Merkle Appoints Cristiano Tonnarelli as Executive Creative Director in MENA

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Merkle (, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven performance marketing agency, today announced the appointment of Cristiano Tonnarelli as Executive Creative Director in MENA. Cristiano will work at the intersection of data, technology, experience and creativity to deliver data-driven creative solutions and focus on nurturing a new wave of creative talent within the group. 

In this newly established role, Cristiano will take primary accountability for ensuring people and data are the driving force behind the agency’s creative output, marrying his creative wisdom with people-based marketing solutions to deliver personalised customer experiences. Merkle’s growth in the market will be further propelled under Tonnarelli’s creative leadership as he works closely with other leaders of Dentsu Aegis Network to further integrate capabilities and better service clients in the region.

Tonnarelli comes to Merkle with more than 15 years of industry experience, firstly in Italy and then the Middle East, working with JWT, Leo Burnett and Tonic Dubai. Most recently he served as Regional Creative Director at Publicis Middle East where he led the creative output for all Fiat Chrysler brands in a new division responsible for navigating the communications landscape by integrating media, technology and creative. His accolades include being named the 5th most awarded copywriter in the world by TheBigWon and AdAge, a testament to his over 150 trophies, including 7 gold Cannes Lions and a Grand Prix at the Clio Awards working with brands such as Heineken, Samsung, FCA, Audi, Toyota, Kraft-Heinz, Coca-Cola, Nestle’, Wendy’s, Kellogg’s, Illy and Vodafone. Cristiano is also known for his keen interest in the progress of creativity, serving as a jury member at the Creativepool in London, the Lisbon Ad Festival and Effie MENA.

Rudy Banholzer, VP and Managing Director MENA, said of the appointment, “Cristiano is an extremely experienced and strong creative leader who will give Merkle a distinct advantage in this critical sector of our business. His abilities in driving innovative thinking and inspiring a new outlook to client’s business challenges have been proven time and time again and I have no doubt that his expertise will be invaluable as we continue to solidify Merkle’s position in the MENA market.”

Tonnarelli said, “I’m honoured to have been called by Merkle MENA to lead their creative offering. I have always put people at the centre of my creative vision, and this approach is perfectly in line with Merkle’s people-based marketing proposition.  By putting data and people at the centre of everything we do, we will drive even greater relevance for our clients’ customers. I believe that when the power of data and technology are combined with the magic of creativity, they can create impactful ideas that make brands more relevant and in turn improve clients’ business results.”