Brutally Honest Advertising Talk with Tameem Youness

Tameem’s work in advertisement speaks for itself. He has become one of Egypt’s most successful young advertisers with his witty, tongue-in-cheek humor which results in creative, clever, and fun ads. We sat down with him to talk about the good, the bad and the ugly of the advertising scene.


What do you think dominates the advertising scene today?

Beards, hipster cloths, weird gadgets, forced jokes and awkward humor. Most young creatives are trying too hard to compensate for what they lack by looking creative.

Are we a generation that is naturally uncreative? Or did all the good ideas run out?

No and no. There are plenty of amazing creative minds out there, especially from my generation. I haven’t found new blood yet but they do come as a batch. I think they influence one another.

Why are we seeing so many similar advertisements?

I think it’s just this year. The idea of Ramadan ruins it; it’s a hen and egg situation, really. The audience is waiting for content, not ads and creatives are eager to enter the top charts of Ramadan according to the audience, not the market. The problem is when we let the audience judge, they do it based on which celebrities they want to see, which joke they laugh at, what famous sentence they repeat… etc. Agencies and creatives often fall in that trap, forgetting about selling the product, just to please the audience.

Do you think the days of television ads are almost over?

If you are talking about a medium or actually seeing commercials on TV then yes, but film commercials has always been there one way or another, calling them viral videos won’t change a thing.

It has been proven that campaigns work well if done right (numerous brands went for campaign ads this year). How do you think they should be done, and why are they not incorporated more often in Egypt?

The idea has to lead, a common mistake is that creatives always rush to come up with the TV idea then try to fledge that into a campaign, which is very limiting in my opinion. If you have a good idea you can do pretty much whatever you want with it.

What was your favorite ad this year?

If you’re talking about Ramadan, then Mobinil and everything coming from KTP. Their work, unlike most the ads this year, is real advertising. The ads are simple and have a direction and the message is clear. If you’re talking about the whole year, I must say the one Maged Nassar and myself did for UN women, it’s great! Like me.

What piece of advice did you wish someone gave you when you first started out in advertising?

I grew up learning from Hamdalla, Ali Ali, and Hesham Laban, I think I got plenty of advice.

What is the most difficult part of working in advertising?

The next brief you take after a great one you just cracked; people expect more from you and its very pressuring, specially when you just have to wait for the idea to hit you. You think “this is the end I’m toast”.

People think it’s just about coming up with good ideas, but they forget that there is a client whose feedback is vital. How does this little fact change an advertiser’s work?

A good advertiser should be able to sell his work, and defend it with passion and reason. Selling to the client is not any different. Most of the time I think the client is right. If you fail to sell the idea, it’s not good enough. If you oversell it like most agencies do, then you’re left without credibility or good work.

How do the best ideas start?

By coming up with all of them.

What is an advertiser’s worst nightmare?

Missing a great opportunity. Sometimes you think of something and let it go, or you don’t explore it enough, or you fail to sell it. Then someone else does it and does it way better.

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