Cannes gold within four years, says TBWA boss

One of the world’s most powerful ad men has predicted his network’s local arm will win a gold Cannes Lion within four years.

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By  Tim Burrowes Published  March 19, 2006

One of the world’s most powerful ad men has predicted his network’s local arm will win a gold Cannes Lion within four years. The prediction came from Jean-Marie Dru, president and CEO of TBWA Worldwide, during a visit to the UAE last week. The agency’s senior management from around the globe descended on Dubai for the TBWA global operating group meeting. TBWA is run in the Gulf as TBWA\Raad, headed by Ramzi Raad. Dru said: “We are here because we wanted to tell Ramzi we like him very much and his region is a great place.” Dru’s name was rarely out of the marketing press headlines last year after he was courted to run the French-owned marketing group Havas. In the end he opted to stay with TBWA. And Dru said he was seeing reasons to be optimistic about the level of creativity in work coming out of the Middle East. He said: “We are not yet at the level we would like to be, but having said that we have some good surprises here and there.” He pointed to work for clients Nissan and Emirates Today as examples of good work by TBWA\Raad. Referring to TBWA’s bronze in this year’s Campaign Middle East Awards, he said: “They will have a gold next year in Dubai. Then a bronze in Cannes, then a silver, then a gold. It will take four years.” And he predicted that the lack of cynicism within the market could make up for the inexperience. He said: “Look at what happened in South Africa or Australia. When you get a new region there’s a freshness that you do not get elsewhere.” And he said that the way agencies work is basically the same. “If you go to Dubai or Singapore, you will not see any large differences to the way people work in London or New York. At the end of the day it’s two guys trying to execute a strategy.” His comments were backed by Reg Lascaris, TBWA’s president for Africa, the Middle East and Mediterranean, who was also in Dubai for the meeting. The South African said: “We are all a little more naïve in our markets and we are able to do things slightly differently. What’s so good about Dubai is the multicultural nature of the agency. It’s such a melting pot.” However, Dru said he did not feel as optimistic about the Beirut market: “It’s a tough place and they find it difficult to be creative.” But he hinted that TBWA, owned by Omnicom, would be making further investments. The group also includes DM firm Tequila, online specialists agency.com and and retail agency Integer. Dru said: “We’ve got five or six companies and we try to get them on a worldwide basis, and that will include Dubai.”

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