Phil Lynagh is regional managing director at Tag: Worldwide JLT
“Well, what an interesting turn of events. I know my memory isn’t what it used to be, but wasn’t it only recently that the industry was spouting off about how the importance of Arabic creatives at the helm could not be overstated and any and all creative achievements were due to some form of creative Arab Spring?
So, am I the only one to be surprised to read about the recent employment trend suggesting this much-vaunted belief has been summarily kicked into touch? I refer to the announcement that Paul Banham is to take over as ECD at FP7 along with M&C Saatchi’s announcement that Barry Brand will take the creative helm of its UAE operation. Is the industry actually acknowledging that a certain amount of experience and skill needs to be imported these days to ensure success and proper creative succession? Or are agencies simply bringing in fire fighters that will immediately be dispatched and replaced as soon as the smoke subsides. Whether it’s acknowledged as such or not, it has to be the former and this is good thing. The pace at which agencies were attempting to ‘localise’ the creative fraternity was alarming and felt unplanned and premature. Although I believe there should be regional bias in creative teams, people need to learn from the best the industry has to offer, not just the agency they currently work for.
This latest injection of what appears to be great talent can do very little without the agencies they represent heading in a new direction. The agency leaders who largely remain unchanged must also change their tack if this new creative talent has any chance of real success, and by success I don’t mean winning a couple of bronzes at Cannes or Lynx, I mean real commercial success, producing work that the region can be proud of and build on.
If a cruise ship is heading for trouble, you need a captain to steer the ship, someone who can change the ships’ course. Employing a new ship’s entertainment director simply won’t get the job done.”