Ali Rez: The power of creativity to change lives

Ali Rez, Chief Creative Officer for Impact BBDO speaks to Campaign Editor Justin Harper about creative effectiveness 

Campaign Middle East has entered the New Year with a podcast interview with award-winning creative leader Ali Rez and a focus on projects that have pushed advertising boundaries. 

From raising awareness of drone victims, detecting tumours to save lives to solving problems through creativity and resonating with audiences emotionally, Ali Rez has revealed how these impactful campaigns were life changing for him.

What was your favourite campaign?

One of the most impactful projects that I was involved in happened almost ten years ago, it was called ‘Not A Bug Splat’. 

When we took it on, there were lots of  predator drone strikes happening in Pakistan. They were killing civilians in northern Pakistan. 

We teamed up with J. R. who’s a French street artist and we designed this poster that we installed in North Pakistan and it absolutely went nuts globally on the newswire. 

Just the impact from doing something so simple but impactful was just life changing for me.

That little element of creativity and ending up on the desk of the President of the U.S. at one point on the front cover of Washington Post, brought to us that knowledge, that if you do something that impactful it can get everywhere. So I think that’s one for me that was a big standout.

Then there is some positive social output from campaigns. We did this project last year, in Pakistan called Waxing Lady Tutorials.

It was for an app where you can ask a beautician to come to your home and get a massage or get a beauty treatment done. A lot of women use that app in Pakistan and we trained waxing ladies to learn how to detect signs of breast cancer. 

Because women in Pakistan are generally conservative they don’t like to talk about breast cancer as such but the one person that they’re completely open with is the waxing lady. So we said, okay, if the walls are down then you can have that conversation.  So we got the results back and it was insane.

Their app had about 600, 000 appointments booked. Their app sign-ups went up by around 200, 000  but the most awesome result was that very quickly we learned that a waxing lady did detect a tumour.

It was removed from the person. And it saved their life. 

So we did the commerce bit, we made the app successful, but at the same time, there must have been other women who must have benefited from it as well, but we have a definite result there.

That saved somebody’s life. And it just makes it all worth it.

How important is creativity when it comes to effectiveness and solving problems?

I think it’s absolutely mandatory and necessary. When you think about it, something that’s not creative has been effective in the past. 

Something that’s been creative has not been effective as well. I think the way to go is to make sure that you’re strategically creative.

I  think that creativity allows you to solve a problem in a new manner that, especially now when attention spans are so low, engages people on a different level.