Ali Ali: Unconventional Advertising

Ali Ali, film director and founder of Egyptian agency Elephant, explains how small, unconventional agencies can leave the bigger advertising agencies behind.

From the Series

Ali Ali is a commercial film director and writer from Cairo, Egypt. After working for a decade as a creative director at some of the world’s top agencies, Ali founded Elephant, a digital creative agency. Within its first year Elephant became the most awarded agency in the Middle East, winning four Cannes Lions in 2011 and seven Grand Prixs at the Dubai Lynx Awards.

“I find advertising is a very simple process, but we tend to complicate it a lot more than it needs to be. It just needs to be very fun and simple.”

Elephant started as a four-man agency, with no obvious hierarchy and just one big office table for the team. They never pitched, and very soon they didn't have to: clients were attracted to their provocative and different style.

Over the years Elephant remained a small (and eccentric) agency.

“Being small is always great because it makes you faster," says Ali, "and the faster the better. It doesn't leave room for a lot of bureaucracy to come in. All these big agencies [the "dinosaurs"] – it is very small for them to move and react."

Ali no longer works in any digital agency; he is now a film director.