Cannes win is a Tonic for region

Advertising bosses from across the region have been lining up to congratulate Tonic, which last week became the first Middle East agency to win a prestigious Cannes Lion gold award for creative.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  July 3, 2005

Advertising bosses from across the region have been lining up to congratulate Tonic, which last week became the first Middle East agency to win a prestigious Cannes Lion gold award for creative. Some have even proclaimed that the win is the “dawn of a new era” for the industry. Tonic walked away with the highly sought-after trophy for its Sony flatscreen television execution that featured a sign paperclipped to the TV, demonstrating how thin it is. The award, which is the advertising world’s equivalent of an Oscar, was given to the small Dubai-based agency in the press category, ending years of non-recognition for the Middle East. “It is a great reflection on the industry and it means we are moving forward,” said Ahmad Abuljobain, managing director at Target Leo Burnett in Riyadh. “People in the industry had started to feel disheartened at the lack of recognition, but this is a refreshing boost and will encourage more agencies to produce outstanding work.” But Abuljobain added that international awards often failed to appreciate creative work that has its roots in local culture. “There are things that we would consider creative here that would not be considered so in the rest of the world. We are an Islamic culture and our work sometimes reflects that.” John Foster, executive creative director, Gulf at JWT, went one step further. “For the region, it is the dawn of a new era. It will be the first of many and I think next year’s awards will bear that out. It puts us on the map and gives us respectability. It also gives us a benchmark, which is a healthy thing.” “The award is well deserved. I love the piece of work. Now everybody in the creative world here has got to step up and make the industry rival the rest of the world.” Reda Raad, managing director at TBWA\RAAD, added: “All agencies hold dreams to win awards and gain international accolades for their work. “This is great news, not only for Tonic, but for the industry which is raising its own bar after coming so far in recent times. “TBWA\RAAD and other agencies have gained finalist recognition numerous times and we, like all agencies, hold the dream of being the first to make the rest of the world sit up and take notice of the Middle East at the likes of Cannes.” But others urged caution about blowing the result out of proportion. “It is great news for Tonic and I congratulate them,” said Ed Jones, creative director at Saatchi & Saatchi in Dubai. “The good thing about that work is that it is simple. It is definitely the kind of ad that is going to stand out for the consumer. But one swallow doesn’t make a summer. “The truth is that the region needs a bigger volume of work and it needs to be able to laugh at itself, which is something that you don’t see in creative work from the region.”

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