Interesting Times expands out of Beirut

Beirut-based boutique agency Interesting Times has expanded into Abu Dhabi following its winning of the Ferrari World advertising account.

The agency’s new office will house an account team responsible for handling the business, which had been held by TBWA\Raad since the theme park opened in November 2010.

Ashraf Mansour, one of the founders of Interesting Times, said: “Ferrari World asked us to pitch for their business and we took a risk opening the office before we won the account. But we wanted to open in the UAE anyway, so we said ‘you know what, we win it or we don’t, it doesn’t matter. Let’s just open the office’.

“We’re currently furnishing the office but our creative team will continue to be based out of Beirut, with an account team in Abu Dhabi. We’re taking it one step at a time and won’t be pitching for new business in the UAE until around the second quarter of next year. We need to get the office up and running first and concentrate on Ferrari World before we can start looking at anything else.”

Last year, Interesting Times’ ‘Courage is contagious’ for Lebanese Brew was the grand prix winner at the Gemas Effies. The launch campaign utilised music video, social media, direct marketing and on-ground activity to raise awareness of the new drink as it went head-to-head with Almaza. The agency has also won praise for its work with Red Bull and Nokia.

“Most of our clients are based in the UAE and Saudi, so it makes sense for us to expand out of Lebanon,” said Mansour. “The businesses we have in Beirut are good businesses, but they’re not really revenue creators. We need to be more active in the Gulf. ”

Interesting Times, which has 21 staff in Beirut, was formed in 2010 by a group of ex-JWT staffers. Mansour was previously head of planning for the MENA region at JWT, while managing partner Wassim Bassil was regional managing director at RMG Connect, a sister agency of JWT.

Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi called a multi-agency review of its creative advertising account in July. Ferrari World is located on Yas Island and the 30,080-acre resort includes four theme parks, two water parks and 23 onsite themed resort hotels.