Leo Burnett Beirut’s Natasha Maasri on the risks worth taking

The ECD talks about her experiences working in a female-heavy team, and how the work she’s doing isn’t about profits and awards, but about changing laws and having tangible impact 

In 2005, Natasha Maasri began her career in advertising at Leo Burnett Beirut, and 15 years later in 2019 she returned to take on the role of executive creative director at the agency for the MEA division. “I started off as a junior art director, travelled around and then came back and worked my way up to associate creative director,” Maasri tells CR. “After that I went to Brazil, worked there for a while, went to New York and worked there, and then came back. So it was almost like coming home.”

Currently based in Dubai and overseeing a team in Lebanon, one of the reasons Maasri was pulled back to the agency was the culture of activism at Leo Burnett Beirut. “It’s kind of ingrained within the agency, it seems like everyone working there has come from this idea that we’re a bunch of creative minds, living in a country that has some things we can help change,” she says. “We’re able to talk to the masses, and the work we’re doing isn’t to get recognised, we’re doing it because it helps to show different perspectives, change behaviours and even change laws.”

Top: Still from Dirty Laundry for ABAAD. Above: Campaign image from Not Hot Period Wear for Always x Nasiba Hafi

Many of the projects and campaigns Maasri works on centre on women’s rights or the perception of women in society. While things have slightly shifted, women are still not seen as equal, yet within Leo Burnett it’s seemingly the opposite as the majority of creatives Maasri works with at the agency are female, which has been the norm since the early noughties. “Having started my career in Lebanon, it was surprising going out into the rest of the world and seeing how few female creatives and creative leaders there were. It was not even a question in Lebanon,” explains Maasri. “We used to call the agency Lea Burnett instead of Leo Burnett, because of the amount of women who work in the creative department.”