Gérard Ghazarian (1977), Founder of the Candid Group
Gérard Ghazarian is the founder of the Candid Group, the largest Dutch independent network of media, marketing and communication agencies. This means Gérard is well on track to realizing his vision: Supplying Dutch advertisers with a healthy counterpoint to the larger international chains, to give them all the attention they deserve.
Ghazarian was born in Armenia and lived there till he was sixteen. He spent a large portion of his youth at TV stations and behind the control booth, thanks to his mother, who was a well-known television host. He literally grew up with directors, producers and media moguls. “With a mother and a childhood like mine you could definitely say that media is in my blood,” he comments.
Gérard fled the war situation in Armenia in 1993, finding a home in Hellevoetsluis in the Netherlands with a kind and generous family. The same family his future business partner Youri van der Mijn grew up in. Gérard quickly realized learning the Dutch language had to be priority number one. He proved to be a real go-getter and soon mastered the language. This opened up doors for him in the Dutch media landscape, however, famous TV hostess-mom aside, Gérard still had to start on the bottom-rung in the Netherlands. He started off his career in media at the Holland New Media Group and Omroep Reclame Nederland (an advertising network), working his way up to deputy director at ORN and becoming the youngest board member ever. Acting in this capacity he managed to turn ORN into a successful and profitable organization. Gérard’s private life was also running smoothly, blessed with two beautiful daughters and a lovely wife, one who is there to offer advice and assistance – and reign him in whenever necessary.
With a drive for independence and entrepreneurship, he founded his first media agency in 2003. As a visionary pioneer in the media world, with a clear perspective on the market, he was the first to successfully bring a variety of disciplines – media, creation, research and tech – together under one roof. Besides, Ghazarian had another ambition right from the start: to unite independent Dutch media agencies, join forces, and help Dutch brands communicate more effectively. That same forward-thinking vision lead to the birth of Candid Group in 2007.
In 2017, two leading media agencies, Stroom and M2Media, joined the Group. In the meantime, Ghazarian also launched the independent marketing and communication news channel ‘frank.news’. In anticipation of the digital changes in the media world, data, programmatic and tech organizations were also added to the Group. These additions allowed the Group to increase its efficiency and effectiveness, and simultaneously maintain a lead in innovation and data technology.
Today, the Candid Group houses all the necessary knowledge and expertise under one roof: from media to research, creation to IT-development and from data and privacy management to programmatic advertising. Everything a client might require.
Thanks to organic growth and acquisitions the Group has acquired more commercial clout and has grown into one of the largest independent MarCom networks in the Netherlands. The product of vision, entrepreneurship and fighting spirit.
“I’ve always had a little rebel inside me,” he says. “In Armenia, where everyone went to school in a Soviet-uniform, I was the one in jeans and a denim jacket. I’ve always been a go-getter, even when I had to start from scratch here in the Netherlands. I quickly realized how to achieve your goals and could sense when a change was required. Besides, I was chomping at the bit to set out on my own in the business world.”
To that end, the Candid Group will continue to grow in the coming years. Because of the increasing complexity of the MarCom environment it’s become key to have the ability to adapt. “Companies and brands at a standstill, refusing to look ahead, they are the ones that won’t make it” so Ghazarian states.
His advice to advertisers: “Don’t let people pull the wool over your eyes with vague business models and pretty, but confusing, stories about data and marketing. It’s about getting your business to grow on the foundation of an honest, open and sustainable relationship with your customers.”