M&C Saatchi names first Abu Dhabi CEO

M&C Saatchi Abu Dhabi has appointed its first CEO following the opening of the office early last year.

Ahsan Kahlon, who has quit his role as worldwide account director on automotive brand Jaguar at Spark44 in London, will take up the position at the beginning of May.

The Abu Dhabi office was opened following the agency’s winning of the global Etihad account in February last year and now has 20 staff. Among them is Barry Brand, who was appointed creative director in September last year.

Kahlon, who has been responsible for the strategic development of Jaguar’s global advertising for the past three years, will be charged with growing the agency and helping M&C Saatchi become what worldwide CEO Moray Mac-Lennan calls “the most desirable agency to work for in the Middle East”.

Kahlon’s CV includes a stint as vice president of business development at private equity firm Conektas, with responsibilities across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.

MacLennan said: “Kahlon’s unique experience and talent will help us achieve our ambitions for the region – simply to be the most sought after agency. We’re not just here for financial reasons. If we do something special here it can make a difference to the profile of our network, which could then become more attractive and different to global advertisers.

“The opportunity here is to make a name for the M&C Saatchi brand through creating something talked about in a marketing and cultural sense. If we start out wanting to contribute something to the region as part of the remit, I think we’ll get a lot out of it in the end. If we were to develop a reputation for having brought new talent into the region, developing local talent and young talent, then we can create something new and different.”

Etihad is set to roll out a new brand campaign by M&C Saatchi sometime in the next few weeks and the agency is still hiring, in particular a senior copywriter, a creative team and a senior planner.

Kahlon, who grew up in Saudi Arabia, began his career at McCann-Erickson, New York. He also worked at Whybin\TBWA in Sydney and set up his own talent management agency.