Faraz Maqsood Hamidi needs no introduction. He is the Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer of The D’Hamidi Partnership and has stamped his legacy on Pakistan’s advertising industry with his ingenuity and creativity. Karvan is honored to feature him. In this exclusive interview, he talks about the challenges of being in this robust business and the secrets to making it big in advertising.
1. What were the challenges you faced when establishing The D’Hamidi Partnership? Who was your partner?
Surprisingly, my business partner, Adil Mirza, and I, never felt we were facing challenges. We had the audacity to believe that we were the challenge that was going up against the status quo. When you have a flagship mission like that, then the more confounding and paralyzing aspects of the business (clients, money, talent, payroll, etc.) pale by comparison. It’s quiet in the trenches — until it isn’t.
2. You were the Creative Head at IAL Saatchi & Saatchi in 1991 and now you are leading the charge at The D’Hamidi Partnership. What evolution have you seen in Pakistan’s advertising industry during these 28 years?
This has the danger of becoming a book-length answer. So I’ll write the first word, of the first sentence, of that book: Nothing. There has been no evolution, whatsoever. Sure, there is more marketing technology; more media channels, more professionals in the field, and more award shows to recognize those professionals. But, fundamentally, this will always be a business where a poet and an artist push against the (often misplaced) resistance of clients before markets. It’s still about ideas that can stand out, stand up, and stand for something that resonates across hearts and minds. And to get great ideas out, you don’t need evolutions; you need revolutions.
3. The advertising world requires you to work round the clock. How do you keep yourself calm under pressure?
Nothing great is delivered from a place of panic. Creativity is a loner’s business. But if you think about it organizationally, deadlines are only 5% of the process when you honor them. But they become 95% of the problem when you start missing them. Also, we must eradicate the notion that advertising is a 24-hour business. It’s not. There are nights when you must deliver, but these are invariably followed by days when you don’t even need to show up to work.
4. In a video interview, you shared a Latin quote, “initium dimidium facti” which translates as ‘the start is half the finish”. How much is this true for entrepreneurs?
It’s true for entrepreneurs; for solopreneurs; and procrastinators. It’s true for everyone. Getting started is literally 50% of the job. But so many young men and women are overpowered by the largesse of their dreams, that they buckle under its perceived pressure before they’ve even started. Don’t wait for a “right time” to start. There’s no such thing. The time is always now.
5. What has been your life’s biggest milestone yet?
Questions like these have a way of funneling a lifetime into a timeline marked by accolades and professional achievements. I don’t believe in milestones. I believe in getting lost on unmarked vistas hoping to discover something I wouldn’t have to ‘milestone’ so that each experience fuses and informs the other such that you emerge as a richer, deeper individual with multiple perspectives across multiple experiences. It’s hard to put a ‘dot’ on that.
6. How has digital media affected Pakistani brands when it comes to storytelling?
The arrival of any media — digital, analog, ambient, or otherwise — always heralds exciting prospects. They allow all of us to mold, bend or blend our skillsets for new frontiers. More importantly, while digital media might be new, storytelling is as old as the hills. And so is the human appetite for stories. If digital has brought storytelling to the doorstep, it’s only another reminder for clients and agencies alike to use emotion over the commotion.
7. Do you think a brand is a promise made through consistent delivery of service?
Well, that sounds like something out of a textbook. True, it’s a bit of that… But a more accurate perspective would be to consider a brand as what’s left once everything you’ve communicated is forgotten. Quite like education: It’s what’s left once everything you’ve learned is forgotten. But, certainly, when it comes to frequency of exposure, we must never forget that repetition is reputation.
8. What secrets to success will you give to professionals aspiring to make a name for themselves in the advertising industry?
If, ‘by name,’ you mean having earned a reputation for yourself that is built on outstanding talent matched with integrity, honesty, devotion to the principles of purpose and craft, then the answer is easy: It takes time to build anything of lasting value. Almost, exhaustively long. If, on the other hand, you mean an instant boost of notoriety, then just take your clothes off on YouTube. Instant fame, but very little of anything else for that matter (including intelligence).
9. You launched your anthology of English poems in 2009. How was that experience? What was your inspiration behind writing poetry?
The experience is in writing. The launch was marketing. I don’t think you can train to be a poet. Most writers of poetry will tell you that inspiration is an overwhelming compulsion to commit words to paper. It helps to clarify and give order to your thinking. And if that thinking is poetically inclined, then it’s an attempt to reach the higher echelons of moral resonance and literary standards. Whether one is successful or not, the effort never goes to waste. Poetry is a bedrock of insight. It begins with joy and ends in wisdom.
10. Your message for the youth of Pakistan?
My message for the youth of Pakistan is taking any message for the “youth of Pakistan” with a grain of salt. Every person is wholly unique, entirely spectacular, and made from the stuff of dreams. Their aim should be to lift their personhood into a compendium of experiences whose sum total is their desired personality. It’s a lot like branding. I would be careful to broadcast my advisory onto other people. We cannot live the lives that belong to others.
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