Peter Pan Syndrome

There’s nothing wrong and there’s nothing nicer than seeing the humor in everything. More importantly, in our line of work, it should be mandatory as it not only can act as a seed to a great idea, but can also keep you from blowing your brains out.

The best thing is when you’re fortunate enough to be with colleagues who are at the same wavelength as yourself. From a conversation/situation that starts from nothing, you find yourselves rolling on your backs from a scenario that you just created.

Not only is the “what” important, but also the “who”…..

Baddak Bateekha aw mawze hal marra?

What a beautiful sight it is to see department heads rolling up their sleeves and rolling back their years while mocking each other over a game of foosball.

Hearing the same excuses we used to make when we were 15 years old to escape a defeat and coming up with new ways to get on people’s nerves, there’s nothing nicer than seeing the kid inside a grown up come out.

Truly, those 5 minutes can revive your day.

It’s important to let loose and let go, it’s important to let the kid inside of you come out from time to time, it’s important to live young.

Those two words

July 1st was my 3rd anniversary in this industry. Over these years, I have talked to many people whom have walked down the same path as myself and all I heard from many were words of discouragement/disappointment and complaints.


“We need this done ASAP”

“Have this finalized by tomorrow”

“Do this”

“Do that”

“Brief in, brief out”

Many consider them selves treated as slaves and are simply fed up with their over demanding clients and I realized all I was looking at were whinny soft skinned children.


Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, what’s in it for me?”

Advertising is not an industry you can be in to simply earn a paycheck (and comparing that to other industries, its peanuts). But if one does so, they will end up having the same opinion as the above-mentioned people because they simply wont understand that it’s not the clients that are needy, instead it’s the competition that’s stiff.

Granted, advertising does have its downs, such as every other industry or aspect in life for that matter. People may think that the grass is greener on the other side, but once they cross, they’ll just realize it was their greediness playing tricks on them.

It’s a tough industry to be in, not because it is hard to learn or complicated, but because it’s demanding, especially when you’re in a start up agency.


The harder you work = the less employees your company needs = that much more money thrown to the profit section.

There are hardly room for errors, mistakes, or any of the “oops” moments.

Sleeves must stay rolled up and that fire inside of you lit to the maximum.

Good day, bad day, sunny day, rainy day……it doesn’t matter, you got to be on top of your game, because second chances are just as frequent as snow in the UAE (real snow, not that fake stuff inside a mall).

They say the best investment a person can make is investing in them selves, so throw yourself out their, suffer a bit, but the experience you gain will be all worth it.

You will go through sleepless nights, weekend-less weeks and days that don’t seem to end.

But it’s rewarding, it’s satisfying and it’s all worth it once you receive that phone call, that SMS or email that includes those two words “Thank You”.

A sign of gratitude or appreciation from your client for your involvement in a successful campaign can do the trick to remind you just why the hell you’re in this industry.

After all, hard work never killed anyone.

When Advertising flexes its muscles

As I mentioned in one of my previous articles, an Ad without an idea will never gain an audience. But, how powerful and persuasive can an Ad with an idea be?

What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm?

An idea. Resilient, highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed, fully understood. That sticks, right in their somewhere”.

Think of it this way, ad campaigns are able to convince people in buying specific shampoo brands, or better yet, convince people in buying this car because it’s faster, or even better, still manages to convince teenagers that smoking is cool although cautioned about lung cancer on the pack itself. If ad campaigns are able to do all of this, can’t they be able to convince you in doing something bigger and more significant, let’s say, like voting for somebody else?

When Obama was running for president, his numbers were low amongst the Jewish elders (especially on the East coast). How can you change their mentality? Is a TV commercial or poster enough? Definitely not. The answer –> “The Talk”:

Several, short videos were released using (reputable) young Jewish celebrities who were able to reach out to this niche target audience and to them, such a message coming from a well known face and more importantly having the same background as them, was enough to have them convinced.

“I’m in Cincinnati visiting my Grandma”….enough said to break the barrier and catch their attention and the whole thing was done to seem as if she was giving her own opinion on a very random day.

And and yes, the numbers did go up from then on.

There is soo much to say on this topic and some of the points can be extremely sensitive, so let me end this by saying that implanting an “idea” in one’s head is a huge thing and whether it’s through the different media touch points or through news channels this is something we are exposed to in our everyday life and since we are living in a world that is very much money and power oriented, advertising (and its different forms) will always be a major influence on us.

How important are the important things? Part 3 – Are insights that insightful?

“She doesn’t believe in shooting stars, but she believes in shoes and cars. She has always had a passion for flashing, before she had it, she would close her eyes and imagine”

That is one of my favorite insights, that I soo shamelessly stole from a Kanye West song and included it in a brief I wrote for a Saks Fifth Avenue campaign. The campaign ended quite successfully and in no way do I dare take recognition from the creative work, but I would like to believe that the information I shared with them gave them a small push for that giant leap.

What is an insight? How does it help?

According to Wikipedia (so it must be true); an insight is a statement based on a deep understanding of your target consumers’ attitudes and beliefs, which connect at an emotional level with your consumer, provoking a clear response “This brand understands me!”

For example, what do you usually do once your done with an extremely delicious meal that required you to use your fingers while eating? I for one lick them dry and enjoy every second of it –> this is the insight from which KFC was able to, successfully, come up with “It’s finger lickin’ good”.

Having the insight as part of the core message is also key to break all the barriers in the consumers mind and connect with them on an emotional level.

“Speak to their emotions and not to their brains. You can say the right thing about a product and nobody will listen. You’ve got to say it in such a way that people will feel it in their gut. Because if they don’t feel it, nothing will happen” Bernbach

In a nutshell, you cannot have a building built without initially drawing out its schematics. Having a well-rounded connection brief, built on research and insights is an extremely important step for a successful campaign.

Do people still think the Brand Navigation teams are like deliverymen?

How important are the important things? Part 2 – The Connection Idea

My last article covered the importance of the connection brief and why it must be well researched and written, but without a good connection idea, your ad would never be able to standout amongst the competition.

What is a connection idea?

Its that single thought that has the ability to trigger and guide the creative mind down a certain path, most likely a path that hasn’t been travelled before. Its that single thought that makes a good brand succeed quick and a bad brand fail even quicker.

Why is the connection idea important?

Imagine yourself at a concert for Justin Bieber a very famous singer where there are thousands of fans. But imagine that singer performing without a microphone…..probably only the first 3-4 rows would be able to hear him and the rest of the fans would just be watching a man moving stupidly from the left to right and back. The connection idea is the microphone, its that one thing that can single handedly reach out to hundreds, thousands, and with todays technology, millions.

The connection idea gives the ad/campaign that extra crisp that’s needed to reach out to the consumer. Whether through humor or emotion, it gives the brand a much-needed personality to stand out in a world that is infested with ads (whether you believe it or not, they say we are exposed to around 3000 ads per day).

“Ladies and gentlemen, unless your advertising is built on a big idea, it will pass like a ship in the night.”

The perfect idea can and actually should get built from the perfect insight. To fully understand why people do what they do and act in a certain way is extremely important to fully understand the brand you represent. Stay tuned for Part 3 –> Are insights that insightful?

How important are the important things? Part 1 – The Connection Brief

“OK, so we need to prepare a press ad for Saks Fifth Avenue mentioning the below promotion”.

That was the first brief I wrote and I actually had the nerve to send it over to the creative team letting them know i was available for any questions. 10 minutes later they call me to come over to their desk, they actually printed out the brief I sent only for them to throw it in my face and gave me the lecture of a life time.

Details, I have come to realize that the creative team love details and more importantly, insights.

“The artist finds a greater pleasure in painting than in having a completed picture” Seneca

Who are we talking to you? How do they behave? What is a typical day for them? Likes & dislikes? All these questions where given to me to answer and all I can think was “this is a big waste of my time and how the hell does this help?” only to later realize that without any research, its practically impossible for the creative to do their work and if they do, it will most definitely be irrelevant.

The Brand Navigation team is much more than what people compare them to –> deliverymen. I truly believe that the connection brief is what can make or break a campaign and I think that is the most important part of my job (keeping the client happy comes as a close second).

Defining properly the objective of the brief, identifying the target audience while pin pointing their behavior, talking about the who’s, the what’s, the why’s and the how’s may all be cliché questions but are all necessary to build a foundation and to give the Creative a very simple idea of what it is they need to do.

How can the brief help?

Imagine yourself standing on the North Pole and are asked to go the to the South Pole. There is a 360-degree variation of roads you can choose to walk through, so, which way do you go? This is exactly the same thing that goes through the Creative’s mind when reading a poorly prepared brief.

Simply put, the connection brief is meant to pave and illuminate the road for their thoughts and to guide them down the right path.

All the points in the brief are important and should be well researched and written, but the most important part for me is the Connection idea where this will differentiate your communication from the rest and make it stand out. And behind a great idea is always a great Insight, or as we call it: ‘a Revelation”–> Stay tuned for Part 2 – The Connection idea.

Beyond your Slogan…

I was sitting with a friend few days back and she happens to be the CEO of a big company. We had a very interesting conversation as she had some doubts that her company, could in fact, one day, build a strong emotional connection with the consumer… She thought that it was easier for an FMCG to do that and harder on big corporate institutions – similar to the one she leads.

My answer was simple.

It’s all about going beyond your slogan and beyond the walls of your company.

It’s not about a well crafted print or TV ad.

It’s not about telling people that you care.

In fact, we are so immune to this, that we don’t hear or see anymore.

It’s mostly about integrating (without invading) into people’s lives.

Come as unexpected, create a surprise, improve their morning, lunchtime, afternoon, weekend or night in a nice subtle way and they will start connecting! Give them something, make them smile, without asking for anything in return. And do these things only because you believe in them, not because you have to….People have feelings and they can spot what’s fake.

Do that, and you’ll be one step closer to making a connection.

Have a heart…and make sure you use it.

Understand and be understood

I have yet to be exposed to many things in this industry, but if my experience has taught me anything, it is to understand your clients and in turn be understood.

As part of the Brand Navigation team (what others call Client servicing), I truly believe that it is extremely important for myself to get to know my clients as much as possible.  From their background, their status, to their personality, every small detail can lead to smoother communication.

Believe it or not, clients too are humans that actually have lives outside of their work, shocking isn’t it. And just like us, their personal life is very much a factor to their mood and behavior. A very small example: statistically, married women with children are the employees with the highest stress levels (it’s a difficult thing to be away from the young ones), so any mood swings from their side does not necessarily reflect bad work from the agency, its simply “one of those days” for them.  Knowing this fact can help you relate to what they are going through and in turn decrease the attitude from your side towards them and actually try and make their life slightly easier.

At the end of the day, the relationship between the agency and their client is very much like a normal relationship (at least the beginning of one). Let me elaborate. You meet this special someone, you break the ice, get more comfortable with them, you get to know them better while they would be doing the same thing, and communication gets much easier for both sides.

Up to here, the client-agency relationship is pretty much the same. Making the communication flow easier makes the work-flow easier. At the end of the day, we are all human and we relate to one another and understand the amount of work and stress that comes each other’s way. But in order to do so, we must understand and be understood.