When Bono wrote, “Where the streets have no name”, he probably thought of Beirut. It takes me forever to find the exact location of the agency. It’s another Friday in Ad Land, the worst time to arrive “fashionably late”.
In the creative compartment, it’s all hands on deck to meet the deadline. I’m lucky to steal half an hour of creative captain Jihad Ramadan, who keeps a remarkable calm in the storm. “When you’re a creative director, you have to deal with so many crises. It’s almost like you’re a crisis management cell. I have an extremely zen attitude and character. So everyone in this agency comes to me: finance, production and account management on top of the creatives. And I love doing it. I’m not complaining. It’s in my character to make things go smoother.”
The agency houses four different companies under the same roof.
Design-wise, it’s best described as a no-frills office: white walls, glass doors, sparse decoration. The devil is in the details: each corridor is flanked by a little strip of pebbles. Nice touch.
Six creatives are squeezed into one room. “Real estate is expensive,” smiles Jihad. After Y&R’s move to Downtown Beirut, everybody had to give in some space. A small sacrifice for working in a top location: the Beirut Souks are hardly 200 meters away. Only Jihad has kept a small office on the side. Playful Y&R graphics are bringing in a touch of Fun & Games.
The most popular room isn’t even a room. Creatives are busy gathering on a sun-kissed balcony. The space serves as cafeteria and meeting room. The workload is discussed over a smoke.
The account team is sitting next door, supervised by the sympathetic Managing Director Ghada el Khatib. Her office has the most elaborate decoration. The walls display some remarkable, surreal paintings. A shiny Panton chair ads an organic design touch. We vaguely discuss the current economic situation. “Lebanese people are elastic, the minute something good happens, we’ll bounce right back,” she smiles as I’m getting a VIP tour through the agency.
PR company ASDAA B-M is taking the adjoining corner, painted in vivid orange and blue. Post-it notes are the base material of an art piece. The vivid transformed into the eternal. Media company MEC is covering the rest of the floor. Employees are busy discussing numbers. “Don’t just live. Thrive.” is written on the opposite wall. But first, we have a deadline to make. It’s Friday.