FeaturedSpecial Feature

Marketing Game Changers 2023: Tom Sword, Global Head of Brand & Creative, Careem

Marketing Game Changers is back, to recognise and celebrate those brand-building marketing leaders who have made a huge impact this year.

This exclusive list features the men and women who we feel have shaped our industry this year, and includes a wide array of brands, campaigns and their achievements.

The prestigious top 10 includes four women, three Saudi based brands, an abundance of creativity, plus a strong focus on sustainability.

Tom Sword

Years in current position: 2
Years with current company: 5
Size of department: 27

What is your objective in your current role?

Building the brand that Careem deserves.

What is your guiding principle?

Take what you do seriously. Not yourself.

How do you make agency relationships work?

We built our own. Over the last two years, our in-house agency – The Creative Studio – has gone from a pipe dream to a powerhouse. We knew that if we could get the right talent, sitting in the heart of the business, we could match the pace and complexity of Careem, and produce world class work. What started as two people sharing a desk is now a 27-strong collective of heavyweight talent. Without a single resignation along the way.

Who inspires you professionally?

I got outrageously lucky throughout my career – learning from the absolute best mentors I could ever have. But today my main inspiration comes from my own team. People like Glaucco Martines, who leads our design department, and Habiba Allam, who leads copy.

They are teaching me all over again what unbelievable talent can do when it is paired with an unwavering commitment to craft. You’ll often fi nd me just sitting in my little corner, in awe of each and every one of the 26 people I’m lucky enough to call my team. Wondering when they’ll inevitably take my job.

What is the biggest challenge in marketing at the moment?

On my fi rst day at Havas, I was shown a slide that said for every 1,000 adverts someone sees, they remember one. All these years later, that’s still the thing that keeps us honest.

What is the next big opportunity?

It feels very March 2023 to say it – but the explosion of AI in our daily work has torn up the textbook on what we thought was possible. Every time we build a case study on what we have done, it’s outdated two weeks later.

What can we expect to see from you and your brand in the next year?

For Careem, I believe we are seeing stronger work with every campaign. The 2024 pipeline is going to turn some heads. For the Creative Studio, we get approached every week with external briefs. Maybe 2024 is the year we answer the call. If we haven’t already

Favourite motivational quote?

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while you could miss it”