In The Hot Seat – James Gaubert

James Gaubert, CEO at Bruce Clay Middle East tells TMN about his current role and what he thinks about the marketing industry in the Middle East…

Name: James Gaubert

Age: 37 I think, I tend to lose count!

From: London, United Kingdom

Current job title: CEO, Bruce Clay Middle East.

When did you first arrive in Dubai? 2010

Where did you work prior?

Since living in Dubai I have primarily worked for digital agencies. I previously worked with LBi and most recently with MRM//McCANN. Now I’m heading up Bruce Clay Middle East.

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

To be honest, not great. When I first listened to radio advertisements, watched advertisements on television and saw some of the websites large companies have in place, I was shocked. It was like stepping back in time – thankfully that has changed.

Has your opinion changed much?

Yes, massively. The Middle East has turbo-charged its marketing efforts, particularly on a digital front. I think this is largely due to influence from overseas, particularly if I look at some of the talent we have here now, the adoption curve for things like mobile and social media in this part of the world is incredible. We as a region should truly embrace technology!

Tell us about your current role…

I currently head up a digital marketing agency, Bruce Clay, and I love it! We work with some amazing clients and employ a great bunch of people who genuinely care. I love the variety – within one week I can be helping out with automotive, retail, electronics, F&B, financial services, pharmaceutical and e-commerce clients – as well as managing and growing an agency – it’s definitely a full-time job!

What challenges do you face?

Finding good digital talent in this part of the world has always been a problem. Having said that, this is becoming easier. The other issues, I’m afraid to say are all driven from clients – payments coming in on time and cashflow is certainly one of the things that keeps me up at night.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Telephone – we don’t use that enough anymore – I always think you can achieve far more over a quick call than over the back and forth of email and messenger.

Has social media taken over the marketing industry in the UAE?

Yes, we actually started life as a pure play SEO agency. As it stands today, we have more social media clients than anything else. It’s raw, it’s real and it’s the number one way to communicate with your consumers. Brands are embracing it in this region and it’s really exciting.

How has content become a marketing strategy in the UAE?

I think content has always been at the core of any marketing strategy. What excites me is that the way consumers are digesting content has changed. Thanks to channels like Snapchat, Facebook Live and Instagram stories, content has to be live, it has to be now – we as consumers no longer want to find out about something after it has happened, we want to be there and experience it now!

Has the UAE target audience redefined digital marketing strategies and success compared to other countries?

I’m not sure it’s got anything to do with the specific target audience here, it’s just a sign of the times – things are changing, not only in the UAE.

How would you describe yourself at work?


What inspires you?

Creativity, pushing the boundaries, being different and making people say wow!

Five things you can’t live without?

My mobile phone, my dog, dark chocolate, exercise, back catalogue of the TV series, Friends.

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

Backpacking around the world, without a care in the world.

If you could have one work wish granted, what would it be?

To have clients who don’t ask for a discount and who pay on time – the rest is a piece of cake!

What’s your most used social media platform?

This is a hard one! First thing in the morning, I look at Facebook for anything business or work related, then I’m all over LinkedIn and when I’m taking photos of my lunch, it’s Instagram!