Anastasiadis quits Saatchi & Saatchi

March 29, 2009

anastasiadissteveSteve Anastasiadis, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi’s Dubai operation, is quitting the agency to return to his native Australia.

His decision represents the latest in a string of high level changes at the agency, which is in the midst of a serious restructure following the arrival of Elias Ashkar as CEO for the Middle East and North Africa last October.

Ed Jones, the network’s former regional creative director, left the agency on what he described as “good terms” in January, but it had become clear that there was no place for him in the new set up instigated by Ashkar, who has the backing of London-based Simon Francis, CEO for Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Anastasiadis (pictured), who joined Saatchi & Saatchi’s Dubai outfit in August 2006, said he is due to leave at the end of the month and will be back in Sydney the following week. “I’m looking at a few things in Sydney which I can’t confirm yet, but I’m basically going back home,” he said. “I’ve been here nearly three years and the family was keen to move back. My wife has been offered a position back at an investment bank, and I’ve been talking to people in Australia for a while.”

It is not yet known who will replace Anastasiadis, but he said, “there will be a whole new structure, a whole new team, and a new era”.

Recent arrivals include Joseph Attallah, who joined as chief strategy officer for the MENA region in January, and Danny Higgins, who is the Dubai office’s new creative director.

Jones is due to leave Dubai this week in order to take up a new position as executive creative director of Publicis Groupe in Croatia.

Some serious soul searching is required

March 29, 2009

So Ramsey Naja was right. The aftermath of the Dubai Lynx has descended into a war of words, with fingers being pointed all over the shop.

There is genuine cause for concern surrounding some of the winners at this year’s Lynx and an investigation is fully justified, but there are aspects of the fallout that remind me of the worst traits of the region’s media industry. If certain individuals spent as much time trying to move the industry forward as they do spouting anonymous vitriol, we’d be in a far better position than we are now. This should be an open debate, not an anonymous argument.

Euro RSCG’s Steffan Postaer must be sitting comfortably back in his office in Chicago wondering what the hell’s going on. Here’s a region, according to him, that’s stuck in the 80s and can’t be judged by international standards. That is a worry. How can an industry progress if it is being treated like a child? And – others have already said this – what must the world be thinking as it looks on at the mess that this has become?

Still, all this talk of copycats, scams, frauds and cheats is only one of the industry’s worries. This was not a vintage Lynx year. Apart from the odd exception, the industry appears to have regressed, not progressed. Where was the brilliant and genuine outdoor, where was the inspiring print, why were there so few entries in the integrated category, and why is the industry so fixated with traditional media when the rest of the world is moving on? The organisers of the Lynx went to great lengths to provide valuable seminars that offer guidance into the murky waters ahead. And if you made it to the seminars held by Strawberry Frog founder Scott Goodson and chief creative officer of Pereira O’Dell, PJ Pereira, you would have discovered that the future lies in the creation of bona-fide cultural movements, not two-dimensional executions.

The big danger from all of this, of course, is that agencies will be discouraged from entering future Dubai Lynx awards. That must not happen. It’s the only credible awards show we have, and I doubt we’ll get another. If Cannes Lions can’t succeed, no one will. That’s why the organisers are acting quickly to make sure the integrity of the awards is kept intact and that those who have cheated are punished accordingly. But it’s time for some serious soul searching, because without each other, without a respectable awards show, and without an eye on the future, the industry is going nowhere.