January Brief


Ramsey Naja, Chief Creative Officer of JWT Middle East & Africa


Jan 5, 2012

Submission Deadline:

Jan 31, 2012



I think the most fun you can have as a creative is to work on briefs issued by clients you disagree violently with, or on products you believe are shit – or that you simply hate, like the one we will deal with here.

As they say, there are two things in life you can be sure of, and that's death and taxes. Or, as the French would argue now, that you'd be taxed to death. Many Scandinavians, however, take a different view, as they see in their unbelievably high taxes actual benefits, be it in world class healthcare, education and all the things that make their countries pretty damn great ones to live in.

Another, beautifully cynical view is one advanced by a friend of mine: paying taxes gives you the right to complain (or, as he put it, "to tell the government how shit they are").

In other words, taxation could do with a good makeover.

The brief is therefore quite straightforward: Tax is a necessary evil. Make it cool.

You could look at this through digital tools that make the whole thing transparent and see where your taxes go, or activations that make people claim micro-ownership of landmarks, parks or the filling of a pothole. Or through an old-fashioned awareness campaign. Basically, make people question their belief that taxes are evil. Do make sure, however, that you are not preaching to the converted: you want to persuade the big fish, those whose taxes are pretty damn substantial – and who usually spend fortunes avoiding them.

About Ramsey Naja:

A former journalist, theatre director, pirate radio DJ and TV news anchorman, Ramsey escaped his native Lebanon’s civil war to study and work in the UK. He joined the London-based Middle East arm of JWT in 94, before returning to Beirut in 2001. He was appointed CCO for JWT MENA in 2004.

Since then, the agency, reputed mostly for its strategic planning but with hardly an award to its name, has become the region’s most awarded network, with international recognition such as its first ever in-book at D&AD, One Show winners, and Cannes shortlists and winners, as well as Network of the Year at the MENA Cristals in 09 and the Dubai Lynx in 2010.

Ramsey is a columnist in Campaign ME, and a regular contributor to industry forums and publications. He served on local and regional juries and spoke at a number of universities and industry events.

He is based in Beirut but is normally found in an airport lounge. Not surprisingly, Ramsey is divorced. He has a daughter, Emily, who lives in London.