If I tackle it from a tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive I’m go­ing to end up with the same out­come that all other com­pa­nies are do­ing. When you start ap­ply­ing the ide­ol­ogy and use the tools of those thinkers, you will see that the brand will start giv­ing you hints.”

With 12 peo­ple in Busi­ness Bay and a fur­ther 14 in Me­dia City thanks to an af­fil­i­a­tion with Pub­lis­creen, Quse of­fers cre­ative strat­egy, con­sul­tancy, me­dia and pro­duc­tion, and coach­ing.

In the Busi­ness Bay of­fice the staff have in­trigu­ing ti­tles. There’s a so­cionov­el­ist who plots all the com­mu­ni­ca­tion for so­cial me­dia and a visual nov­el­ist who works with imagery, while Hal­aby him­self is chief ex­e­qutive muse, with the ‘c’ re­placed with a ‘q’. Sim­i­larly, Cham­lian is pub­lic en­gage­ment muse and Ajami qreative muse.

“At Quse Qom­mu­ni­ca­tions we don’t do any­thing that falls un­der clas­si­cal com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Never,” says Hal­aby. “We’re not com­pet­ing with any­one. It’s about do­ing the work dif­fer­ently.”- I.A.

The way com­mu­ni­ca­tion is done in this re­gion is so wrong. So wrong in terms of re­spect for the com­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try…

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