About Natasha Maasri, Executive Creative Director of Leo Burnett ME

Born in Brazil yet also Lebanese, no matter where she goes, she’s always “the foreigner” in the room. She’s not only learned to deal with it, but actually thinks it’s one of her secret weapons. 

Throughout her 18-year career, she’s worked and lived around the world: UN WFP in Italy, DM9DDB and Ogilvy in Brazil and The&Partnership in New York. In 2019 she moved back to Leo Burnett Beirut (where she started my career back in 2006), as Executive Creative Director of the Beirut office. Now, she’s based in Dubai operating in both the UAE and Beirut offices.

Natasha has received over 100 global and regional awards, such as Cannes Lions, One Show, D&AD, Epica, Gerety, Golden Drum, WARC, Effies, LIA, UNSDG, Dubai Lynx and El Ojo. In 2016 she was recognized by Cannes Lions’ “See it Be it” program as one of the year’s 15 up and coming female creative leaders and in 2018 she was featured in Ad Age’s “40 under 40”.

She’s been part of various international juries such as Cannes Lions, The One Show, D&AD, The New York Festival, The Cresta Awards, LIA, AICP and Next Creative Leaders.

An advocate at heart, the campaigns she’s proudest of have tackled issues like adult illiteracy, combating hunger, women’s rights and ageism. Being able to positively impact people’s lives through communication is the reason she’s still in the industry.

About her thoughts for the industry

My wishes for 2023 boil down to one thing: embracing fear. 

I’d like us, as an industry, to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. Being scared of presenting something, feeling uncomfortable when you first hear an idea. Asking ourselves “can this even get done?” and “what will happen if we do?”.

I’m not talking about gratuitous fear, I’m talking about a mix of excitement, with goosebumps, with butterflies, a pinch of unease and to top it off that sprinkle of fear. That moment when your gut tells you it’s right, and your brain just needs to catch up. For the most part, when we feel uncomfortable, or afraid of something, it’s generally because it’s something new. Isn’t that what we all want? Coming up with new ways of saying things, new ways of standing out, new ways of getting people to change their behaviors? 

I had a boss that that used to tell us that all he was asking from each one of us was to have one great (not good, great) idea a year. I’m going to take the liberty to update that and say: we should be scared of at least one idea a year. That’s a good place to start.

I’m a true believer that any idea that has really changed a category, built a brand’s reputation, built envy-worthy work, skyrocketed careers, are ideas that at some point someone was afraid to present, but they did it anyways. 

These kinds of ideas are the ones worth defending, taking your time to explain, explaining again and differently. These are the ideas that push our industry forward.  When your entire body is telling you that you are on the edge of something new, listen to it. 

So, I ask: should we stay comfortable and observe from the edge? Or should we find out what happens when we jump? Personally, I say we jump.