The MENA Power List 2021: Unleashing Creativity fueled by technology and data, by Horizon Holdings’ Mazen Jawad

By Mazen Jawad, President, Horizon Holdings (Horizon FCB MENA, BPN MENA, GolinMENA, Blue Barracuda and FuelContent).

years in role: 2 | years in company: 27

Over a decade ago, Dubai was the catalyst in the region with its vision and incredible transformation.

Today, while Dubai has not taken its foot off the pedal, we’re witnessing several nations across MENA bring in new visions, ideas, imagination, transformational plans and opportunities that never existed before.

While working with big, international and powerful brands is exciting, more attention is being given to small, new, local and regional marketers that have the potential to become the famous brands of tomorrow. Our creativity should be applied against opportunity and problems, not the next big brief or the next big TVC.

While we used to invest most effort in the best known or highest couture brand, today we’re investing more time, attention and effort on the upcoming, challenger brand that will become and transform to its full potential with our guidance, creativity, partnership and care.

Hear hear! Connect your best set of headphones for Campaign’s next Online Briefing: Creativity you can Hear – Audio Storytelling, Targeting and the Future. Join us to find out how to use music, podcasts and more to make your brand sing.


In the next two months alone, we’re launching five new brands stemming from our local Arab culture that will touch the hearts and minds of millions, engage with them and become part of their lives. We succeed only if we can engage, impact, change or create behaviour for a purpose that exists today and will remain tomorrow.

To achieve this, we need to consider bringing together three forces that might have previously felt opposed to each other: technology, creativity and data; together forming a new kind of equilibrium. This works best when you don’t sacrifice creativity for the sake of tech or data. Rather, the tech and data should be used to power insight for creative ideas.

And of course, this wouldn’t be possible without those three forces working in harmony. The tech is how the platform exists and to ensure that people have access to it; second, you need to humanise the data and the insight. And finally, you need creativity to find the idea itself, because at the end of the day creativity needs to be an economic multiplier.

People are seeking more and more high-quality personalised and unique content. While the amount of information and entertainment on the internet is huge, it’s becoming harder to get the attention and engagement of consumers. We’re driving more educational, relevant and meaningful content, making it more interactive with games, quizzes and thought-starters that can better engage with consumers.

We’re also witnessing an increase in micro-influencer partnerships that will remain in the years to come and play an important role adding further value to our equilibrium. Micro-influencers might not have the huge quantities of followers that macro-influencers do, but they certainly have loyal and engaged ones. With their clear and authentic niche offering, they allow brands to reach audiences interested in their products and services quickly and effectively. With the rise of influencer communication, user-generated content has also become one of the most authentic and reliable forms of virtual word-of-mouth strategies.

A lot of this user-generated marketing is being delivered through video content. Video is one of the most powerful marketing tools in our region – informing, entertaining and generating phenomenal leads again when the equilibrium is applied. Video content will keep thriving while diversifying, whether it’s your informative podcast, entertaining content, thrilling series and movies or the growing ephemeral content and live-streaming which has grown exponentially since the pandemic to create online and hybrid events, to entertain and engage, and to showcase your brand in innovative ways.

Last but not least, e-commerce in the MENA region is still growing exponentially and is offering opportunities on multiple levels for our industry, whether in strategy, technology, SEO, creativity, content creation and marketing or just brainstorming with our clients to import or sell new products and services that never existed in traditional retail in the region. Nevertheless, the merging of data, creativity and technology remains essential so that our work becomes an economic multiplier taking advantage of a platform that’s worth close to
$50bn in value.

Never Finished, we’re at home in an exciting region that’s always manifesting potential. Today it is doing this through the eyes of a young generation that is driving the transformation we always wished for.

Professional highlight of the year

Coming back stronger than ever. After sitting on countless reviews and assessments last year to counter the impact of the virus on another year, our people challenged the expectations and came back with countless stories that make us the Never Finished network, maintaining healthy relationships, winning new ones, creating economic multiplier ideas, expanding into new territories and adding new offerings –
all while upholding a motivated and brave team.

Rapid fire

What are you working on?

What are you worrying about?
Global warming.

What are you smiling at?
New horizons.

What are you reading?
My daughter’s homework.

What are you watching?
Asharq Bloomberg.

What are you eating?
Fewer burgers.

Who are you listening to?
Our people.

What are you playing?
The ‘Never Finished’ game.   

What’s your hobby?
Travel and discovery.

What’s your good habit?
Daily workouts. Fitness infuses
positive energy.

What’s your bad habit?
Eating too many burgers.

Who are you learning from?
Our Founder, Rafic Saadeh. Always.