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Creativity Squared: Learning from Your Mistakes with Nidal Bouhamdan


FP7 McCann Riyadh's associate creative director on the blank canvas of life, living as a dreamer and the changing criteria's of creativity

Creativity Squared: Learning from Your Mistakes with Nidal Bouhamdan

An ad addict, history freak and gaming nerd all in one...weird! Nidal Bouhamdan might be one of the few people who take notes while watching any Ad-related event and doesn't skip a TV commercial. 12 years, countless campaigns and 35+ TV ads later, Nidal finds himself having tackled regional and international brands such as McDonalds, Nissan, Renault, Ford, SABB, Zain, AlMarai Al Rajhi Bank, Emirates NBD, STC, Jawwy, SFA by helping bring their brand purpose and vision to life on the offline and online front, in an ever-changing and evolving industry.


I consider myself a person with many passions. Gaming, history, and advertising hold a dear place in my heart. It is a weird mix, and shuffling between them tends to be tedious, but worth the effort. I like to see the world for what it is, a very big canvas. Yes, I might be a bit of a dreamer, but who isn’t? Yet in reality, there is always room to intervene and put your personal touch, and maybe add a splash of colour here and there.

I think that creativity in its essence is innate, we are born creative, we create when we imagine as kids, but as we grow old creativity starts diminishing. One way to hone it and master it, you need a great deal of discipline, dedication, and above all the will to change and evolve with the rising tides. After all, the world doesn’t applaud you for half accomplishments. Either go big or go home! When I am gaming, or diving into my history books, I am a hardcore introvert. But when it comes to advertising, I switch on the extrovert button since you need to be exposed to the world to know how to handle it. And so far, this formula has been holding up. 


Insight and concept are king and queen respectively when assessing creative work. If an idea has both, then it hits the jackpot. Creativity for the sake of creativity alone doesn’t work. It has to have a business drive and on-ground results as much as it needs to have a creative and aesthetic spotlight.  Creativity in its essence has not changed, But the criteria has definitely shifted drastically, since people’s perceptions, way of thinking, and how they perceive things have changed. Not to mention the new scale of channels and platforms, that dedicate their own version of creativity. There are a few campaigns that I was part of that I wear as a badge of honour. Some of them are very simple, yet they stand out, while others tackle hardcore insights.

The core of the industry is evolving as we speak, whether in the way we approach briefs, ideas, or even media platforms. And in this ever-changing world, some segments of the industry are still lingering in the rear view mirror holding on to previous conquests. But for them to survive, they need to embrace what’s new in order to stay in the race. 


As much as the industry is systematic, creativity isn’t. Yes, we do work within a certain wireframe per campaign, but sometimes a creative idea is born out of the weirdest incidents or insights.  When it comes to gathering ideas, everything around you is a platform. Whether you’re driving, eating, or even sleeping, your surroundings are filled with ideas and inspirations waiting to be found. A meme might give you an insight about a target audience better than any research, yet at the same time finding a key insight or thought process might bring you to a great breakthrough. 

One issue that many stumble upon is falling for an idea or execution, based on personal preference rather than real market study and research. This has proved time and again that you need to be objective in a very subjective industry in order to stand out and deliver. 

Every conceptualiser has a little black book for future ideas. The only difference is that sometimes that book cover isn’t black.

Some projects require all hands-on deck, while others can be done solo. But as a rule of thumb, a few brains combined are always better than one since they can tackle the idea from different angles and provide new perspectives.

There are days when the creative juices in your head aren’t flowing well enough, so you tend to ask your teammates for a boost. Never be afraid to ask for help when help is needed, and always try to pitch in when you feel someone needs some assistance.

If you’ve met an ad man, you would know a creative piece of work is not done until the deadline arrives. There is always room to enhance or add. Then again, this goes back to the scale of the idea or campaign.


Where I grew up people didn’t really cherish the ad world the way I did, and graphic design as a career wasn’t a top contender for many of my peers. Also, for some reason, TV commercials have always caught my attention while other people would see them as bathroom break time. And I always imagined how I would fare if I jumped into the ad industry and gave it a shot.

I honed my craft by years and years of trial & error, watching endless tutorials, movies, series, artists, and ad men. And most importantly, learning from the people around me. Not to forget that mistakes teach you way better than accomplishments. So, go out there, explore, experiment, make mistakes, as long as you learn something.

If I am looking for inspiration, music always helps in setting my mind at ease, and puts me in the right mindset, especially since stress is part of the job. When it comes to frustration, it is usually a brief with no actual insight or solid ground to start from, since it leaves a big room for false interpretation and eventually creative yet irrelevant ideas.

The tools for learning creativity are everywhere. There is no shortage in material that any person passionate enough can learn from, as long as they are truly willing to learn. It isn’t a matter of facilitating, rather than a personal choice to take yourself to another level.


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FP7 McCann Riyadh, Tue, 26 Oct 2021 13:07:00 GMT