Mohamed Fouad, Executive Creative Director at J.Walter Thompson, reflects on the pulse of Egypt's advertising business, the importance of going back to basics, his career and art practice.
What is the current state of the ad industry in Egypt?
In all honesty the ad industry has become somewhat stagnant. It’s not really moving anywhere; it’s just there. A lot of factors have resulted in this outcome but I believe the main factor has got to do with the clients strong interference with any agency‘s creative process —from the idea to the actual execution of the ad. The creative freedom becomes very limited resulting in where we are today.
From a creativity standpoint, how would you describe the quality of the work being produced in Egypt? Is it improving/regressing?
Personally, I think the quality of the work produced would be considered average. The creative talents in Egypt are immense, however, they are not yet put into good use. The work is neither improving nor regressing, it’s more at a standstill, with creatives focusing more on the aesthetic rather than the idea behind the ad itself.
What changes, if any, does the local industry need to make?
The local industry really needs to take a step back and just return to the simplicity. They also need to explore all the different mediums that are now available and take full advantage of them instead of focusing on just one.
What's holding back Egypt’s creative industry from being recognised further on a regional and international level?
Egypt is stuck on one medium: Television. What’s in today is out tomorrow, however, Egypt is yet to recognise that. There are endless mediums to work with and apply ideas to but we’re still applying the creative concepts from a television's perspective, which isn’t always the most relevant nowadays regionally and internationally.
What are your hopes for the future of creativity made in the Arab world?
To just keep it simple.
What do you enjoy most about your role as JWT Egypt's ECD – and what would you say is your biggest challenge?
JWT has a big creative team, with every person being special in their own way. I enjoy working with numerous talents everyday during the work process.
The biggest challenge (as with any creative field) is implementing the creative idea as you see fit while being on the same page as the client.
"The local industry really needs to take a step back and just return to the simplicity."
What do you still find appealing in your job--reckoning the tremendous changes the ad business has been witnessing?
The creative process from A-Z. It’s why I went into this field and why I’m still here today.
Tell us about a recent campaign you are really proud of...
Alexbank. It was a very simple advertising piece yet still witty, smart and to the point—which reminds me of the good old days.
Are there any projects you are working on that we should keep an eye out for in the coming months?
Prepare to be surprised.
Fill in the blank: it is truly an exciting time to be in advertising today because….
…Of all the new and different mediums that are popping up, which gives us a vast portal to implement our creative ideas.
What made you join advertising and is your interest and passion to this field still intact?
I joined advertising after realising that my architecture style and bauhaus beliefs weren’t really going to work in Egypt. I wanted something creative yet challenging so I decided to get into advertising.
Are there things you do outside of work to ensure that you are in the right mindset to be creative and/or successful in whatever you are doing?
Observation. I’m always observing everything. I’m always aware and taking mental notes in my head of everything that inspires and can be implemented in one way or another.