Peter Mouracade, the former Head of Communication at Leo Burnett Beirut has recently taken on the role of CEO of the Beirut Marathon Association. Quitting a career in communication to chair a successful organisation like the BMA seems a natural transition to Mouracade. In the following Q&A, he explains it all.
You’ve been in the ad business for over a decade and a Burnetter for half that time. What prompted you to quit advertising and how easy was such a decision?
I’ve been in the communication industry for more than 12 years now, out of which I’ve spent my best seven years with Leo Burnett. It’s been a beautiful journey and leaving Burnett has been the toughest professional decision I’ve ever had to make, because I’m extremely attached to the people and the creative talents (they are one of a kind). The relations I’ve built with my amazing clients (some of the boldest professionals in the region) are irreplaceable. I really don’t see it like I’ve quit Leo Burnett, because I still feel very much part of this world, but I decided to embark on a new challenge, one that falls directly within my line of passion, the sports industry.
You may not know this about me, but aside from my career in communication I’ve developed a serious interest for endurance sports over the years and have become somewhat of an endurance athlete myself.
In 2012, I founded ‘Team Lebanon’ with a group of Lebanese mountaineers, set on the mission to become the first all Lebanese team to climb the seven summits (the highest peak in each of the seven continents) while raising awareness and donations for the Lebanese Red Cross. To date, we have successfully climbed and reached the top of five out of the seven summits (with Everest and Antarctica left in the sight line).
So moving from the ad world to the sports’ world is a natural transition for me, and it came at a point in my career where I was looking for more independence and autonomy in managing and operating from A to Z.
It’s in that context that I was introduced to Mrs. May El Khalil the founder and president of the Beirut Marathon Association who truly inspired me with her charisma, impressive drive, and vision to grow and nurture the running culture in Lebanon while contributing actively to the Lebanese community.
Has advertising lost its absolute appeal on you or have you lost interest in the field?
Absolutely NOT! I’m still extremely in love with the Communication industry, I keep reading advertising blogs and am constantly on the lookout for new groundbreaking creative campaigns.
To me nothing feels more intellectually stimulating and rewarding than brainstorming with wacky minds and coming up with the next big initiative that will make your brand or cause shine and be heard around the world.
The thrill of looking at a problem, trying to unveil a deep human truth, and cracking a paradigm shifting idea that changes the conversation and turns what looked like an impossible mountain to surmount, into a brilliant opportunity. This is the beauty of creativity in my eyes, and it will never lose any of its appeal or luster, especially that we’re surrounded with likeminded brains that work relentlessly to transform the world we live in through the power of their ideas.
This being said, it’s true that there is a general frustration caused by the corporate agendas of multinational communication groups. Their irrational financial targets are simply not in tune with the business realities of our region; and that is not the nature of our creative industry per se (quite the opposite actually), but simply the greed of some corporate leaders who are eager to please their shareholders at all cost, even at the expense creative minds and talents.
Eventually they will come to understand that this business model is not viable if it keeps eroding talents and capabilities to meet profit ratios, and there clearly must be a healthier balance to strike.
What will be your mission and biggest challenge at the Beirut Marathon?
Turning every Lebanese citizen (regardless of age, gender, or creed) into a runner!
We still have a long way to go.