Humbled, honoured, and proud to be elected the first Arab jury president for the 2016 Cresta Awards has strengthened his resolve beyond measure driving the need for the creative community to share these experiences as the next logical means to move forward. At least that is what Fadi Yaish, Regional Executive Creative Director of Impact BBDO Dubai believes. In this exclusive interview, ArabAd talked to the man who openly and clearly explained the current state of the regional advertising community and outlined a strategy, which in all probability will pave the way in the years to come.
The accomplishments you’ve racked up thus far have been formidable and the recent appointment as Jury President of the Cresta International Awards 2016, is a first for the MENA region and the event itself. So, how do you feel about this? What are the novel attributes you expect to introduce as the first Arab president and what are the elements you expect to bring back to the region?
At Cresta it’s you, the work and nothing else in between. It’s gut, jealousy and plenty of “I wish I had done it” feelings, minus any adulteration. This is what makes it special. And this is why I am proud and honoured to have the privilege to work with the Grand Jury, comprised of 85 of the world’s finest from 44 countries, as Jury President of the Cresta International Awards 2016.
As far as representing our region goes, there have been many great creative talents in MENA who have worked tirelessly with plenty of brave clients over the years, for us to reach higher ground in the global advertising fraternity. And the fact that I am the first jury president from this region is humbling.
These experiences that many of us have individually practiced are greatly impacting our business. But these become greater when we share them with the rest of the region, which I and fellow creative leaders from Ogilvy, Leo Burnett, Y&R, DDB (and hopefully many others will join soon) plan on doing to establish a forum that can nourish the creative talents in our region and enable them to exchange knowledge and experiences with one another. The time of flying solo is over, and we have to open up and soar together. We all want the same thing and it’s high time to make it happen.
The local/regional communication industry, specifically Lebanon, has always been renowned for birthing creatives who have created original work that could easily compete on a global scale yet when it comes to what is actually happening, such talent has not had its fair share. Why is that?
If we look at things from our own perspective, then yes, in general few from the region have had his or her fair share. At least not in proportion with the size of achievements and efforts we are all putting behind the work. There are reasons for that of course. We are all in the middle of it, and yes we are taking huge leaps, but while we are counting trophies on our shelves in the attempt to make-up for lost time, the world outside is looking through the trophies and at the work behind it. Yes, we are winning many lions now, but so is the rest of the world. The real question, is are we doing enough globally famous campaigns? Are we making heads turn? Simply put, winning trophies doesn’t do the job anymore. For that reason, some are still wondering, despite winning at so many award shows and being in the top 10 of everything, why the rest of the world is still not looking at us as
a force to reckon with.
There is no shortcut in a journey. And no shortcut for big ambitions. As a region we had to go through phase one first. At that time, we were hungry for acknowledgment, recognition and fame, so we had to do work that wins just to show up on the map. Everyone did. And from extensive print work, the region got into heavy CSR work. I guess this is where the line has to be drawn now. To see agencies using CSR work for the sake of winning awards only defeats every purpose of doing it in the first place. This trend was reflected on an international scale and not only in our region, for obvious reasons. But somehow in our region, some agencies did only CSR based work. However, the fact is, advertising is primarily about building brands and selling products and not only about CSR if you know what I mean. That alone will never make you stand out. We all have trophies now. Every agency, every network, almost every creative talent that has ambition. So we have to all move on to the next phase - a more mature stage that reflects our true abilities and creativity on brand building work.
At Impact BBDO, we want to continue steering the wheel in the region. We want to keep pushing to bounce back from going in circles and you can see this evident through our body of work. We are adamant to build our fame on work that wins hearts and market share. Work that doesn’t expire by the end of the award season and work that people continue talking about for the longest time. Work that is great because it is great, not because it won awards. Awards are a consequence of great work.
We still have a long way to go and more ripples to make before we start being looked up to. But I have to say it’s the best time for advertising in our region. Today ideas can go beyond any medium and platform. But first let our media plans cater to ideas and not the other way around.
So, let’s all appreciate the efforts in our course of getting there, and celebrate those who are making a difference and raising the bar one campaign at a time. It reflects on all of us. If you look at it and realise what all of us have been able to accomplish together in the past few years you will be impressed. The numbers talk. If you compare where we are today to markets, which have been there for the longest time and have been doing the world’s best work for longer than we all can remember, you will realise, it’s pretty good. Let’s keep at it and with such determination and great will, we’ll get there.