While being unemployed might lead some to despair and frustration, others find inspiration in this frustration. Clearly, Lebanese ad man Omar Boustany belongs to the latter category. After working for 14 years in the regional advertising industry, Boustany left his position as creative director at Havas Dubai a year ago, and remains unemployed till today. The “saturated industry in Dubai” and the lack of growth in other GCC regions isn’t helping his situation, he explains.
So he decided to do what advertisers are supposed to do best: advertise himself. Drawing inspiration from David Ogilvy’s quote “If you can’t advertise yourself, what hope do you have of advertising anything else?”, he went about creating a team to draw the attention of headhunters, instead of chasing them. If the beheaded visual hits a little too close to home, considering the geopolitical worries in the region, it is not without reason. Other than expressing Boustany’s daily frustration of looking for headhunters, the campaign visual also represents the beheaded ISIS victims all over the news. “Somewhere, I felt myself as powerless as ISIS victims,” says Boustany.
The idea resonated with photographer Joe Kesrouani as it describes the situation of many artists in the Middle East. Kesrouani shot Boustany in his own library, while Sarah Rizkallah Nadim overlooked the art direction. Being an Internet and social media addict himself and knowing that advertising people are always connected through social media, he brought in digital planner Michael Chaftari to set up the digital strategy of the campaign. The ad started circulating on social media around mid-December, through a Facebook page as well as ads targeted to industry people – not jus in the region, but also from other parts of the world. “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.
Though the ad is an attention-seeking move, it isn’t a desperate one, explains Boustany. “I just did what I am good at,” he says. So good, in fact, that he is monitoring the campaign and planning to submit it at award shows. At least, “if after a while, I am still unemployed, I can easily say that this was the strongest way to say goodbye to the industry,” he says.