In The Hot Seat – Jon Marchant

Team TMN catch up with Jon Marchant, Managing Director at FP7/DXB who talks about his new role and what he thinks of the advertising industry in the Middle East…

Name: Jon Marchant

Age: 41

From: UK

Current Job Title: Managing Director, FP7/DXB

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

November 2017

Where did you work prior?

I previously worked in the UK with Big Communications and most recently with McCann Central, part of McCann Worldgroup before taking up my new role in the UAE.

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

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of clients I met who were striving to do brave, original and award-winning work.

Has your opinion changed much?

No, so far my first impressions have held true, which is great.

Tell us about your current role

I’m responsible for the leadership and development of FP7 DXB’s business. I have inherited an extremely talented bunch of people and am looking forward to doing some awesome things in 2018.

What challenges do you face?

Lots! But that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning — continuing to hire the very best talent in the region, working out what to do with all this data we have access to, battling against the tough economical climate and ensuring FP7 remains at the top of the perch when it comes to creative effectiveness. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The daily pride that comes from leading the most effective agency in MENA and knowing we are doing work that consistently gets results for our illustrious client portfolio.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

I’m not fussy! Call, email or pop in for a coffee.

Is traditional media still relevant for effective branding in the region today? Absolutely there’s still a role. But the challenge remains how to ensure we have the optimum blend of media to achieve our clients’ measurable business goals.

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

It’s broadened our potential to do great things creatively! With a broader palette of digital platforms available and the ability more than ever to show genuine effectiveness for our efforts, — it’s an exciting time to be in this industry.

Have cultural differences in the region created limitations or an edge to digital content marketing?

I wouldn’t look at it as differences, but as diversity. There is possibly no other region as diverse and exhaustingly astonishing as the MENA region! And that diversity is challenging but ultimately, very rewarding as it fuels unexpected and untapped creativity as well as content. The latest fame-generating Coca-Cola work from Egypt (for FP7 Cairo’s Line-Up Song), is a perfect example of how diversity and tapping into local insights and nuances can lead to disruptive content marketing.

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

MENA is one of the fastest growing and highest consuming regions in the world when it comes to social media. Creative expressions, freedom and the shared experiences have all fuelled this growth, along with of course the proliferation and penetration of smartphones. It’s no longer just a deliverable list in a brief, it is the hero content and the time now is to not just create content for social, but content that is social at heart.

If you could change something about the advertising industry in the UAE, what would it be?

For agencies, a renewed focus on creating work that matters and solves brands’ commercial problems, which is why we exist.

For clients and marketers, experiment and go for nervous. Keep a good ten percent of marketing and creative budgets aside for the unknowns – things brands don’t know about and things we as agencies don’t know about! That’s where some magical and transformational work will happen.

For all, stay more in touch with the constantly evolving world and create more work that’s data-driven, agile and relevant to everyday people.

How would you describe yourself at work?

Pragmatic, grounded results-orientated, brave. Honest and fair with colleagues. Passionate and professional with clients.

What inspires you?

Brave and bold clients. Clients that treat you as a genuine business partner and share their media data, consumer data and research with you, so we can deliver insight-led game-changing campaigns.

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

In the UK, I helped to grow McCann Central into the largest agency outside London and the largest McCann operation in Europe. We achieved 60% growth in three years. That was pretty special.

What’s your most overused saying?

If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together (used to emphasise the importance of collaboration and teamwork!)

Five things you can’t live without?

Family time, holidays, long runs, Apple Music and Google Maps!

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

Global Talent Scout for Manchester United!

What is your favourite form of media?

Ambient. McCann proved with Fearless Girl that if you get it absolutely right, even with a very low investment, the results can be spectacular!

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in the advertising and marketing industry in the UAE?

Be enthusiastic. It’s not the easiest industry in the world. Work is dynamic, ever-changing and challenging, every day.

Be curious. We thrive on being aware of trends and on setting trends. So, it’s imperative to be open to the culture and the people we are living with as well as the communities we are operating in – spending time out in the real world, while in a job, helps wonders in being in touch with a constantly evolving world.

Be courageous. Firstly, strive to create brave ideas that will move people. Next, great ideas struggle for their survival every day. When you have a great idea, it is crucial to make sure there’s a logical case (that impacts both the brands and business) then go and sell it, until it is sold!