We chat with Bruno Bomediano, Executive Creative Director at Horizon FCB, who talks about his current role and offers his thoughts on the advertising industry in the Middle East…
Name: Bruno Bomediano
Current job title: Executive Creative Director, Horizon FCB
When did you first arrive in Dubai?
I arrived in April 2014, so I missed the FIFA World Cup happening in Brazil by one month. It tells a lot about how excited I was about this move.
Where did you work prior?
Back in Sao Paulo, I’ve worked in most of the big agencies over there, such as TBWA, Y&R, Leo Burnett, Fallon, Lowe and Talent Marcel.
When I moved to Dubai, I joined Leo Burnett and worked there until November 2017, when I got invited by Mazen Jawad, Group Managing Director and Reham Mufleh, Deputy General Manager at Horizon FCB to join their team.
What were your first impressions of the advertising industry in the Middle East?
I always had the impression that Dubai was a city ahead of the rest of the world, but the brands were not following this thinking. They are a bit too conservative for this effervescent multicultural city. Also, I understood quickly that the budgets here were surprisingly strict and most probably the cause of this cautious approach.
Has your opinion changed much?
It didn’t change much, but I see a significant evolution on how some clients and agencies are putting a lot of energy to try to change that. Bold ideas do not necessarily need a big budget, but of course, need the guts to fight for them.
Tell us about your current role…
I’m currently the creative lead at Horizon FCB and being responsible for the final product we deliver for our clients. One of my most significant responsibilities is to make sure we are presenting the best creative solution to help our brands achieve their primary goals.
I’m in a constant battle for excellent work and I’m passionate about good ideas, as I believe in their power of changing. I know that the concept of ‘brands that change people’s behaviour is a bit overused by the entire industry, but I think we are in the best moments of bringing that change.
What challenges do you face?
One of the most significant challenges for me is to prove that an idea is worth investing in. The new and the original still scares people. It’s easier to approve a familiar path. It’s human nature not to leave their comfort zones and it’s not different with any business. But creativity is necessary for every industry. It’s what moves us forward and makes ourselves unique.
Sometimes it takes time for an innovative solution to be digested by its audience. Ferran Adriá and his molecular cuisine was always a critic success, but it did not please the taste of everybody. Twenty years later we see his inventive culinary foam, in almost every restaurant we visit. However, on many occasions, a brilliant idea like the Bullet Time Camera from Wachowskis brothers’ Matrix would become an instant hit.
In advertising, to pursue the original is always good. It challenges our mind to explore new routes and amplify the range of solutions we are giving our clients. Hopefully with more instant hits, than critics applauses.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s definitely when we can combine creativity with efficacy. When people around you have some connection with the final product, we created for your client’s brand.
Is traditional media still relevant for effective branding in the region today?
The first question I asked when I got my first job here was why did big brands invest that much amount of money in out-of-home advertising (OOH)? I respect the power of traditional media, but I question it when all the money goes there.
After four years of driving on Sheikh Zayed road, I’m still impressed with in the power of that 50 meters long hoarding. But I would love to see that money on something that could create better engagement with our audience.
Has cultural differences in the region created a limitation or an advantage to advertising campaigns?
The most powerful work I’ve seen here so far speaks to a specific target.
The best ideas usually come from human insights. Of course, it’s easier when you have all this diversity of cultures to explore. When a brand allows you to explore a niche, it is always great. And I think it’s happening more often, because of the media targeting that let us create content for specific audiences.
How do you keep up with the latest creative tools and technologies?
My Instagram feed has transformed in the last years, from friends posting travel pictures, to images from a lively art gallery. My inspiration for art direction is mostly from studios, artists and art institutions that I follow.
I surf websites with new technology, thereby trying to stay updated with trends and new product inventions. I always click on hooks like ‘Ten best gadgets for…’. It sometimes shows solutions that we can apply to our clients too. And of course the apparent advertising sources, such as Creativity online and Cannes Lions archive. When I get jealous about one new campaign, it’s serves as the fuel I need to work harder and achieve my new goals.
If you could change something about the advertising industry in the UAE what would it be?
I think the industry here is changing and growing, but not at the same pace as the things around us. I would love to see the industry being as innovative and fearless as the initiatives we are facing in our daily lives. We are living in a place where you have taxi drones, cloud seeding and police robots. Therefore, it is our duty to not communicate with this audience exposed to the latest technologies in a very flat way.
Describe yourself in five words
Persistent, curious, picky, eclectic and sharp. For the not so nice ones you can ask my wife and friends.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by creators in general, especially the ones in pop culture scene. From Elon Musk to Damien Chazelle. From the American chef that is reinventing the ramen scene in New York on the Chef’s Table series to the new Arab calligraffiti artists. Anyone that leaves their comfort zone behind to create something memorable that is quickly absorbed into our lives.
What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?
My career brought me to Dubai. I’ve never imagined myself in such enriching experience. I’m from a small town in the countryside of Brazil, well known for their livestock and Rodeo lifestyle, five hours drive away from the famous Brazilian seashore. So you can imagine how I’m enjoying living in a beach place now?
What’s your most overused saying?
“We have to improve the craft” and “It’s never enough.”
Five things you can’t live without?
My wife, my friends and my French bulldog – they are my family, good food, Netflix, Barbecue – I wish I could do it more often here.
If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?
I would be serving some good comfort food to friends in a small restaurant or pub. Ever since I was six or seven years old, I have been cooking on Sundays for my family. Hearty dishes coupled with a long conversation and followed by a long nap after.
I still love doing this to my friends and they keep trying to convince me to give up advertising and open a new business with them. But for me, pots and pans are a hobby. I just want to see my friends getting wasted after three or four rounds of food.
What’s your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print, social media?
My favourite media is the one that is best for the idea.
I get the same excitement with a good old print, radio or a digital activation. I don’t think a media should guide an idea neither have a mold. My most awarded campaign came from a radio activation where we injected innovation to this old media. And no – It was not a radio spot.
What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in the advertising industry in the UAE?
One of the most important things to work in advertising is to be passionate. Without this passion, you will neither be that thrilled when a great idea comes, nor will you find the energy to keep fighting for it. Sometimes this passion comes with time. No one falls in love with advertising at first sight. You get more and more attached to it when you discover all the best campaigns in the world, and realise you can also create something as exciting as those.
Another thing is to train your mind to be a sponge. Everything you experience in life can be used later. A funny talk you had with your colleagues in college, or a fashion photography exhibition you were in London ten years ago, can be transformed into a creative execution later.