Middle East advertising sector comes into its own

Visitors at Dubai Lynx Festival at the Palladium. (SUPPLIED)

Standard of creativity in the region's advertising sector is no longer a matter of concern, according to a top official from the industry.

"In the last five years, the regional industry standards for creativity have grown up to international standards, which is evident from the fact that local and regional campaigns have won accolades at the Cannes Advertising Festival," said Raja Trad, CEO Leo Burnett Group of Companies, for Mediterranean region. He was speaking on the sidelines of the four-day Dubai Lynx Festival at the Palladium.

Talking on the subject of creativity in the region, Trad said the Dubai Lynx Academy is a clear indication of a bright future for the industry's creative standards.

"This is the second year for the academy, and we see an immense improvement in the standard of participating students. Our office [nine in the region] co-ordinates with universities and institutes to pick 20 of the most deserving candidates from the Mena region and they are given the opportunity to learn from leading professionals of the industry," said Trad about the stringent selection process.

"After a three-day educational programme focusing on all aspects of the communications industry, three top students are offered a full-time internship at Leo Burnett offices.

"Our commitment to the academy is from the Cannes Advertising Festival, where we have been running this academy for very long. The same has been extended since last year and looking at the results, we are sure to continue this and are confident of attracting only the best students," said Trad.

Commenting on the creativity, he said: "We are seeing a mix of some very good talent and some very aspiring hard working students, who wish to take this industry as a career. Creativity is to quite an extent imbibed as an attitude in an individual, while others have to work on the skills to perfect it. Keeping that in view, I say that the level of creativity at the academy is also a reflection of the same. Some of the students are sparkling stars and are bound to receive the attention of their teachers and Leo Burnnett executives."

"Leo Burnett is committed to providing internship to the top three students, but we might extend to more than just three, if they are deserving," he added.

During the three-day training programme, which includes seminars, screenings, exhibitions and workshops, the students are guided by Marilyn S Roberts PhD, Dean and Professor, College of Communication and Media Sciences, Zayed University.

Students also have the opportunity to attend master classes and tutorials with leading industry figures from around the world, including Mark Tutssel, Leo Burnett's Global Chief Creative Officer. Tutssel will hold a seminar on Humankind – Leo Burnett's innovative philosophy, which involves putting people and human behaviour at the heart of a brand's strategy. "By hosting the Academy at the region's leading advertising event, we are not only helping prepare a new generation of young people for an exciting career in communications industry, but are also demonstrating our commitment to supporting industry best practices," said Trad in an official communiqué. Last year, 21 students participated in the Dubai Lynx Academy. And one of them, Reem Al Shakaa, who went on to complete an internship with the Leo Burnett group said: "The Dubai Lynx Academy was a fantastic experience. It taught me a lot about the way the industry operates. It gave me a level of industry understanding that proved invaluable. I'd thoroughly recommend this programme to students looking for a career in the industry."

Steve Lane, Festival Director, Dubai Lynx Festival, said: "Each year, the Dubai Lynx Festival celebrates the best of the region's creative talent and it is only fitting that we use this forum to motivate and inspire young, creative minds.

"After a highly successful Academy last year, we are excited to once again join forces with Leo Burnett to further help the development of the region's communications industry."


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