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COMMENT The ad indusTry musT change Tarek Miknas FP7 Group CEO


Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.


years that it couldn’t go on like this. We knew it had to change. We knew things weren’t being done right. It was our guilty little secret – something that made us feel constant discomfort. And despite knowing all of this, we just kept doing things the same old way. It was easy, it didn’t make waves, it was the way a lot of powerful people wanted it, and let’s face it – we were making good money. Am I talking about the Arab world in general? Or am I talking about


w 28 / DECEMbEr 2011


the Arab world’s advertising industry? It’s not hard to tell. I’m talking about both. There’s one thing we all know by now, one thing we have to face up


to now: the old way of doing things is over. From that slap in the face in Tunisia, through Tahrir Square, the Pearl Roundabout, and on to Algiers, Sana’a, Jordan, Oman, Libya, Syria and elsewhere – it’s all over. And accordingly, for anyone who can’t face up to this - it’s over too. Clients, creatives, media planners, suppliers – all of us – are going to


have to do one thing. And that’s listen. And once we’ve done this, we’re going have to do another thing. We have to change. We have to hear what we’re being told by our people, who are not, and never have been, just “consumers”. They are our partners. They want it done right; they expect accountability and honesty; they expect to be treated with respect; they expect to be told the truth; they expect to be listened to; they expect to be engaged and they always hope to be part of the solution. So the whole debate about “digital as the way forward” has to become a thing of the past. After we’ve seen the life-altering videos shot on mobile phones, the monumental influence of Facebook and Twitter, any brand that hasn’t got mobile and online at its heart from now on, is


“We’ve got to foster the belief in partnership, mutual respect, education, clear objectives and fair reWards.”


E’VE BEEN SAYING FOR


taking the same kind of risks as Mubarak. That said, being present in the right channels isn’t the only challenge – the quality of the work shown across all media, including digital channels, television, outdoor, in print and everywhere else, just has to become better. We all have to do what we should have been doing all along – the good stuff; the work that’s honest; the work that people relate to; the work that’s a conversation and not an order; the work that (oh yes) wins awards for the right reasons. We’ve also got to do something a lot of us


haven’t yet considered. We’ve got to treat one another properly. We’ve got to foster the belief in partnership, mutual respect, education, clear objectives and fair rewards. We’ve always known we had to change at some point. What we know now is that we won’t survive if we don’t. On the inside, on the outside, in our behaviour, in everything we do. This includes our motivations – let’s stop looking at short-term profit, and let’s tap into the power of creative communication and its ability to make things better. Today’s conversations are about solutions.


That’s what our partners want and that’s what our consumers (also partners) want. The briefs we take from clients should be how to help solve a business issue and the result, in any form, be it a television commercial, a microsite or a subtle product placement, should be a good result. Nobody could have predicted the changes that


were to take place in our region and nobody did. It’s time we question our structures, our recruitment policies, our integration models and most importantly, build a sustainable ethos to keep the faith inside and out. We know it won’t be easy. We accept that it may


be misunderstood and it may well give us problems on the bottom line for a while. But there’s one thing that’s crystal clear as we


look around our region today – it’s time. And it’s our time.


IllustratIon: CHarlIE banalo


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