Ramsey Naja: The fast and the furious

Ramsey Naja is CCO at JWT MENA

Formula 1 aficionados love to compare drivers and their styles, and never was the difference more pronounced than in the case of two Ferrari drivers, Michael Schumacher and his successor, Kimi Raikonnen. Schumacher was the perfect team man: he would speak on behalf of the team, hardly ever about himself. He was revered in the paddock, such was the attention he gave to his mechanics, his data analysts and their children’s photos. Raikonnen, on the other hand, grumpy party animal as he was, would just turn up, usually late and often hungover, and just ask for a car fast enough for him to do the job.

Personally, and much as I favour the team spirit where the means are just as important as the outcome, I can’t help but love Raikonnen’s no-nonsense approach. Because if my job is to hurtle down a track at stupid speeds and get to the finish line in one piece and before anyone else does, the fact that you installed me a laser-operated solenoid is the least of my concern. Indeed, it is yours.

You may argue, justifiably, that we should appreciate the components of the package that we have to deal with. Well, to hell with that. There might be a prize for best laser-operated solenoid installer, but that’s not what the sport is about.

In our industry, the collaboration imperative may well mean that the Schumacher approach is the right model. The need for info, data and the kind of technology that turbo-charges a brand’s promise all require a level of know-how beyond anything we had in the past. However, this doesn’t mean that the mechanic takes centre stage. Nor does it justify the kind of wide-eyed reverence that a large chunk of the industry is giving to the builders and at the expense of the architect. Advertising is about solving business problems with ideas that can thrive in all relevant customer touchpoints.

Ultimately, this is where accountability sits. For these ideas to be driven fast enough and reach customers before their competitors do, there is no doubt much depends on the machinery. What we are seeing these days, however, are mechanics and boffins coming in all sexed up and mouthing off like rappers and stealing the limelight from those who actually drive, instead of focusing on the job at hand. Schumacher may have been the more successful driver in the past but what the industry needs is more Raikonnens – in every discipline.

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