Feature

Creative Person of the Year EMEA 2020: Adrian Botan

His challenger spirit has driven him to contribute towards the network's main focus of helping brands play a meaningful role in people's lives.

Creative Person of the Year EMEA 2020: Adrian Botan

Chief creative officer, McCann Wordgroup Europe

Botan’s challenger strategy is designed to help brands connect with people in a meaningful, positive way. He believes that in today’s world, such an attitude is healthy, even for legacy agencies and brands. This approach underlies globally and internationally recognised campaigns for key clients including Ikea, Microsoft, Nestle, Aldi and L’Oréal.

Botan spent the first 20 years of his life in communist Romania. It was in this emerging and competitive market that his challenger spirit was cultivated, and this has driven him to contribute towards the network’s main focus of helping brands play a meaningful role in people’s lives.

Campaign’s judges gave Botan a hefty chunk of credit for McCann’s success in 2019, due to his leadership in boosting the quality of its creative work across the board and the network’s triumph at many of the major awards shows.

And 2019 marked the culmination of Botan’s regional mission to rebuild the network’s creative reputation. He contributed significantly to McCann’s business growth and played a role in the increased revenue, market and brand presence of the world’s top brands – his solutions enabled even the most risk-averse to expand into uncharted territories to enhance people’s lives.

Highlights included Ikea’s "ThisAbles" activity from McCann Israel, which involved the brand becoming the first-ever major retailer to democratise the use of its furniture to people with disabilities. L’Oréal Paris’ "The non-issue" was the creation of an 80-page special edition of British Vogue in response to overt age and gender-based discrimination, and alienation of women over 50 in the media landscape. "Street-vet", for Nestlé Purina, used interactive billboards that released pheromones to attract dogs to urinate on them and then test for health issues such as diabetes, urinary infections, kidney and cholesterol issues.

More fundamentally, against the backdrop of Europe’s apparent identity crisis and economic turmoil, Botan’s pan-regional team is determined to nurture a belief in the rich creative economy of the region. In practical terms, Botan has transformed the network’s previously non-existent creative community into a highly integrated framework spanning 44 markets.

Outside the network, Botan became a trusted industry voice on creative bravery and effectiveness that drives significant business results and increases market presence. He was invited to speak by global trade associations, international institutions and leading awards shows across the world.

Above all, Botan deserves the accolade because he inspired a network’s people to greater levels of creative achievement and raised the bar in terms of the industry’s output.

Runners-up

Jaime Mandelbaum

Chief creative officer, VMLY&R EMEA

In 2019 Mandelbaum established himself as one of the leading creative minds in the industry and become a regular speaker at innovation and creativity events globally. More importantly, he led the merger of two talented creative teams and fused their creative potential to deliver award-winning work across the EMEA region. He also helped brands break free of siloed thinking and encouraged them to assess how a combination of culture, technology and creativity can improve relationships with consumers. Mandelbaum believes that creativity can be harnessed to achieve anything from supporting societal movements around women’s empowerment to pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a modern, connected and culturally relevant brand.

Paul Shearer

Chief creative officer, Impact BBDO

Shearer has instilled a new spirit and attitude within the Impact BBDO network, building its creative profile well beyond the Middle East. This helped BBDO Dubai to win the first Cannes Lions Grand Prix for an agency in the MENA region, for its "Blank edition" work for the An-Nahar newspaper. Impact also won 12 additional Cannes Lions across five clients. Alongside the award-winning creative, the judges highlighted Shearer’s impact in introducing diversity and training programmes to improve and widen the talent pool at the network and in the Middle East creative world as a whole.