Ad man Omar Boustany comes up with stunts to turn head hunters’ heads in his direction
In mid December, a shocking visual started to circulate among industry people on Facebook; beheaded Lebanese ad man Omar Boustany sitting on a couch in the middle of a library, his head on a plate, and a headline saying “To All Head Hunters”. With 14 years of experience in the advertising industry, between Lebanon’s Leo Burnett, Saatchi & Saatchi, Memac Ogilvy and Rizk Group, creative director Omar Boustany is unemployed today, having left his last position as creative director at Havas Dubai, a year ago.
“It is not only Lebanon that’s in bad shape today, the whole region is in bad shape; Dubai is saturated and the industry in the GCC isn’t booming,” says Boustany, who decided to create a campaign to advertise himself rather than send his CV to the industry’s recruiters.
Many factors inspired Boustany to launch this campaign, the rationale behind it comes from David Ogilvy’s quote: “If you can’t advertise yourself, what hope do you have of advertising anything else?” As for the campaign’s visual idea, it was inspired by two ideas: Boustany’s daily life, which he currently spends looking for head hunters who would be interested in offering him a job; and the geopolitical situation in the region, where beheaded victims are all over the news. “Somewhere, I felt myself as powerless as ISIS victims,” says Boustany, not without a sense of drama. Photographer Joe Kesrouani, with whom Boustany shared his idea and sketches, recognized himself in the work, which describes the situation of many artists in the Middle East as well. Kesrouani shot Boustany – the star of the ad – in his own library surrounded by his books, and Sarah Rizkallah Nadim was behind the campaign’s art direction. “Posting such visual on social media was risky and could have attracted negative reactions, and I didn’t want to be perceived as disrespectful to the victims of terrorism,” explains Boustany. “Happily, all reactions were positive,” he adds, explaining why he decided to take his campaign further. Being an Internet and social media addict himself, and knowing that advertising people are always hooked on Facebook, his “dream team” wouldn’t be complete without digital planner Michael Chaftari, who helped him set up the digital strategy of the campaign. “In fact, it wasn’t just about finding a job anymore; I became so passionate about the campaign that I wanted it to reach the world,” says Boustany.
With a small budget, the avid candidate and his digital planner created a Facebook page for the campaign and advertised it through Facebook ads, targeting people working in the advertising industry in all parts of the world. The Facebook ad directs people to Boustany’s LinkedIn page. “The funniest and most exciting part of the campaign is monitoring it and seeing industry people from around the world interacting with it; people from the Middle East, Europe and Asia, among others, are liking, commenting and sharing the visual,” says Boustany, who admits that some critics see the campaign as nothing more than a play on words, although he couldn’t disagree more. “This campaign isn’t a desperate move; I just did what I am good at; I developed a campaign, I’m monitoring it and planning to submit it to one of the awards shows,” he says, concluding that “it is a win/win campaign and if after a while, I am still unemployed, I can easily say that this was the strongest way to say goodbye to the industry.”
Photography: Joe Kesrouani
Art direction: Sarah Rizkallah Nadim
Digital planner: Michael Chaftari
Creative director: Omar Boustany