Dubai, at a Creative Tipping Point: an Interview with Mike Shackle
Posted on 2016 Nov,28

Mike Shackle, chief creative officer, Grey MENA, loves everything about Dubai – the ambition, the positivity, the vision. In the following interview, he takes us through a swift run of the mill, at light speed for a rundown of the reasons behind the stellar rise of the emirate as the region’s creative hub.


What sets Dubai apart from other countries in the Middle East? 

Dubai has always attracted great talent so that gives it an advantage over other countries in the region.


What adjectives best describe Dubai’s advertising scene?

Fast. Demanding. Exciting. Developing. Encouraging. Improving.


Are clients becoming more open to challenging ideas?

Clients are becoming open to more challenging ideas but we must also be aware that we live in difficult economic times. As a result, clients often still prefer to go with the tried and tested. However, Dubai is at a tipping point creatively.

Each year there are one or two more agencies joining the pack that are producing world-class advertising. As that momentum builds, we’ll start seeing more and more really exciting work that stands up there with the best around the world until it is the norm for everyone.

It’s a great time to be a part of the Dubai scene.


What is still missing/needed for greater success/recognition?

We’re still missing that big, game-changing idea for a serious client that will show everyone else the way. Too much of our best work is happening around the edges, often created pro-actively.


With Dubai being a widely diverse landscape of people and cultures, is there an effort to craft ad campaigns within a certain framework for the widest appeal? 

I’ve lived and worked all around the world and the main thing I’ve come to realise is the fact that people, no matter where they’re from, have more in common than they have differences. We all have similar needs, hopes and dreams. The best advertising is when you find the heart of a brand and share that with the world. It will always resonate with the right audience. What doesn’t work is when you fake it.


Are there any trends in Dubai’s advertising scene that you specifically dislike?

Not really. Trends are fleeting in nature. Why worry about something that won’t last? I’d rather concentrate on the many positives of the scene here and be excited about the direction it’s moving in.


What are the greatest challenges facing ad creatives today? 

We work at a speed today that would have been impossible a few years ago. Constantly tight deadlines impact our ability to innovate and craft, to push the boundaries of our thinking, to discover new solutions to our clients’ problems.


Do you find it professionally rewarding and personally interesting to be located in Dubai?

I’m working at an incredible agency so every day I wake up excited about what we’re creating here. On a personal level, I love everything about Dubai – the ambition, the positivity, the vision. It’s a wonderful place to live and raise a family.


What made you pick Dubai?

Dubai is an amazing place but it wasn’t the deciding factor for me. Any job move – especially to another country – has to be about the opportunity. And the chance to join Grey – the hottest agency network in the world – and work with the super-smart talent Grey has in Dubai and across the Middle East and North Africa, was just too good to turn down.