Meet Sadia Qutubuddin: Ogilvy Executive Creative Director, and Asia-Pac Woman-to-Watch in Marketing
Campaign Asia recently noted its top Women to Watch in Marketing, and we were delighted that our own Sadia Qutubuddin was on the list.
In her role as Executive Creative Director in Ogilvy Pakistan’s team, she is part of the Ogilvy Noor family.
She began her career at JWT as an art director and is now at Ogilvy. She also teaches at the art school she graduated from and at a business school in Karachi. Postgraduate in Global Media and Postnational Communications, and a Chevening Scholar, she is clearly a pioneering force in the industry. Sadia believes that she “fuses creative leadership with a strategic outlook” which she has brought to household names such as Olpers, Kraft, Sunsilk, Cadbury, and Knorr.
We caught up with her to congratulate her on her success, find out a bit more about her and get her expert thoughts on the Muslim consumer market.
Shelina: Congratulations on your nomination!
Sadia: I feel extremely honoured. And it’s a great acknowledgement of creative talent in Pakistan in general. We’re finally getting on the international radar!
Shelina: Executive Creative Director is a very exciting title. What do you do for clients?
Sadia: I bring to life the communication plan of the brands we work on. My team and I work hard to find simple but strategically sharp creative solutions that get people talking about the brand. I’m on a constant quest for great ideas and try to instill the same spirit in my team – that there is always a better idea out there, one just has to push oneself harder to find it. I encourage really marinating oneself in the challenge and then come to brainstorming sessions with rough ideas. In these sessions, I polish and champion the most different of solutions.
Shelina: Tell us a bit about working at Ogilvy in Pakistan
Sadia: It’s got that rare balance of being a highly creative place but which also has the sanity of a proper organizational structure, which means we can focus on strategic brand-building and getting results. And personally I feel that working with the Ogilvy badge gives me an impetus to always make things better: David Ogilvy is legendary.
Shelina: How would you describe yourself in 6 words?
Sadia: Idealistic, imaginative, a perfectionist, over-thinker, but playful too. Shape-shifter, can I say shape-shifter?
Shelina: Intriguing descriptor: what does it mean?
Sadia: I can get into other peoples’ shoes pretty easily, and that’s important in creating the right feel in communications.
Sadia: I had Constructively Discontent in there too, but it was going over six words…
Shelina: Where do you feel you’d like to take your career next?
Sadia: Gaining broad international experience is something that really tempts me. After all, which creative isn’t lured by places like New York and London, or even more recently Mumbai? And one of the attractions for me is to keep beginning at the beginning, and not becoming stagnant.
Shelina: Tea or juice?
Shelina: Home cooked with family or out with friends?
Sadia: Out with friends
Shelina: finally, city break or adventure trekking?
Sadia: no questions: adventure trekking
Shelina: You’re part of Ogilvy Noor’s network, and are located in one of the world’s largest Muslim markets, Pakistan having a population of more than 170 million people of which more than 98% are Muslim. What creative advice would you give brands when it comes to Muslim consumers?
Sadia: Muslim consumers present a heady mix of spirituality and modernity, individuality and Ummah, pride and defiance, creativity and restraint. It’s important not to patronise them.
I feel that most brands tend to stereotype Muslims and their occasions and traditions. There is a propensity to overdo the reverential gestures, one-big-happy-family scenarios and the “goody two shoes” aspect of being a Muslim – it just doesn’t ring true.
Brands need to realize that the Muslim consumer of today is deeply connected to their family and religious values, but is also very hip, contemporary, politically and intellectually active and a lot of fun to be with.
They are actually doing a very good job of balancing robust social and professional lives with the teachings of Islam. It’s not easy, there’s struggle and conflict there. By acknowledging and addressing this brands can create a more insightful and ultimately more engaging message.
Shelina: Finally, we’re in the month of Ramadan right now, when there is a lot of noise for the Muslim consumer. What top tips do you have for brands wanting to reach out at this time?
Sadia: During this month identification with the faith and with the whole Muslim Ummah is strong, but it’s not heavy – rather it’s imbued with love and gentleness. A feeling of purity, cleansing, lightness of heart and spirit prevails. Its essentially a month of “good-tidings”. Here are five ways to draw on that:
(1) Definitely have a “feel-good” factor: spiritual but celebratory with glowing visuals
(2) Emphasise collectivity and connectedness
(3) Avoid slice-of-life montages, they are overdone for Ramadan
(4) Break away from stereotypical Ramadan imagery featuring lots of prayer caps, prayer beads, mosques, looking at the crescent and raising up hands for prayer
(5) Freshen up Ramadan communications by injecting humour
Shelina: Fantastic advice, thank you. And Eid Mubarak in advance!
This interview was between Shelina Janmohamed, Senior Strategist at Ogilvy Noor, and Sadia Qutubuddin, Executive Creative Director, Ogilvy Pakistan.