- Give us a history of the companies you’ve worked for in the past
Let me put them in order:
Ogilvy & Mather, DDB Colombia, Mullenlowe SSP3, Mullenlowe Dubai and TBWA\RAAD (Dubai).
All of them gave me good friends, great learnings, hunger and ambition, and tremendous experiences.
I guess I’ve been lucky enough to work in great agencies, with very talented people and at the best time of each. To survive in this industry, you need a great balance/combination of two things: 1) amazing work opportunities for you to be creative and 2) a great environment where you don’t work with colleagues but people you can call ‘friends’. That’s very important! Everyone that I’ve seen leaving the advertising world, it’s because they didn’t have one of those two, and therefore, they got tired, uninspired. I truly believe that.
- Where were you based before Dubai?
I was in my country Colombia, working for Mullenlowe SSP3 in Bogotá, the capital.
If you have been there, you know that you wake up every morning, with an amazing coffee in your hands, and you don’t know if you should wear a jacket, a small sweater, or t-shirt and shorts. As unpredictable as the weather could be, normally is 10 degrees Celsius the whole year – there are no seasons. It’s one of the biggest cities in Latin America and you can find everything there: good parties, top restaurants, great cultural activities, street art, music, you name it. So, you can find inspiration in every spot. You can also find very friendly people, like me and others, and diversity everywhere. Not everything is perfect, of course, but If you haven’t visited… I recommend you do so.
Ok, I sound like a tourist guide now.
- Why do you choose to move to live/work in Dubai?
I was sitting in my room thinking a way to go to Dubai and leave there, very far from my family. No, not really!
Dubai came as a coincidence, I wasn’t looking to work in Dubai specifically but wanted to have international experience – to work in English and in a different market. It was a decision thinking not only from a work perspective but personal growth.
I like challenges, and this one was an interesting one. I always say, if you don’t feel a bit of fear when thinking on a change it means isn’t worth it. I felt those butterflies, so I took the opportunity.
It’s been a magnificent 4 years in Dubai. I think you never stop being amazed by this city – the velocity with which it advances is breathtaking.
- What skills/specialisms do you offer clients that other writers in Dubai don’t?
Ok, first let me be clear. There are a lot of talented copywriters working now in Dubai that offer great skills to agencies and clients. I wouldn’t say I have something that others don’t. What I can say is that I believe I am a strong conceptualizer. And it’s harder to find a good copywriter that can come up with strong concepts than just find a regular copywriter that can only write well.
Having said that, I can write and write well but more valuable, I can offer creative concepts that can make brands stand out from the clutter and live in a long-term communication plan. You can see all these through my work/portfolio, there is nothing average there, all of them worldwide awarded campaigns with unprecedented results. It’s not only about writing but about ideas!
- Is it easy to be a freelance copywriter in Dubai? Do the government help freelancers a lot?
I think it is. You just need to get the freelance visa and that’s it. If you are good, a lot of work will come to your table. There are a lot of opportunities for those who want to “be free” and manage their own time.
What it is good about Dubai is that you can do whatever you want, and you have the facility to do it; start your own company, be a freelancer, be an entrepreneur, have a full-time job, work for the government, etc. There is nothing that stops you from reaching your goals. It is indeed a good place to live and work.
Am I sounding like a tourist guide again?
- What is the best thing about being a copywriter in Dubai?
I think there are a lot of opportunities to do great work here. Also, the multicultural environment at work opens your mind and teaches you a lot every day. You feed your mind with that, and it’s very useful for creativity. People from every corner of the globe, different cultures, different ways to see the world… all that shape your personality and make you understand that the world is ridiculously big and rich, and you haven’t seen even 1/4 of it.
Now, regarding the language; we work in English first here and the Arabic copywriters translate everything we do. In the UAE all the communication goes out in both languages, English and Arabic. For this reason, and because most of the people is not native English speakers, you need to be super simple and clear with the messages – something that I personally appreciate a lot in advertising: simplicity and cleverness.
- What is the piece of work (ad, brochure, website) you’re most proud of and why?
One of my latest campaign that I did for my client Nissan called #SheDrives. An integrated campaign with an objective greater than increasing sales. Something that big brands are discovering as the new path to take in the communication world. We sent a message of support and confidence to women in Saudi after the government announced they will be allowed to drive for the first time in Saudi Arabia. It was a bold message, disruptive, and never-before-seen from a global brand like Nissan. But I would invite you to watch the case film yourself, where we explain the campaign and the context behind it.
When it comes to talking about work I always prefer to let the work speak for itself.
- What is your favourite client you’re working on right now? Where are they based? What do they do? How do you help?
If I answer this question I would be in troubles! All my clients (Nissan, Infiniti, Careem, Connect) have good and bad things, stuff that I like and dislike. You learn to work following their process, it’s part of any relationship with clients, not here but everywhere in the world. Every day there is a new challenge and that’s what makes this industry exciting.
- If you could move to another city, which one would it be and why?
- Plus any other interesting info or anecdotes you’d care to share
For anecdotes, travels, food… follow me on Instagram @atrianaw