1 January kicked off with a bang when Samir Ayoub suddenly resigned as CEO of Mindshare MENA after 17 years in the role. No explanation by him or the agency was given into his departure, but the agency had hit turbulence in 2015 with the arrival of Filip Jabbour as the first CEO of GroupM MENA and the pitching of Nissan, a key retainer account that Mindshare eventually lost. After serving as consultant to the agency for seven months, Ayoub went on to set up his own company MedPush, aimed at ‘redefining media efficiency’.
2 Less than 12 months later, MEC MENA’s CEO Mohan Nambiar became the second GroupM veteran to inexplicably quit his role. Nambiar had been with MEC since its inception in 1993, rising to the rank of CEO in 2010. MEC has yet to name Nambiar’s successor, but has left the agency’s operation in the hands of Alastair Aird, global COO and CEO EMEA of MEC, GroupM’s Filip Jabbour, and agency general manager Marc Ghosn until a replacement is appointed.
3 Elsewhere in WPP’s GroupM, MediaCom MENA enjoyed its fair share of upheaval when Tarek Abdalla quit as CEO in May after just five months. Abdalla easily takes the Number One spot for the biggest mover in 2016. In the six months following his departure from MediaCom, Abdalla then left his next job as executive director of corporate marketing for Emaar for a marketing lead position at Google – back where he originally started.
4 After Tarek Abdalla’s sudden resignation, MediaCom was left without a CEO for four months until Eyad Abdul Khalek took over the role in October. A long-term media player, Khalek had held senior roles at MCN and Starcom Mediavest Group and had served as managing director at DataMined immediately prior to joining MediaCom. Khalek was the third person to lead MediaCom in one year, following the departure of Abdalla, and of his predecessor Nick Barron in October last year.
5 Komal Bedi Sohal is returning to Dubai as chief creative officer at Saatchi & Saatchi following the departure of Richard Copping, who moved to join WPP agency GTB. Bedi Sohal was previously CCO Y&R Singapore since June 2015, having moved there from India where she spent two years with Rediffusion Y&R. She previously spent 10 years in Dubai: eight as executive creative director of Y&R and two as ECD of Lowe MENA. Bedi Sohal’s appointment makes her so far Dubai’s only female CCO in a big agency.
6 In May, Impact BBDO’s vice president Douglas Palau officially announced he was leaving the network after 26 years to join Dubai-based BKP Media Group as CEO. During his final year, Palau saw the agency win Campaign’s Agency of the Year and the MEA network win Dubai Lynx Network of the Year. Speaking to Campaign about his movement, Palau said: “BKP is a different style of company and I am loving the diversity of talent and the fun creative vibe at BKP already. The change has definitely given me a new energy and perspective.”
7 This year was to be one of major changes for the newly restructured Publicis Media, with leadership overhauls taking place from the top down. At the forefront of this was Steve Parker, who joined in the new role of CEO of Publicis Media Middle East, effectively replacing John Antoniades’ role as CEO of Starcom Mediavest Group. Himself a former CEO of SMG London, Parker said he would be looking to “accelerate” growth within the operation’s digital “gaps”.
8 Fouad Abdel Malek followed his former Impact BBDO chief creative officer Walid Kanaan, joining TBWA\Raad as executive creative director in May. Malek had previously worked for TBWA\Raad as creative director from 2002 until 2010, before moving to become ECD at Impact BBDO Dubai. Malek’s appointment marked his return to advertising, two years after he quit to become chief executive of Oliver Roots, where he launched a Lebanese food outlet in India.
9 Almost a year after the infamous cull en-masse at J. Walter Thompson, the agency finally replaced its former Dubai ECD Seyoan Vela with Brazilian national Marco Bezerra. Previously creative director at Sao Paulo-based DM9DDB, Bezerra joined the agency following a time of uncertainty when the agency was hit by a wave of firings and resignations, out of which Vela was a casualty.
10 Middle East broadcasting giant OSN announced it had replaced CEO David Butorac with Martin Stewart in August. Stewart had previously been at Spanish broadband and entertainment company ONO as director general, and before that was CFO for Sky.