Five Minutes With.. Fadi Mroue, Founder, République - Gulf Business
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Five Minutes With.. Fadi Mroue, Founder, République

Five Minutes With.. Fadi Mroue, Founder, République

Fadi Mroue discusses the Darwinian future of advertising and Beirut vs Dubai as a media hub, following République’s crowning as Independent Agency of the Year at the Dubai Lynx Awards.

Why did you establish Republique?

We established the agency in 2008, when advertising was at the beginning of its transition into the digital age. There was beginning to be a real need for communication that could embrace both the traditional mediums as well as the digital. This transitional phase was exciting for me; I saw it as a new opportunity to create work that had never been done before; new technologies and techniques, combined with the ability to spread it through the power of social media, meant there was a whole world of ideas just waiting to be tapped into.

We wanted to create a creative community, made up of fresh, young individuals with agency backgrounds that had a solid understanding of advertising, but who also had the foresight to adapt their experience to the digital world. We believed, and still believe, that the only way we could offer our client creative and rewarding work was to bring the two worlds together to make something absolutely new.

Of course, I took time to convince clients to let go of purely traditional communication, seeing as at the time, a lot of regional agencies were still selling digital communication as just website design and development. But eventually, they saw how effective it can be to combine the influence of advertising experience and the power of digital communication.

How difficult is it competing in a market of established multinational players?

I don’t think you can necessarily put a company like République up against a multi-national. While we might be working in the same industry, our abilities and offerings differ. A multi-national will have the bigger set-up, clients and budgets, but that also makes them slower to change and adapt. Our advantage as a boutique agency is that we can evolve to fit the demands of the market quite quickly, which makes us a good fit for a lot of clients. So in the end, it’s about what kind of structure a client prefers to work with and not whether or not we’re competing head to head.

In what ways are digital agencies differentiating from traditional agencies?

These days, I don’t think there is such a thing as a purely traditional agency anymore. Our industry has shifted so indefinitely into digital that everyone is in one way or another working online. However, what differs is how well each agency understands the digital world. What works in print doesn’t work online, what works on TV may not get the engagement you expected online. This is really what sets each agency apart – how well you can use your creative assets to produce work that speaks to the person behind the screen.

How are you looking to expand Republique in the region?

Right now, we’re pretty happy with our set up. With our Dubai office turning two this year, another office is not in the plans just yet. Today, our Beirut office handles the accounts in the Levant and North Africa, with Dubai handling the Gulf and it’s proving to be a good formula for the time being – but you never know where our clients will take us next.

How do you see the advertising industry in the region evolving?

We’re currently seeing a new era in advertising. Certain mediums are being phased out; new ones are emerging. I think we’re going to be experiencing somewhat of Darwinian future in advertising – you either adapt to the current climate or you die; which might see some of the players become obsolete.

What is your assessment of Beirut’s media scene in comparison to Dubai?

Dubai is clearly the media hub of the Middle East and to be successful in the region you need to have a presence here, this is where the budgets for the region are set and spread. On the other hand, Beirut is a producer of talent and creativity – this year’s Dubai Lynx festival saw two Beirut agencies take home the highest honours which hasn’t happened in a long time. So I think while Dubai will remain the hub of the Middle East, Beirut will keep exporting talent to the region.

Are you hiring?

We’re always hiring. Our business is lead by talent so when I receive a CV or portfolio of somebody that will blow me away I jump on the opportunity.

What’s your leadership style?

It’s based on respect. As an agency we do not sell products, we provide a service. This service is lead and created by passionate individuals, if you do not show your team respect and appreciation it becomes a job and no longer a passion.

Three tips for becoming the boss..

Don’t be a boss, be part of the team – with higher responsibilities.

Don’t be above getting your hands dirty. Sit and work closely with your team – giving orders from a closed-door office only creates distance and unhealthy hierarchy.

Show Appreciation.


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