Brands of today need to group their efforts on delivering the best ‘return on creativity’ to fuel their performance. It’s impossible for a brand to rise above the noise without creative strategies to help them shine. The current renaissance of technology has created huge challenges for brands, but they have also created a playground for creativity. The Brandberries has exclusively interviewed Karl Salibi, Chief Strategy Officer of Publicis Communications MEA, to get his insights on how brands can leverage creativity.


BB: Publicis Groupe has been nurturing the world with creativity for more than 30 years now. In your opinion, what defines “creativity” ?

KS: Well, I believe that creativity is our way of life and an essential ingredient for all kinds of growth. As such, my own measure of creativity is directly related to how much incremental value a particular creative solution is delivering. Creativity is not restricted to the end product or content we generate and craft. Instead, it starts with the way we think, the way we see the world, the questions we ask, the avenues we explore, and the conducive environment we nurture along the way. Creativity is at its best when it serves growth; I like to refer to it as: Purposeful Creativity.

BB: In the era we live in, everything is moving at the speed of light, brands are constantly in a battle to find and unlock creative potential. How should brands view “creativity”? When can creativity be a real brand differentiator?

KS: Irrespective of the era in which we live and how fast things are moving, creativity is and will always be needed for differentiation. I actually believe that creativity will be needed more in the future as we enter the age of digitization and AI. When everyone has access to the same software and technology, the playing field will be leveled again and creativity will ascend again to be the main differentiator that will set brands apart and connect them with the people they are meant to serve, help, and have a relationship with.

BB: Pairing creativity with data will lead to unique and unforgettable brand experiences. In the data era we are living in, how can brands connect the dots between data and creativity?

KS: Data is the greatest and most powerful asset a marketing and communication professional can dream of having today and in the future. Data is the knowledge, information, and insight that is critical in today’s world. I view data as an enabler of creativity. At the same time, we have to be clear on what we want from data. Data should be at the service of creativity.

BB: Does creativity alone, sell? Do you believe in the correlation between outstanding creative success and commercial success?

KS: I go back to my early definition of Purposeful Creativity and my belief that the end game of creativity is to add value and achieve a commercial objective. When creativity is anchored in the right strategy for the brand, is fed by proper data to better connect, and is served in the most engaging way, it becomes the unfair advantage that tips the balance.

BB: Creativity is a way of thinking not a department and every discipline can be improved by creative thinking. Consequently, believing that creativity resides in the creative department of ad agencies and that media people, data people, or CRM people can’t be creative, is questionable. Please comment

KS: Creativity is everyone’s business. There is no exclusivity on creativity and there should never ever be. Those who believe that creativity resides in the “creative department” should wake up and get in touch with reality. I am not saying this as a reaction to the world we are living in and the changes we are witnessing, but because I genuinely believe that everyone can be creative and needs to be creative – especially in our industry. Creativity can reside across the entire spectrum of what we do, from thinking, to conceiving, to materializing. If we do not inject creativity in the way we explore and diagnose, we will end up finding the same answers that we found earlier, or even worse, that our competitors found! If we do not inject creativity in the way we ideate we will end up with similar content, or at best a fresher version of the same ideation. So yes, I guess I can safely say that I believe we should all be involved and invested in creativity.

BB: How do you see creativity in the Middle East?

KS: It’s on the rise for sure. More campaigns and cases coming out of the region are being awarded on the global stage and recognized as best-in-class within clients’ global organizations. At the same time, I believe that creativity in our part of the world has an amazing opportunity to flourish much further in the near future as the region continues to evolve and set precedents. The ground is fertile to do more, be more creative and provide more inspiration to a new generation of super talented individuals to make their mark.