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Meet the Leader

Sasan Saeidi, Managing Director-UAE, FP7 DXB

 Culture is the bloodline of a successful agency. Transparency; open door policy; honesty; happiness & play; caring ambition & giving; entrepreneurship and reward-all characteristics of good cultures. We have tried to improve all these characteristics year on year; and I can tell you that we need to do more. But a happy and open culture creates happy people that will in-turn do great work because they care. When you do great work; your client’s are happy; client’s businesses flourish; and in turn everybody sells more. So it’s a cultural and business circle that is very much intertwined, one that begins and ends right where it started from. ” Said Sasan Saeidi, Managing Director-UAE, FP7 DXB.

With the advent of the New Year, Sasan Saeidi interacted with MediAvataar MENA to divulge his in-house and a broad-spectrum mechanism of the region’s creative outfit. Having won many accolades in the past year, he discussed what makes them as an agency tick and how they continue to win creative vs. logic battles.

Here’s the complete Q&A…..

MediAvataar MENA: Congratulations on all the awards you won this year, also your ranking as an agency has gone up exceedingly from the last year. What did you do differently this year to achieve it?

Sasan: Our agency strategy for the past many years has revolved around some fundamental strategic parameters; like, quality of People, quality of Culture, quality of Product, Building strategic capabilities and more. 

All these areas have constantly been upgraded year on year. We always try to find better and newer ways do more for our people and culture so things remain positive; open and happy. And every year we find improved ways to better our work and create work that matters. It’s about pushing for creative solutions; picking our battles and ensuring our ideas are solving real business issues. 

We are not focusing on winning awards; that’s the bi-product. We want to do great work that is effective and makes our clients business better. And yes because of this focus; our work has been recognized more and more; and we are extremely proud of it. 

We’re all about constant improvements. The spirit of Kaizen is what we believe in as an agency.  We never take the success of any year for granted as we plan for the year ahead. You’re only as good as you last ad; so we never forget this reality. 

MediAvataar MENA: What is your vision for the agency in the years to come?

Sasan: I do believe the advertising industry in general has suffered immensely during the past many years; and every-where in the world, and from a lot of factors that are not limited to finance; communication capability; thought leadership; lack of talent, the rise of media and consultancies, the rise of social and digital platforms; the rebirth of procurement; the inability to remunerate big ideas, and so many other operational and product related matters. These factors have in-turn hindered the growth and ability for our industry to shine in the manner it deserves. I do believe it should be the responsibility of every agency leader to ensure we realize these issues and act upon them, step-by-step. As on certain areas we are already very late in fixing things. 

My vision is simple; to ensure we build more creative capability; combined with a disciplined consultancy brand guardianship approach. 

This means that we do need to expand our creative capability across all the channels in an integrated fashion; at the same time have consultants that are driving our clients businesses; ones that are expert in that sector and know the business of the client better than the clients themselves. This captures both science and creativity under one roof. It requires investment; it requires the right culture; it requires new people; and it requires a new modus operandi that is very much about mobilizing and empowerment. 

MediAvataar MENA: What do you consider has been your greatest achievement in your career so far?

Sasan: My greatest achievement has to still be ahead of me; but I think being part of the FP7 DXB transformation that took place in 2011 and the year on year success that we have had, has been perhaps one of the greatest stories I have had the pleasure to be a part of. And this is not merely about awards success; it’s about reputation success; it’s about cultural success; it about people success; it’s about client success; it’s about business success, and more. 

MediAvataar MENA: What differentiates your firm in its approach to its work?

Sasan: I firmly believe that our work is differentiated because we put a lot of business efficacy filters over our day-to-day business conduct. Meaning; we have constantly built our reputation as an agency that delivers business solutions and creates communication that works hard to deliver results. This requires a culture that believes in asking the right questions; asking the uncomfortable questions; investing in a lot planning and strategy; and creating ideas that are channel neutral and very challenge friendly. 

MediAvataar MENA: We are competing against a whole range of communication specialists – from social and advertising agencies, to in-house teams and freelancers. How do you stand out to win the pitch?

Sasan: Winning a pitch is not the main challenge. We all win pitches everyday. I am more concerned about the long run and that requires a lot of recalibration of our systems and cultures and capabilities in order to be able compete with smaller shops on agility; with media and socials shops on digital, technology and social media; and with consultancies on science and process. This is the pitch we need to win for the sake our industry. 

MediAvataar MENA: What’s the secret to attracting the best talent and keeping clients happy while balancing the books?

Sasan: As simple as it gets; “CULTURE”.  “Culture” is the bloodline of a successful agency. Transparency; open door policy; honesty; happiness & play; caring ambition & giving; entrepreneurship and reward, all characteristics of good cultures. We have tried to improve all these characteristics year on year; and I can tell you that we need to do more. But a happy and open culture creates happy people that will in-turn do great work because they care. When you do great work; your client’s are happy; client’s businesses flourish; and in turn everybody sells more. So it’s a cultural and business circle that is very much intertwined, one that begins and ends right where it started from. 

MediAvataar MENA: FP7 has a proven track record in the Creative World, What’s one of the most a) gratifying and b) bizarre experiences so far?

Sasan: All our experiences have been fruitful and the credit goes to both our people and our clients for trusting their brands with us. But I have so many examples of “firsts”, that have been both gratifying and bizarre at the same time. Our winning Effies Agency of the year in 2013, our winning it for the 3rd time in 2015; our first of many Cannes Lions for FP7 DXB in 2014, Our best year in Lynx earlier this in 2015; our endless Warc, Midas, One Show; New York Festivals; Our first ever trophy with Coca Cola; Emirates NBD, Sony Mobile and our other great clients. Our first ever under water store idea that took months to develop and has been the most “challenging” project we have ever been involved it. All of these experiences are moments we cherish and have made us who we are. 2015 has been very fruitful and record breaking year for us. Lets see how we can make 2016 an even better one. 

MediAvataar MENA: How have the roles of media, marketing, and communications changed or evolved in the region? How has this change affected the work?

Sasan: I think the region has evolved as the world of mass media and communication has evolved. The power of social and digital in peoples lives and its effects on brands and business; the rise of the “co-creation phenomena” with a savvy consumer that is smarter than ever before; the rise of digital media and mobile and its impact on the marketing mix of our brands; etc etc……all have had an immense amount of influence on our business model and our creative thinking. We are forced to get smarter with our ideas as our consumers don’t have the time or patience for anything less. 

MediAvataar MENA: Where do you see the future of creative marketing, and communications in the region heading?

Sasan: I do think we will be heading towards a much more robust marketing mix modeling; where every dollar will be calculated more wisely. There will be a lot of focus on digital and content creation. There will be a lot of focus on co-creation campaigns with consumers. There will be a lot of attention on “real time” marketing and communication; where we need to be agile and savvy enough to cater to opportunities when they happen. There will be a lot of focus on brand experiences and virtual reality, where creative agencies need to spell out the experience of the brand through out the customer journey. The future will also be about us, creative agencies, co- creating ideas and content with established social and digital platforms such as Facebook and Google, all for the purpose of connecting better with the consumers through better content. 

MediAvataar MENA: What global market trends over the last year do you think will progress branding and advertising in the region?

Sasan: I think I have covered it in the previous question. I think we need to aim, in simple terms, to be “always relevant” versus “always on”. As “always on” in my personal view, refers to a strategy that can actually create negative reactions for brands; as consumers don’t like brands to be pestering them “24 hours”; but rather adding to their lives when the time is right. Communication that is more focused; more tailored; more polite; with more manners, and very much relevant is what we need more than ever before in the year to come. 

 

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