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Marketing Game Changers 2019: Islam ElDessouky

Islam ElDessouky

Head of integrated marketing communications for Middle East, Coca-Cola

Group brand manager, Coca-Cola Middle East

Years in current position 4

Years with company 13

Size of department 20

Agencies Ogilvy, JWT

Previous jobs

  • Group brand manager, Coca-Cola brand (Middle East region)
  • Group Brand Manager, Flavors (Middle East region)
  • Brand manager, Sparkling(Southern Eurasia Region)

Recent campaigns

  • Coca-Cola Offside (first Arab female football platform for commentary and analysis)
  • Coca-Cola Change has a Taste

Major career achievements

  • Marketer of the Year – 2015 MENA Effies
  • Advertiser of the Year – 2016 Dubai Lynx
  • Speaker at Cannes Lions 2019

What is your objective in your current role?

Connecting with consumers in a remarkable way that will inspire them and create more joy in their lives.

Do you have a guiding principle?

Do or do not, there is not try. (Yes, by Master Yoda.)

What is your advice on working with agencies?

See them as the solution to your problems.

What do you look for in agency partners?

Empathy, passion, and resourcefulness.

What have you learned from failure?

The consumer is always right.

What work do you wish you had done?

Nike’s Just Do It with Colin Kaepernick.

Who inspires you professionally?

I find a lot of inspiration from sports athletes, what they go through, the pressure they are under. I would name Michael Jordan, Tom Brady and LeBron James.

What qualities do you look for when deciding who to work with?

I like people who are restless, are thinking all the time and have great command of assessing work using their senses.

What is the biggest challenge in marketing at the moment?

Being risk averse.

What is the next big trend in marketing?

Brand integration in an ad-free environment.

What trend do you wish would just stop, already?

Influencer marketing.

What can we expect from you and Coca-Cola in the next year?

This is for me to know and for you to stay tuned.

Rapid fire

What are you listening to?
Travis Scott or Hip-Hop

What are you working on?
Cool Stuff

What are you reading?
Mindset by Carol Dweck

Who are you following?

What are you craving?

What are you hiding from?

Where are you dining?
At home

What are you playing?
Basketball or Street Fighter

Where are you travelling?
Next destination: Caribbean

What are you watching?
Power (final season)

Agency reference

Sasan Saeidi, regional CEO, Gulf, J. Walter Thompson

Islam leads integrated marketing communications and his main job is to ensure he continuously works with his creative partners to create new stories for Coca-Cola – an amazing job. My latest achievement with him is probably
the work we did together for the Asian Football Cup to produce female football commentary.

I have worked with Islam for the past eight and a half years. Its been amazing. We both have tremendous respect for each other.

We have done a lot of cool projects together – The AFC female football commentary, Dark Iftar and Ripples of happiness to name a few. But one of the most inspirational moments we have had together was speaking on the
main stage at Cannes Lions 2019. It was a proud moment to share the stage with him and I think we did very well.

What collaboration are you most proud of?

I am proud of our friendship; our loyal professionalism and the way we connect every day. We have become close friends outside of the office also, which only helps the work and our partnership very much.

The best thing about working with Islam is his attitude, his sense of humour and his love for kicks (if anyone does not know, he is into kicks, a collector and can tell you stories about any sneaker on the planet). The worst thing about working with him is he sometimes does not return my calls fast enough and I get very annoyed.