Less than two years ago, a man who’d spent the better part of his life in the client-servicing and PR field struck an unlikely partnership with another man renowned for creative communication. The news was received with plenty of skepticism and even less hope for success.Today, its. a fully-fledged communication agency has potential clients fighting each other off trying to get their foot in the door. Sporting an entirely different scrumptious flavour, this highly and quite bizarre partnership sees Waddah Sadek at the helm as CEO alongside Daniel Georr as Managing Partner.
What most outsiders were unaware of, was that the key to the stellar success of this particular venture was the meeting of two very different mentalities backed by two skilled teams. Since then, the agency has been almost taking one new client every other week. This very month, its. signed BCF (Beirut Culture Festival), Burger King, Kempinski and Summer Land after a three-tier and ferocious pitching sessions. Other proud clients are Sayfco, Al-Mawarid Bank, Phoenicia, Taanayel and Michel Nassif & Sons sal. As a result, Sadek and Georr, who wanted to dedicate themselves entirely to each client, decided not take on any more accounts for the coming six months.
ArabAd visited these two quirky characters at their brilliantly decorated offices that are so inviting, one would almost be tempted to pitch a tent and start a bonfire, to discuss a number of pertinent matters related to interpersonal communication!
What are the main differences of working with a local as opposed to multinational agency?
Dani: On the local level, the founders of the agency are the ones doing the work themselves. They also are the ones in direct contact with the owners of the accounts they are servicing. So, when the owner of an agency is personally communicating with the owner of a brand, great things are bound to happen. This is the kind of trust we enjoy and build on, which is the case for 90 percent of our clients. As a result, half of our clients recommend us to the other half of the clients we eventually acquire.
On the other hand, when the owner of a brand hires a multi-national company, he usually deals with a mid-level employee instead of the head of the agency. This presents a major drawback because these account handlers lack the authority and confidence. They also are reluctant, if not scared to take risks. This is when the tremendous experience a client has selling his brand is lost on the guy chosen to service the account. If the former challenges the ad man, the latter will retreat out of fear.
Waddah: Also, keep in mind that the process a client goes through when working with a multinational is quite fragmented as that individual will have to separately meet with the media department, PR, digital, creative department manager… to agree on a final approach. Worse still, no one is coordinating between all the people involved, so different parts of the work are being executed in isolation and the client does not like this at all.
Dani: Worse still, each MD servicing a different side of the same account wants, at year’s end, to report back to their CEO with the best PNL (statement of Profit and Loss). This is pure corporate cannibalisation of the client’s money and I am proud to say that we do not have this at our agency. The returns on our performance merit and benefit one and all, thereby eliminating the greed factor by fully focusing on the job in hand.
What is the role technology plays and what are the advantages/disadvantages?
Waddah: Technology is a tool and what makes it real is the human element. If this technology is being used to strengthen the human bond, that is great. On the other hand, I see that there is tremendous procrastination taking place. So, if we use this technology to cut corners so as to work less, it will be detrimental.
Do fresh graduates still prefer to work with multinationals?
Dani: This used to be the case. However, the advantage today is that we are becoming sexier for fresh job seekers. Previously, these graduates applied for work at multinational companies and only knocked on our door after they struck out. However, the tables are turning because these very same graduates choose us first now. Though at times we find ourselves unable to take on new recruits, the exceptionally talented immediately offer to work on a trial basis for a three-month period without pay.
For example, we have a recruit who’s been with us for the past seven months. He lives in Jizeen and makes the journey every single day and is the first to arrive and the last to leave. This, unfortunately, is the one percent of the kind of people we would like to have on our team. We have another employee who is well off and therefore does not need to find a job. However, she works twelve-hour days because she loves what she does and where she is.
Waddah: On the other side of the spectrum we get applicants dying for a job, yet show up late for the preliminary interview! This applies to more than half the applicants.
Is talent migration still a problem today?
Dani: Yes it is and I think it’s wrong because it constitutes an act of desperation. After all, if the applicant truly want to learn as much as possible, then a local Lebanese agency is key, because budgets are smaller and therefore the challenges are bigger. How thrilling is that!
Anything else you would like to add?
Dani: Waddah is looking for a job if you know of any openings!