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Campaign 2019 – Top 10 Movers & Shakers

It’s time to look back over 2019. It was another turbulent year, and few can deny that we live in interesting times for the regional media, marketing and communications industry. Creative heads have been hopping between agencies. Apart from the HR headache at the region’s creative shops, this is probably a good thing for the industry, as stirring the creative pot is a good way to make sure that ideas, inspiration and experience can mix and make wonderful new work. There have also been big shake-ups of MENA media agency management. Publicis, Group M, Havas and OMG have all changed their leadership in the past 12 months. So here’s Campaign’s pick of the Top 10 Movers and Shakers from 2019:

1. In May, Filip Jabbour stepped down as CEO of WPP media agency consortium Group M. He was
replaced by Ravi Rao, who had been CEO of Mindshare MENA. In October, Tony Bourached was named Mindshare CEO. He had previously been the Group M agency’s chief digital officer.

2. In May, Alex Saber resigned as chairman of Publicis Media. He had been with Publicis Groupe for
more than 30 years. He has not been replaced, and the Groupe’s media brands and practices now report directly to Raja Trad, chairman of Publicis Groupe MEA.

3. Havas Middle East announced in January that Dany Naaman, who was leading Havas Media Middle
East, would take over as CEO from Pierre Soued. Soued remains on the board of directors and continues to be a senior advisor to Havas Group.

4. In September, joint ECD of TBWA/Raad Fouad Abdel Malek moved to FP7 to head up that agency’s creative department in a joint ECD role with Oliver Robinson. Manuel Bordé, who had shared Abdel Malek’s title at TBWA/Raad, became the sole ECD there. This month, TBWA/Raad announced a new ECD, Bruno Bomediano, who was previously at Horizon FCB Dubai. Bordé has moved to New York to head up creative for US and Canada at Geometry Global. Bomediano’s replacement at FCB is Rodrigo Leal Rodrigues, who was previously at Leo Burnett MENA.

5. Paul Banham, previously regional ECD at J. Walter Thompson, was named ECD of MullenLowe MENA. Before moving to JWT, Banham had been ECD at FP7 McCann for five years. FP7 sits alongside MullenLowe in the Middle East Communication  Network (MCN) stable, and Banham said of the MCN building: “Its corridors are a wonderfully warm place, full of extremely bright and collaborative minds.”

6. Saleh Ghazal, general manager at OMD UAE, was promoted to managing director in April, with
Waseem Afzal named deputy managing director. In May, Farah Moumneh was named as General Manager of OMD UAE. In June, Elie Khouri moved from CEO to chairman of Omnicom Media Group, the company that holds OMD and PHD media agencies. OMD MENA CEO Nadim Samara became CEO of OMG and Elda Choucair, formerly CEO of PHD, was named chief operating officer of OMG MENA. In November, Wissam Najjar was promoted from regional managing director to COO at OMD MENA.

7. In October, the chairman of Saudi-owned, Dubai-based broadcaster MBC Group resigned. Sam Barnett had been with MBC since it moved its headquarters from London to Dubai in 2002. In December, his replacement was announced: Marc Antoine d’Halluin, former chairman of Luxembourg based broadcaster M7.

8. In January, Joe Nicolas was named CEO of media agency UM MENAT, part of MCN’s MediaBrands group. Nicolas had been regional managing director. At the same time, Bassem Massoud was  promoted from managing director to CEO of sister agency Magna. Also in January, Mohamad Itani became regional executive director of digital at MediaBrands, while Ziad Chalhoub was named regional executive director of investments. In June, UM’s general manager Zubair Siddiqui left the company.

9. Accenture Interactive in October appointed TJ Lightwala as its experience services lead in the Middle East. She previously led digital specialised solutions at WPP’s Group M MENA.

10. In September, Shyam Sunder, the head of marketing at Centrepoint UAE, left his role after six years, during which time the brand had won numerous awards for its creative campaigns.