Rola Ghotmeh grew up dreaming of what the world could be if deprived of all cruelty. Immersed in comics & drawings and influenced by her architect mother, she developed a knack for art at a young age. No wonder she is now a Creative Entrepreneur, Hybrid Executive and Founder of The Creative Nine, an innovative boutique advertising agency, based in the heart of Beirut. Started in early 2014, the agency’s goal has been to focus on its growth as well as that of its clients, whether locally or the world, like Ford, Nestle, De’Longhi, Grey Goose, Harley Davidson, Martini.
Even though she had always been fascinated by Art, Design and Advertising, she never imagined this would be her path until she started studying medicine. She switched after her first year when she heard of the “new Bachelor’s in Graphic Design”, and signed her soul off to advertising.
With an urge to make a difference, instead of staying abroad, she decided to return to her home country and start her agency. It’s safe to say that she chose the right career path, and to this day, the smallest spark of an idea brings her joy.
She believes that learning never stops, and strives to equally share knowledge to inspire others to be the best versions of themselves.
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR SOUL SING? WHAT MAKES YOU HAPPY?
My soul sings when I am inspired, when I break the routine, and of course, good ideas that leave a lasting impact. What makes me happy is mentoring and inspiring others, and most importantly seeing the fruits of it around me.
A CHILDHOOD STORY THAT ANNOUNCED THE CREATIVE PERSON YOU ARE TODAY
As a child, whenever I wanted to ask my parents to buy me something that wouldn’t be an obvious yes, I would campaign it. My scheme involved making elaborate drawings with headlines and placing them anywhere and around anything I knew they’d touch at home (yes, a touchpoint strategy, ha).
I remember a particular story when I wanted skateboards and I had my sisters help me hide these hand-drawn posters around; they found their way into my dad’s closet, his drawers, the kitchen, mom’s architecture files etc. My parents would end up laughing at the extent I’d take and cave. Guess advertising does work!
BEST CONTEXT EVER FOR INSPIRATION WAS
Films and animations. I’ve always been drawn to movie-making and storytelling. The cinematography, the script and the imaginative scenarios really transport me into the imaginary where all is possible. Futures reimagined, pasts retold, science-fiction… it never seizes to amaze. A good story, when told well, becomes a true source of inspiration.
THE PROJECT YOU LOVED MOST
Environmental campaign for EEG “What Goes Around Comes Around” for which I won my first awards as a junior Art Director (JWT, Dubai). It was a milestone in my career as it embodied my passion for advertising and my drive to grow.
THE PROJECT OTHERS LOVED MOST
Campaign for Audi Automotive, Middle East (JWT, Dubai). It started off as a small brand brief to communicate five complex technologies in a comprehensible way; it was a challenging brief with a limited budget. After presenting our ideas, the client decided to invest more behind the campaign and they presented it to their global team as best practice.
Campaign for De’Longhi Dehumidifiers. The strength of it was the integration between online and offline, and the spin we developed online on Game Of Thrones. Got good organic engagement and good sales results.
THE BEST THING ABOUT LEBANESE CREATIVITY IS
Diversity. Lebanon is a small country with a rich cultural history and an impressive mix of people from different backgrounds, cultural tendencies and faiths, and they all share their love for their land amidst ever-challenging political turmoil.
This, mixed with Lebanese people’s love for travel and exploration, brings a lot of richness to our creative fabric.
At the heart of this is a pungent sense of sarcasm that never falls short in leaving an impact.
BEST STATEMENT OF LEBANESE HUMOR
The spins on Lebanese politics and the unfortunate situation we often find our country in.
Ideas and serious topics are turned into a catchy banner, a funny meme or a film with dark satire.
ADVICE FOR INTERNATIONAL HEADHUNTERS, RELATED TO LEBANESE
Lebanese people are resourceful and agile. This is probably honed by the difficult sociopolitical challenges we face and that force us to find ways to thrive and grow as individuals and groups despite the toughest of climates. Dare I say, they are self-dependent, and reliable when it comes to finding creative solutions to convoluted problems.
In this tiny corner of the world, creatives benefit from an inspiring landscape and are driven by a strong will to explore beyond borders. Half the work is done for international headhunters, the other half is up to the recruiter to get them interested.
BEST PLACE IN BEIRUT
Sporting. It’s an old venue by the sea in Beirut that withstood the test of time and still carries memories of the Golden Age of Lebanon, in between its vintage-looking seats, umbrellas and concrete platforms lie a lot of memories and stories yet to be told.
Gemmayze. It had become a cluster for creative minds and at the forefront of standalone concepts; be it concept coffee shops, art houses, Lebanese heritage houses, etc.
BEST PLACE IN LEBANON
Wadi Qadisha – hike through the sacred valley. A very inspiring landscape to disconnect and relish in its raw beauty.
MOST DISTURBING CLICHÉ ABOUT LEBANON, IN THE MEDIA OUTLETS OF THE WORLD IS
That we’re only about partying. The nightlife is indeed world-class, but we have other richness in the country.
LEBANON SHOULD BE KNOWN FOR
Talent. The success stories of its people all over the world. Beauty and joie de vivre.
YOUR VIEWS ON SPIRITUALITY
A means to re-center, re-focus and overcome the hurdles of life. It allows you to look inwards and face outwards.
YOUR VIEWS ON MONEY
Often confused with influence. One should influence by character and deeds, not by money count.
AN INSPIRATION SOURCE YOU RECOMMEND FOR A YOUNG CREATIVE
Book: Predatory Thinking by Dave Trott: I really enjoyed reading this one, and it’s a very easy read for those who aren’t fond of heavy books.
I would also recommend Contagious by Jonah Burger.
Movie: Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel. I can safely say that the cinematography and the Art Direction of this film are every art director’s dream.
A LEBANON BASED FEMALE TALENT THAT DESERVES TO BE PROMOTED AT AN INTERNATIONAL LEVEL, AS EXPONENT OF LOCAL CREATIVE SPIRIT
Nour Flayhan (@nouriflayhan) I’m a fan of her illustrations. she captures narratives in an interesting way.
Check out more of The Creative 9’s work, here.