Interview by MediaMe

This interview was published in MediaMe on Sunday June 21st, 2009. Click here to read it on the original site.

Yvan Goudard is an accomplished creative professional with more than eighteen years experience, covering Tahiti to Afghanistan, North Africa, Europe and the Middle East. He is responsible for delivering creative TTL campaigns, and well-known for being a ‘freelance creative cell’ in winning pitches.

Q. Who have you worked with in the Middle East?
A. I joined McCann Riyadh in 2004, and then  was promoted a year later in McCann Jeddah. After three years, I moved to the UAE where I joined a regional agency. After a couple of months, I decided to leave them and I started to freelance under the name of Froggystyle, an autonomous “creative cell”. For the past few years, I got the chance to work with a wide range of international agencies such as TBWA, Ogilvy, JWT, Draft FCB to name a few, in the GCC but also in exotic countries such as Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Egypt, Tunisia and more. I also work with smaller local agencies, like most recently Bob’n Bab Lebanon, and directly with the clients.

Q. Is you specialty mainly a copywriting or creative?
A. I do both. I started with art but my major in France was literature and philosophy, so I like to work with words as well. But I wouldn’t limit specialties to the art/copy couple. First and foremost, it is a state of mind, curiosity, the ability to identify yourself with the target, knowledge of the market, understanding marketing needs …etc.

Q. Tell me some campaigns that you are proud of in the Middle East
A. A favourite of mine is the TVC’s we did for ADWEA (Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority) with French Vision in Abu Dhabi. They had a very low budget and crazy deadline, but it was a great challenge. I also really enjoyed working with TBWA on Etihad Airways.

Q. What are the main obstacles to producing top level creative work?
A. The issues we face most are the lack of planning and weak marketing. Very often we don’t get any research or if we do it’s very little, except on large budgets. Another issue is the lack of consumer insights; quite often the decision-maker chooses the creative work based on his personal preferences rather than solid consumer data. There are many stories to tell, like one client who was showing some corporate ads we did to his kids and his maid, to see if they would understand it, and give us feedback on their comments, while it was targeting decision-makers of large corporations. Another issue I am facing, is that very often I hear clients telling me they don’t have a budget for photo shoots, or even stock images. It can sometimes be frustrating.

Q. Do you see good work coming out of the Middle East, compared to Europe, for example?
The region produces some pretty good work, and there is also a lot of trash, like in any market really. I often hear creatives complaining that they would be less restricted elsewhere, but the thing is that there is censorship in every market, and that includes Europe. You can’t just put anything anywhere. Agencies like Tonic Communications or The Classic Partnership proved that the region can produce world class advertising.

Q. What’s the difference between working as a Creative Director for network agencies and freelancing as a “Creative Cell”.
The good thing about freelancing for agencies, is that they call me to solve an issue. It makes you a “short-time hero”, relieving them from a specific problem. What I like about freelancing is that 70 per cent of it is pitching for new clients, so the conceptual thinking and executions are less restricted by final production constraints. When it is directly with clients, then there is not much difference except that here I can focus 100% on one job and I don’t face the interruptions of the daily routine of an agency.

Q. What do you think of all the Creative Directors and Designers starting to work on the web?
The web is a media that MUST be taken into consideration. As far as I am concerned, I believe it should be part of any media plan. I don’t really like to segregate online and offline. Each media answers specific needs and reaches a specific target. TV, outdoor, BTL are also important vectors of information. The web is part of the big media family and should be treated as such.

Q. Tell us about, is it an online portfolio or just an experiment in blogging?
I started off with a website to showcase my work, as an online portfolio. I spent months putting things together, developing everything myself in my spare time. Then, as new work needed to be added to my portfolio, I found it difficult to keep it constantly updated, so I started to put my work in a blog format as a temporary measure, creating a “blogfolio”. Then I found it so practical and, in return, it gave me so much positive feedback that I kept it that way. It is interesting because I can get direct feedback from all sorts of people, including the targeted audiences for each ad.