Fady Salameh is a veteran adman with over 35 years of senior management experience and leadership within the MENA region’s advertising and marketing communications industry. After exiting the business, he assumed, in 2011, the role of UNDP’s Live Lebanon Goodwill Ambassador. What follows is his account of the industry he lovingly served close to four decades.
After reaching the top of the advertising ladder I left because... I was traveling 22 days a month and could not spend as much time with my family as I wanted to, aside from some health considerations, which I was ignoring. Looking back, I now know there was a divine power pushing and guiding me to get out at exactly the right time just before the Lehman Brothers scandal, the world economic crisis, which eventually affected Dubai and brought about the Arab Spring revolt. My decision to leave certainly surprised many because I was 50 years old and the business was booming with a yearly increase of approximately 35 percent.
The thing I miss most about advertising is... The great team of friends I worked with whose entrepreneurial spirit was behind MCN's success.
What is still left from all those years is... The good reputation I built over the years in the industry, which oftentimes I am reminded of by clients and friends who I occasionally run into.
According to what I hear from friends still in the industry, the fun they used to have is no longer there.
Some of the tools I’ve acquired in the advertising field are... Firstly, success is not easy and comes at a hefty price. Secondly, leadership requires you to depend on your hunch and take tough and fast decisions that aren’t always popular. This reminds me of something a wise man once told me. He said that he cannot give me the formula for success but can share with me the formula for failure, which is to try and please everybody. Thirdly, all businesses have their ups and downs. What you need to know and believe, is that "What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down..." That is exactly what we did at MCN and despite the difficult times, we never threw in the towel.
The good old things that don't exist anymore are... According to what I hear from friends still in the industry, the fun they used to have is no longer there. This in part is because almost all the agencies have sold majority share to multinationals thereby doing away with the old free entrepreneurial spirit and comradely among the companies’ owners. This today is replaced with a sole focus on the bottom line.
The thing I am left with is... And will always be the success I have had on the personal level. Prior to entering the ad industry, I received a generous offer from Citibank, which I turned down. Everyone in my family was against me entering the advertising field believing that it wasn’t a real job. Looking back, I can say with compete confidence that if I had the chance to do it all over again, I would have done the same. However, with what I do now at U.N.D.P. I hope to succeed in contributing to a better and free Lebanon so that our children may live in peace and prosperity.