Rayyan Aoun: ‘I’ve always had faith in the region’s creativity’
Posted on April 14, 2019

Rayyan Aoun, ECD, J. Walter Thompson KSA, shares his candid take on Dubai Lynx 2019 edition.

How would you evaluate this year's creativity? And what does it tell you about the regional industry?

I’ve always had faith in the region’s creativity. And this year, I’ve seen some solid thoughts and really good ideas that reaffirmed my belief. That said, I still think a lot of the work lacked scale and impact. Today more than ever, brands are counting on creativity to push their businesses forward with effective solutions that drive long-term results. So, in order to live up to that expectation we need to think beyond earning awards and focus more on the longevity of ground-breaking solutions.

Is there a trend that characterized the majority of the awarded work?

This year, some of the award-winning work had accurate cultural insights that gave them all the more flavor. It’s always heartwarming to see work that is able to capture cultural moments and still be relevant to the market in this industry but it wasn’t really the case for most of the wins this year. Sure, a foreign jury might seem intrigued and even impressed with some of the ideas but had they been more in tune with daily issues in the region, I frankly believe that the outcome would have been different.

“I still think a lot of the work lacked scale and impact.”

Do you have any comments regarding the Grand Prix awarded?

I think juries were quite generous with this year’s Grand Prix. To be honest, in certain categories, the winning works were very good but not really worthy of a Grand Prix. It’s usually ground-breaking work that earns such awards for its ability to disrupt an entire category with fresh and innovative solutions. They should be able to set a benchmark for the rest of the work to live up to, which most Grand Prix winners failed to do this year.

Could you name a campaign or two that you think deserved greater recognition?

I would have liked to see “The Big Shutdown” earn more than just a bronze. This is a one of a kind campaign that we did for STC, and the scale of the work made a tangible impact with outstanding results that are still on going to this day. It was more than simply creative – the objective was to demonstrate the power of STC’s digital tools, and drive customers to go digital. So Saudi Telecom shut down every single one of its 220 branches for a day, and this actually worked, with Saudi consumer behaviour remaining more digitally biased now than before “The Big Shutdown.” A gutsy move for the country’s largest telecom brand. “The Big Shutdown” now marks the first “Digital Day” in Saudi, which has since been designated a yearly event.

“With the body of work that won this year at Lynx, I think that only a very small percentage will get picked in other shows.”

Some of the comments we heard were related to having Turkey and Pakistan included in what is supposed to be a strictly Pan-Arab awards. What's your take on this?

I personally think inclusivity is very important in these kinds of events. But to be transparent, neither Turkey nor Pakistan had relevance in the regional market this year. Not to mention they have their own market specific shows such as Spikes for Pakistan and Eurobest for Turkey, which are both organised by Cannes Lions.

Other comments that emerged from the post-event discussions is that the work submitted this year wasn't really outstanding and don't stand a chance in the upcoming international awards. Do you agree with this?

With the body of work that won this year at Lynx, I think that only a very small percentage will get picked in other shows. I am sure that a lot of agencies are not counting on the work they submitted at Lynx to win big elsewhere. I predict they’ll be putting their effort into new work that is actually up to international standard to be able to go straight to Cannes.