In The Hot Seat – Dariush Kamyab

We chat with Dariush Kamyab, Managing Director of LMTD, who talks about his current role and offers his thoughts on the advertising and marketing industry in the Middle East…

Name: Dariush Kamyab

Age: 30

Nationality: British

Current Job Title: Managing Director, LMTD

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

The day I was born!

Where did you work prior?

I previously worked with Polar Bear Creative as Account Manager from 2011 – 2012 and later co-founded a social media start-up called Kindai Media in 2012, which consulted to various governmental organisations across the MENA region. I joined LMTD in 2015 as a Strategist and most recently held the role of Head of Strategy.

What were your first impressions of the advertising industry in the Middle East?

When I started out, we were in the midst of the global financial crisis. Marketers had to be smart to make the most of client budgets as they were counting every penny – we had to adapt to this and think creatively.  

Has your opinion changed much?

The region is increasingly attracting top talent from across the world – this means we have a more global, tech-savvy audience to advertise to, resulting in smarter campaigns. Budgets have gone up, but clients are increasingly more aware of where their Dollars are being spent.

Tell us about your current role…

As Managing Director at LMTD, I essentially perform two roles: I ensure that our team has the best possible work environment for them to thrive in and also commit to having our clients receive the best possible work that we can do. I recently worked on expanding our client base outside of the region to South Korea. This was an extremely exciting development for the whole team as we continue to grow our global client portfolio and as a result, our capabilities.

What challenges do you face?

Working with clients from across the globe with a team of 30 means that we all have to multitask quite regularly, whether it’s on video, social, digital or creative projects. No two days are ever the same and we frequently find ourselves on call late into the night. The results though, can be incredibly satisfying.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Watching people really grow in their roles and being able to coach them through this. Our first ever office administrator arrived straight out of university and is now an integral part of our account servicing team for one of our largest clients. It’s stories like this that make my job worthwhile.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Anyway works! I’ve had prospective clients even reach out through Twitter.

Is traditional marketing still efficient in the UAE today?

Depends on the type. Print media maybe less, so than out of home and television – but it’s usually quite efficient in satisfying clients as they appreciate the tangible aspect of this kind of media.

How has consumer behaviour in today’s digital community influenced the advertising industry?

Today’s generation is spoiled for choice. Digital media can give you whatever you want, whenever you want. When it comes to content, advertisers are not just competing with competitors, but content from multiple sources, vendors and platforms on the same screen. Advertisers are having to battle to create compelling content to stand out from cluttered news feeds and timelines.  

Has user-generated content taken over brand promotion and marketing campaigns in the Middle East?

A lot of industries, especially retail and F&B have been realising that it’s becoming more and more effective to have their customers talk about them rather than have marketers talk at them. Encouraging customers to post content around a brand or campaign hashtag is definitely a trend in vogue at the moment and when done correctly, can have really cool results. The worry is that brands may attempt this and be unprepared for negative feedback and then be turned off from attempting similar drives in the future.

How has social media in the region evolved over the years to become an integrated part of the advertising and marketing industry?

I remember when huge regional social media accounts were run by a group of three freelancers sitting around a desk. It was easy to create content and post, back then, whereas nowadays the quality of social content has evolved massively. Social media marketers are often required to be ‘Swiss Army knives’ — in their role you need to be content creators, analysts and strategists at the same time.

What role does social media play in building a brand’s reputation today?

With the right strategy, social media can not only build a brand’s reputation, but define it. If you don’t approach the medium properly it can swallow you as a whole. One false move in a tweet or Instagram post can be picked up by millions in an instant and spread around the world in seconds. What other form of media can do that?

What are the most common digital marketing mistakes companies make?

Treating social media like an add-on rather than a core is part of their customer-facing strategy. Too often are social media managers, whether inexperienced, or IT managers are given access to the company’s Twitter account – I’ve seen this happen with global multinationals. It’s often assumed that if you work in tech, you can work in social. That’s like asking a print shop to write the content of the books they print out!

Describe yourself in five words

Approachable, knowledgeable, eager to learn.

Who inspires you?

Definitely the leadership of the UAE and specifically HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. Growing up in Dubai has really allowed me to witness his incredibly ambitious impact on the city.

What’s your most overused saying?

Probably ‘you never know’. Business in Dubai, and this city in general – always ends up surprising you.

Five things you can’t live without?

My iPhone, good cologne, creamy espresso, football and my family

What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?

Definitely joining LMTD and working with such a multicultural team that is more of a family than a group of colleagues. Our potential as a unit is boundless.

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

I thoroughly enjoyed lecturing and presenting seminars on social media a few years back. I would definitely start that up again.

What’s your favourite form of media?

Social! You really have to be on top of your game at all times. It’s fast-paced, targeted and ever-changing. It keeps us thinking and continually flexible.

How do you see the advertising and marketing industry changing in the Middle East in the coming years?

Smartphone usage across the region is booming and is set to grow further. The attention span of the next generation will be shorter than ever. It will be up to intelligent digital and social media campaigns combined with effective data mining to hook customers into your brand or service, otherwise, you’ll lose them in a flash to a smarter competitor.