Coffee with Ramzi Haddad, Group Account Director, BBDO
DC: Ramzi you've worked on what most would most suits would call 'dream accounts' P&G and Master foods. How much leverage do these names currently hold in the market on CV in comparison to local names?
R: Well, I believe working on a multinational account for a consistent period of time implants the account handler with what I dub as a ‘strategic thinking backbone’ and this quality is what gives the account handler an ‘edge’ and turns him/her into an asset other companies want to add on to their ranks. It’s a quality that simply changes the way you view brand building. It turns it into a discipline that always requires 1) a deep understanding of your target consumers 2) knowledge of how to bring the brand’s equity to life and 3) A long term vision of what territory you want the brand to occupy in the minds and hearts of consumers.
As for leverage, I think several big, local and regional companies are now beginning to understand the power that proper strategic thinking brings towards building mega brands. They just need to make strategic thinking a daily routine within their marketing teams. That is, if they want their brand to inspire loyalty beyond reason with their consumers.
DC: What would you site as a disadvantage of working on these big names or schools from an account handling perspective?
R: The only disadvantage is basically these big brands’ primary advantage; their global advertising scope. In many cases, big brands that are advertised globally will rely on a methodology that is coined as ‘search and re-apply’. Basically, instead of tapping into local market intrinsics and creating the advertising to meet them, they might just ask the agency to search around the globe for suitable pieces of advertising to run or possibly reshoot. When this turns into a recurrent practice, it can de-motivate creative teams, and possibly alienate the brand from its local target simply because the advertising no longer relates to them.
DC: In most cases multinationals are global alignments, what others may dub'loyal clients'. Local business on the other hand is of a more precarious nature.
The stereotype in the middle east market is talent is on multinational and the lesser on local, however on the flip side of this wouldn't it make more sense to keep talent on local clients, the less loyal? Your thoughts?
R: This all goes back to what the agency perceives its role as. We are brand guardians. This is our job. We’re here to transform our clients’ businesses and grow their brands. Agencies should guide their clients to think strategically. If a client hasn’t nailed down the equity of the brand, we do it. If they haven’t mapped out their brand course for the future, we plot it. To do that, you need a team of talented people, no matter if your brand was local or multinational.
DC: You are interviewing 2 candidates for an account executive position. You ask them the same question 'What's the first thing you do when you get to work'.
Candidate 1: "I like to come in pretty early about 8;30, I feel more productive at that time. Check the to do list I wrote yesterday for today, check all emails from my clients and reply".
Candidate 2: "Have a cup of coffee with someone new from the office, In most cases my computer won't start up before 9;30.
All thing being equal, who would you hire?
R: I’m not a guy who judges people based on how early they come in every morning, but on how ‘responsible’ they feel towards their business. I’ve worked with account executives that put in the extra hours to make sure the job at hand is done. Anyhow, these two questions aren’t enough to let me make up my mind on which I’m going to hire. There’s a lot more to be asked before that account executive makes it on my team ;)
DC: Many thanks Ramzi, good luck at BBDO.