As a mass-comm major, Marize was one of those people lucky to have stumbled across her passion right from the start. She dove head-first into agency life straight out of college and has no plans of surfacing anytime soon. Over the past 15 years, she’s worked at four multinational agencies, handling key multinational and local accounts, diversifying her expertise and winning international awards in the process. She’s never found a scope of work that she couldn’t make bigger, or a challenge she couldn’t face head-on, the latest of which was moving, at only 37, onto a leading position in the world of digital as GM of Isobar MENA. Her father was an engineer and her mom a television art director, hence, one can see where the discipline, the clarity, the taste for efficiency came from, as well as the creativity. Her mom used to doodle at all times, not only at work, but in simple life moments, like the ones over phone conversations. It’s a habit Marize inherited, so her notebooks are full of charming visual statements.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
Nothing makes me happier than the rush that comes with winning a challenge, and that’s whether we’re talking business challenges, or more personal ones. And it’s not just when I’m personally involved, it feels just as sweet when it’s my team.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
I was a sucker for the spotlight. I loved anything that involved being on stage and socializing with different people. It ranged from putting on plays at home for my family, to choir at church, to MCing interviews with celebs in college. Also, when I was young, I used to do small sculptures on alabaster. I found it challenging and comforting at the same time.
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
People and their stories! I’ll talk to anyone, and I’ll seize any chance to talk to people and get to know more about their opinions, and lifestyles. For example, I don’t like driving, and in a city as busy as Cairo that means a lot of time spent on the road in cabs, just getting to know the drivers who represent a big chunk of our society.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
UN Women’s Domestic Violence campaign. It was a campaign created with the FP7 team that told the story of a girl caught in a vicious cycle of domestic abuse by night, followed by mornings trying to convince herself that things would change. With this campaign, we weren’t selling a product, we were after a change. We succeeded in stirring up a much-needed conversation about a practice that wasn’t just common in Egyptian society, but taboo even among women themselves.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
People’s reactions aren’t the best metric of success. It’s not something that can be measured in likes, shares and buzz alone. In fact, the campaign of mine that created the most buzz was also the most controversial. We launched Birell’s “Man Up” platform around 12 years ago, and to this day the platform still sparks controversy and conversation – and as biting and witty as the campaign was, it’s still not as dear to me as some of the more cause-driven campaigns that I’ve worked on. To have a taste on the brand positioning and the way it is communicating over the years by my former colleagues, you can explore the Birell Man Up series.
THE BEST THING ABOUT EGYPTIAN CREATIVITY IS
Egyptians are a society that share so much, whether that’s a language, culture, sense of humor, so when it comes to advertising, our work is very insightful and real.
BEST STATEMENT OF EGYPTIAN HUMOR
It’s impossible to pick just one! If there’s one thing Egyptians are known for, it’s our sense of humor and you’ll find a different joke trending every day.
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO EGYPTIAN CREATIVES
Look outside of our art-schools. Some of the best creatives I met were graduates of completely unrelated faculties, Engineering for example. So, don’t look for a specific university certificate, judge on talent.
BEST PLACE IN CAIRO
Downtown! Between the authentic feel, the architecture, the hustle and bustle of the locals, and the old bars, it feels like nowhere else in Cairo. For me, the sounds of the streets are so inspirational. The downtown is activating all your senses. Go and explore the local shops, with colorful garments, discover how people buy those things, how they negotiate. It’s also interesting how locals are building their own bubbles – in certain cafés there are tables designated for writers, others for painters. It’s a whole universe in one place.
BEST PLACE IN EGYPT
Marsa Alam. It’s not as famous yet as some other Red Sea resort towns, but it has a gorgeous landscape and natural sights and activities, from sea, to marine life and diving.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT EGYPT, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
To be honest, there are so many clichés flying around that we’ve become immune to them.
EGYPT SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
Its people with their kind hearts, helpful spirit and hospitality. Also, our unbeatable moussaka.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Money competes with you for control, so either you control it or it controls you.
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
All it really boils down to for me is having a pure heart, and good intentions.
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
Be open to people, they’re the best source of both insights and inspiration.