2018 Grand Jury Perspective with: Carl Bou Abdallah

Senior Brand Planner Fp7 Beirut (McCann MENA)

New York, NY | February 17, 2018

The AME Awards International Grand Jury represents some of the world’s most creative and strategic minds in advertising, marketing, and communications. AME recruits these award-winning international industry execs and tasks them with the job of selecting the World’s Best Advertising & Marketing Effectiveness.

With Juries representing 5 regions, Asia Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East & Africa, and North America, all AME’s entries are judged on cultural relevance. Following regional judging, all Gold-winning work from all regions goes through an additional round of judging with all entries reviewed by the full international Grand Jury to determine a Platinum Award for each of the five regions.

This week ‘s Grand Jury Perspective features 2018 AME jury member, Carl Bou Abdallah, Fp7 Beirut’s (McCann MENA) senior brand planner. Carl brings his strategic skills, drive and his philosophy of curiosity to the jury panel. For the past two years, he has been an integral part of the agency’s brand, creative, and connections planning for Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. Throughout his career, his media knowledge and drive to understand the way everything functions in the way it does have contributed to the agency winning major regional and international awards.

Carl considers that the key to success in any communication strategy is plain old, sometimes annoying, curiosity. His drive has placed him in the position to advise on the winning strategy for McDonald’s, L’Oréal, the banking sector and many other different categories of brands.

AME Awards: Does judging the year’s creative work within your industry influence your creative process?

Carl Bou Abdallah: Of course! We get inspired by the world’s best advertising practices. Even if some of these practices are better, brighter, it’s those that make way for innovation and new ways of thinking. If we don’t take in what other agencies do right or wrong we will just keep updating our own set of practices, our own way of thinking. In today’s world, this is not enough. If we want to succeed, we need to open up to completely new ideas and processes and that is what judging other creative work will help us do.

AME Awards: What are the hallmarks of an award-winning campaign?

Carl Bou Abdallah: I really think each campaign has its own metrics of success on the award-winning level. It depends on the brand, product, culture, the idea, how relatable it is, how liquid it is to transform and adapt to different media platforms, how much it generated talk… But the most important, close to being common, trait an award-winning campaign needs to have is its ability to solve a problem in people’s lives. At McCann and Fp7 there’s a philosophy we follow: that every brand needs to have a meaningful role in people’s lives. This gives us purpose to not just do advertising but to do advertising that makes a difference. From the smallest of initiatives to the biggest campaigns out there, once this is set as the end goal when developing a campaign, it automatically puts it in the realm of an award winning one.

AME Awards: How do you see the industry evolving in the next 3—5 years?

Carl Bou Abdallah: AI and automation has caught up with the world. There’s no denying this. Uber have just purchased tons of driverless cars from Volvo, programmatic buying is now capable to come up with the ad by itself and update it every 5 seconds based on people’s real live interaction with it, McCann Japan have their own AI powered creative director. We live in a world where everything is being, seamlessly, affected by automation. That’s where I think the industry is going… Does that mean that the agency’s role is becoming obsolete? Absolutely not! This is giving us ways to strategize better, integrate better and get better results. To learn what works, what doesn’t and how we can top that. To test, update, keep testing and keep updating our work to keep up with the world. That by itself is what’s going to make the industry stronger and better at standing out with content that moves and affects people.

AME Awards: In your opinion, what is your favorite ad that embodies both creativity and effectiveness?

Carl Bou Abdallah: My favorite ad is not an ad at all. It’s a statue. I find the famous fearless girl a brilliant example of how we should be thinking. This is a statue that got the whole world talking, it let people speak up using what she literally stands for. It got “the media buzzing without saying any word”. If that isn’t an effective and brilliant idea by itself, moving from one platform to the other, from one person to the other, from one media channel to the other, I don’t know what is.

AME Awards: What philosophy drives your career?

Carl Bou Abdallah: Curiosity. I believe that when a person is curious to understand everything in the world he lives in he can succeed in anything he puts his mind into. We need to be curious about people, how they function, why they do this or that. Curious about technology, games, series, science, life itself! Ask questions, get the newest apple watch even if you don’t know what you want it for yet, research, ask random strangers questions, spend hours binge-watching… all of these enrich the brain with new concepts, new knowledge, new topics of conversation, new points of view… That’s why curiosity gives people the ability to be most adaptable. And when someone knows how to adapt, he can learn how to master anything he is involved in.