Changes at MCN

Iain Akerman, editor of Campaign Middle East, in his op-ed 'perspective' piece in the 10.10.10 issue wrote about the changes at MCN – the Middle East Communications Network – where I spend my days. Tongue firmly in cheek he writes about how he nearly had his head kicked in by someone because he had written something that 'involved' FP7. Fortune Promoseven (or FP7, as it's known in the industry) is the flagship at MCN – the IPG operating company that manages other brands like Lowe, UM, Initiative, Magna, Weber Shandwick, MRM, Innovations etc. Long list of agency brand. Huge possibilities for drawing fire. But, Iain writes, changes are being made, he seems to see some light.

There's been some restructuring, some recognizing that perhaps a new generation were ready to take on the challenge, and they seem to have been empowered. How it all works out remains to be seen, but at least, someone's been working on ushering in change. MCN President & CEO Fadi Salameh was very open about it. After much introspection and in depth reviewing, the MCN leadership recognized the need for change. And Fadi hit the button. Right time too.

Every one was saying Fadi's on his way out, but he's still very much around, still piloting the agencies, driving forward. Fresh at the wheel, with him is Luca Lindner, president of McCann Worldgroup, Latin America, Africa and Middle East. And, phew, Luca is a breath of fresh Mediterranean air. With a bit of Brazil thrown in for good measure.

I was in there, in front of all the brand new heavies, discussing, presenting the digital way ahead for MCN. And if I may, digital is going to be the way ahead at MCN. As per the gospel of Luca. He, of course, has been there done that, having pushed digital to the front burner across Lat Am. And now, he's challenging us here in the Middle East to get with it. For the very first time, since we were acquired by IPG, we've seen someone who's going to be around these hallways knee deep in what we do. No helicopter piloting for Luca. He's hands on. He gets it. He gets digital. He understands social media, knows the future of interruptive advertising (as opposed to participatory dialog) is short sighted, and believes that we've got around five years to embrace the zeros and ones. Or fail.

Part of this big change is the change at the top at Promoseven. Tarek Miknas, is 2G Miknas. Father Akram Miknas founded Promoseven 42 years ago. Today, McCann New York long stint under his belt, an amazing couple of years as Chief Growth Offiver at Lowe also part of CV, Tarek steps up to the plate, ready. Ready when the crowd wants a homer. Ready, when every possible curve ball will be hurled at him.

I've known Tarek ever since he came back from New York, complete with dreads and a twang. He's passionate but balanced. Right brained but left brained too. He's a techie, and a people guy. And best of all, he's got intuition. Not just finger on pulse kind of intuition, but the uncanny knack of calling the cards right that slight second ahead of time. He'll do good.

MCN is a giant. FP7 is a big ship. The turning circle is large, and it won't happen by Christmas. No surprises from Santa there. But I've got this feeling, this is genuine. Because the effort's there, and the desire to change is from the heart. About time we embraced it. Or #fail.