Baroque is assembling a team of independent creative ‘entrepreneurs’ from around the world as it builds a new breed of creative production company.
Ali Mansoor is overlooking the vastness of Dubai Marina. Twenty-nine floors below the occasional yacht can be seen heading out to sea, while around him the director Lorenzo Bassano and art director Karim Alchahabi are finalising preparations for a shoot the following day.
Tiredness has begun to creep in and Mansoor has been working hard for weeks, but he is in good spirits. “You know, advertising has moved into a new era where truth and real value have become the prerequisite for success in the advertising industry,” he says. “The time has come to cut out the crap and the fake superficial glitter and to be real and relevant in a very entertaining and engaging way. This is what communication between brands and consumers should be about. Offering real value solutions to people’s real needs.”
“Look at this way,” he replies. “What could be more satisfying and inspirational than in order to survive and succeed as a creative production company we are now forced to actually treat and perceive consumers as human beings – show genuine interest, respect and empathy. Are forced to earn their trust, time and attention, and by doing so deliver the most innovative, culturally sensitive, relevant and engaging stories for the communication we create between brands and consumers. This is what we mean by real needs and the solving of real problems.”
Mansoor is a man on a mission. The chief executive and co-founder of creative production company Baroque Worldwide is attempting to shake things up, challenging existing agency models by creating a company that straddles the territory traditionally occupied by creative agencies and production houses. His is also a virtual company as much as it is a real one, with a small office in Dubai, but drawing on talent from all parts of the world – talent that Mansoor refers to as a collection of independent creative ‘entrepreneurs’. He is, he asserts, forging a culture of ‘entrepreneurship and boundless creativity’.
“The freedom of ‘no limits’ that has been bestowed on creatives today, combined with the freedom of consumers to ignore us with a click, has created this new, fantastic, vast and exciting frontier for fearless creative and innovative entrepreneurs who are committed to merging technology with heart and guts,” says Mansoor. “Creatives who are not seeing the fast, ever-changing, increasingly competitive global marketplace as a problem, but instead as a huge inspirational incentive to skip the nonsense, to skip even knowledge and experience, and to dare to jump off the cliff. And they are jumping off that cliff in order to challenge their ability to fly and to break new ground.”
Baroque officially launched in March this year and was co-founded by Mansoor and Danish screenwriter and composer Bjarne O. The plan was to introduce the company as a start-up for the first year and operate remotely until office space was found, but demand has forced them to hit the ground running. New partners and stakeholders in different territories are in the process of being appointed, with a network of employees already spread across the world from New York, Los Angeles and London, to Singapore, Barcelona, Beirut and Buenos Aires.
The new outfit has also launched Baroque Film following the acquisition of Milan-based Dress Code Film in September, and recently won the global brief to launch the 2017 collection of Italian sportswear company Freddy. Headed up by Bassano, one of the co-founders of Dress Code Film, the film and content production company is bringing international projects to Dubai, while Dress Code Film continues to operate in Milan as part of Baroque Worldwide.
“Empowering visual storytelling is the way to go in the digital age,” believes Mansoor. “We are convinced that the old ways of doing things will be rendered obsolete by those new frontrunners who expertly utilise the revolution that has taken place in media to elevate their creative vision.
“Because advertising has changed from being a way to simply sell products to a means of enriching and improving people’s lives. This is being done using all kinds of tools – from the most advanced technology to the simplest of means – forcing us to think out of the box and to forget what was the norm in the old era. To be innovative and daring. This new freedom of expression – expanded platforms combined with the demand to be truthful and honest – is both very gratifying and inspiring and the reason why we started Baroque.”
Baroque’s DNA may embrace individuality and technology but it is essentially found in the belief that B2C relationships no longer exist, or if they do they are increasingly obsolete. Rather, Mansoor and his colleagues believe that we live in an H2H – human to human – world. And within that world lies communication with value.
“The time has finally come when being successful and making money is equivalent to, and vitally dependent on, being truthful in communicating real and useful information,” he says. “The time of brands and agencies fabricating needs wrapped in smart and sexy solutions are over. Dazzle won’t cut it anymore. It never really did.”
Will it work? Will Baroque prove that old models are well and truly dead? Only time will tell, but one thing’s for sure, no one can fault Mansoor for not thinking big.
“In the future Baroque will be a fully global creative production company comprised of hundreds of independent creative entrepreneurs around the world all working according to the Baroque mindset and all drawing on the main Baroque power base in Dubai. That way we’ll be able to craft our work for any culture at any given time, and because of our strong mutual mindset and standards, we’ll be able to have a huge impact on advertising and the world – and make a buck or two.”