Adding an extra dimension to the JWT brand

After success at the Campaign Awards, JWT’s Roy Haddad tells Richard Abbott why the brand experience is his new mantra

  • E-Mail
By  Richard Abbott Published  February 19, 2006

Adding an extra dimension to the JWT brand|~|Haddad,-Roy200.jpg|~|Haddad.. ‘We wash your hair but with added values. It is this extra dimension that interests me always in life’|~|Good advertising is like building houses, according to Roy Haddad. Both are about constructing something from its foundations while creating features that make it different from its nextdoor neighbour. Haddad, the CEO of advertising agency JWT in the Middle East and North Africa, says he would have been an architect if he hadn’t been swept away by a career in advertising after leaving university. “What an architect does is give you a place to live but with an added value and that is what we do with brands,” he explains. “We wash your hair but with added values. It is this extra dimension that interests me always in life,” says Haddad. Haddad, who hails from Beirut, is in Dubai to co-ordinate a big pitch. The double espresso he has ordered suggests a long day ahead. “New business is the bloodline of an agency,” he says. Part of that pitch presentation no doubt included JWT’s triumph at last month’s Campaign Awards, where it scooped five awards — one gold, two silvers and two bronzes — for work across TV, print and outdoor, and in the integrated campaign category. Haddad puts his agency’s success at the awards down to hard work and a recognition that the agency needed to be more visible in the market. “JWT, from a strategic point of view, has very strong DNA,” he says. But he admits: “We are not very visible.” And with 22% growth across the region last year, JWT has plenty to shout about. “Unlike others, where they have pockets of strength, we tend to be much more equally spread across the region,” he says. “Our focus is not on one single operation that we use as the jewel in the crown. We would rather let each and every operation be consistent in our delivery. “Clients don’t want one strong office. They want consistency of delivery wherever they are. That is what makes us a brand too.” JWT’s philosophy, says Haddad, is all about the brand experience. “We want to stop interrupting what people do and be part of what people do,” he says. “From a creative standpoint that pushes us more into the area of integration. Rather than message sender we manage the experience between a brand and its consumer.” That focus on the experience is demonstrated by a campaign for Heineken from the agency’s Beirut office, which won silver in the integrated campaign category at the Campaign Awards. To communicate the new positioning ‘meet you there’, the JWT team came up with a character, Ziad, who popped up everywhere the target consumer went. By using multiple media streams, both traditional and innovative, the agency created what it calls an ‘urban social network’. Haddad takes this relationship between brand and consumer a step further and has an interesting metaphor for the agency’s role. “I look at us as a marriage counselor,” he explains. “The future is about how much we can retain the relationship between the consumer and the brand and how we can always make that experience more salient and more meaningful. “And if you accept that between a brand and a consumer it is like a human relationship, as long as you give it meaning and purpose it will go on and on. “Positive experience brings brand loyalty. Loyal consumers are the most profitable consumers. And that is how we optimise the return to our clients, by increasing the number of loyal consumers.” Does this philosophy work? Awards aside, Haddad points to JWT’s clients, many of whom are leading their market sectors. He cites Lipton, Shell and MBC as examples. “All these brand leaders have one thing in common. Without being arrogant, they work with JWT, which is very pleasing,” he says. “JWT is a brand that stands for many things. We have a history. We have a lot of intellectual capital. I make sure that all that is used properly at the service of the client.” Haddad is part of that history too. As a fresh-faced graduate, he joined McCann in London. After a brief spell at Publigraphics in Dubai he returned to London to set up Al Mona International, which merged with Tihama in 1987 to form TMI. An affiliation agreement with JWT followed to create what is known today as TMI-JWT. Haddad describes himself as the ‘ultimate brand manager’ of JWT in the Middle East. Although he can’t be everywhere at once, he has a system of regular team reviews to ensure standards are kept up. “We have a review practically every month, which allows you to stay in touch and keep the pulse of the business,” he says. Haddad spends Fridays and weekends in his native Lebanon. The rest depends on the demands of clients and pitches. He is particularly pleased with JWT’s ability to attract local staff into the agency, an issue that the industry as a whole has struggled to get to grips with. He reveals how JWT entered Algeria two years ago with a team of ex-pats. Today, 90% of the 40-strong team are Algerian nationals who have joined from the marketing industry or fresh from university. But with an emphasis on training, the inevitable problem of staff poaching has arisen. “We are very committed to training and this has created us a problem because a lot of our staff are sought by clients and agencies. Why? Because they are well trained.” Does he feel that this is reflected in the region’s creative output? “It is starting to get on the ladder. With the economic expansion that is taking place, people are more readily taking risks,” he says. Haddad says he has been impressed by the momentum and ‘can-do’ spirit of the Middle East but wants to see more understanding between clients and agencies. “The biggest weakness is the client/agency relationship,” he says. “I don’t think there is enough training in this area at a client level about how to deal with an agency and what an agency can do for them. “From an agency point of view, what are the business issues? You have to understand where the client is coming from. If this is addressed, a lot of the problems would be sorted out. “It is not enough to present an idea. It has to be a business building idea. They want advertising that sells. It doesn’t have to be hard sell but it is about growing the business. “At the end of the day, nobody advertises for the glory.”||**||

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code