The local Agencies in the area are probably the only ones who criticize me and have an unhealthy dislike of me, because they see themselves in the criticism I highlight and can’t take the hit, so in retaliation dish out plenty on me. Fortunately, the general public who happen across my vitriol invariably agree with me.

There is no such thing as ‘constructive criticism’ in media in this part of the world.  The closest you will get to it is perhaps religious concerns whereby a billboard shows a half naked lady (man ok) whereby some will obviously make the point that this ‘will’, (not ‘could’) offend people.  Rightly so and any Agency trying to sell their product with sex in this part of the world will surely run the gauntlet of the reverse of their intension happening. A total boycott maybe. But having said that, a little bit of sex goes well, if there is some very subtle ambiguity attached. I don’t really mean like the new Etihad TV campaign -  ‘She likes it full on’  – whereby they give the run down of how their passengers ‘Like it’ in the ‘mile high club’. Sounds very Hogan to me. That is effective, but rather blatant and over the top of heads here anyway, as it doesn’t translate well into Arabic.

Here, artistic criticism comes in the form of  ‘NO, DO IT LIKE THIS’, emanating from minds and mouths of

disastrously unqualified people in the business of art currently swamping the industry. English language is at fault because no matter how badly it is spoken, everyone thinks they speak is well. Then that gobble-de-gook gets translated in the Arabic. Furthermore, when these ideas and scripts are done by expatriates who have this worrying boss adornment, it often appears as they are more patriotic to the their host country than say 5,000 nationals put together might be; so we get this incredibly sycophantic mush which makes me vomit. How many times do you hear;  ‘Dear Customer – Enjoy…etc.’  Then end the message with something about ‘Life being great’.   Ok ok.. I’ll stop now before you smash your screen.


Saying that, some of the bigger Agencies have been known to hire the odd genius, yeah!  Even in this area.  Problem is, they stay about 3 months and throw in the towel because they are so frustrated with the inane crap that circulates this media and constantly having their scripts and ideas rejected in favour of the endless dirge  spewed up by equally inane creatives or patronizing clients who think they know best. Why do they think they know best? That is easy, because it is all they see and hear in this ‘take the money and run – no qualification’ environment.

Of course, if you grow up with no standards to aspire to, then you think that must be the law of existence, the status quo, the way it is, thus so easy to call yourself an ‘instant expert’. This badness is perpetual, because most lovable folk out there subconsciously think "I can do that".  Yet in that subconscious of ours, we all have a built in ability to actually perceive what is good or bad.  It goes bad because; what you see and hear is generally the pits and since media might not be your field, you don’t live it, breath it in the forefront of your mind, so you don’t care.

Deep down, we all want good, which is why good movies make zillions and bad ones flop.  So it goes without saying that so few of us are anything like experts, but we all have something which recognizes expertize, be it subliminal or otherwise.



As I said, occasionally touches of brilliance do a appear, but it seems so much less so these days. Same thoroughly inane scripts, same concepts, same same. I reiterate, because with so many huge ego, instant experts out there, creative art is given no values. Results;  ‘intimidation’ far outflanks ‘aspiration’ and  is a much greater force perpetuating the dirge that we so often witness.  Make excuses, hide behind language barrier, culture or religion, this is all a mask to hide inadequacy and that very intimidation because when good stuff does appear, we ALL KNOW IT IS GOOD!

If you are in this business and have managed to established yourself as being somewhat autonomous; meaning you are perceived as an entity, such as a photographer, fashion designer, hair dresser, even director of films, or may I say the producer of some kick-ass radio or audio, then you are lucky. It means you have stuck it out and there is a smattering of intelligent life out there who perceive your worth

If you can, you’ll go for the BIG ONE, a bank or telecom company or something of which you delude yourself into thinking: "Hey, they came to me, they must be smart, this is going to be great – the portfolio I need. You think, what a brilliant bunch of guys they are . Oh no! This is fatal too.

As an individual, invariably, the reason this big client came to you is probably because someone who knows, discerns and trusts your work, went to work for this client in question and recommended you.  This is normal.  100% of my work is achieved this way.  If it is a new company,  you are handed over to this client’s new marketing team or ‘communication boffins’  (as they egotistically tag themselves), who all think they are the dog’s bits, ‘the team’ – ‘the headhunted’ -  ‘the policy generators’ – the image makers.  It is egg before the chicken. Who hired this ‘dream ooze’?   Easy, someone in the almighty HR who has no inkling or idea about art and creative thought.

Now then, since you have been recommended and your contact is now accepted as part of the ‘dream team’, recommending you must have been kosher as this new ooze   ‘only go for the best’.  Sadly, this is their deluded ‘Andy Warhol‘ moment and they proceed to tell you – ‘the recommended one’ – exactly what to do and say or in my case, even how to actually record something.   It happens every time as if a law.  It is a vicious circle, so they might just as well have  gone  to some ‘say nothing’, quietly obliging,  jobbing slumdog at the cheapest, lowest, unrealistic price in the first place, because that is the output which invariably ends up in the media.  No shame, they love it, because they did it, so see nothing wrong with it. Welcome to the current abyss now. The blind leading the blind with no discerned fault.

Art is abstract, one man’s meat and all that, so it is out there to be loved or hated or at worse just ok’d. It is not there for someone to create ‘your’ art for you. How many times have you been on an all time high with what is probably a very novel, creative idea, artwork, script, or piece of music?  Say you take a brilliantly abstract picture and this is the one for the job and the first thing you want to do is get it out there. You present these elements of genius and there is no reaction, no reaction at all. You wait a day or so, you wait weeks, chomping at the bit knowing deep down that ‘silence is NOT golden’ around here. You wait, the deadline closes, then someone calling themselves "Marketing Specialist"  sends a communiqué through your contact along with their own absolutely childish, pro-noun drenched script or instructions on ‘what to change’ to the detriment of your art. You are so mad, you immediately surf for the nearest terrorism training camp  with a view totally obliterating this unwieldy lumpen molasses of nothingness. It happens all the time.



The problems come when you also need to supplement your income in recessionary or ‘corrupt times’ , so  venture outside the intelligentsia in your circle of clients, with a need to start taking the odd walk-in.  Deluded yourself, you give this ‘walk-in’ the benefit of  doubt and think you are going to dazzle them with your brilliance once they clock your portfolio.  ‘Walk-ins’ are the bane of the industry’s life.  The destroyers of the art.  The reason they are a walk-in is because they have the Kelvin scale of absolute zero perception of what is good or bad, they have no respect for the art and nor do they care. They want cheap and very very cheap at that. If they could do it themselves on their lap top, they would.  There is money in muck and prostitution, but there is so much muck out there, even muck has become competitive and eventually history will repeat itself and good creative people will be sent to the loony bin,

From my side, if I was a billionaire and owned radio stations for example, I would flatly refuse to accept this garbage, thus not only saving my image, but the advertiser’s as well.  Screw the money.  Sadly, the advertiser wouldn’t see it like that (as is the case with radio in the Middle East), they would just hate you.  But if the station stuck to their guns for professional, quality content, in time, the tide will turn and aspiration to higher levels should prevail.



Don’t despair, I reiterate, there is still money to be made if you cater for these bottom feeders producing this muck, just setup a web site;

In my industry we have lots of them and patronizing they are.  For example; is a full take-away and often brings the whole industry to not a lot more than a laboratory full of caged monkeys. Oh I bet that hurt, but if Simon Cowell was auditioning half of you, the truth would bite and the reality hurt.



RULE NUMBER ONE: Never ask someone to critique  something you have done.  If it is good, you’ll probably hear nothing. If it is bad you’ll probably hear more.  Live and die on your conviction. Live and do not let live those deluded, tell them.  This sorts the men from the boys as all those deluded so called professionals will keep their mouths firmly shut as they cannot compete. Simply present what you obviously think is the finished piece as the finished object.

Whenever, if ever you do ask an opinion, it is the natural reaction for the target to assume you are asking for comment  ‘how it should be’ rather than ‘whether they simply like it or not” and thus offer up an absolute load of irrelevant changes as if they are qualified to do so.  It wasn’t what you asked but that is how it goes.

RULE NUMBER TWO; If you have a hint or even slight suspicion that your client is of dubious ability to recognize or even remotely perceive that you know what you are doing, get the hell out of Dodge.  Don’t be afraid to say no! Most will come back and agree with you, those that don’t were obviously intimidated and will not keep quiet and just leave it, because you have caused an affront to their inability or inadequacy, so will slag you off anyway.

I quite often just say no, thus suffer the slag often!  For example; I’m asked for a 30 second script, something I have been doing for donkey’s years, tight, snappy and attention grabbing. The script gets presented with the warning; ‘This is 30 seconds tight and precise’. Low and behold,  someone in marketing or the client him/herself comes back with something complete superfluous – adding another 30 seconds to it, absolutely oblivious to the superfluous trash they have offered up.  You explain that 30 seconds is 30 seconds and they come back to you saying; ‘We read it in the officer, it was 30 seconds’ – or ‘take out a word – that should do it’.  You explain that the script is now 45 seconds and taking out one word will only save less than a second, they still insist.   I don’t paint, so no comment, but I imagine it must be devastating when some bozo tells you how it should have been created.

If it is music, then it is totally soul destroying and I just go ape. The complexities of putting a catchy piece of music down with all the technical aspects required to balance it – are in addition to the skills of an musician to play it and above all to be able to conceive it in the first place, as the artist thought it should be.  Not every musician is an artist by the way. Everyone thinks ‘they’ could have done it after it has been done.  I call it the ‘Barby Girl’ syndrome. A brilliant piece of classic, catchy pop, perfectly executed. Nope, it is not my favourite  song or even style of music, but it was brilliant.  So many will say; "Oh that’s crap, I could have done that’!  NO YOU COULDN’T OR YOU WOULD HAVE.

As I have written before; quaintly, the Arabs are better at admitting their inability to finalize something because they have the expression "Put two Arabs in a room and they agree to disagree’, which is subtlety quite different to pontificating one’s  ability if one doesn’t have any.

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