Leo Burnett Beirut, Raising the Bar and Setting the Benchmark
Posted on February 01, 2016

Lebanon is renowned as well as infamous for reasons far too many to name. The small Arab country overlooking the Mediterranean Sea has, in the past, set a number of outstanding firsts in a diverse range of fields and the communication field is no exception, as we have been witnessing the creation and evolution of many agencies catering to the MENA region with work created by some that has been all the rage on a local and international level. Leo Burnett Beirut is one of those agencies...

Commenting on the most recent accomplishments, which were as unexpected as they were creative, Patrick Collister, publisher of The Big Won Directory remarked, "Looking at the rankings, there is one agency that really shouldn’t be in the Top 10 for 2015. Leo Burnett Beirut. After all, this is a small agency in a small country, which just happens to be situated in one of the most politically sensitive parts of the world. And yet, there it is. The advertising community is at the forefront of this and Leo Burnett Beirut in particular is attempting to use creativity to tackle sagging morale and endemic corruption"

Its CCO Bechara Mouzannar, with such slender resources, has managed to propel the medium-sized agency from a small country often subject to turmoil into the 4th position as the ‘Most Creative Agency in the World’ after he himself was voted the world’s top creative chief, thanks in part to the work of Leo Burnett Dubai and Egypt.  

This is a story of how creativity is helping a small country retain its pride and optimism at a time it is under intense pressure from outside sources. Leo Burnett Beirut’s campaign ‘Keep the Flame Alive’ for Johnnie Walker addresses the nation’s plight head on; a whisky brand insisting the situation is not hopeless. Similarly, the ‘Lebanon4Sale’ campaign persuaded ordinary people that they could actually do something about corruption. As part of a vision to help the citizens better their lives, the Lebanese agency has been using creativity in local campaigns to recover civic pride, setting a new standard worldwide in brands' creative social involvement and creating an inventive form of integration.

For those who do not know what a big deal this is, allow us to explain. The Directory Big Won Rankings are to Creative Advertising what the ATP Rankings are for professional tennis players. It is a global annual creative report, published in London, every year at the end of January summing up all the points that stem from all the creative awards won by all advertising agencies in the 32 most important award shows and festivals around the world during the previous year. The Big Won ranks agencies, campaigns and creative people, according to the number of awards won.

This is the second time Leo Burnett Beirut makes it into the global top 10 when it first surprised the global industry in 2012 by ranking 6th.

This year, the Lebanese agency, which is also a creative hub for several Procter & Gamble's brands for Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, Africa, MENA and Latin America, and the American Arab satellite provider Dish for North America, is consolidating its global creative reputation by taking it to new heights thereby making history for the whole Arab region: 116 prestigious international and regional awards in just one year, and two crowns of 'Agency of the Year' at the Dubai Lynx and at the Cristal Festival. 

 The agency’s campaigns for Johnnie Walker, 'Sakker el Dekkene' ‘Lebanon4Sale’ and KAFA (women’s rights and empowerment) were multi-awarded, notably at the Cannes Lions, The One Show, the Facebook Awards and the Dubai Lynx, and are among the 10 best in the world in several media categories.

Johnnie Walker 'Keep the Flame Alive' has set an example for innovation in the social conversation around a global brand in a local market ranking 9th for the most awarded campaign in the world in 2015, the 5th most awarded digital campaign as well as the 5th most awarded integrated campaign.

According to Collister, “If their work has won many awards around the world, then the agency is probably more proud of the effects they have had on the people they live with: restoring pride, stiffening resolve, and encouraging conversation." 

Leo Burnett Beirut is also the number one ‘Agency in the World’ in the Media category due to its experimental use of media and channels in the integration of its campaigns. With a record number of 183 international and regional awards won in 2015, Leo Burnett MENA became the most awarded Network in the world. This confirms the ‘Network of the Year’ crown won at the Dubai Lynx last year.

 A few of Leo Burnett MENA's top creative executives are also setting new benchmarks with Malek Ghorayeb voted the 1st executive creative director and Areej Mahmoud the 2nd creative director in addition to twenty other people who rank among the top 10 to 30 in the world. These global results constitute a premiere for both the Lebanese and the Arab creative advertising industries.

Last but not least, the success of Leo Burnett MENA is strengthened by the performance of Leo Burnett Dubai, which won the coveted Black Cube at the ADC awards and no less than seven Pencils at the D&AD, ranking 50th creative agency out of 1,443 agencies that won awards last year.