2 Minutes With … Pablo Maldonado, ECD at Grey Middle East

On living in the Dreamirates

Pablo Maldonado is executive creative director at Grey in the Middle East. Based in Dubai since 2019, he has helped shape the voice and cultural footprint of brands such as Haleon, Ikea, Lego, Burger King, Bose and Unilever.

We spent two minutes with Pablo to learn more about his background, his creative inspirations and recent work he's admired.

Pablo, tell us …

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

Today, my family and I live in Dubai, also called the "Venice of the Gulf," though I prefer to call it the Dreamirates. I grew up in Buenos Aires, but there are two Buenos Aires, one in the center, the Capital, and another one that surrounds the center, called Greater Buenos Aires. The latter is the tougher of the two. Anyway, I had great times playing fútbol at siesta time with my friends and drawing and writing my own comics.

How you first got interested in health.

To be honest, I first became interested in health out of necessity. Back in 2009, a friend and I started freelancing for a small pharma creative shop that had just opened. Working in our spare time and during the weekends, we won around 10 new health brands and a bunch of Aspid Awards, all without really looking for it. That gave me the confidence to propose ideas that could improve people's lives.

One of your favorite projects you've ever worked on.

Burger King's "Pay Cut Whopper." Nothing tastes better than an idea born out of frustration. In 2020-21, as we all know, people globally were taking pay cuts of 10 to 20 percent, sometimes even more, and that was something a lot of us in advertising had to face. So, one night we thought, what if a brand would agree to take a pay cut and turn that into a discount on orders? Well, Burger King was the brand that did it.

A recent creative project you're proud of.

There are two, a Boon Specialty Coffee visual campaign...

... and Ikea's 2023 Ramadan campaign, which was our first project with the brand in the region, and included this film:

Someone else's work, in health or beyond, that you admired lately.

"The Most Beautiful Sound" is a beautiful idea. I recommend you start with the web experience, then read all about the research, the process and the real stories behind it. It's deeply touching.

A special mention to Canal+ and the "Papa" film. It's hilarious and a breath of humor after a very long time.

A book, movie, TV show, or podcast you recently found inspiring.

The Black T-Shirts, Beat Drop and IOFA podcasts, 1889 on Netflix, and the book, The Secret Club That Runs the World by Kate Kelly.

A visual artist or band/musician you admire.

Frank Miller

Your favorite fictional character.


Someone worth following on social media.

George Tannenbaum.

Your main strength as a marketer/creative.

I recover relatively fast from frustration. I can be demotivated, even sad … and after 10 minutes I'm excited again because there's still a way to make things happen.

Your biggest weakness.

I can't avoid being negative at first. It is my way to see things clearly and make objective decisions. I just need to relax, be 10 percent naive and let things surprise me more. 

One thing that always makes you happy.

My kids, family time and out-of-the-blue holidays to random all-inclusive hotels. 

One thing that always makes you sad.

Seeing creatives leave for a new place, especially if we "grew up" together. I'm proud of them, but sad to see a family member leave.

Something people would find surprising about you.

I can run fast. I'm surprisingly athletic and quite competitive in most sports. But if you see me, I look about as athletic as Louis C.K.

2 Minutes With is our regular interview series where we chat with creatives about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, work they admire and more. For more about 2 Minutes With, or to be considered for the series, please get in touch.

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