“I am go­ing to meld the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of skillsets into one beau­ti­fully func­tion­ing cre­ative depart­ment.”

The agency’s new ECD has fol­lowed its CEO from FP7 and prom­ises to use pas­sion to raise stan­dards. By Austyn Al­li­son

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE -

PAUL BANHAM, the new re­gional ECD of J. Wal­ter Thomp­son, on his re­mit at the agency.

Sasan Saeidi, for­merly man­ag­ing direc­tor of FP7 Dubai, re­cently joined J. Wal­ter Thomp­son as its re­gional Gulf CEO. He took the post about six months af­ter JWT Dubai CEO Mo­hammed Sabry left, along with ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative direc­tor Marco Bez­erra. The agency has been in a state of flux since then, and Saeidi’s ar­rival was the start of moves by JWT MENA CEO Roy Had­dad to re­store some sta­bil­ity.

Saeidi has been putting to­gether a new lead­er­ship team – the ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee, or “exco” – and says the ap­point­ment of Paul Banham as re­gional ex­ec­u­tive cre­ative direc­tor (ECD) is the fi­nal piece in that jig­saw. Banham him­self was at FP7 with Saeidi.

The rest of the exco con­sists of: Mona El Sayed, re­gional plan­ning direc­tor, who as head of strat­egy will fo­cus on brand and con­nec­tions; Sarah Mos­al­lam, re­gional tal­ent man­ager, fo­cus­ing on peo­ple and cul­ture; Natasha Igho­daro, head of so­cial me­dia, fo­cus­ing on so­cial, con­tent mar­ket­ing and per­for­mance; and Asaad Youssef, re­gional fi­nance direc­tor.

“The di­rec­tion that we are go­ing as an agency is ba­si­cally try­ing to fo­cus and re­model our­selves as a cre­ative con­sul­tancy,” says Saeidi. “A cre­ative con­sul­tancy lives at the in­ter­sec­tion of cre­ativ­ity and busi­ness, ev­ery day. The con­sul­tancy part is com­ing from the thought lead­er­ship, from the rigour, the strat­egy, from ev­ery­thing else we are go­ing to be do­ing on that. And the cre­ativ­ity is ba­si­cally the magic that [Banham] adds. It is not do­ing cre­ative for the sake of cre­ative; it is cre­ative for the sake of busi­ness so­lu­tions. That’s the way we’ve mod­elled our agency.”

He says: “2018 will def­i­nitely be a tran­si­tion year. It’s build­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, it’s en­hanc­ing ca­pa­bil­ity, it’s nur­tur­ing a cul­ture that per­haps has not been sta­ble for the past cou­ple of years.”

Banham too says there is “much to be done” and that “stan­dards need to be raised”. He talks about the “silent C” in ECD, which stands for “com­mer­cial”.

He also says: “My pol­icy has al­ways been slightly dif­fer­ent from other cre­ative direc­tors in this re­gion, be­cause I come from a back­ground where we weren’t born and bred to care only about awards. Awards are a by-prod­uct of cre­at­ing great, world-class, ef­fec­tive cam­paigns.”

A cre­ative con­sul­tancy is not an agency de­void of metal, though. Saeidi says: “Along the way we have set our­selves KPIs and goals in terms of Agency of the Year across Effies, Lynx, Cannes, etcetera. That will come by de­fault.”

Saeidi says that with 2018 be­ing that tran­si­tion year, “we are look­ing at 2019 as a good year to start show­ing re­sults”.

Banham ad­mits: “I love awards. Ev­ery cre­ative loves awards. I love them, and there is a whole load of them sit­ting on my shelf up­stairs.” But he adds: “I’m al­most more proud of the pitch wins and the re­ten­tion of busi­ness and ac­tu­ally de­liv­er­ing world-class, truly ef­fec­tive re­sults for clients. That’s the fastest way to get to new busi­ness. That’s the fastest way to grow your ac­counts or­gan­i­cally. And then your agency can spend a lit­tle less time pitch­ing and a lit­tle more time look­ing af­ter the clients that you’ve won.”

One of Banham’s key tasks is to de­velop the cre­ative depart­ment at J. Wal­ter Thomp­son.

“I am go­ing to meld the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of cre­ative skillsets into one beau­ti­ful func­tion­ing cre­ative depart­ment,” he says. “Ev­ery­thing from cre­ative tech­nol­o­gists to art direc­tors to copy­writ­ers to de­sign­ers to pho­tog­ra­phers, in­for­ma­tion ar­chi­tects and 3D/4D de­sign­ers. All of these will be put into a well struc­tured and or­gan­ised hub that can then de­liver any­thing that our clients need.”

Banham him­self has “an in­cred­i­ble cross-plat­form set of skills,” he says. “When I was de­scrib­ing my­self to the cre­ative depart­ment, I’m a de­signer, I’m an art direc­tor, a copywriter, a story teller, a dig­i­tal mad man.”

Pas­sion trumps tal­ent in his book, he says. “That’s why I’ve been suc­cess­ful. Be­cause when the best cre­atives on the planet go home I’m still think­ing about it, try­ing to make some­thing bet­ter. Ef­fort re­ally does get you to where you want to be. I can’t sleep un­less the work is re­ally go­ing to be as good as it can be. That’s what drives me per­son­ally.”

One thing Banham will be drum­ming into his new team is the dif­fer­ence be­tween “ideation” and craft. “In this re­gion there is a fun­da­men­tal mis­un­der­stand­ing about what a de­signer and what an art direc­tor are, and ev­ery­one seems to mess this up,” he cau­tions. “An art direc­tor is some­one who is lit­er­ally re­spon­si­ble for de­liv­er­ing ideation, ideas, cam­paigns, con­cepts and thoughts. Whereas a de­signer is a craft spe­cial­ism. I like my part­ners to run hand-in-hand, work­ing as a team, but there is a fun­da­men­tal core re­spon­si­bil­ity for craft and there is a fun­da­men­tal core re­spon­si­bil­ity for ideation.”

Some peo­ple, such as Banham, can do both, but he says it took him five years to move from be­ing a de­signer to be­come an art direc­tor at a top 10 London agency.

And he will still be in­volved cre­atively at JWT, he says. “If I can’t do a piece of work that’s bet­ter than my team, I prob­a­bly shouldn’t have my job.”

That job is only just be­gin­ning. Banham was only three weeks into it when Cam­paign spoke to him in Fe­bru­ary. But now Saeidi has his exco team to­gether, the in­dus­try will be watch­ing to see how JWT de­vel­ops.

Left to right: Youssef, El Sayed, Saeidi, Igho­daro, Banham, Mos­al­lam

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UAE

© PressReader. All rights reserved.