Samer Abboud: ‘Certainties found in our togetherness as a network’
Posted on 2022 Feb,15

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Lebanon has been in a state of emergency since late-2019, pummeled by a crisis after another. On top of everything came the devastating explosion that rocked Beirut on 4 August 2020 followed by an economic crisis that keeps worsening. One year later, ArabAd wanted to know from the ad agencies in town how they thrived throughout such a tumultuous 2021 year. Samer Abboud, Regional Managing Director, KSA/Lebanon/Iraq, Memac Ogilvy explains.

How would you describe in one word the year that past?



Were you able to find certainty despite all hardships and adversity crippling businesses in the country?

Memac Ogilvy has always been structured in a way that allows us to purposefully face any challenge. Of course, the events of the past two years have been hard and unexpected. The certainties were found in our togetherness as a network.


Did you feel at risk at some point of getting pulled out of the game? And what helped you reinforce your team’s belief in Lebanon and strong commitment and dedication to sustaining the business?

I won’t deny there were times when we felt the heat. Having survived the Lebanese War, I am a firm believer that everything, good and bad, finds its end. This way of thinking keeps us optimistic about the future.

Instead of dwelling on the crisis, we looked at it as an opportunity for growth by increasing resources and retaining talents. This included servicing other markets out of the Beirut office and increased confidence and optimism about Lebanon.


How have you managed to channel your energy into keeping up? 

I believe my energy is better spent finding solutions rather than discussing problems. Second to that, I always remind myself not to forget to find happiness in life’s little pleasures.


What has been the most important thing you’ve learned over the last 12 months?

Memac Ogilvy has always been a human-centric business, but the past year has really reiterated that fact. We’re offered new perspectives today, and we’re further understanding the value of putting our people at the centre of every decision. 


“Having survived the Lebanese War, I am a firm believer that everything, good and bad, finds its end.”


Has your passion and energy remained intact in such a gloomy climate?

I believe I am optimistic by nature, and always believe that there are better days ahead. Nevertheless, no matter how optimistic we are, hard times are inevitable. It’s how you use those times that matters.


The Lebanese crisis —and the global sanitary crisis —have challenged managers and marketers to rethink the way they do business and plan the future of their organizations. Where the biggest opportunities lay mostly for you? Where does “new business” typically come from today? 

The Lebanese crisis surely had its impact on our people and pushed some good talents to move on. But it was also an opportunity to bring in fresh blood, which is healthy in an industry like ours. Despite the struggles, I honestly believe the pandemic did some lasting good for our business model. Our operation in Beirut served the entire region—not just Lebanon, and this is something that started before the pandemic. So, when the pandemic came about, it reinforced our perspective that managing business can happen from anywhere, anytime. With the help of technology, good continuity, and a tight-knit region, we continue to prove that.


What are the shifts that you foresee taking place in the year ahead? And what do you think will be your biggest challenge in 2022?

It’s my hope and prediction that COVID-19 will fade away next year and we will see a huge comeback take place. Too many opportunities will surface, which will surely have a huge inflation impact because companies don’t have enough resources to respond to the market demand. 

The main challenge is to be able to attract more talents in Lebanon. In all cases, no matter what the days ahead hold for us, this challenge will be accepted, and we will pour our heart and soul into making Memac Ogilvy and its clients successful.