Zack Ahmed is an award winning marketing executive who’s been recognised for his creative strategies and behind-the-scenes direction for some of the world’s largest branded campaigns. He’s worked with YouTubers, musical artists, and renowned brands, and we recently chatted to him about his early beginnings and finding success through the self-starter lifestyle.
You may not know digital marketer and Gen Z networker Zack Ahmed by name, but there’s a good chance you’ve seen at least one of his many campaign projects online.
At only 21, he’s clocked up a hugely impressive list of partnerships through his digital design work that have helped him reach big influencers like KSI, mainstream musicians including NSG and Bugsy Malone, and even forge a relationship with the president of Sony Music. He’s built networks that generate over 100+ million monthly views on YouTube for a range of global brands and has serious networking clout these days, but it hasn’t always been swanky backstage events and high-level conference calls.
Zack is a self-starter in every sense of the word. Growing up in Cyprus as an orphan until he was 10 years old, he moved to the UK and quickly discovered a passion for design, teaching himself Photoshop skills via YouTube tutorials. It wasn’t long before he found himself working with brands across the UK and beyond on digital content for albums, video covers, and YouTube gaming channels.
We linked up with Zack on a Zoom call from across the pond this week to discuss how he got started, how he learned his craft, and where he thinks the digital media world is headed in the future. We even managed to get a couple of tips for other young entrepreneurs looking to make a splash online – Zack was very generous with his advice.
Self-starting and learning the craft
The first thing I notice on our call is that he seems eager to tell us about his life thus far and his early start in the industry.
He says he first got inspired by superhero films when he was in Cyprus as a young boy. ‘We used to always watch Disney and Marvel movies and I’d question where these companies come from, I had a real sense of curiosity’. Moving to the UK a few years later, he saw product logos at Heathrow airport and felt opportunity beckon. ‘I realised the bigger brands I saw as a child were now on my doorstep’.
That enthusiasm to tap into business continued throughout his life in England. ‘During the time I’d be off school I’d be learning stuff on the internet’, Zack says. ‘My aunty and uncle who adopted me bought a laptop for my birthday as a gift, it was a DELL Inspiron. I jumped on Facebook and asked a designer about what software he uses, and he told me Photoshop. I started using that and began YouTube tutorials – it became my life’.
Zack’s initiative is impressive, but it’s also indicative of a larger generational shift towards self-starting and entrepreneurship. In a recent Nielsen study over 54% of Gen Z said they wanted to start their own company, with a large amount of those also considering skipping college. Thanks to online courses and self-help videos, it’s easier than ever to teach yourself new talents and translate them into employability opportunities.
Such was the case with Zack from the beginning. ‘I was working with SBTV very early, from 2013’. SBTV is a hub of youth culture and music that has over 1 million subscribers on YouTube. Zack began working with musician Kid Ink and other international clients as his industry clout grew. ‘One event promoter from Copenhagen reached out to me and I did a graphic for him. It became a norm and I was good at doing it. I was doing a lot of design work, that’s when I started getting introduced to Faze Clan and Call Of Duty clans. I was 15 at the time’.
Zack has been making a name for himself both in the US and in England ever since, juggling university with his business ventures. He says he was initially thinking about studying media but ended up applying to a law course ‘because everyone was telling me to’. Eventually he got into journalism school in Cardiff, however, where he realised that ‘listening to myself and seeing the vision for content and media was the right thing’.