Ad Chat - Mehdi Lamloum on creative revolutions and understanding people

Mehdi Lamloum joined Geometry Global in Malaysia as Executive Creative Director, but before that he was your TEDx Speaker, bartender, vlogger and guy with a a masters Degree in Taxation. No, seriously. Then Mehdi and his merry team brought home the first Gold Lions for Ogilvy Tunisia back in 2010, which set the agency on a winning streak. Now halfway across the world Mehdi Lamloum keeps bringing the smart different to creative campaigns as Dunlopillo, who can bore you to sleep with Boredcast, or set you up with a hot wife-date to get some use out of that mattress. Fun stuff.

dabs : I know that you speak more languages than I do, French, English, Arabic too right? Then you've moved more than I have as well, right now it's Kuala Lumpur, before it was Hong Kong, I don't even know where you were born. So, you know more than the average citizen of anywhere in both language and location, how does this help you in creating advertising? What can we learn from cultures and languages?
Mehdi Lamloum: I wish I could speak more languages so I could understand more people and cultures.
I believe it’s the key to our job: understanding people.
There’s no way to create advertising that resonates with people if we don’t understand where they’re coming from, what they are going through, what they need and how they see things.
I believe that coming from a small country (11M people) maybe helps : you have no fixated ideas about how things “should” be. You tend to accept almost anything, because whatever you know and grew up learning, only applies to a small part of the world population.

dabs : I love the work that "hacks people", that changes the way people think, that makes people actually change what they are doing. Two really good examples of this come to mind; "The Return Of Dictator Ben Ali" and "JUNE 16th 2014", both of which are in your body of work. How do you launch big ideas like that? 

Mehdi Lamloum: “Hacking”, in a strict sense of using something in a different way than its original one (and not the mainstream media sense of breaking into information system) is something our industry should be embracing more.
Growth hacking is now a job in most startups and I wouldn’t be surprised it comes to advertising agencies soon.
Changing people’s mind is the Graal in our job. And I will not use the word “influence” because it’s beyond that.

It starts by thinking about ideas where people can be fully part of the experience. And then, as usual in our business, it needs a combination of different things : A favourable context (A Revolution for example), great team (like the one I was part of), leaders who will go the extra mile (we were fortunate to have them)....

dabs : Currently, social media is changing (again), it seems to always be changing where one platform is deserted in favour of another. With that in mind, brand investment in any given platform seems a folly. How should brands treat social media? A chore? A tool only when needed?

Mehdi Lamloum: I’m always surprised (horrified?) when I see both Social / Digital / Mobile somewhere, as if they are three different things.

Internet. That’s your platform. And it’s made of people. Because without people, it’s nothing. And these people have different behaviours that evolves all the time. And that’s where your focus should be : The Internet’s Behaviour.

One thing I like to remind people: Twitter didn’t invent the Retweet. People came up with. And then Twitter made it a button. Which killed the spirit somehow but that’s another debate.

Brands should focus on people’s behaviour on Internet and try to adapt to that. Not an easy task because you never know when something will start, if it will spread and by the time you try to catch up, it might be too late.

That’s why trial and error should be tolerated and embraced : Try, Measure, Analyse. On a daily basis.

One fundamental Internet rule, with RTFM, is “ Release early, release often”. And that’s how Internet is different from traditional media.

dabs : If you were given a magic wand and could change anything about the advertising industry, what would you want to change?

Mehdi Lamloum: It’s already changing so much, that whatever I change will change itself before I even notice that.
But if I could make one thing disappear forever, it would be briefs longer than one page.

dabs : Amen to that! Now; what inspires you? How do you refuel your creative tank?

Mehdi Lamloum: Reading books about things I don’t know or that make me uncomfortable. Still for me the best source of inspiration, because your imagination is at it’s highest.
Getting lost on youtube watching videos about things I never thought existed.

dabs : What is the one piece advice do you wish someone had told you when you were just starting out?

Mehdi Lamloum: Nobody Cares.
Only rule for a manager
Ben Horowitz is so right about it

Previous super bowl related ad chats:
Josh Hurley & Andy Kohman who sold fitness fans beer during the Super Bowl, FCB Chicago.
Super Bowl Ad Chat: Vinny Warren, on Wassup humor & preachy advertising
Ad Chat Super Bowl: John Kritch creator of "My Bold Dad" Toyota

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Jill Spradley Associate Creative Director at 160over90
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Jane Goldman Creative Director/Copywriter & Strategist, Boston, MA
Jonah Otieno - Executive Creative Director 5ive Ltd, Nairobi
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Arnie DiGeorge Executive Creative Director of RR Partners
Andy Kinsella Innovation Director at Glue Isobar
Koert Bakker Director of Strategy at Victor & Spoils
Evan Brown, Sr. Copywriter at TBWA\Chiat\Day
Dena Walker, Digital Strategist at Irish International in Dublin, Ireland
Bernie Watt, copywriter at Make, in Sydney, Australia
Ron Smrczek, Executive Creative Director of TAXI Europe
Vincent Vella, Creative Director - Grey Paris, Euro RSCG and Publicis.
Gideon Amichay, Creative Chairman of Shalmor Avnon Amichay Y&R Tel Aviv
Richard Tseng, Freelance Copywriter at CP+B
Claudiu Florea, Managing Partner - Wunderkid, Romania
Snorre Martinsen creative at Saatchi & Saatchi Oslo
Laura Jordan Bambach, Executive Creative Director LBi
Simon White Creative Lead from Rapp, London
Richard Gorodecky Executive Creative Director at Amsterdam Worldwide
Ray Page Creative Director at Tribal DDB
Adam Pierno of Off Madison Ave.
Edward Boches of Mullen
Dirk Singer of Rabbit, UK
Gareth Kay of Goodby, Silverstein and Partners
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Rob Schwartz of TBWA\Chiat\Day

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