From sand, to Titanium…
Close-up with Memac Ogilvy’s Ramzi Moutran
The executive creative director of Memac Ogilvy & Mather UAE has had little time to spend in Dubai, or in any one place for that matter, of late. Work has kept the agency, and the creative, rather busy. Punishing hours have been the norm ever since he came back from OgilvyOne in London to join Memac Ogilvy in the region as a junior art director in 2002. He’s not regretting it one bit, because the journey has been gratifying. But it’s far from over.
Looking back, looking forward
After finishing his education in Beirut and South Africa, Ramzi Moutran headed to London. It seems natural that he joined another Ogilvy office, albeit one that had a specialised focus – OgilvyOne. But as part of one of the eight to 10 teams there, he had to be content ‘having a relationship with the traffic manager’ instead of one with clients. He got to see the creative directors, ‘but mostly at the bar’. He’s grateful though that he got to meet the likes of Rory Sutherland.
“I wanted to start working with clients. And Dubai, at the time, was just about starting to pick up pace. And being half Arab, I didn’t want to raise my kid in London. It all came together then,” says Moutran, on his move to Dubai 12 years ago.
Things were different back then, as one would expect. Moutran recalls the ‘lots of small briefs’ with not much time to craft work. What has remained constant is the philosophy, he underlines: ‘To be an agency of amazing brands’.
“Back then, it was all about executing work. A lot of work was adaptation, with clients asking us to ‘localise it a little bit’. It was around that time that I started to discover what our culture was. I started building my view on it. We realised that we needed to have an agency of people who believe in the same thing, in similar belief systems and culture. So many times, back then, we were arguing on things. That has changed. We started having conversations on where we needed to go next, because we agreed in principle,” explains the creative head.
Asked if he has ever regretted not working in a non-Ogilvy office, Moutran offers a ‘Yes and No’ response. He’d like to have, perhaps, he reasons, because he’s constantly asking people how something would be done elsewhere. The creative also points to Einstein’s famous definition of ‘insanity’ to explain his case: ‘continuing to do the same thing over and over, and then expecting different results’.
“But then, I feel so close to the Ogilvy and Memac Ogilvy way of working – of belief in brands, in relationships, in people and in what we do – that I don’t miss anything. We’re in the business of using ad campaigns to sell products, and I’m happy to look at the sales reports every month from clients,” he adds.
From a team of eight or 10 creatives, including illustrators, finalisers copywriters, CDs and ACDs in 2002, Memac Ogilvy has across its UAE offices over 50 creatives today.
Moutran underlines, while outlining the numbers, that whether it’s the team at Memac Ogilvy or other Ogilvy offices, the Ogilvy style and structure allows them to work as one unit, and collaborate when needed.
“There’s no secret to the success of Ogilvy, whether it’s at Cannes or somewhere else – it’s the culture,” he says.
From creative, to creative leadership
“Every creative industry should be led by a creative leader,” underlines Moutran, on the philosophy that drove him to the Berlin School of Creative Leadership’s eMBA. He adds, “It’s easier to teach a creative
Moutran... ‘When clients complement the work, they are really complimenting the people.’