Hala Tfayli on building an agency from the ground up
Posted on 2023 Jun,28  | By Ghada Azzi

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2022 was the year where businesses who survived the pandemic and the manifold Lebanese crisis were actually put under a real test to see if they were able to continue to strive and make a difference. One of such agencies is The Channel, which has been going from strength to strength.

Established in 2018, the young agency was built on a flexible, remote business model before remote working was a thing; the agency saw early on that this formula worked greatly for them.

2020 is when the agency expanded its footprint to Kuwait. Today, The Channel is considered amongst the fastest growing agencies in Kuwait.

Founder and CEO Hala Tfayli tells ArabAd about the factors that contributed to the agency’s significant growth and obvious success.


What inspired you to establish an advertising agency?

My personal experience with agencies when I was on the client side and for 10 years in the corporate world, I felt I accumulated good knowledge to understand clients’ commercial objectives and KPIs and how agencies can support while remaining creative but practical. Having moved back to Beirut after 10 years in Kuwait, I saw the drive and the opportunity to capitalize on the creative scene in Lebanon, which has always been the foundation of top multi-national agencies in the region. And so I did by building a team of amazing, young creative people out of my dining table until we moved to our first office six months later and started the journey. 


What prompted you to expand the agency footprint to Kuwait?

After three years of operating out of the Beirut office, we accumulated a great customer base in Kuwait and in 2020, like many Lebanese, I had to move out but refused to give up on the Beirut office and this is when we started operating our first branch in Kuwait.


As a newly established agency in Kuwait, how do you approach building and maintaining strong relationships with clients, and what strategies have proven successful for your agency in retaining clients in Kuwait?

Maintaining relationships with clients is at the core of agencies processes along with mastering the creative offering. Clients usually come to agencies to support them in their ultimate purpose, which is sales. So with the right strategy in place, the right teams from both client and agency sides, we would achieve targets while we enjoy the ride.


What sets your advertising agency apart from competitors in Kuwait, and how do you maintain a competitive edge in such a dynamic market?

You can never have one great agency. You can have one great client/agency match. A match that won’t necessarily work the same between a different client or a different agency. We were lucky to work with great clients and I believe agencies are as good as their clients’ teams. We had the drive to succeed, built on knowledge and understanding of being part of achieving clients KPI’s, add to it passion and commitment and you will get the right formula.


How would you describe the environment at the agency? 

When we started back in 2018, we started from a small office in Beirut and started building our portfolio by pitching to selected clients who then referred us and recommended us to more clients. We survived Covid and when we thought that 2020 was our best year expanding to wider clients out of our Beirut office, the 2020 explosion hit us which led me to open the Kuwait office.

Today, discipline is required. Flexibility is still there but the key thing is to be able to create a harmony, an environment where people would want to actually be together, create together and enjoy the process of coming up with ideas. I am a believer that best ideas come in groups and in teams.


"You can never have one great agency. You can have one great client/agency match." 


What would you say is the most difficult part of your job?

Managing talent. We are professional services providers. So our main asset is our talent. Therefore, finding the ones who are well skilled to work in a fast growing environment, the solution providers, the believers in the extra mil, the ones who are willing to build bridges with you is a very difficult task.

It is really about finding the match instead of just looking for technically strong people. We have the heart, which is the DNA of the Channel; it is a matter of continuously connecting the veins so the whole body can live longer.


Are you looking to expand to new markets?

We are starting our operations in KSA very soon with clients who want to replicate the success we did in Kuwait. And we are in talks with amazing brands who are looking for a GCC relevant agency with a knowledge of the digital activations world. The Channel KSA is seeing light very soon and we can’t wait to be part of this amazing rising arab country and to witness on the realization of the vision of the leadership.


What about your Beirut office?

Personally, Lebanon is in my heart, it will always remain the dream we all chase.

I am convinced that Lebanon has the best talent in the world and we are always on the lookout to  become a hub for like minded people who want to join forces and work with an amazing portfolio of clients. Lebanon has always been the hub and the center for creative brains, in all sectors and all industries. Our newly acquired office in the center of Down Town is home to 10+ creative people and we are open to hire more in the next few months.