Welcome To Canada, Eh: How JWT Created The World’s Largest Welcome Mat



Written by Katherine Pendrill

How do you welcome newcomers to Canada? If you’re HSBC, You roll out the welcome mat. Literally.

Earlier this year, HSBC was on a mission to give people a warm welcome to the Great White North, and they enlisted the help of J. Walter Thompson Canada and Miami Ad School grad Zuheir Kotob to do it. Kotob has always been a creative at heart, earning his Bachelor of Science in Advertising and learning the strategic and scientific approach to advertising. However, after graduation, Kotob was already looking for more, so he turned to Miami Ad School to build a portfolio that would help him land a job as an Art Director at his dream agency.

Zuheir Kotob
Art Director
J. Walter Thompson

As Kotob explains, he decided to pursue Art Direction because he’s always been a visual thinker and he loved “how pictures can communicate a deep and complex story universally without any words.” Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what Kotob learned to do at Miami Ad School. As Kotob puts it, Miami Ad School was like a “turbocharger” for his career, helping him not only learn how to craft, improve, refine, and revise his ideas, but to also make industry connections that helped to open doors. One of those doors was J. Walter Thompson (JWT) Toronto, where he’s spent the past year and a half working as a full-fledged Art Director.

“Miami Ad School was like a turbocharger for my career. The intensity of the pace, as well as the different disciplines and approaches you’re exposed to, will prepare you to hit the ground running.”

For his most recent project, Kotob and his team at JWT Toronto were tasked with helping HSBC come up with a campaign to welcome newcomers to Canada in a warm and memorable way. But with so much noise in the financial services space, making something meaningful and timely was an obvious challenge. Keeping his cool, Kotob thought back to his time at Miami Ad School where he was taught to always think big, so he did just that. Kotob and his Copywriter partner pitched a (quite literally) big idea and got the go-ahead to make it a reality. The result? The world’s largest welcome mat displayed just outside Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. Spanning almost two football fields in size and made from eco-friendly materials, the mat was the first thing people saw as their planes landed in Canada. As Kotob put it, “It’s a quintessentially Canadian way to give newcomers the welcome they deserve as they land in their new home.”

Having turned his own Miami Ad School experience into a successful advertising career, Kotob has some words of wisdom for other aspiring creatives. While it seems obvious, Kotob stresses the importance of remembering to have fun, even when the pressure’s on. As he explains, “When you’re having fun during the creative process, not only will that make the creative stronger, but the fun will also shine through in your work.” If his latest campaign for HSBC is any indication, putting fun first is clearly a winning strategy.

“At Miami Ad School we were always taught to think big and, in this case, we took that very literally.”

If you’re ready to start thinking big like Kotob, learn more about our 2-year Copywriting and Art Direction programs.

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