Campaign Middle East

“We want all the different agencies within WPP to be competitiv­e, and fiercely competitiv­e, because that’s what drives quality. Competitio­n drives quality.”

Roy Haddad, WPP’s director for the Middle East and North Africa, talks competitio­n and agency identity

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It’s late morning in Beirut and Roy Haddad is swinging around a lightsaber. “My kids got it for me for my 50th birthday,” he says, the weapon’s distinctiv­e hum rising in pitch with every rapid movement. “We’re a family that is Star

Wars crazy.” These are eventful times for WPP in the Middle East and North Africa, and no-one can begrudge the holding company’s regional director a bit of harmless fun. With GroupM formally launching

in the region, JWT Dubai in a state of flux, and the departure of Joseph Ghossoub (who unexpected­ly resigned as chairman and CEO of Menacom in April) leaving Haddad to fill in as interim chairman, the lover of all things Star Wars has his hands full.

“Did you know that Julie Christie used to be an account executive at JWT?” he asks following a brief dis

cussion of Star Wars: Episode

VII and the remake of

Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd. It is the latter that prompts Haddad’s question, with Christie starring in John Schlesinge­r’s 1967 adaptation opposite Terrance Stamp. “There is such a mystique for all of us with Star Wars, so you don’t want a disappoint­ment – a remake that doesn’t work. Not like Far From the Madding Crowd.”

Haddad is responsibl­e for co-ordinating WPP’s operations in the region, with a key part of his job leveraging the holding company’s collective strength in order to provide greater value for its clients. It has been almost three years since he first took on the role, leaving his position as CEO of JWT MEA, but retaining his non-executive chairman position at the network.

“At the heart of my role is ‘how do we deliver more value to clients in an effective cost structure?’” he says. “The scale that we have in the region allows us to do that by identifyin­g initiative­s where, if you look at our costs, you have the talent, which is basically where the added value happens, and you have the back office. Can we rationalis­e more and more our back office? Can we scale all our procuremen­t, and that be reflected in the pricing to our clients without devaluing the value we add? Clients are doing that, so why shouldn’t we?

“We want all the different agencies within WPP to be competitiv­e, and fiercely competitiv­e, because that’s

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