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A M OT I VAT E P U B L I C AT I O N

May 30, 2021

AED25/USD7/SR25

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May 30, 2021

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WPP creative shop Grey Dubai hires Philippe Berthelot from Entourage Middle East as new managing director Philippe Berthelot has been appointed as the new managing director (MD) of Grey Dubai. He joins from Entourage Middle East. As MD there, he oversaw the integration of marketing solutions and the global development of EVE, the first 3D virtual events platform in the region. Working closely with Nirvik Singh, global chief operating officer and president, international of Grey Group, Berthelot will be responsible for deepening Grey Dubai’s creative and digital offerings and for implementing a more agile business model to deliver effective and innovative solutions and growth for clients, said the agency. He will also collaborate with Grey’s other studios to serve all client needs. Berthelot comes to the role with more than 20 years of experience with international networks including DDB, BBDO and Ogilvy across multiple regions, such as North America, Europe and the Middle East. His client experience spans many industries and includes Lipton, PepsiCo, France 24, Nestle Water and Clorox. Prior to joining Entourage, from 2018, he spent two years as MD of Ogilvy UAE. Here he led the agency’s transformation towards an integrated model under one leadership and P&L. Under his watch, the agency focused

Philippe Berthelot has worked with DDB, BBDO and Ogilvy

on its digital and social capabilities, which led to award-winning campaigns for KFC, Ikea and Expo 2020 Dubai. Berthelot began his advertising career in 1996 with DDB working on the Hasbro and Clorox accounts Paris and San Francisco. He joined Publicis Group’s creative

shop Marcel Paris in 2006. As MD, he was responsible for managing all global clients, including Nestle Water and Pernod Ricard drinks brands Stolichnaya and Ballantine’s. “Philippe brings with him a tremendous track record of success as well as deep knowledge and experience across multiple markets.

This, along with his expertise in digital and social communications, will serve our clients well. I am confident he will play an important role in further elevating our capabilities and driving new business growth for our clients. We are looking forward to welcoming him to the Grey family,” said Nirvik Singh.

Livingroom wins Emirates Post

GCC CINEMAS #BETTERATTHEMOVIES Nine cinema exhibitors across the GCC have joined forces to launch an industry-first campaign for the region to remind audiences of the unparalleled experience of going to the cinema and encourage them to return to their local movie theatre, after the cinema industry was hit hard by the global pandemic. The #BetterAtTheMovies campaign is a collaboration between the region’s top cinema exhibitors including VOX Cinemas, Novo Cinemas, MUVI Cinemas, Cinépolis Cinemas, AMC Cinemas, Empire Cinemas, Roxy Cinemas, Star Cinemas and Mukta A2 Cinemas. It was developed by creative agency Freedom.

Livingroom Dubai has won the Emirates Post business in what the Dubai-based creative agency described as one of this year’s biggest and most hotly contested pitches. The pitch covered all aspects of the organisation as Emirates Post continues its transformation. “Our recent wins of the Bahrain Economic Development Board and TDRA, as well as our 10-year relationship with the RTA, demonstrates that we understand what it takes to produce really good work on large, complex clients,” said Dani Oneisse, CEO of Livingroom. “Also, our unique offering of data-led strategic thinking with crafted creativity and performance marketing is proving appealing to forward-thinking clients.” The agency said one reason for its win is that the ability to create content continually is now a necessity and not just a nice-to-have.


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May 30, 2021

MullenLowe MENA wins Agency of the Year at Campaign Tech Awards MullenLowe MENA was awarded Agency of the Year at the Campaign Tech Awards, while Unit9 won Tech Company of the Year. The Londonbased awards are organised by Haymarket, the owner of Campaign Middle East’s parent brand. The headline awards – Agency of the Year and Tech Company of the Year – are not open for entry. Instead, they are nominated and chosen by the Tech Awards’ panel of judges made up of specialists and digital leaders from across the marketing and tech industries. Interpublic agency network MullenLowe MENA was awarded Agency of the Year after displaying an impressive all-around breadth of work, having won one individual category award, been highly commended in another, and made the shortlist for five entries overall. MullenLowe MENA emerged victorious in the hotly contested Best Use of Experimental award for ProtectSet, its campaign to change gaming headsets for children in order to better protect them online from sex predators. The six-month campaign began by designing and producing 100 devices that were fitted with voice modifiers that made

children sound like adults when speaking into them. This was a “brilliant example of technology helping to solve a real-world problem. Simple but effective,” according to one judge. ProtectSet was also shortlisted for the Tech for Good category. “We are extremely proud to have been named Agency of the Year at the Campaign Tech Awards,” said Mounir Harfouche, chief executive officer, MullenLowe MENA. “Being the first agency in the region to receive global recognition is significant; it proves that we’re achieving our vision for MullenLowe MENA with our innovative work. We have a dream team, an amazing culture and – most importantly – ambitious partners. We will keep pushing for work that is meaningful and for creative quality that meets international standards. It is a great feeling to see our name among the world’s best, and credit goes to the whole team for working passionately day and night to make us the agency of the future.” Now in its fifth year, the Tech Awards champion the collaboration between agencies, brands and the technology communities, and recognises the outstanding work

MullenLowe’s Protectset makes children sound older, deterring would-be predators

produced together to drive the creative industries forward. The awards introduced new categories this year, including a prize for Tech Diversity Advocate of the Year. Kerel Cooper, chief marketing officer at LiveIntent, won the inaugural award for being a respected thought leader in the digital

advertising industry, with numerous appearances at conferences and contributions to major tech publications. There were also two categories for start-ups. Ad-Lib.io won Start-up of the Year, while Best Campaign of the Year by a Start-up went to Boldspace for “72 ways to thank the NHS”.

NAKHEEL MALLS RAMADAN IS BETTER TOGETHER

VALIU THE ENDLESS SHOPPING LOOP

As people continue to navigate the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, many still remain separated from their families and friends. Nakheel Malls, the retail arm of Nakheel, worked with its creative agency Momentum to revive some of the most treasured moments for Omar, a UAE expat who had been yearning for a home-cooked iftar meal with his family after being away for a long time. Working with an interior designer and Omar’s family, Nakheel Malls replicated the dining room from his home in Lebanon and assembled a nostalgic table that emulated the family spirit Omar was longing for.

EFG Hermes-owned Fintech platform valU launched its new campaign, ‘The Endless Shopping Loop’, featuring Egyptian celebrity Ruby, across OOH, TV, and digital channels. The campaign went viral with more than 10.6 million views in the first 10 days on digital channels. The agency was Tarek Nour Advertising.

Agency Momentum Senior creative directors Muhammad Ali, Shahbaz Khan Zobairi Associate creative director Vishal Munyal Senior art director Jad Elchamaa Strategic planning manager Sameer Islam Media agency Initiative

Agency TNA – Tarek Nour Advertising Campaign star Ruby Directors Hamba (Ahmed Hamdallah), Sherif Doss DOP Ahmed Tahoun Production house Kay-Oh Productions


May 30, 2021

Serviceplan Group Middle East launches House of Gaming to focus on e-sports Integrated communications agency Serviceplan Group Middle East has announced the launch of a new ‘House of Gaming’ division created to harness the vast potential of gaming and e-sports marketing for its clients in the MENA region. The House of Gaming has been established to provide businesses and brands with in-depth knowledge across all aspects of gaming, from different gamer target groups to showcasing and assessing all relevant touchpoints. It will provide expertlevel guidance on developing a brand’s positioning and communication strategy in gaming and e-sports and manage the execution of e-sports marketing. To lead House of Gaming, Serviceplan has appointed experienced marketing professional and dedicated gamer Helmi Abdalhadi. As manager, Abdalhadi will be responsible for connecting brands with the massive yet quickly evolving world of e-sports marketing. He will be the lead consultant and strategist for businesses looking to venture into the gaming arena, starting from ad hoc activations, events or sponsorships, all the way to developing long-term e-sports brand strategies. Abdalhadi will lead a multi-disciplinary team. Rami Hmadeh, managing partner

Game on: House of Gaming manager Helmi Abdalhadi

of Serviceplan Group Middle East, said: “As part of our House of Communication concept, we apply a fully integrated approach to every channel of communication, combining the talents of experts from strategy, creative, media, digital and technology to find new ways to reach the hearts and minds of consumers. House of Gaming is one of the latest iterations of this concept.” Meanwhile, management

consultancy Scopernia has launched what it claims is the Middle East region’s first gaming consulting service. Scopernia Gaming is designed to accelerate the growth of organisations and enable them to be future-fit. Scopernia Gaming “empowers businesses to draw from the learnings of the gaming industry and apply best practices in their operations for higher levels of efficiency and productivity”.

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Talk 100.3 radio station launches Channel 2 Group Corporation, which holds multiple audio rights to cricket (including ICC, IPL, and the T20 World Cup) and media network Fun Asia Network have announced an exclusive partnership to launch Talk 100.3, the UAE’s only South Asian sport and business radio station. Talk 100.3 will service the needs of the South Asian and international community by offering sports and business enthusiasts a platform where they can enjoy up-to-date sport and business coverage from around the world. The station will be launched on June 13, 2021 in the UAE with live coverage of the World Cup Test finals between India and New Zealand. Channel 2 Group is the exclusive global audio rights holder for ICC live events. Channel 2 Group’s analogue and digital audio rights also exclusively cover the Asia Cup and the Indian Premier League. As part of the joint venture, Fun Asia, which owns and operates Beat 97.8, Luv 107.1 and Big 106.2, will develop content in association with the Channel 2 Group Corporation, using content from sport fixtures. Talk 100.3 will also offer live shows, syndicated programmes and popular podcasts, as well as exclusive sports broadcast rights.

CHEVROLET FAWAZIR CHEVROLET

OPPO #CAPTURETHESPIRIT

This Ramadan, peak season for automotive sales as advertisements flood both your TV screens and your city streets, Chevrolet Arabia set itself apart with its Fawazir Chevrolet campaign. Chevrolet tapped into nostalgia from the ‘70s and ‘80s by bringing the famous and loved Fawazir riddle shows back to life, reimagining them with a modern and youthful twist. Fawazir Chevrolet was an exciting and riddle-filled Ramadan social campaign that, surprisingly, doesn’t show or mention a single car. Instead, Chevrolet invited viewers to guess the cars hidden within the riddles, to win extra Ramadan savings.

Technology brand Oppo’s #CaptureTheSpirit Ramadan campaign, held in collaboration with the brand’s MEA Ambassador Egyptian football legend Mohamed Salah, has seen millions of fans from the UAE and beyond flood its social media platforms. Posting creative, nostalgic photos and videos, Oppo aficionados reminisced about their favourite moments from Ramadan.

Agency Commonwealth McCann Dubai ECD Andrej Arsenijevic Copywriter Habiba Allam Junior art director Mayar Essawy Arabic copywriter Abdulkader Asfari Editor Ayman Hussein Production house Boomtown Director Ingrid Bawab

Running from April 12 until May 15, 2021, Oppo’s #CaptureTheSpirit campaign featured the Arab football superstar in a TV commercial as he shared his most-missed Ramadan memories from back home – and invited viewers to do the same. The agency is M&C Saatchi.


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May 30, 2021

THE PAUSE BUTTON

UM’s Nadeem Ibrahim examines the relationship between working with technology and managing mental health

T NADEEM IBRAHIM, digital director at UM WW

he industry has taken tough measures to openly address mental health in the workplace. Different regions tackle it differently, some more openly than others. The main premise is to recognise we are all victims of some form of mental health challenge in our personal lives, with the workplace being a form of escapism. Is it really escapism? Perhaps 10-15 years ago when digital was in its infancy. Cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM) and cost-per-click (CPC) were literally the only two areas that I was expected to understand, along with an ad server, but what about now? The tech we work with today will be no better than the tech of tomorrow. That said, our ad ecosystem has evolved rapidly, requiring new skills sets to be developed, adapted, and implemented. For what it’s worth, I’m not talking about social slang, but as far as I know it stems from the evolution of technology. According to Chiefmartech.com, data is the fastest growing category by +25.5 per cent. There is a magnitude of data out there, and how we harness it in a cookieless world is another area individuals are expected to have a point of view on in the here and now. The growth in technology has been astronomical and we’re yet to see what the impact of the pandemic is likely

to have been. There’s no doubt that we live in a fastpaced, fragmented industry. First impressions can count in a fragmented industry. The excitement of entering your first client or agency sales meeting is great, until a buzzword or acronym is thrown into the mix – “erm yes, I’ll get back to you on that”, or it leads to a wishy-washy response – and suddenly there’s a sense of anxiety in the air. Trafficking your first campaign, setting up a bunch of ad groups in Ads Manager that fits a process and reaches the right standard can be overwhelming. The platforms become the root cause. They evolved metrics and acronyms (CPV, CPCV, CPCIV) and they created their own buzzwords. Buzzwords such as innovation (what exactly is innovation?), native advertising, in-stream/out-stream, and so on. Technology has the habit of enforcing behavioural change, thus applying indirect pressure to adopt and be well versed in a trend very quickly. Either way, technology is a micro-aggressor indirectly triggering an element of mental ill-health. The evolution of communication is continuous, and you only have to look at the reinvention of audio as an example. Audio social platforms have risen rapidly, with replicas soon to be released, creating a sense of anxiety and excitement for brands to be part of the trend; it’s not just humans that feel it. Audio clearly will become the new trend, opening advertising opportunities then boom a new metric, new tech, new acronyms and cool buzzwords. As much as we’ve become a caring industry, we still have all sorts of paradoxes. Workplaces have acknowledged personal mental health and it has unlocked some great initiatives to help restore individuals’, businesses’, and teams’ states of mind. The team at Twitter, with whom I have recently been working more closely, are great ambassadors in this space, insisting their businesses shut down for a range of mental health and wellbeing days. I have also seen that many other industry partners are great ambassadors, giving their teams some time off and allowing them to switch off from the craziness of technology. Organisations have the framework in place via the initiatives they deploy. However, there is the need to have a day dedicated to hitting the reset button, to switch off your tech and recognise the manual way of operating. There is the possibility that organisations will become more selective in the talent they recruit, in terms of tech enthusiasts vs advertising enthusiasts. Organisations that recognise the different generational mindsets in their workforce (baby boomers, Gen X, millennials, Gen Z) will be one step ahead of tacking the technology issue. Let’s not forget how important it is to recognise team members are not robots, and that there will be ‘off days’ (especially during a global pandemic). This is to be expected. Elite athletes have occasional bad games, and team members will have occasional bad days, yet technology will always deliver its A-game. Organisations that can acknowledge technology being a contributor to the mental well-being of their workforce will win in business in the long term.

‘‘LET’S NOT FORGET HOW IMPORTANT IT IS TO RECOGNISE TEAM MEMBERS ARE NOT ROBOTS, AND THAT THERE WILL BE ‘OFF DAYS’.”


HEADLINE PARTNER

RADIO GUIDE 2021


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May 30, 2021

THE RADIO MIX

Initiative’s Safwat Abdulkhalek looks at how radio and competing audio channels fit into today’s post-pandemic media plans

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he pandemic has brought along lots of ambiguity and uncertainty, but one thing is certain: It has altered consumers’ behaviours and their media consumption patterns. People developed a habit of constantly checking the news to remain informed and up to date. It is therefore safe to say that the changes reflected within the media industry have forced advertisers to be flexible and to pivot their strategies in a way that will help capture and attract emerging, highly engaged audiences and maximise their reach and profits. We know for a fact that companies have mainly increased their ad spend on digital

platforms, specifically on video content, but what about the rest of the media mix pillars? What about the audio industry? Commuting time was cut down significantly in 2020, thus decreasing car radio consumption during rush hours while travelling to and from work. Surprisingly, however, at-home radio consumption increased as people resorted to listening to the news on radio stations and podcasts from their mobiles, computers or smart speakers. According to a Nielsen study, towards the beginning of the pandemic, stay-at-home workers spent 40 per cent of their day listening to AM/FM radio stations or streaming

services. Another study by Rodero revealed that people started listening to the radio throughout the day, mainly midday and afternoons, instead of morning time as was the norm prior to the pandemic. This health crisis may have changed where and when we listen to the radio, but it was revealed that eight out of 10 people globally have been listening to the radio either more or for the same amount of time as before. Therefore, it is certain that radio is still considered an extremely important element in the media industry for several reasons, including its adaptability and credibility. People trust their local AM/FM stations


May 30, 2021

when it comes to relaying the news. This has pushed them to place their trust in radio advertising and sponsorships, as 60 per cent of people aged 35-49 consider radio spots very trustworthy and reliable, according to the Total Audience Report by Nielsen. The importance of radio, especially during the pandemic, is also attributed to the fact that listeners trust not only the information shared, but also radio hosts, since they are living the realities alongside the people. These live broadcasters give listeners the perfect mix of local news and entertainment in a highly targeted manner, which helps maintain a sense of connection and belonging to the community and creates feelings of safety and security. In other words, you can consider your local radio station as your next-door neighbour; they will always be there for you. As we zoom in closer to the UAE, a study conducted by Nielsen’s UAE Radio Audience Measurement (RAM) showed that radio listening in the region remains at an all-time high, and, during the first quarter of the year, listeners spent an average of 7 hours and 28 minutes on the radio. People also shifted their listening hours to adjust to their new daily routines. This further adds to the testimony that this medium remains a strong element in the media mix regionally. As vaccines continue to roll out and life slowly goes back to normal, radio listenership – especially in cars and physical retail stores – is expected to go back to pre-pandemic levels. All forms of digital audio, in addition to radio, have gained lots of popularity during the pandemic as a result of people wanting to alleviate ‘screen fatigue’ caused by spending long hours in front of monitors. Podcasts, for example, are known for their accessibility and the variety they provide to listeners. Apps like Spotify and Apple Podcasts have given people the chance to create customised playlists of all the different categories they are interested in and to listen to them any time they desire. This approach makes the whole listening experience more personal, convenient and on-demand, as opposed to listening to whatever is on the radio. Advertisers have been taking advantage of the rise in podcasts by investing in them through affiliate marketing and sponsorships, which have created a new stream of revenue. A main driver of the adoption of this booming audio platform is that many podcast hosts, and even radio presenters, are turning into influencers who are building a huge base of loyal supporters. The opposite is also true. Lots of celebrities, influencers, and athletes are launching their own podcasts. As a form of personality-driven media, podcasts can engage with listeners in a more authentic way, which has helped brands reach a

wider and highly engaged audience, especially during the pandemic, by leveraging the power of such influencers across various social platforms. Regionally, a study by Markettiers MENA showed that 92 per cent of listeners in the UAE and Saudi Arabia trust podcasts more than any other traditional medium. We expect to see a continuous proliferation of this medium in the near future. Streaming music, another form of digital audio, has also been on the rise, as people continue to use music as an escape from all that is happening in the world. Brands have capitalised on this by dedicating a fair share of their ad spends to music streaming platforms, such as Anghami and Spotify. We have also seen an increase in the popularity of voice assistants during the pandemic, such as Amazon’s Alexa. A study by Kantar estimates that there will be around 1.8 billion consumers using a voice-enabled device in 2021. This huge shift is due to the change in consumer behaviour, where social distancing has encouraged people to opt for touch-free controls, including voice technology, especially at home through smart devices. Such voice-enabled devices are changing the ways consumers shop and interact in their everyday lives, whether it be through improving experiences with content discovery, recommendations or personalisation. Other breakthroughs instigated by the pandemic include voice- and audio-led social media platforms, such as Clubhouse, an invite-only app where people can join live rooms of discussions spanning across a multitude of topics. It is expected that voice and audio will be a huge format of content presentation and audience engagement, as it helps brands share their stories in a more natural and intimate way. Even though brands cannot directly advertise through voice assisted technologies or through apps like Clubhouse yet, we cannot deny the impact they have exerted on brands and their advertising strategies, by allowing users to form deep connections with them. In a nutshell, digital audio is expected to bounce back from pandemic losses; however, measurement remains a concern for advertisers as they struggle with digital audio ad measurement. For many brands, it remains uncertain whether listeners convert after listening to ads on digital audio. To measure what they can, several brands are pulling out old-school tracking methods known to have significant gaps, like promoting coupon codes or vanity URLs, providing at least a small measure of ROI feedback. Despite such challenges, there is no doubt that radio remains a strong pillar in the media mix, especially for brands aiming to build reach and brand awareness in the region.

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‘‘A STUDY BY MARKETTIERS MENA SHOWED THAT 92 PER CENT OF LISTENERS IN THE UAE AND KSA TRUST PODCASTS MORE THAN ANY OTHER TRADITIONAL MEDIUM.”

By SAFWAT ABDULKHALEK, media manager, Initiative


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May 30, 2021

LISTEN NOW

New research from Markettiers has found a third of listeners tune into podcasts once a day. Cheryl King highlights the opportunities this growing popularity can offer brands in the region

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odcasts in the UAE have been on the rise for the past few years, but now more than ever listeners are tuning into a wealth of podcasts for their news, entertainment and education needs, proving a key opportunity for brands in the region to tap into the power of audio. Our research at Markettiers MENA in 2019 showed that 16 per cent of those asked would tune into a podcast at least weekly. Now, just two years on, the listenership in the region has grown rapidly. Our latest research reveals that podcasts are becoming a part of listeners’ daily routines with over a third (37 per cent) of the UAE audience tuning in to a podcast at least once a day, if not more than once. What’s more, 31 per cent listen to podcasts at least once a week. As more people in the region download and subscribe to this form of audio content, our latest survey of more than 1,000 adults in the UAE reveals the top podcast preferences that brands need to consider based on this latest research. THE CATEGORY IS… There really is a podcast for everyone, with varying topics of conversation. But when asked what genre of podcasts is most preferred by listeners in the region, it was found the top five podcast genres in the UAE are music (57 per cent), comedy (40 per cent), technology (33 per cent), sports (28 per cent) and news and politics (27 per cent). CONTENT IS KING Almost half of those asked believe that a balance of facts and humour makes for a good podcast, showing the importance of presenting factual content in an entertaining and engaging way. It’s also important to consider the credibility and reliability of the information being shared, with 37 per cent enjoying a podcast most when they feel that the topics being discussed have been thoroughly researched. Although entertainment is a big listening factor, it’s also about education. 45 per cent of those surveyed believe a good podcast is one that teaches the listener something new. WHO’S WHO It’s not just all about knowing your stuff, it’s also about delivering this through the

right medium. When asked, 28 per cent of podcast listeners believe a likeable and relatable host contributes to their listening experience, so finding an engaging host is a must. BE PART OF THE CONVERSATION Fuelled by the pandemic, listener habits have changed and the medium is on the rise. 59 per cent of respondents revealed they now tune into podcasts more this year when compared with the same time last year. This highlights a need for creators to keep listeners updated with content now more than ever. What better time for brands to wake up to the potential of podcasts than when they have a captive audience on a daily basis tuning into audio content. It’s time for brands to capitalise on this

‘‘ALTHOUGH ENTERTAINMENT IS A BIG LISTENING FACTOR, IT’S ALSO ABOUT EDUCATION. 45 PER CENT BELIEVE A GOOD PODCAST TEACHES SOMETHING NEW.” growing trend, which will continue to gain popularity. Podcasts are here to stay and are a proven method to communicate with a targeted audience. Brands that see podcasts in their entirety and think about the whole strategy, from planning and creation to distribution and promotion, are the ones that are now reaping the rewards of a growing listenership that is consuming potentially hours of their curated content. 2021 is the year to jump on the podcast wagon. By CHERYL KING, managing director, Markettiers MENA


May 30, 2021

BRANDS ARE A BETTING ON ARABIC PODCASTS AND IT’S PAYING OFF.

RABIC PODCAST LISTENERSHIP IS BOOMING Podcasting in the Arab region is heating up. This past year, we’ve seen podcasting prove its success as media’s next frontier through listenership growth alone. As it stands, podcasts average a 20-40% growth in listenership year over year , and the global podcasting market size is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.5% from 2020 to 2027. The global podcast market is already sized at a $75bn opportunity. Regionally, we’re lacking growth trend and cross-country market data, but hats off to Markettiers MENA for giving us a starting point: there are 5.1 million podcast listeners in KSA and 1.3 million listeners in the UAE, listening to an average of 5-7 hours of podcasts a week. Egypt is Kerning Cultures Network’s #2 listening country, so we estimate current listenership there to be between 1-3 million. We as Arabs are huge consumers of content and a significant market to tap for any new media. We already top global usage for Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, and we at Kerning Cultures Network are building for a future where we’ll top global listener penetration for podcasts by 2025.

Kerning Cultures’ Bella Ibrahim says her network is building for a future where MENA tops global listener penetration rates by 2025

LISTENERS TRUST BRANDS MORE ON PODCASTS As the podcasting market in the region is accelerating in scale and sophistication, brands can target their audiences through podcasts in a more engaging, powerful way. It’s harder than ever for brands to break through the clutter of social media. Meanwhile, audio is outperforming video when it comes to captivating your target audience. The attention span of social media users is shrinking with the overload of content: Facebook users spend less than 3 seconds with any piece of content and 94% of viewers skip video pre-roll ads . In contrast, podcasts are creating a deeper connection to consumers. Podcast advertising generates up to four times better brand recall than other digital ads . Podcasts have listeners’ undivided attention. Unlike TV or social media, you’re literally in their ears. Podcast advertising campaigns result in an average 10-times lift for brands relative to print, digital and TV. Brands are already sponsoring some of the region’s top Arabic podcasts, and it’s paying off. Toyota ALJ sponsored a firstof-its-kind Arabic fiction thriller podcast produced by Kerning Cultures Network. Not only did it chart #6 globally, but it proved to be a case study for strong results: Listening to Saqr’s Eclipse positively affected brand image, outperforming automotive industry benchmarks by 24%. Toyota ALJ isn’t the only automotive giant in the region interested in podcasts. GMC sponsored content by Finyal Media. Al Rahji Bank and Visit Saudi are among other brands in the region also expanding into podcast advertising and sponsorship.

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AUDIO GIANTS ARE BETTING ON PODCASTS Streaming platforms are investing in podcasts as they continue to grow. Anghami, Spotify and Deezer have thrived in the past five years. Remember when we used to download mp3s? Anghami has 70 million registered users and 1 billion monthly streams , Spotify has 356 million users across 178 markets , and Deezer has 14 million monthly active users as of 2019. Spotify CEO Daniel Ek estimates that podcasts will comprise 20% of all listening. We’re seeing Podcast Originals being produced by all three audio giants, as well as significant in-app changes to bring podcasts front and centre. As streaming platforms compete for share of ear, the majority of our listeners at Kerning Cultures Network come through the OG podcast app, Apple, which recently announced that podcasters could customise paid subscription offerings to their audiences (Spotify did a quick-follow). Social media giant Facebook is jumping on the podcast bandwagon, too, announcing last month their own in-app podcast player. 170 million Facebook users are connected to podcast pages, and I imagine Facebook will roll this out with some loaded monetisation approach of audience targeting to take podcast advertising potential to the next level via their owned platform. Similarly, Spotify acquired podcast advertising platform Megaphone last year to offer granular audience targeting via streaming ad insertion. This kind of targeting is a huge opportunity for the industry, because the current capacity outside markets like the US is more general audience targeting: we know about our listeners through audience surveys, through the genre of show they choose, and our ability to geotarget. Through these new platforms, however, you can run ads targeting specifically age, gender, interests, location, and behaviour. As listenership continues to grow in the region, powered by platforms and media companies alike, it’s more strategic than ever for forward-thinking brands to take advantage of engaging with their audience on podcasts. By BELLA IBRAHIM, marketing director, Kerning Cultures Network

‘‘THROUGH THESE NEW PLATFORMS, , YOU CAN RUN ADS TARGETING AGE, GENDER, INTERESTS, LOCATION AND BEHAVIOUR.”


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May 30, 2021

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rowing up in India during the 80s and 90s, one could identify the production company behind every Bollywood movie through the short ident in the beginning simply from its sound. In my case, this sound pretty much dictated my decision whether to watch a particular movie because I knew exactly what to expect. Little did I know that it was my first brush with what is known today as ‘sonic branding’. For the uninitiated, the same way that a company is recognised by its visual logo, a ‘sonic’ logo creates an immediate awareness of brand identity purely through audio. Sonic branding is a great way to utilise a human being’s memory of sound to reinforce a brand or message. Over the last 18 years, I’ve been fortunate to witness the evolution of sonic branding in communication.

‘‘SONIC BRANDING IS A GREAT WAY TO USE A HUMAN BEING’S MEMORY OF SOUND TO REINFORCE A BRAND OR MESSAGE.” During the early 2000s, it was all about creating jingles for big brands like Cadbury, Britannia, and Titan watches. The 30-second jingle had a critical role to play not just to help sell a slice-of-life film script to a client but also to ensure the popularity of the commercial. The stickiness and hummability of an ad jingle were key, and the sonic note at the end was usually a derivative of this jingle. However, as advertising evolved and became more conversation-based, the reliance on jingles started decreasing. Foley sounds were used to represent the ambience, while the sonic tune was restricted to the end of a commercial when the logo was revealed. Today, as the sheer number of mediums has increased, the role of a creative agency partner includes conceptualising not only a film commercial but also the entire breadth of the brand’s touchpoints. Thus, the need to create sonic branding that works across different intervals along this journey has become imperative. The last few years have seen a significant uptake in the number of brands opening up to the possibilities of sonic branding. One of the main reasons for that is the changing landscape of media consumption. Earlier, if a brand had the budget, TV would be the go-to medium to achieve reach. But today,

with millennials and Gen Z consuming shorter content on their phone screen, the 30-second piece of music has become too long – leading to the importance of a much shorter sonic identity. The mandate of creating sonic branding includes creating a whole new gamut of sonic experiences. This includes UI/UX sonic design, creating ambient sound inside brand experiential spaces, and creating navigational on-app sonic alerts and notifications. All of these engage with the customer and enhance their experience. Today, some companies deploy a whole system to create a sonic identity that requires the coming together of brand strategy, the science of sound, and the art of music. The creation of sonic branding necessitates taking the entire catalogue of the company’s sounds – from the promotional to the functional – and offering a systemic approach to how they want to be be perceived. Since music has the power to evoke different moods in people, the first step is to understand the brand’s personality. The next step is to find the right audio fit to create a unique musical expression that matches the brand’s DNA. Here are a few classifications of different archetypes of sonic branding: REASSURANCE: The most well-known examples have to do with technology and payments, like ‘Intel Inside’. Most recently, this also includes the Mastercard sonic brand identity, where the melody would play whenever consumers used their cards in physical, digital, and voice environments. INDIVIDUALITY: Netflix and Amazon Prime’s sound mnemonics for their original content are the first ones that come to mind. These sounds evoke a strong sense of the curated content that reassures the consumer of the content’s quality. GRATIFICATION: Food delivery apps extensively use sound mnemonics to inform customers about order acceptance, delivery partners reaching the destination, etc. The mnemonic becomes synonymous with satisfaction and happiness, leading to more consumer loyalty. OCCASION: The “I’m Lovin It” sonic from McDonald’s is a good example that illustrates the ‘It’s time to have fun’ aspect by bringing people together around food. When looking at the numbers, marketers have realised that a number of significant transactions are happening behind the screen. Hence, they are willingly investing in a sonic identity that is just as instantly identifiable by their consumers as their logo and visual design. A sonic identity is not just a massive opportunity but also an effortless addition to craft a unique statement and make emotional connections with consumers. By KARTIK AIYAR, head of creative, Team Red Dot

PITCH PERFECT Team Red Dot’s Kartik Aiyar looks at the different uses of sonic branding, and why it should be ringing in the ears of every marketer


PARTNER CONTENT

May 30, 2021

The art of podcast storytelling The medium offers a unique way to connect with Arab audiences By Leila Hamadeh, Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Finyal Media

P

odcasts have come of age. If anything, the pandemic has been a catalyst for growth in the Arab world: most people know someone who has started a podcast during the pandemic. But whilst there has inevitably been a huge variance when it comes to quality, what it has done is push the podcasting scene further up the agenda. Like any industry receiving interest, the podcast scene is growing fast, and it’s developing at pace. Arabic music streaming service Anghami, for example, has become the first Arabic technology firm to list on Nasdaq at a valuation of $220m, while Deezer has a fast-growing library of Originals in Arabic for the region. And this is against an overall background of rising listenership both in the Middle East and on a global scale.

Connecting with the disconnected

Indeed, our own growth at Finyal Media is evidence of the growing popularity of podcasts in the region and our ability to capitalise on a gap in the market. Launching in 2019, we have come a long way in the past two years, establishing ourselves as an award-winning podcast network providing immersive experiences for Arab listeners, with hits such as 1001 Nights, Sindbad, Juha and The 40 Thieves. Before this, little existed to really connect with the Arabic youth in particular; the means of communication was outdated, and not relevant, and so we saw an opportunity to connect on a more meaningful level with fresh, original and authentic content. Acquiring seed funding to the tune of close to $1m has helped us accelerate our journey, with our audience more than doubling in size in the past year and more than 6 million downloads overall to date.

Brand-funded podcast storytelling

It was this approach that helped us understand the huge potential that exists via podcast storytelling for brands. Through this storytelling approach, which underpins our ethos, podcasts represent a hugely effective means to reach and engage audiences through a mobile-first strategy. Major brands in the region are already turning to the medium; indeed, we count Emirates NBD, Unilever and GMC as just some of our clients here, and we are creating storytelling content that connects with the listener on an altogether different level. Ultimately, we are creating brand advocacy here, as podcasts allow for the potential to target very specific, niche audiences with zero audience wastage. You are not an accidental listener; you don’t happen upon a podcast – you have to seek it out at the

point of interest – and this creates a very attractive ecosystem for brands to tap into. And by using a storytelling approach, we can create a very meaningful connection between both brand and listener.

Loyal communities

Our partnership with Unilever’s Miraa.me platform for example, saw us create a series entitled, ‫ سفن‬، ‫ ةوطخ‬، ‫( ةآرم‬A Breath, A Step, A Mirror), which features powerful stories of real women from Saudi Arabia who have each written a letter to their younger selves. The stories are filled with hope, struggle and joy, and this aligns to the values of Miraa.me, which as a digitally led platform represents the true faces, voices and values of women around the Middle East. Another partnership we forged with Deezer saw us produce an Arabic podcast series entitled, ‫ًائينه ًامون‬ (Sleep Tight), which features a collection of fairy tales to help listeners unwind and prepare for a good night’s sleep. This was the first time that an Arabic podcast had been produced that purely focused on sleep – and it was created at a time when many people were suffering from insomnia due to the pandemic, and long-term lockdowns.

Where to next?

So, although the community is still being built, the potential for brands to harness the power for podcasts is huge. Our focus on fictional storytelling and original content series is catering to the previously uncatered; it’s fulfilling a gap in the market that was otherwise empty, particularly in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE. And when it comes to brands, the audience appetite for podcasts is ripe; the trust factor is high, the engagement metrics are powerful and there’s the opportunity to speak to Arabic audiences in a way that truly resonates with them. As we now come out of these few months and some of us move back into offices, whilst others stick to working from home, one thing’s for certain: how we communicate will never be the same again. We have to think differently, we have to find solutions to problems put in front of us, and the ways of old may not always be the best anymore. We’ve shown that as a sector, we can move at pace; it may no longer be business as usual, but communicating in smarter, more efficient ways, has just forced us all to up the ante.

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PARTNER CONTENT

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May 30, 2021

Making a noise DMS’s Sally Makarem and Anghami’s Joubran Abdul Khalek explain how new thinking and technology are driving audio as a marketing medium

F

requently accompanied by the phrase “the power of” (and for a good reason), audio is undeniably the next big thing in the media industry worldwide. The digital audio boom in the MENA region – mainly driven by the adoption of music streaming, podcasts, live radio, live concerts, social audio chatting and the huge increase in smartphone penetration rates – has put audio on the map. Globally, digital audio had been steadily growing before it witnessed a massive acceleration due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. With the radical changes Covid imposed on our daily lives, both users and brands have been learning how to leverage the power of audio. According to Emarketer, digital audio ad spend is expected to reach $5.3bn by 2023 in the US alone, and the daily average time spent on digital audio is expected to reach 101.51 minutes. MENA has also been witnessing this digital audio boom from 2012, when Anghami (the leading music streaming service) introduced music streaming to the region. This has led to a streaming revolution that accentuated the power of audio. The more users streamed, the more brands started seeing value in audio as a medium. A recent report from Ipsos showed that 50 per cent of music app users stream music spending from three to five hours daily. 

and footfall. It is an innovative medium: in 2020 Anghami launched ‘immersive audio’, a sound design technique that puts the listener at the heart of the action. It transports users to places, delivering on brand experiences all through the power of sound. In simple terms, it is virtual sound reality.”

Power play

Anghami’s Joubran Abdul Khalek says: “Traditionally, audio was mainly a radio format. Today, and with the digital boom, audio has truly earned its seat in the media mix. Hence why brands should be complementing radio with digital audio by using an audio-neutral planning (ANP) approach. This will allow brands to get the best of both worlds: radio audience reach and digital audio targeting and measurement capabilities, while overlaying the time aspect to have a holistic strategy. We have been seeing a meteoric rise in streaming on the go in the car, where more and more users are hooking up their phones to car play. This where ANP comes to life.”

Digital audio utilises technological advancements in personalisation, targeting, real-time reach and measurement – unlocking a wide range of innovative experiences to both users and brands. One can look at audio as a modern elevator pitch between the brand and the consumer, in an extremely personal environment. Sally Makarem, managing director, DMS UAE, says: “We do know the value that audio advertising delivers on. Audio is personal, it is a great form of one-to-one conversation with your customer based on mood, and it effectively creates an emotional connection with brands. Targeting opportunities do not stop there; the nature of streaming platforms allows for demographic, psychographic, geographic, and behavioural segmentation as well. Audio is measurable; we launched more than 20 brand lift studies in 2020 and we have seen the impact on media KPIs such as awareness, brand recall, consideration

Audio considerations

According to Joubran Abdul Khalek, Anghami’s newly appointed head of sales, “Brands have to adopt an audiocentric approach to start with. This isn’t as alien as one would think, as the industry has already moved from text to visual and from visual to video, which makes audio the next obvious evolution. “Planning for an audio campaign is quite simple. There are three main things to keep top-of-mind, which are: the ad itself, the context and measurement. “When it comes to the ad, there are three core elements: the script, which is the main campaign message; the tone of voice, which is delivered through the voice-over talent recording the ad; and, finally, the background music, which sets the tone and makes sure the audio ad is in harmony with its context and is relevant to the target audience.”

Maximising impact

DMS Sally Makarem concludes: “The audio scene is constantly evolving in MENA. With more global players in the market and the investments shaping local brands, such as Anghami – The first Arab tech company to be listed on NASDAQ – we will be witnessing a beautiful audio revolution. So, will digital audio become the next king?”

“Traditionally, audio was mainly a radio format. Today, and with the digital boom, audio has truly earned its seat in the media mix.”


May 30, 2021

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2021 UAE RADIO GUIDE

May 30, 2021

Abu Dhabi Radio

Al Oula Radio

FREQUENCY: 98.4 FM WEBSITE: www.adradio.ae/Abu-Dhabi-fm PARENT COMPANY : Abu Dhabi Media MEDIA REP: MEDIASAT Advertising: mediasat@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED : 1969 LANGUAGE : Arabic BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Abu Dhabi Authorities FORMAT: Sports, heritage, current affairs DEMOGRAPHICS: Arabs; 75 per cent Male; 72 per cent 20-39 years old PRIME TIME SHOWS: Studio One

FREQUENCY: 107.4 FM WEBSITE: www.aloularadio.ae MEDIA REP: MEMS: mems@choueirigroup.com: +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED: 2014 LANGUAGE: Arabic PARENT COMPANY: Hamdan Bin Mohammed Heritage Center FORMAT: Patriotic and traditional radio station that caters Emirati content DEMOGRAPHICS: Arabs; 60 per cent males; 75 per cent 20-44 years old PRIME TIME SHOWS: Sabah Al Oula (Salem Mohammad); Radio Al bayt (Samah Al Abbar); Lil Shabab Rai (Amal Al Mullah); Hayyak Fi Bladi (Shirina Salem)

Abu Dhabi Classic FM FREQUENCY: Abu Dhabi: 91.6; Dubai 87.9; Al Ain 105.2 WEBSITE: www.adradio.ae/classic-fm PARENT COMPANY: Abu Dhabi Media MEDIA REP: Khushbu Thakkar: Khushbu.Thakkar@admedia.ae; +971 50 616 5073 LAUNCHED: 2010 LANGUAGE: English LOCATION OF MAST: Abu Dhabi BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Abu Dhabi Media FORMAT: Classical music DEMOGRAPHICS: All English-speaking listeners, with a skew towards Western expats; affluent social economic classes A & B; aged 35 and older; male and female

Beat 97.8 WEBSITE: beat978.com PARENT COMPANY: Fun Asia Network (FAN) HEAD OFFICE: Dubai FOUNDED: 2020 LANGUAGE: English FORMAT: Dance contemporary hit radio natasha@funasianetwork.com +971 4 581 7000 DEMOGRAPHICS: Male and female; 18- 35 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: Beat@Breakfast with Jade and Reine; Moore Beat with Steve Moore

Big 106.2

Al Arabiya FREQUENCY: 99.0 WEBSITE: 99fm.ae PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Jennifer Moaccadie (jmoaccadie@arn.ae) LAUNCHED: 2001 LANGUAGE: Arabic FORMAT: Arabic music DEMOGRAPHICS: 70 per cent male; 30 per cent female

Big 106.2 WEBSITE: big1062.com PARENT COMPANY: Fun Asia Network (FAN) HEAD OFFICE: Dubai FOUNDED: 2017 LANGUAGE: Hindi/English FORMAT: Bollywood chart hit radio natasha@funasianetwork.com +971 4 581 7000 DEMOGRAPHICS: Male and female; 18- 35 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: The Big Breakfast show with Neeil and Pavithra; Big Chill with Ujjwal; Big Drive with Arpit

104.8 CHANNEL 4 Al Khaleejiya FREQUENCY: 100.9 WEBSITE: 1009.ae PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Jennifer Moaccadie (jmoaccadie@arn.ae) LAUNCH: 2003 LANGUAGE: Arabic FORMAT: Khaleeji music DEMOGRAPHICS: 55 per cent male; 45 per cent female

PARENT COMPANY: Ajman Independent Studio WEBSITE: www.channel4fm.com HEAD OFFICE: Ajman FOUNDED: 1997 LANGUAGE: English FORMAT: Contemporary hit radio LOCATION OF MAST: Ajman MEDIA REP: Mohammed Jundi, network sales director: +971 4 567 0444; mjundi@ch4.ae BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Ajman Government DEMOGRAPHICS: Male and female;18-40 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: Breakfast with JJ & NIMI; Evenings with EVE


2021 UAE RADIO GUIDE

May 30, 2021

City

Dubai Quran

FREQUENCY: 101.6 WEBSITE: city1016.ae PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Rohit Damodar (rdamodar@arn.ae) LAUNCH: 2002 LANGUAGE: Hindi FORMAT: Bollywood music DEMOGRAPHICS: 76 per cent male; 24 per cent female

FREQUENCY: 91.4 LANGUAGE: Arabic FORMAT: Religious

Dubai Radio Club FM 99.6 FREQUENCY: 99.6 WEBSITE: www.clubfm.ae PARENT COMPANY: Mathrubhumi Printing and Publishing Company MEDIA REP: P S Srikumar, general manager, GCC: 052 999 3442; srikumar@mpp.co.in LAUNCHED: June 2016 LANGUAGE: Malyalam BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Fujairah Media FORMAT: Entertainment, information, news, songs and creative campaigns DEMOGRAPHICS: 21-45 years old

Dubai 92 FREQUENCY: 92.0 WEBSITE: Dubai92.com PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Jennifer Moaccadie (jmoaccadie@arn.ae) LAUNCHED: 1971 LANGUAGE: English FORMAT: Adult contemporary DEMOGRAPHICS: 75 per cent male; 25 per cent female

Dubai Eye FREQUENCY: 103.8 WEBSITE: dubaieye1038.com PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Jennifer Moaccadie (jmoaccadie@arn.ae) LAUNCHED: 2004 LANGUAGE: English FORMAT: Talk DEMOGRAPHICS: 70 per cent male; 30 per cent female

FREQUENCY: 93.0 FM WEBSITE: www.dmi.ae/dubai fm/ PARENT COMPANY :DMI MEDIA REP: MEMS; mems@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED : 2014 LANGUAGE : Arabic FORMAT: Entertainment; UAE radio station that offers pan-Arab and Khaleeji content and music DEMOGRAPHICS: Arabs; 59 per cent male; 76 per cent 35+ years old Prime time shows:Sabah Jameel (Abdallah Ismaiil); Cramel (Fatima Abed al Rahman & Ahed Afandi); Shari3 Al Saada ( Jad Chheib & Mahra Al Abdallah)

Emarat FM FREQUENCY: Abu Dhabi 95.8 FM; Al Ain 94.9 FM; Dubai and Sharjah 97.1 FM WEBSITE: www.adradio.ae/emarat-fm PARENT COMPANY: Abu Dhabi Media MEDIA REP :MEDIASAT Advertising: mediasat@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED: 1986 LANGUAGE: Arabic BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Abu Dhabi Authorities FORMAT: Social, Health DEMOGRAPHICS: Arabs; 61 per cent male; 76 per cent 20-44 years old PRIME TIME SHOWS: a7la Sabah- Ma77attat Al Zouhaira- A7la Massa

Flowers 94.7 FM FREQUENCY: 94.7 WEBSITE: www.flowersfm.com PARENT COMPANY: Flowers International Group LAUNCHED: May 2017 LANGUAGE: Malayalam and English BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Dolphin Recording Studios DEMOGRAPHICS: Men and women; aged 25 to 45

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2021 UAE RADIO GUIDE

May 30, 2021

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Fujairah FM

Hit

FREQUENCY: 92.6 LANGUAGE: Arabic

FREQUENCY: 96.7 WEBSITE: hit967.ae PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Rohit Damodar (rdamodar@arn.ae) LAUNCH: 2004 LANGUAGE: Malayalam FORMAT: Malayalam music DEMOGRAPHICS: 80 per cent male; 20 per cent female

Gilli FM FREQUENCY: 106.5 WEBSITE: radiogilli.com LANGUAGE: Tamil

101.3 GOLD FM PARENT COMPANY: Ajman Independent Studio HEAD OFFICE: Ajman FOUNDED: 2010 MEDIA REP: Mohammed Jundi, network sales director: +971 4 567 0444; mjundi@ch4.ae LANGUAGE: Malayalam FORMAT: Malayalam music & entertainment LOCATION OF MAST: Ajman BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Ajman Government DEMOGRAPHICS: Male and female: 18-40 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: Morning Drive with Samira & Vysakh; Sunset Drive with Meera Nandan

Kadak FM FREQUENCY: 97.3 FM (Abu Dhabi); 88.8 FM (Dubai); 95.6 FM (Al Ain) WEBSITE : www.adradio.ae/Kadak-fm PARENT COMPANY: Abu Dhabi Media MEDIA REP: MEDIASAT Advertising: mediasat@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED: Rebranded to Kadak in 2020; previously Mirchi FM LANGUAGE:Hindi BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Abu Dhabi Authorities FORMAT: Latest trends, strong Bollywood connect DEMOGRAPHICS: Asians; 80 per cent male; 78 per cent 20-44 years old PRIME TIME SHOWS: Kadak Mornings; Total Filmi; Bumper to Bumper

THE FASTEST GROWING RADIO NETWORK IN THE UAE ION REACHING OVER 2 MILL LISTENERS EVERY DAY

Office 402, Zee Tower, Dubai Media City, P.O. Box 41698, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel: 04 581 7000 www.funasianetwork.com


2021 UAE RADIO GUIDE

May 30, 2021

Luv 107.1

Pearl Radio

Luv 107.1 WEBSITE: luv1071.com PARENT COMPANY: Fun Asia Network (FAN) HEAD OFFICE: Dubai FOUNDED: 2020 LANGUAGE: English FORMAT: Hot adult contemporary natasha@funasianetwork.com +971 4 581 7000 DEMOGRAPHICS: Male and female; 25-45 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: Breakfast with Lorna & Faris; Luv the Drive with Aylissa Boyce

FREQUENCY: 102 WEBSITE: www.pearlfm.ae LANGUAGE: English FORMAT: Shows for parents and children

Mirchi 1024 FM PARENT COMPANY: Dolphin Recording Studio HEAD OFFICE: Dubai FOUNDED: 2011 joydeep.roy@mirchi.ae LANGUAGE: Hindi FORMAT: Contemporary hit radio LOCATION OF MAST: Ras Al Khaimah BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Government of Ras Al Khaimah Email id:

Pulse 95 Radio PARENT COMPANY: Sharjah Broadcasting Authority HEAD OFFICE: Sharjah FOUNDED: 2018 WEBSITE: www.pulse95radio.com +971 6 501 1355; +971 6 501 1111 Pulse95@sba.net.ae; info@pulse95radio.com LANGUAGE: English FORMAT: Light talk-radio station with acoustic music covers LOCATION OF MAST: Sharjah BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Sharjah Government DEMOGRAPHICS: Native and non-native English-speaking; cultured mature professionals and middle-class family-oriented individuals; male and female; aged 25-45 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: Morning Majlis; Yalla Home

Quran Kareem FM

Montecarlo FREQUENCY: 95.3 LANGUAGE: Arabic

Noor Dubai FM FREQUENCY: 93.9 in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Northern Emirates; 102.9 in Al Ain WEBSITE: www.dmi.ae/noordubai/ PARENT COMPANY: DMI MEDIA REP: MEMS; mems@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED : 2009 LANGUAGE: Arabic BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Dubai Authorities FORMAT: Social, health, sports DEMOGRAPHICS: Arabs; 67 per cent male; 71 per cent 25-49 years old. PRIME TIME SHOWS: Al Bath al Mubasher (Rashed Al Kharji “Abou Omar”); Al Salfa Wa Ma Fiha (Ahmed Al Ketbi ); Rouhak Ryiadyia (Kifah Al Kaabi)

FREQUENCY: Dubai 88.2; Al Ain 88.6; Abu Dhabi 98.1 WEBSITE: www.adradio.ae/Quran-Kareem PARENT COMPANY: Abu Dhabi Media MEDIA REP: MEDIASAT Advertising: mediasat@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED: 1979 LANGUAGE: Arabic BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Abu Dhabi Authorities FORMAT: Religious DEMOGRAPHICS: Arabs; 68 per cent male; 77 per cent 20-44 years old PRIME TIME SHOWS: Yastaftounak; Sabah El Nour

Radio 1 FREQUENCY: 104.1 (Dubai); 100.5 (Abu Dhabi) WEBSITE : www.adradio.ae/Radio-1 PARENT COMPANY : Abu Dhabi Media MEDIA REP: MEDIASAT Advertising: mediasat@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED: 2017 (moved to Abu Dhabi Media) LANGUAGE: English BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Abu Dhabi Authorities FORMAT: Latest trends, music and celebrity news DEMOGRAPHICS: 68 per cent males; 84 per cent 20-34 years old PRIME TIME SHOWS: Radio 1 Breakfast with Naima, Nugget and Chiara; Afternoons with Sonya Mac; Drive with Gemma

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S R A E Y 4 2 E C N E L L E C X E OF RADIO IN *IPSOS March 2021 Survey

CHANNEL 4 RADIO NETWORK REACHES 3.8 MILLION* DAILY LISTENERS


2021 UAE RADIO GUIDE

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LEADERSHIP PANEL

Year founded: 1997 Chairman: Abdulla Mohammad Al Murad Headquartered: Ajman (with offices in Dubai) Radio stations under network: Arabic (107.8 Al Rabia); English (104.8 Channel 4); Hindi (89.1 Radio 4); Malayalam (101.3 Gold FM) www.ch4.ae +971 4 567 0444 UAE’s first FM radio network with four radio stations reaching out to 3.8 million weekly listeners (IPSOS Mar 2021), broadcasting in Arabic, English, Hindi and Malayalam languages and offering contemporary hit music and all round entertainment 24 hours a day, seven days a week for more than two decades. In addition it also connects with listeners through social media and podcasts. SERVICES: 360-degree client solutions; branded content and best advertising packages on air and on digital platforms

Ravi P Muni Group CFO – Al Murad Group

Dr. Omer Mohamed Elamin Mohamed General Manager – TV & Radio

Mohammad Jundi

Mohit S Balani

Network Sales Director – Channel 4 Radio Network

Creative Director – Channel 4 Radio Network

RADIO INFLUENCE & IMPACT FOR OVER TWO DECADES RAVI P. MUNI Group CFO, Al Murad Group

H

aving celebrated 48 years in the UAE, Al Murad Group is only a year younger that the UAE itself. This symbolises our strength whilst embellishing our legacy as a business entity. Over the last five decades under the leadership of our chairman and the founder Abdulla Mohammed Al Murad, the group has diversified into various successful companies in various industries including radio and television broadcasting, television studios, real estate, shopping malls, security systems, ID card solutions, CCTV and access control solutions, non-distractive testing solutions, etc. The DNA of the group is commitment to the clients and relentless effort to achieve the best quality in everything we do. Today, FM radio in the UAE is a platform that targets the widest audience, unmatched by all the other above-the-line and below-the-line channels put together. The Channel 4 Radio Network has always maintained a dominant position in the radio market in the UAE. The Network has consistently secured a significant market share, which over the years has

shown a positive growth in revenue and profits. This is due to the combination of factors such as listeneroriented programming, excellent relationships with our clients and our capacity to provide a tailore-made creative solution to our clients based on their requirements in a very efficient manner. We have always developed our offerings to match the ever-changing trends in the industry. It gives us great pride to announce our foray into other businesses in different dimensions, including but not limited to digital content, podcasts, new radio stations and a few other undertakings in the media space. The current slowdown in the market has given us the opportunity to reflect upon ourselves and our operations. It helped us in streamlining our businesses to make them more agile. Over the years we have defined the radio space for the country with some of the most remarkable collaborations, innovative campaigns and audacious undertakings in music, sports, entertainment, cricket, events and films. We will continue to do so in the near future by opening new realms for all those associated with us. Our future holds bigger and better things not just for us but also for the industry as a whole. Our objective never was, and never will be to ‘only survive’. We as a group have always strived to make a meaningful difference – and provide value to our listeners, business partners and clients, which we will continue to do.


2021 UAE RADIO GUIDE

May 30, 2021

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Radio 2

Radio Sawa

FREQUENCY: 99.3 (Dubai); 106 (Abu Dhabi) WEBSITE: www.adradio.ae/Radio-2 PARENT COMPANY: Abu Dhabi Media MEDIA REP: MEDIASAT Advertising: mediasat@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED: 2017 (Moved to ADM ) LANGUAGE :English BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Abu Dhabi Authorities FORMAT: Feel-good music, lifestyle DEMOGRAPHICS: 60 per cent male; 83 per cent 35-54 years old PRIME TIME SHOWS: Breakfast with Rich & Laura; Drive with Andrew

FREQUENCY: 90.5 LANGUAGE: Arabic

89.1 Radio 4 PARENT COMPANY: Ajman Independent Studio HEAD OFFICE: Ajman FOUNDED: 1999 MEDIA REP: Mohammed Jundi, network sales director: +971 4 567 0444; mjundi@ch4.ae LANGUAGE: Hindi FORMAT: Bollywood music station LOCATION OF MAST: Ajman BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Ajman Government DEMOGRAPHICS: Male and female; 18-40 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: DaBang Mornings with Aseem & Shruti; Most Wanted Drive with Abhijeet

107.8 Radio Al Rabia PARENT COMPANY: Ajman Independent Studio HEAD OFFICE: Ajman FOUNDED: 2000 WEBSITE: www.alrabiafm.com MEDIA REP: Mohammed Jundi, network sales director: +971 4 567 0444; mjundi@ch4.ae LANGUAGE: Arabic FORMAT: Arabic music & entertainment LOCATION OF MAST: Ajman BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Ajman Government DEMOGRAPHICS: Male and female; 18-40 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: Al Rabia Wal Nas with Abu Rashid; Sabah il Kherya Emirates with Rakelle and Jad

Radio Shoma FREQUENCY: 93.4 WEBSITE: radioshoma934.ae PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Ravi Earland (ravi.earland@arn.ae) LAUNCH: 2011 LANGUAGE: Farsi FORMAT: Farsi hit music DEMOGRAPHICS: 80 per cent male; 20 per cent female

Radio Zain 103.2 PARENT COMPANY: Ajman Independent Studio WEBSITE: www.radiozainfm.ae HEAD OFFICE: Ajman FOUNDED: 2020 LANGUAGE: Arabic FORMAT: Golden-era Arabic music LOCATION OF MAST: Ajman BROADCAST LICENSE LESSOR: Ajman Government LISTENER DEMOGRAPHICS: Male and female; aged 35+ MEDIA REP: Mohammed Jundi, network sales director: mjundi@ch4.ae; +971 4 567 0444

RAK Arabic FREQUENCY: 92.2 LANGUAGE: Arabic

Radio Asia 94.7 FM PARENT COMPANY: Dolphin Recording Studio HEAD OFFICE: Dubai FOUNDED: 1995 jaya@radioasia.ae LANGUAGE: Malayalam FORMAT: Contemporary hit radio LOCATION OF MAST: Ras Al Khaimah BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Government of Ras Al Khaimah EMAIL ID: jaya@radioasia.ae

RAK Holy Quran FREQUENCY: 87.6 LANGUAGE: Arabic FORMAT: Religious


2021 UAE RADIO GUIDE

May 30, 2021

Sharjah Radio

Tag

FREQUENCY: 94.4 WEBSITE: sba.net.ae/ar/radio/channel/13 PARENT COMPANY: Sharjah Broadcasting Authority HEAD OFFICE: Sharjah, UAE FOUNDED: 1972 (re-launched in 2000) FORMAT: Arabic LOCATION OF MAST: Al-Khan, Sharjah BROADCAST LICENSE LESSOR: Sharjah Government DEMOGRAPHICS: Emiratis and Arab expats FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: Al Khat Al Mubashir; Al Atheer; comedy drama “Halees”

FREQUENCY: 91.1 WEBSITE: tag911.ae PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Ravi Earland (ravi.earland@arn.ae) LAUNCHED: 2013 LANGUAGE: Filipino FORMAT: Filipino hit music DEMOGRAPHICS: 65 per cent male; 35 per cent female PRIME TIME SHOWS: Gandang U-maga (Bluebird and Keri Belle)

Talk 100.3

Sharjah Quran FREQUENCY: 102.7 WEBSITE: sba.net.ae/ar/radio/channel/12 PARENT COMPANY: Sharjah Broadcasting Authority HEAD OFFICE: Sharjah, UAE YEAR FOUNDED : 2012 FORMAT: Arabic LOCATION OF MASTS: Halwan, Al-Abar, Sharjah BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Sharjah Government DEMOGRAPHICS: Muslims; Arabs and non-Arabs

WEBSITE: talk1003.ae PARENT COMPANY: Fun Asia Network (FAN) HEAD OFFICE: Dubai FOUNDED: 2021 LANGUAGE: Hindi/English FORMAT: Talk, sport, business and lifestyle natasha@funasianetwork.com +9714 581 7000 DEMOGRAPHICS: South Asian male and female; 18-45 FLAGSHIP PROGRAMMES: Talk Breakfast; Talk Drive

89.4 Tamil FM Radio

Sky News Arabia

PARENT COMPANY: Aaren World Media & Advertising HEAD OFFICE: Dubai FOUNDED: 2015 contact@tamilfm.fm; bala@tamilfm.fm LANGUAGE: Tamil LOCATION OF MAST: Dubai BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: RAK Broadcasting Authority

FREQUENCY: 90.3 LANGUAGE: Arabic FORMAT: News

Virgin Radio Dubai

Star FM FREQUENCY: Abu Dhabi 92.4 FM; Al Ain 100.1 FM; Dubai 99.9 FM WEBSITE: www.adradio.ae/starfm PARENT COMPANY : Abu Dhabi Media MEDIA REP: MEDIASAT Advertising: mediasat@choueirigroup.com; +971 4 454 5454 LAUNCHED: 2009 LANGUAGE: Arabic BROADCAST LICENCE LESSOR: Abu Dhabi Authorities FORMAT: Latest updates, music and celebrity news DEMOGRAPHICS: Arabs; 70 per cent males; 77 per cent 25-44 years old PRIME TIME SHOWS: Sabaho; LIVE @ 5

FREQUENCY: 104.4 WEBSITE: Virginradiodubai.com PARENT COMPANY: Arabian Radio Network MEDIA REP: Jennifer Moaccadie (jmoaccadie@arn.ae) LAUNCHED: 2008 LANGUAGE: English FORMAT: Hit music DEMOGRAPHIC: 67 per cent male; 33 per cent female

Zayed FM FREQUENCY: 97.6 LANGUAGE: Arabic FORMAT: Religious

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NEWS, SPORT & CONVERSATION

THE NEW HOME OF TALK SPORT IN THE UAE

Office 402, Zee Tower, Dubai Media City, P.O. Box 41698, Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Tel: 04 581 7000 www.funasianetwork.com


2021 UAE RADIO GUIDE

May 30, 2021

LEADERSHIP PANEL

Founded: 2020 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Sam Thakker Radio stations under network: Beat 97.8; Talk 100.3; Big 106.2; Luv 107.1 funasianetwork.com +971 4 581 7000 Established in January 2020, Fun Asia is the fastest growing media network and entertainment provider in the region. It was founded by the Perfect Group of Companies and is owned and operated by the Thakkar family. Fun Asia offers a wide array of entertainment solutions from film distribution to digital performance, instore radio, events and radio vision, offering businesses a comprehensive platform to reach their desired audiences. The Fun Asia Network has a global reach of more than 15,000,000 people and can be found online, via terrestrial radio, smartphone apps and online streaming platforms. SERVICES: Audio production; film distribution; digital performance; in-store radio; events; radio vision

INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

SUNNY AHUJA Head of business, Fun Asia Network

listenership, most radio stations are streaming, so if the content is of relevance, listeners can also relisten or catch up on missed content through streaming platforms, which are available on the majority of on smart phones, tablets and online. Radio, however is still the dominating medium in the UAE, giving much greater reach and value for money to advertisers.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO MARKETERS WANTING TO DEVELOP THEIR RADIO ADVERTISING? HOW HAVE LISTENING HABITS CHANGED IN THE LAST YEAR, AND WILL THOSE CHANGES PERSIST?

In 2020 we saw a significant shift in listening habits; listeners moved listening habits away from the drive-time shows and this was primarily due to decreased commutes and work-fromhome policies. We also witnessed a shift from where audiences consume radio with a definite increase in listening at home, via apps and other platforms. However, with the return of fixed work placements we’re now seeing growth in the drive shows and a gradual return to usual listening habits.

HOW DOES RADIO FIT IN WITH OTHER AUDIO CHANNELS, AND WHAT DOES THIS MEAN TO BRANDS? Besides its conventional mode of

Our team has a wide range of marketing experience that can help advertisers create effective campaigns based on their product positioning and marketing objectives.

HOW ARE TECHNOLOGY AND INNOVATION CHANGING RADIO AS A MARKETING CHANNEL?

Radio and technology go hand in hand and brand messages can be easily integrated and synchronised across platforms. For instance, FAN has converted audio to visual through the integration of our OTT app, which allows advertisers to reach audiences not only through the use of radio but also through audio visual commercials (for example, TV ads) on the app. Technology supports radio and can offer a diverse range of real-time options for advertisers.

Sunny Ahuja

Sabita Rajesh

Head of Business

Sales Director

Digby Taylor

Natasha Talebli

Programming Director

Marketing Director

25


Exclusive paintings, sculptures and photography from award-winning international artists.

Sculpture by Freeman Lau

Photography by Baber Afzal

Painting by Almudena Angoso


PARTNER CONTENT

SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Brand: Fine Guard / Fine Platform: TikTok Creative Agency: TikTok Creative Lab Media Agency: Mindshare Fine Guard is Fine’s range of innovative sanitizing products that cover hand sanitization, fabrics and garments, surfaces, and much more. The product line boosts long lasting protection and a list of unique benefits. The challenge? Not many people are aware of the products or their benefits. And to be fair, it’s a low involvement category, so who could blame them. Our task was clear. We needed young moms on TikTok to listen, and we needed them to care. Two independent insights drove our thinking. A platform insight; people come to TikTok for joy and entertainment, and a consumer (young moms) insight;

1.9M+ REACH

13M+

moms don’t take advice from brands, they take them from other moms. So building on those two insights, we created a character. The “other mom” they take their advice from. We called her Mama Fine. She’s a bit older, experienced, sassy, cool, and modern (in her own way). And we decided she’s going to deliver the message in rap songs. We created a gangster rapping mom. We started by writing 3 comedic rap songs, one for each product, demonstrating all its USPs and uses. We then recruited one of the region’s funniest creators who is infamous for creating sketches about Arab moms; Muhannad Al Hattab. In full make-up and swag Mama Fine shined in three 15 seconder

IMPRESSIONS

20M+ VIEWS

27

product- focused video clips using both TikTok Top View format and in-feed boosted content. In the infamous words of Mama Fine: "Mic drop...3al ard" boom.

In a world filled with negative news and fear about the pandemic, we chose to create content that will put a smile on our consumers' faces and establish our benefits through catchy lyrics... - Hande Hitay Global Category Head Fine Hygienic Holding


PARTNER CONTENT

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May 30, 2021

What is DCO? and why is everyone talking about it? Ad-Lib’s Janira Hernandez explains dynamic creative optimisation

A

s the digital media landscape progresses, we continue to evolve our terminology and have more acronyms to memorise. Keeping up with industry jargon can be tedious, but one term that has gained momentum and is becoming more and more common amongst marketers is DCO, or dynamic creative optimisation. But what is it? And why is everyone talking about it? Personally, I consider DCO a key pillar in the future of digital marketing.

What is DCO?

Dynamic creative optimisation (DCO) is an ad technology that creates personalised ads based on a user’s real-time data at the moment of ad serving. These ads can often use targeting signals such as demographics, location, consumer behaviour, time of day, weather, and many other data points to create a personalised brand experience. DCO utilises AI and machine learning to select the most relevant components for viewers in real-time, leading to highly optimised and creative content. As a consumer, when you first visit a webpage, you are likely shown a generic ad that may not be relevant to you in any way and is therefore not effective. Through DCO, data is collected via data feeds or gathered from data management platforms (DMPs) and demand side platforms (DSPs) the moment you land on the page, and it immediately surfaces creatives specific for each user. A recent study by Monetate found that 79 per cent of companies that incorporated a personalisation strategy exceeded revenue goals. And Epsilon research found that 80 per cent of consumers are more likely to do business with a company if it offers a personalised experience. Furthermore, according to Econsultancy, 82 per cent of companies with a structured approach to optimisation have seen improvements in conversion rates, while the same figure for those without a structured approach is just 64 per cent. We know dynamic creative optimisation lets marketers deliver on the benefits of personalised advertising at scale through using data and automation to pave the way for their customer journeys. While some brands remain skeptical, those that have trialed DCO through A/B testing have discovered that dynamic ads outperform their static counterparts by large margins, every single time. The reason is that dynamic ads are hyper-relevant to the

audiences, which creates a much larger impact for viewers. Whether it’s learning more about what messages specific audiences respond to, the personalisation of ads to increase relevance, or testing cross-channel activations to minimise disjointed messaging and strategy, aligning your media team, ad ops, creative and brand teams with a thoughtful, long-term campaign plan is the best way to get the most out of dynamic creative activation. Through DCO, marketers are able to tap into the entire marketing funnel. For example, you can improve relevance at the top of the funnel by aligning ads to triggers like weather, time of day or location. Similarly, messages can be delivered sequentially to tell an impactful story across channels to support mid-funnel engagement. Communication can also be tailored based on what products customers have left in their carts to drive conversion at the lower funnel. These are just a few use cases, but most optimal insights are generated from running many DCO campaigns and tests that measure audience, asset and media performance.

So why is everyone talking about it?

In short, the technology allows for an immediate impact and boost to the overall performance of your ad and campaigns. It allows brands a fast delivery and the ability to curate a personalised experience for consumers. With the right strategy and technology, such as that of Ad-Lib.io, marketers can benefit tremendously from serving real-time ads to their target audience while boosting sales and performance. DCO allows brands to learn through creative insights, make a change mid-flight and deliver the best campaign performance. Technology platforms like Ad-Lib.io allow brands to update assets mid-flight, which has improved our customers’ media metrics by an average of 55 per cent. For Shell in particular, Ad-Lib.io’s data-driven optimisation of creative decreased CPM by 88 per cent and improved view through rates by five times, all while automating two-thirds of the trafficking process resulting in significant cost savings as well. Ad-Lib.io makes it easy to produce, update, and align ad content to media plans without duplicate ad servers each with separate trafficking and reporting. Working with a creative management platform (CMP) to launch a DCO campaign allows you to experiment with creatives

“In short, the technology allows for an immediate impact and boost to the overall performance of your ad and campaigns.” By Janira Hernandez, Head of Client Services MEA Ad-Lib.io

and gain the most insights. For example, Nestlé created localised shopper experiences using Ad-Lib.io to rotate 24 creative variations in six sizes across 371 store locations with minimal effort. The team at Ad-Lib.io is available to support organisations to enhance their digital performance, whether the preference is to be a self-service user, leveraging our team of experts with a fully managed approach, or a hybrid of the two. To find out more about Ad-Lib reach out to janira@ad-lib.io, or visit the website at ad-lib.io for more details.


May 30, 2021

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May 30, 2021

A VIEW FROM

Paul Shearer LOW-HANGING CREATIVITY

TECH TIPS

Paul Shearer is CCO of Impact BBDO

I

n my humble opinion, radio has always been the poor relation when it comes to the media options for creatives. It is almost an afterthought in the whole marketing process. This is something I’ve always scratched my head over. Especially when it is low-hanging fruit when it comes to winning awards. It’s obvious. Less people doing great radio means more chances of winning. I’ve always had the firm belief that radio offers opportunities to produce great work and win awards with it. This is especially true in a region that spends so much of their time in the car and where people have a love of music. I have been lucky enough to have been part of two such pieces of work that have won Grands Prix in previous Lynx awards We won with Back Off Radio, and most recently with the An-Nahar Anthem. For me the focus should always be on innovation. Radio should not just be seen as something you listen to while driving to work. The Highway Gallery from TBWA is a perfect example of such thinking. It’s one of my favorite radio executions I’ve ever seen. The use of innovation and tech is so beautifully executed in the radio category. Radio should never be seen as limiting. There is so much you can do with it if you simply treat it as an important part of your marketing mix. And brands, too, need to put radio on a higher media placing. Look at the effect of TikTok and how it uses a music platform in such an effective way. The regional music streaming service Anghami is another platform that is using radio in an effective way, and I would like to see more radio stations working in the same way as both TikTok and Anghami. I think they would open up some incredible opportunities. Radio can be the most amazing media. It is entertaining, flexible and an open book. But it does depend on moving the dial on how radio is placed in the marketing mix. So I would recommend any creative or client to take another look at radio. It could be the Grand Prix of media.

Radio can be the most amazing media. It is entertaining, flexible and an open book. But it does depend on moving the dial on how radio is placed in the marketing mix.

Motivate Media Group Head Office: 34th Floor, Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Email: motivate@motivate.ae Dubai Media City: SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +971 4 390 3550, Fax: +971 4 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: Motivate Advertising, Marketing & Publishing, PO Box 43072, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Tel: +971 2 677 2005, Fax: +971 2 677 0124, Email: motivate-adh@motivate.ae London: Motivate Publishing Ltd, Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER. motivateuk@motivate.ae www.motivatemedia.com EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice Senior Editor Austyn Allison Junior Reporter Sofia Serrano DESIGN Art Director Clarkwin Cruz Junior Designer Thokchom Remy ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Tel: +971 4 427 3000 Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Publisher Nadeem Ahmed Quraishi (+971 50 6453365) PRODUCTION General Manager S. Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran HAYMARKET MEDIA GROUP Chairman Kevin Costello Managing Director Jane Macken

The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. Campaign Middle East includes material reproduced from the UK Edition (and other editions) of Campaign, which is the copyright of Haymarket. Campaign is a trademark of Haymarket and is used under licence. The views and opinions expressed within this magazine are not necessarily those of Haymarket Magazines Limited or those of its contributors.

Twitter revamps verification process Twitter has announced that it will be rolling out its new verification application process and reviewing public applications for verification on Twitter. It is the latest milestone in Twitter’s plans to provide greater transparency, credibility and clarity to verification. The announcement follows the development and launch of a new policy shaped by public feedback in Arabic, English, Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese and Japanese. The policy is being rolled out across the platform, with the automatic removal of the verified badge from accounts that no longer meet the updated criteria for verification, such as those that are inactive or incomplete. The blue badge is one of the ways Twitter helps people distinguish the authenticity of accounts that are of high public interest. It gives people on Twitter more context about who they’re having conversations with so they can determine if the information they are seeing is trustworthy. The platform said its research has shown this leads to “healthier, more informed conversations”. With the application launch, Twitter is also introducing new guidelines for verified accounts. As always, all accounts, including verified accounts, must follow the Twitter rules. Verified accounts that repeatedly violate the Twitter rules are subject to have the blue badge removed.

To qualify for verification, people must fit the criteria of one of six categories: government; companies, brands and organisations; news organisations and journalists; entertainment; sports and gaming; activists, organisers and other influential individuals. In addition to the category-specific eligibility criteria outlined in the new verification policy, accounts must be complete, meaning they have a profile name, a profile image, a confirmed email address and a phone number. Accounts must also have been active within the last six months and have a record of adherence to the Twitter rules.


May 30, 2021

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Mixed reception

I

t’s another bumper issue this month, with our annual Radio Guide in this, the main section of the magazine, and a collossal supplement dedicated the industry in Saudi Arabia. Who said print is dead? Radio has had a tough couple of years. It was hit hard by the Covid-19 crisis, and unfairly so from what I’ve heard. While some media, such as cinema and outdoor, had less exposure as people stayed in their homes, people didn’t stop listening to radio. They simply started listening at different times. This means that brands who were smart could use slots away from traditional drive-time. But the buyers and stations I’ve spoken to said not enough advertisers did leverage this change in behaviour. Look through our listings of radio stations and you’ll find some names have vanished. Shock, whose stations included Dance FM and Heart, closed down. However, the good news is the many of its staff, ideas and concepts have resurfaced at Fun Asia Network, which has stations including Beat, Big and Talk. Radio may get knocked down, but it will always get up again. Another victim of Covid has been the Nielsen Radio Audience Measurement programme, which is no longer publishing data. It had been an attempt to provide accurate, audited listenership figures for all radio stations in the UAE, and was financially backed and aggressively promoted and defended by one of the region’s biggest broadcast groups (while being independedntly audited by PWC). However, it quietly slipped away last year, and the broadcaster behind it wasn’t able to provide even reported listenership figures or updated station information when we approached them. A lack of reliable data will hold radio back. But it will never keep it down altogether. If radio has had a tough time, Saudi Arabia is a source of massive optimism. Our guide to the kingdom’s media, marketing and advertising industry is not our first, but it’s certainly our largest. On my desk I have a copy of our 2013 Saudi Arabia Report, which ran to only 20 pages, including

covers. It wasn’t optimistic back then. “The market is being let down by low quality work, poor insight and a lack of professionalism,” was the summary of the lead article. There followed writing about how agencies have failed to tap into a “vibrant, youthful and digitally savvy” population; on how adspend is dominated by traditional media, without social getting a lookin; a lament about how Saudi women are left out of the workforce; and a Editor contribition from actor Faisal Al Saja that complained about advertisers austyn.allison@motivate.ae not using more Saudis to produce and @maustyn feature in their work. It’s fair to say things have changed since then. Saudi is absolutely booming. Its homegrown, Saudi-run agencies are producing exceptional work. Saudis are some of the most passionate consumers of social media on the planet, and advertisers are targeting them through apps and platforms. In 2013 women were fighting for the right to drive. Now they are jumping into their cars to go to work, to go to concerts, to shoot and star in ads made by and for people like them. In his editor’s introduction for Campaign’s 2013 supplement, my predecessor wrote: “While Saudi Arabia may be viewed as the most important market in the GCC, if not the Arab world, it remains the one we know least about.” This supplement is an attempt to find out more. And I’m looking forward to carrying on that journey of discovery. Because Saudi Arabia is only going to get even more important.

AUSTYN ALLISON

Removing barriers to purchase I

A VIEW FROM

DAVE TROTT

Dave Trott is the author of Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three

n 1944, the Allies were invading Europe. They had to identify the biggest problem. The Germans had the best tanks in the world, we couldn’t fight their tanks one-on-one. So the job was defined as finding a way to remove the problem of their tanks. The Allies didn’t attack the tanks, they used their air force to attack the supply of petrol. Pretty soon the powerful German tanks had no petrol, so they couldn’t move. Their crews abandoned them and they were just so much useless scrap metal. The correct problem was identified and addressed creatively. In any top-class football game, you can see the same thinking: identify which player on the opposing team represents the biggest threat, then find a way to remove that problem – Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar, De Bruyne, Kane. Once that problem is removed, the job becomes much simpler. Problem – Solution, that’s usually the best way to address anything. You don’t put a solution into action until you know what problem it’s solving. That’s pretty basic, so why don’t we do it in our job? We address everything as if the solution was obvious.

Read any brief, it doesn’t say: “Here’s the problem we need to address.” It says: “Here’s what the ads need to say.” It doesn’t identify a problem, so no-one is doing any new thinking about the problem, the default brief is just about selling. But the best ad campaigns I’ve seen haven’t been about selling. They’ve been about removing barriers to purchase. That sounds like typical adman semantics, right? Quite the opposite – selling is delivering a sales spiel before we’ve identified whether anyone needs or wants the product. Nowadays that approach is about “brand purpose”, we just deliver it, that’s selling. But how about doing the opposite? How about finding out why people aren’t currently buying what we sell, what’s stopping them, then addressing that. That isn’t selling, that’s removing the barriers to purchase. The best advertising I’ve seen worked this way. No-one was buying Volkswagen Beetles because they were small and ugly, so they identified the problem, creatively addressed it and now they’re the biggest car company in the world. Avis was perceived as just one of a dozen small rental companies, they

identified the problem, creatively addressed it and became the second biggest in the market. Levy’s rye bread had a problem selling to Jews in New York, they identified the problem, creatively addressed it and rye became America’s second biggest bread. MTV was just a start-up, the cable networks wouldn’t even carry it, they identified the problem, creatively addressed it and now they are in 24 countries. When it works best, one person (or department) correctly identifies the problem and another person (or department) creatively addresses it. That’s how a team works, they don’t do each other’s jobs. Thinking how to remove the barriers to purchase forces us to think in new ways. It forces us to think beyond the same old tired formulas. So the brief that’s handed to the creative department is a brief noone else has contemplated. That’s how VW removed Detroit, how Levy’s removed brown bread, how Nike removed sports shoes, how Apple removed IBM, how Avis removed the competition, how Guinness, Virgin, Sainsbury’s, Audi, etc. removed their barriers to purchase. That’s what a brief should be: that’s upstream thinking.


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May 30, 2021

MTV Lebanon… ‘A public health ad that doesn’t feel like a public health ad.’ (NG)

Aramex… ‘What is Aramex doing for workplace gender equality?’ (AS)

Etisalat… ‘ Clearly this Etisalat initiative benefits the autistic community, but it would be interesting to know if there is ongoing CSR work there.’ (AS)

Timberland… ‘I hope more brands jump onto the sustainability wagon.’ (NG)

Abla Fahita… ‘It’s not the first time puppet culture and Vogue have mixed.’ (AS)


May 30, 2021

33

Private View ANANDA SHAKESPEARE

NICOLAS GARCIA

CEO & founder, Shakespeare Communications

Senior copywriter Science & Sunshine Dubai

ETISALAT (1): While it’s great to see companies getting on board with awareness campaigns, it’s important it’s done in an authentic way. Customers can spot if a company is virtue signalling. But by championing one cause – or causes that align with a company’s brand values – it can be powerful. Clearly this Etisalat initiative benefits the autistic community, but it would be interesting to know if there is ongoing CSR work there, or if they employ any autistic staff.

As a fiercely competitive creative, I tend to judge ideas by how much I wish they had crossed my mind first. Here’s my take on some of the latest campaigns from the region.

MTV LEBANON (2): Is it the job of a private company to launch a vaccine campaign? Should we leave this to governments? I guess, in the case of Lebanon, private companies are stepping in as local government is already under strain in a country with a collapsed banking system and political turmoil. The MTV film itself is engaging through its use of humour. It’s very relatable. ARAMEX (3): Aramex has clearly invested heavily in creating an Arabic website using the feminine, referring to ‘she’ instead of ‘he’. I’d be interested to know what spurred them to do this? Was it customer feedback or simply the calendar date of International Women’s Day and a chance to create a campaign? I’d love to know how many women are using this. And what is Aramex doing for workplace gender equality? How many women sit on the board? Just one, out of nine. What policies does it have to help working mothers? TIMBERLAND (4): It makes sense for shoe and clothing brand Timberland to work with Do Epic Sh*t on its sustainability campaigns. It’s important today that brands go one step further and work with other companies that share their values. This thoughtful campaign was on message throughout production, with the company creating a ‘green set’ using recycled materials, and reducing paper waste, which proves this campaign wasn’t just green washing. However, while Timberland “has made a public commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, [it] is not taking adequate steps to ensure payment of a living wage for its workers,” according to sustainability rating website Good On You. ABLA FAHITA (5): This Netflix series sounds weirdly fun, achieving excellent results for earned coverage. It’s not the first time puppet culture and Vogue have mixed. In 2011, Miss Piggy played editor of Vogue Paris in a Muppets film. Media outlets need likes, shares and engagement to sell advertising and this worked on every level. The phrase ‘show, don’t tell’ would be wise to remember. Perhaps brands and agencies could be more creative with inspiration for content, looking beyond the next “International Day Of…” and more towards breaking boundaries – as seen with Abla.

ETISALAT – WIDER WEB (1): Useful? Check. Clever? You bet. Relevant to the brand? Absolutely. But I’d love to see what else they are doing to make sure it reaches a big chunk of the people with autism in the region. Having a brilliant idea is one thing. Making sure it’s seen by the right audience to truly make an impact is what separates brands that are committed to societal action from those who are only chasing shiny, lion-shaped trophies. MTV – #STOPTHEMYTHS (2): It’s refreshing to watch a public health ad that doesn’t feel like a public health ad. Insightful, funny and locally relevant, the campaign uses satire and humour to get an important message across and reframe the conversation around vaccines. I miss the days when advertising didn’t take itself so seriously. I miss the days when we were used to seeing more ads like this. ABLA FAHITA – DRAMA QUEEN (5): It’s fascinating to see how Netflix is transforming the entertainment industry. Not only with the content they create, but also in the way they advertise it. Gone are the days when a trailer was all you needed to launch a new movie or series. In are the fun, quirky campaigns where a fictional puppet character can become the new editor-in-chief of a famous magazine. ARAMEX – #ADDRESSHERCORRECTLY (3): I don’t fully understand the ins and outs of the Arabic language, so I might not be the best-qualified person to review this idea. But, adding a new language feature to make your website more inclusive to Arabic women sounds like a no-brainer. Like so many relevant yet simple ideas, it made me wonder: Why hasn’t anyone done it before? TIMBERLAND – #NATURENEEDSHEROES (4): I do hope more brands jump onto the sustainability wagon. I just wish they would find fresher ways to communicate their sustainable agenda than highlighting stories of real people doing their bit to protect the environment. The films are nicely shot, but they didn’t manage to accelerate my heartbeat – or make me jump out of my chair to buy a brand-new Timberland jacket.

Etisalat

Title: Etisalat Wider Web Agency: Impact BBDO Business unit director: Samer Khansa ECD: Ali Zein Creative director: Alex Rodrigues Senior creative: Martino Caliendo Digital art director: Faten Almukhtar Designer: Megan Fowles Senior copywriter: Jean Georges Prince

MTV Lebanon

Title: Stop The Myths Agency: TBWA/Raad Lebanon Production: Wonderful Productions

Aramex

Title: #AddressHerCorrectly Global marketing director: Mike Rich Global creative director: Shahir Sirry Corporate senior marketing manager: Samar Said Corporate marketing executive: Haya Talamas Digital transformation senior manager: Iyad Tabello Digital transformation lead: Mohsin Ahmed

Timberland

Title: #NatureNeedsHeroes Agency: Do Epic Sh*t

Abla Fahita

Title: Drama Queen Agency: Publicis Inc


34

May 30, 2021

The Spin The Spin takes issue with, well, anything that describes itself as ‘Gram-friendly’. Surely photographing things is secondary to the initial experience. (The Spin is also feeling old and grumpy.) The latest culprit is billed in a press release as, “New Gram-Friendly Dessert in Dubai: Parle-G Sandwich”, by Dubai restaurant Sthan. Actually, The Spin is starting to feel hungry now. But still grumpy. And we’d eat it, not post it. In other food news, The Spin was excited to receive a release entitled: “Parmigiano Reggiano collaborates with Razan El Moghrabi to create awareness of the unique elements of the cheese.” For those who are still confused, Parmigiano Reggiano is the Italian cheese; Razan El Moghrabi is a Lebanese actress and anchor. The release doesn’t attempt to explain the connection any further. Remember the almost poetic levels of purple prose that would accompany real-estate announcements in the good ol’ boom days?

Well, Omniyat is bringing superlatives back: “The Opus by Omniyat is a shining example of a luxury lifestyle retreat created to perfection. From a world-renowned architect to celebrity chefs and fine dining, a design hotel experience to now a limited collection of luxury residences that offer an ownership of history, this iconic property has become one of the most sought-

after destinations in the UAE. The Opus by Omniyat offers a work, live, stay, eat, play opportunity to all those entering its undulating curves.” That’s a lot to live up to. Lovin’ Dubai is perhaps the poster child of youth-speak in this town. Is Dubai a verb now? Did The Spin mention we’re old and grumpy?

Appointments CURTIS SCHMIDT has been assigned the new role of president and chief growth officer MENA at RAPP Worldwide. He has a CRM background that he has used for data insights and strategic business development that resulted in various client-side successes in North America, Europe, China and the Middle East. Omnicom Media Group MENA has appointed CHRIS SOLOMI as its new chief digital officer. In this new regional role, he will oversee OMG’s overall digital offering focusing on digital media, analytics and e-commerce. IPG Mediabrands and Kinesso have appointed AISHA SULEIMAN as the network’s first head of diversity, equity and

inclusion (DE&I), a newly created role, for the EMEA region. Suleiman will conduct the agency network’s efforts in DE&I strategy to hold the local leadership accountable to the network’s diversity commitment to foster more collaboration across the region. Sociate welcomes MALEK SHLONE as its new Arabic PR executive and social media maestro. Shlone’s passion, commendable work ethic, and enthusiastic approach to teamwork were promptly noticed, propelling him from a PR and marketing intern to a full-time role. SHAREit Group has announced MRWAN GHARZEDDINE as new

sales director for GCC operations. As a specialist in digital advertising and relationship management, Gharzeddine will assume responsibility for SHAREit Group’s regional sales projects. Performance Communications has appointed AMANDA FOX-PRYKE as its new Middle East deputy managing director, joining the leadership team for the agency’s regional operation. As part of Fusion 5’s growth plan, fueled by the digitisation of operations and the development of a next-generation operation model, a new recruitment structure has been initiated, starting with RAJI TARABAY as senior performance executive.


HEADLINE PARTNER

Saudi Arabia Report 2021


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Introduction T

his supplement is a celebration of Saudi Arabia’s talent, above all else. It is also an attempt to catalogue some of the agencies that are shaping the new Saudi Arabia. We have asked experts, many of them on-the-ground, and many of them Saudis, to share their insights into how the Saudi market is working today and will work grow and develop in the future. And we have tried to get as much information on who is doing all the work. This is a much more comprehensive look at the kingdom than we have attempted before, but it is also incomplete. Saudi Arabia is evolving so fast that facts and figures will be out of date within months. Attitudes will have changed too. And the economy is likely to have grown. Cities will bloom in the desert, and creativity and culture will blossom. In Saudi today, everything is changing. This is not, therefore, an attempt to explain once and for all Saudi Arabia’s media, marketing, advertising and communications market; it is an attempt to further spark conversation about it. Read what’s in here, and pass on copies to your friends and colleagues in the kingdom and abroad (our website, campaignme.com, will have a link to the Issuu digital edition – ideal for sharing). Then join the conversation.

3

We’ll be posting all this content online. So weigh in on social media. Tell us where you agree with our contributors, where you disagree, where they have nailed the issues and where they have missed a vital point. Look at the directory of Saudi agencies and see if you are in there. Are your details correct? Who have we missed? And are you sending us your work to show off how creative the Saudi scene is? This supplement is an attempt to find out more. And we will keep finding out more, not only in supplements but also in the main pages of the magazine. We even hope to run some events in the kingdom once the Covid-19 situation allows us. Because Saudi Arabia is only going to get even more important and Campaign Middle East is looking forward to celebrating that growth.

Austyn Allison Editor, Campaign Middle East

Contents 04 06 08 10 12 13 14 15 16 18 20

A BRIGHT FUTURE

22

THE ROAD AHEAD

26

QUALITATIVE OVER QUANTITATIVE

27

Sarah Messer, managing director, Nielsen Media MENAP Mohamed Al Ayed, president and CEO, TRACCS By the UTURN Group

ALL EYES ON SAUDI

28

LOCAL HEROES

29

THE HYBRID RETAILER AND THE HYBRID SHOPPER

30

DESTINATION: SAUDI

31

NEW BEHAVIOURS FOR A NEW ENVIRONMENT

32

HOW DO SAUDI YOUTH SEE THEIR FUTURE?

33

Tijo Jose, business intelligence manager, Reprise MENA Tariq Shalabi, partnerships manager at Vamp Henri Abi Nader, customer experience manager KSA, Chalhoub Group Liam Clarke, managing director Saudi Arabia, Apco Worldwide Abdullah Inayat, co-founder and director of W7Worldwide Sunil John, president – Middle East of BCW and founder of Asda’a BCW

DRIVING CHANGE

34

BLACK FRIDAY 202

35

Ahmed Al Sahhaf, CEO of MBC Media Solutions (MMS) Mahmoud Shammout, Research and Insights Lead, TikTok for Business

BLOCKBUSTER OPPORTUNITIES

36

TAP-SHIFT-SWIPE-CLICK

38

Avinash Udeshi, COO, Motivate Val Morgan Cinema Advertising Alok Gadkar, MD and ECD, The Classic Partnership Advertising

CHANGE AGENT

Wissam Najjar, COO of OMD MENA

42

RAYS OF LIGHT AMIDST THE STORM

Fahed Moubarak, Business Director - KSA, DMS

VARIED AND HIGHLY ENGAGING

Carol Matta, DMS, and Ali Al Hazmi, Sabq.org

AUDIT, AUDIT

Stewart Morrison, managing director, MENA, FirmDecisions

ADD TO CART

Abdulrahman Saud, CEO, Bassmat

CHANGES IN STORE

43 44 45 46

Khaled Ghorayeb, managing director, Liquid Saudi Arabia

PROSPERITY AND PROGRESS

Ziyad Alomair, Director of Sector at MBC Media Solutions (MMS)

THE FIRST CHOICE

Abdulla Alhammadi, regional business lead at Snap Inc

ADAPT OR DIE

Nezar Nagro, s president of Rotana Media Services (RMS)

47

THE EVOLVING ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA

Ailidh Smylie, strategy director, Socialize

FACING THE MUSIC

Roddy Campbell, executive director of strategy and business development, MDL Beast

A QUESTION OF CONTEXT

Walid Issa, head of research, MENA, at Twitter Nadeem Ibrahim, digital director, UM MENA

NUMBERS GAME

Osama Taher, projects director, Create Media, Riyadh

VISION AND COLLABORATION

Burt Reynolds, lead – data and tech consultancy, MediaCom

INNOVATE OR DETERIORATE

Jad Saab, general manager, Starcom KSA

YOU HAD ME AT HELLO. WHAT NEXT?

Dan Qayyum, head of global partnerships at The MediaVantage and The SportVantage

THE ROAD TO RENEWAL

Mark Lawandos, managing director KSA, FP7

48

SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

74

SAUDI WORK SHOWCASE

81

BY THE NUMBERS

Motivate Media Group Head Office: 34th Floor, Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Email: motivate@motivate.ae Dubai Media City: SD 2-94, 2nd Floor, Building 2, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +971 4 390 3550, Fax: +971 4 390 4845 Abu Dhabi: Motivate Advertising, Marketing & Publishing, PO Box 43072, Abu Dhabi, UAE. Tel: +971 2 677 2005, Fax: +971 2 677 0124, Email: motivate-adh@motivate.ae London: Motivate Publishing Ltd, Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER. motivateuk@motivate.ae www.motivatemedia.com EDITORIAL Editor-in-Chief Obaid Humaid Al Tayer Managing Partner and Group Editor Ian Fairservice Senior Editor Austyn Allison Junior Reporter Sofia Serrano DESIGN Art Director Clarkwin Cruz Junior Designer Thokchom Remy ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES Tel: +971 4 427 3000 Chief Commercial Officer Anthony Milne Publisher Nadeem Ahmed Quraishi (+971 50 6453365) PRODUCTION General Manager S. Sunil Kumar Assistant Production Manager Binu Purandaran HAYMARKET MEDIA GROUP Chairman Kevin Costello Managing Director Jane Macken The publishers regret that they cannot accept liability for error or omissions contained in this publication, however caused. The opinions and views contained in this publication are not necessarily those of the publishers. Readers are advised to seek specialist advice before acting on information contained in this publication which is provided for general use and may not be appropriate for the readers’ particular circumstances. The ownership of trademarks is acknowledged. No part of this publication or any part of the contents thereof may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form without the permission of the publishers in writing. An exemption is hereby granted for extracts used for the purpose of fair review. Campaign Middle East includes material reproduced from the UK Edition (and other editions) of Campaign, which is the copyright of Haymarket. Campaign is a trademark of Haymarket and is used under licence. The views and opinions expressed within this magazine are not necessarily those of Haymarket Magazines Limited or those of its contributors.

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May 30, 2021

A bright future Nielsen’s Sarah Messer examines what Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 means for the media industry

C

hanges are afoot in Saudi Arabia. This is not, of course, a surprise to anyone who has been in the region for a while. When King Salman ascended to the throne in 2015, and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (affectionately known as MBS) was appointed later, in 2017, a series of decrees and announcements quickly followed, bringing change within the kingdom that would start to transform the entire landscape with historic and monumental developments. The modernisation within the country is evident. As a resident of the UAE, I’ve been a regular visitor to Riyadh and Jeddah since 2012. Whilst pockets of conservative Saudi still exist, the excitement and anticipation from the people on the street has increasingly been there to hear for anyone who cares to ask. The Saudi taxi driver from the airport who is so happy when he considers what the changes mean for his children’s future; the Arab-expat small business owner who has spent her whole life in KSA, and who now

SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

sees new business opportunities opening up; the teenage boys and girls who can socialise at events together for the first time; and the women who have been elevated to the highest positions within government and corporations. Nielsen, as a leading market insights company, has been talking to nationals and residents of KSA, young and old, for many years on many topics, and the change in dialogue and tone is palpable. This is the new Saudi Arabia, and we’re proud of and engaged with what comes next. The pivot point was in 2016, with the announcement of the Saudi Vision 2030. Vision 2030 is a strategic framework developed with the aim of reducing the kingdom’s reliance on oil, driving economic diversity, and developing public service sectors. There are three pillars at the heart of the Vision: to make the country the heart of the Arab and Islamic world; to become a global investment powerhouse; and to leverage the geographic positioning of the country as a hub connecting Afro-Eurasia. More interestingly for those of us in the media business, one of the core objectives of Vision 2030 is to develop media industries and strengthen their competitiveness internationally. The investment from the Saudi government into the sector is earmarked at SAR 3.3bn ($880m), a significant sum. Additionally, many media companies will also benefit indirectly from an expansive government-led digitisation strategy, as well as investment in new high-tech infrastructure including high-speed broadband. SMEs and entrepreneurs wanting to invest in media start-ups are encouraged to apply for financial support, with special funds allocated specifically by the Ministry of Commerce and Investment. There are some fairly ambitious targets accompanying these goals, which have been defined for each of the years leading up to 2030 – tangible evidence of the Crown Prince’s commitment to the Vision roadmap. The goals for 2020 included an increase in the number of media and creative jobs from 10,000 to 16,000; GDP growth of media businesses from SAR 5.2bn to SAR 6.6bn ($1.8bn); and an increase in revenue contributions to the Saudi economy from 17 per cent to 42 per cent (according to the Oxford Business Group). I think we can

May 30, 2021

safely assume that the year that was 2020 meant these KPIs were not fully reached, but the size of these expected achievements tells us how seriously the growth of the media industry is being taken. Heard of Saudi Media City? You will. Saudi Media City is located in the Diplomatic Quarter of Riyadh and is a space run by GCAM (The General Commission for Audiovisual Media) built to provide a high-tech, centrally positioned area for growing the creative and production ecosystem by attracting local and foreign talent and investment into one place. This is not a real estate project; it is designed to provide a hub for media businesses to establish themselves and grow from. It will enable cross-pollination of ideas and creativity from media organisations that want to co-exist in the same space. So, when we look at Saudi today there is investment and opportunity opening up everywhere, directly and indirectly. The country has a young population (two-thirds of the Saudi population is under the age of 35)

‘‘More interestingly for those of us in the media business, one of the core objectives of Vision 2030 is to develop media industries and strengthen their competitiveness internationally.” who are excited about their future, and who are engaging both from a business and personal perspective. The media industry has been asked to organise itself to be a player on the international stage. Media owners and agencies are looking to innovate and reinvent themselves to stem revenue losses and return to growth. The last 14 months of the Covid-19 pandemic has been the catalyst for significant increases in digital video consumption and consumer behaviour online. Digital consumption is rapidly

becoming ubiquitous. In this swirling maelstrom of activity, there are positive and exciting opportunities emerging that will drive our industry forwards. What does all this mean for us on the ground today? What has changed and what will it mean for the media industry? The momentum for change is building, as can be seen by a number of recent international deals and local initiatives. Last year Netflix announced major new deals to buy Saudi content, including a five-year deal with Saudi animation studio Myrkott and a series of short films made by Telfaz11 Studios. StarzPlay saw a rapid growth in subscribers in the last 12 months, of course in-part fuelled by the pandemic, but also driven by its focus on Arabic content. Discovery has announced a multi-year strategic partnership with Saudi Telecom’s Intigral Media unit for its OTT service Jawwy TV, involving some 4,000 hours of premium on-demand content. MBC has been investing in its production capacity in KSA to increase its local content creation and encourage Saudi talent. Local radio has been a hot topic in corners of the industry, as broadcasters consider the largely untapped audio market and ears to be won. Pre-lockdown, cinemas were opening up across the country and were largely packed out with viewers eager to see the latest local and international films, a trend that we expect only to grow as services on the ground open up again. Globally, the growth of digital platforms has resulted in the fragmentation of advertising spends, and KSA has not been immune to that trend. In fact, KSA is one of the most important global markets in terms of users for the digital publishing giants. However, the growth of digital ad spend has in turn led to advertisers demanding accountability for the investment they are making, so even the “new” media (and it’s not really so new any more) are coming up against a fundamental truism of media trading: a thriving media industry demands an independent, high-quality, industry-adopted audience measurement currency on which agencies can plan advertising campaigns and convey the effectiveness of those campaigns to their advertiser clients. This need has been recognised as key to supporting Vision 2030’s media ambitions. One thing is for sure. Now is not the time to be caught snoozing. Across industries, leaders and entrepreneurs are looking towards KSA with optimism and interest to understand where their opportunity might be. The media industry is on an upwards change trajectory. Now is the time to be curious, skill up your teams to innovate, and both drive and adopt change. The future of the media landscape in KSA looks bright.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

The road ahead

Vision 2030 is seeing communications calibrated, interests aligned, and future courses charted, writes TRACCS’ Mohamed Al Ayed

I

n his landmark interview on April 25, 2021, celebrating the five-year milestone of the launch of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, confidently stated: “The kingdom is on track to meet the ambitious targets set for the next nine years.” An inspirational leader, the Crown Prince also asserted that, “we will work to achieve opportunities and develop our human resources”. These words capture the essence of where Saudi Arabia is heading and that its human resources are as vital and valuable as its natural resources. All roads lead to Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, the kingdom’s strategic framework and roadmap built around three key pillars: an ambitious nation with effective governance and social responsibility; a thriving economy with high employment and a robust non-oil private sector; and a vibrant society with a strong Islamic national identity and a fulfilling and healthy life for all. This blueprint has been designed to reduce Saudi Arabia’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy and develop public service sectors such as health, education, infrastructure and recreation. This is also anchored by a sheer drive to attract foreign direct investment and galvanise local investments, thanks to the Public Investment Fund’s 2021-2025 strategy, which stipulates the injection of SAR 150bn annually, for five years, into the Saudi economy, targeting 13 sectors. This roadmap has advanced Saudi Arabia’s transformation by leaps and bounds, igniting all sorts of human ambition and fuelling change with the empowerment of Saudi Arabia’s fairly young population, which represents the true assets and power of the nation. But beyond the socio-economic reforms and developments across all business sectors, including the complete overhaul of various government systems, and the injection of billions into the Saudi economy, the communications industry has received its fair share of opportunity, development and growth potential. It is no secret that the communications industry is booming, but beyond the hundreds of contracts to establish new communications infrastructures, and upgrade or manage existing communications setups and support the communications requirements of the kingdom’s giga projects, the real success and impact is that there is a

‘‘Communications agencies will need to practice what they preach when they manage the image and reputation of these respective clients.”

real and viable industry that is built on the foundation of Saudi talent. Having said that, our industry is transforming rapidly and in fact is catching up to the new socio-economic direction that is shaping Saudi Arabia’s tomorrow. There are five key drivers that represent the new communications imperative: public sector buy-in and investment; increasing budgets in the next 3-5 years; moving from trusted advisor to a trusted advisor solution; transforming the digital sphere; and embracing communications. With all of the five key drivers working together to create a more robust industry, more efforts need to be exerted to not only build job and career opportunities but work from the core to create trusted and viable feeder streams to help drive this momentous growth and further calibrate both the supply and demand chains. The existing youth bulge creates a fantastic opportunity, making communications both an option and opportunity. For communications service providers, whether in-house or external, this provides an immense opportunity to recruit and help create a sustainable industry, which at the present stage is not as influential as it should be. The opportunity is how the job providers will market and package the opportunity to these young prospects. Essentially, communications agencies will need to practice what they preach when they manage the image and reputation of these respective clients – and will have to go beyond that. They will have to create the right image with the right message for the right audience. The industry is set to witness more change in the next three years, during which communications will drive many issues on the public and private national agendas and communications experts will become a commodity rather than a valuable asset. We need to create experts, not practitioners only. Therefore, it is paramount that we anticipate key trends that will drive communications, and how these trends will dictate and define how this industry will grow and prosper, not for today but for tomorrow. So, what is tomorrow? Is it a vision or a roadmap, a direction, or a destination? The communications ecosystem is finally being created with clear calibration of the offering based on real expectations, with interests of both service providers and recipients aligned, setting the charted course for the future.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Qualitative

over quantitative UTURN says to really understand Saudi consumers, brands must look beyond data and pay more attention to the people behind the numbers

S

audi Arabia is transforming as a country. It is transforming as a market. Consequently, its consumers are transforming into one of the most connected and empowered groups in the world. Yet, we still see brands being detached from the market and taking its consumers for granted. Today, such bad practices have been growing the cynicism towards brands, and if we are to look into historical data from other markets, like the UK and France, where brands have also been conducting similar malpractices for years, we can predict that in the near future brands may find themselves

challenged to operate in a market full of consumers who are cynical towards them. At one point in time, Saudis faced a similar malpractice with the generic content that was being promoted to them. Yet, with time, technology and connectivity, we saw the rise of empowered content creators, such as UTURN, Telfaz-11 and others, who have given the people of Saudi content made by people like them. Content that is relevant, relatable, meaningful, entertaining, useful, purposeful and engaging. Beyond content (of which Saudis are now the most advanced creators and consumers),


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

Saudis have also evolved into the most sophisticated online video gamers, the most influential online trendsetters, the most innovative online entrepreneurs and, generally speaking, they have become the savviest digital technology users. Despite all this, the most globally established brands and their agencies have not been keeping up with their audience. Their teams are detached from the market, their content is not even at par with the content being created by amateurs, and their knowledge of the people, of Saudis, is at best shallow, if not misleading. Today, brands are faced with one of two options: either they can partner with players who genuinely understand their Saudi consumer and are capable of creating relatable content, or brands can keep approaching the Saudi market with superficial caution only to suffer extreme cynicism and scepticism from the Saudi consumer. So long as brands look at the Saudi consumer through uninspired graphical charts that are based on big data coming from these consumers’ media consumption, so long shall the knowledge of these brands about the Saudi consumer be as shallow and uninspired as their charts. Data today is available in a number of seductively enticing forms constructed by detached ‘data-scientists’, and marketers are lured into a false sense of security, thinking they know exactly where to go and how to get there. What seems to be missing in all this, however, is the human element that is being overlooked in the focused pursuit of neat answers from extensive data analytics. Yes, the people of Saudi are communicating and are extending their reach globally through the amazing tools of technology, but they cannot be defined by technology. To get closer to the lives of real Saudis and understand the context they inhabit means dedicating time to thinking and analysis. Answers do not live in databases; they live fuelled by contextual knowledge and confident intuition. This requires more than ‘data scientists’ sitting in some remote area; this requires ‘insightminers’ living and breathing everything on the people of Saudi. If insights are to be generated by insightminers, content is to be created by inspired local talent. Brands need to have local creative talent on board, who are well-informed, inspired and eager to make an impact on the behaviour of people. Saudis, just like any other population, deserve to get branded content that is relatable, purposeful, meaningful and relevant. However, if brands keep approaching them as these different and peculiar audiences with the prefix ‘Saudi’ before any deeper thought into the actual human is given, they will simply find themselves falling into the aforementioned cynicism trap. For instance, today we know that the most strategic segment every brand has been somehow attempting to target is the Saudi woman. She represents almost 50 per cent of

May 30, 2021

the population and drives 70-80 per cent of all purchase decisions. For starters, brands need to understand her as a woman, before giving her the label ‘Saudi’, with all the preconceived notions that come with this label, or the label ‘consumer’, as if she lives her life with the mindset of a consumer, and not that of a human. In their attempt to understand her as a ‘Saudi consumer’, brands have lots of data on her media consumption from third-party sources. Such data will tell brands about her digital behaviour strictly based on the platforms she has been on, the pages she has been following, the key words she’s been searching for, etc. Such basic knowledge may give brands the illusion that they know everything about her, but there is so much more to her than the pages she has been on. With the right effort in the right place, we get to meet the same woman up close and personal throughout the different stages and aspects of her life. As she interacts with us, we get to meet the aspiring young professional who is balancing her eventful social life with her busy schedule on a platform like Yasmina.

‘‘Saudis deserve to get branded content that is relatable, purposeful, meaningful and relevant.” At the same time, she is reaching out on platforms such as 3a2ilati as she is striving to be the best modern-day mother to her young kids. And when her kids grow older, she seeks to know more about them on Saudi Gamer. Finally, when she decides to master her craft in the kitchen, we get to meet the practical, uncompromising chef on platforms such as Atyab Tabkha. Now let’s go deeper into what such data could possibly tell us about Saudi women. Every brand has looked at the same data points to conclude that Saudi women are much moreindependent and empowered; therefore, a message coming from a brand should aim to celebrate her individuality and empower her aspirations. From there, the specific relevancy and meaning of the message is left up to some poor writer and his or her luck in getting some nuances

accurately. Globally, we know that 80 per cent of millennial women claim that they are never able to see themselves in such content. However, much deeper human insights can be found about Saudi women. For instance, on the notion that she is seeking her own independence, we know that this starts with ‘self-love’, evident by the fact that on Yasmina more than 66 per cent of Arab women told us they are seeking to learn to love their individual selves. This has triggered us to create more content teaching the Arab woman how to love herself and increase her self-worth, and inspiring her to realise her own self potential. And this is done through the lens of images of real women, not the picture-perfect unrealistic model. Also, seeking her individuality means she is seeking her own individual solutions to her own individual challenges; hence, home-made skin remedies are one of the most popular topics online, given the fact that skin solutions made for the collective will not cater for her own individually peculiar skin challenges. Then, on the notion of having a busier schedule, we see the effect of this on the type of tips she is seeking for either home-cooked food recipes, parenting or beauty tips. We now understand that busy does not only mean less time for beautification, but busy also means going out more often, and engaging in new activities such as going to the office every day (20 per cent more often in the last year), going to the gym (7 per cent more often), driving a car (79 per cent), going for a run (13 per cent), or even using public transportation (28 per cent). Such relatively new activities require more subtle beautification than the obvious beautification when preparing for a major outing. For example: she always knew how to look her best if going to a wedding, but today, she is wondering how to subtly look her best every day when going to the office, the gym or the grocery store. Hence, when we asked Saudi women about the hacks they are mostly interested in (and such hacks could have been around their careers, families, romance etc.), we saw that 59 per cent were interested in beauty hacks and 41 per cent in fashion hacks. Anything to inspire them to navigate their new world. In conclusion, women as a segment among Saudi consumers offer just one example of how big amounts of data can lead to a shallow illustration of an audience, giving brands the illusion of knowledge, while if we dig deeper into the same trends and behaviours we can understand the genuine human motivations behind such a behaviour. This is the only way brands can create more relevance and meaning. Consequently, it is the only salvation for brands not to fall into the trap of their consumers becoming cynical towards them and their activities.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

A

s our region whirrs back to life after a year of dealing with Covid-19, thanks to the fast and efficient roll out of vaccines, our industry is busy assessing the direction media is headed – and which markets have the most potential in 2021. So, let’s talk about Saudi Arabia – because everyone else is. The country began this year fighting both an economic slowdown in the non-oil sector triggered by the pandemic, and a collapse in oil prices that hurt state revenues. But the worst seems to be over for this crucial market and there are genuine signs of a faster-than-expected recovery. In its World Economic Outlook report issued in October last year, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said it expected GDP growth in KSA

falling and consumer price index inflation easing and projected at 2.8 per cent this year (vs. 3.4 per cent in 2020) it looks like things are on the up in Saudi. So it is easy to see why business eyes are turning in the direction of the country, looking for new opportunities. The big Saudi firms are doing their bit to accelerate recovery – notably, more shares of the country’s flagship oil company Aramco may be sold to finance projects aimed at diversifying its hydrocarbon-reliant economy. In March, Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced an initiative to incentivise local companies to cut dividends and instead pump cash into the Saudi economy. Aramco is expected to contribute the bulk of those private sector investments, which Prince Mohammed has said will top $1 trillion by 2030.

volumes declined by 20 per cent and digital grew by 7 per cent. Mediabrands’ forecasts for 2021 estimate overall linear ad volumes to recover gradually by 5 per cent. Digital, on the other hand, continues to grow and is estimated to increase by a significant 20 per cent. While digital continues to grow, linear media with regards to TV viewership remains at par since its spikes in the first few weeks of the lockdown restrictions. With advertisers wanting to connect to their audiences, as productions were halted in 2020, we will see lots of new and exclusive TV content as stations have overcome those challenges. On other linear platforms, spending is expected to recover with all media platforms becoming accessible, giving an opportunity for brands to reallocate their budgets across

All eyes on Saudi

Reprise’s Tijo Jose looks at the economics of the kingdom, how it will grow, where that growth will come from, and what that means for media

this year to be -5.4 per cent, an improvement on the -6.8 per cent forecast made in July. In April this year, that outlook has improved to -4.1 per cent. In short, non-oil sectors were gradually recovering as Covid-related restrictions eased in Q3 and Q4 of 2020, accelerating growth into 2021. KSA’s economic recovery is still ongoing, of course, but with the unemployment rate

To help finance those contributions, Aramco is reviewing its upstream business, according to executives familiar with the company’s plans. Such a move could open up some of its oil and gas assets to external investors. Also, reforms under the kingdom’s ambitious Vision 2030 plan have played a key role in helping the economy navigate the pandemic. The rapid increase in the labour market participation of Saudi women and reforms for expatriate workers in the private sector are especially important. Hugely ambitious Vision 2030 developments will also boost Saudi’s fortunes, such as the mega development Neom, which aims to lure in international investors as a strategic global hub connecting the region with the greatest endeavours of the world. Tourism is an area being prioritised, with mega developments like the Red Sea Project on the kingdom’s west coast – which will eventually cover an area about 10,000 square miles – still forging ahead. Others to watch out for include Qiddiya, an entertainment megaproject to be established in Riyadh. So, what does all this mean for our industry? From an advertising perspective, ad spend cycles typically mimic and amplify economic cycles; however, digital advertising was mostly immune to the macro-economic cycle in 2020. Linear advertising, fuelled by national consumer brands, was still cyclical but structurally underperforming GDP growth. In 2020, according to Mediabrands’ media investment and intelligence arm, linear ad

‘‘With advertisers wanting to connect to their audiences, as productions were halted in 2020, we will see lots of new and exclusive TV content.” multiple touchpoints, such as outdoor and radio. Shifting budgets online was a quick fix for some brands to maintain salience levels. However, it is important to have a healthy media mix for long-lasting proportional gains as the balance between short-term gains and long-term objectives is key to designing a successful marketing strategy. With KSA being amongst the top investment destinations in MENA, it is imperative for marketers to have a considerable share of ad budget towards both online and offline media executing in tandem. The media world has shifted, and we aim to ensure our clients shift with it in the most beneficial way.


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May 30, 2021

Local heroes

Tariq Shalabi, of influencer marketing platform Vamp, examines how brands can tap into the emerging content creator scene in Saudi Arabia

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ngaging customers on social media was already a priority for Saudi brands; then the pandemic hit. In the space of a year, the region’s social users increased by 2.1 million. Now, with 27.8 million social media users in Saudi Arabia, this widespread adoption has accelerated the urgency, importance and opportunity for social marketing campaigns. Influencer marketing has proved an effective tool for brands to engage and convert social users. A survey of 5,000 marketers by Influencer Marketing Hub found that 90 per cent of marketers believe that influencer campaigns are successful. The same survey has found that, with the total spend on influencer marketing doubling every two years, the global market is expected to reach $13.8bn in 2021. As influencer marketing takes off in Saudi Arabia, we’re noticing many similarities between the emergence of influencer marketing here and in other regions, but there are some key differences. Understanding them – and using them to your advantage – will give your campaigns the competitive edge.

Diverse creator community

Like everywhere, there are nano-, microand macro-influencers in Saudi Arabia – and brands will partner with different types of influencers depending on their objectives. For mass reach, macro creators can spread a message far and wide. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for engagement, the smaller the influencer, the higher their engagement rate tends to be. This gives brands a good choice, especially since KSA influencers can be found across all the major platforms. While Snapchat is still one of the largest channels in the kingdom, TikTok has

‘‘In March 2020, Saudi Arabia ranked eighth in terms of worldwide TikTok users, with 9.7 million Saudis on the platform.”

taken off rapidly. In March 2020, Saudi Arabia ranked eighth in terms of worldwide users, with 9.7 million Saudis on the platform. That’s higher than the UAE. While this choice will help you tailor your campaign, it can be daunting, not to mention time-consuming, for brands to seek and vet their collaborators. Vamp’s platform has been designed to match brands with relevant influencers from our pre-approved community. But if you choose to go it alone, be sure to select influencers who will appeal to your customers, and who have strong metrics and a genuine following.

Direct line to Gen Z

There’s also a wide range of interests and niches covered by influencers in Saudi Arabia. While fashion and beauty remain the top categories (this is true across the GCC) there is another prominent group emerging: gaming influencers. These creators have a big Gen Z audience, who will watch their streams for hours. In fact, Saudi Arabia has the highest YouTube watch time per capita globally. With this strong following comes strong demand from brands – and not just those in the gaming space. Home entertainment, fashion and retail brands are also seeking to work with these content creators, based on their close relationships with young

audiences and ability to provoke a positive sentiment.

Authentic content

While the content themes mirror the global influencer economy, the way Saudi influencers create their content can differ. Some – particularly micro and nano – prefer not to show their face on their feed, instead specialising in product imagery and flatlays. Others, still getting to grips with brand partnerships, provide the more unfiltered and realistic content favoured by platforms like TikTok, rather than uber-polished Instagram posts. Audiences consume this content differently, too. While influencer engagement rates are slightly lower than average in Saudi Arabia, rates for impressions and reach are actually higher than the average (compared with other markets like the UAE). So it seems that while audiences may not be interacting with the content as much through comments and likes, they are still absorbing it and can be driven to action as a result.

A high percentage of local followers Globally, brands are increasingly looking for high percentages of local followers. They want to be sure that not only is the influencer a good brand fit, but their audience is too. Saudi influencers tend to have a much higher percentage of local followers than the global average. This is great news for brands looking to advertise to Saudi customers, in Saudi. Generally we have found that UAE influencers will have an average of 20-30 per cent local following, but in Saudi it can be upwards of 50-60 per cent.  However, Saudi influencers can often expect this local focus from their brand partners and will want to communicate with brands in their local language. This can prove a challenge for brands without an Arabic speaker in-house. They may also expect to be paid upfront, which, if you are negotiating alone and outside a platform, is an important thing to note. At Vamp, we’re incredibly excited to expand our influencer marketing platform into Saudi Arabia. With the market maturing and creators’ content improving all the time, the future of influencer marketing certainly looks bright. For brands, getting to know these key differences will put you on the front foot in this evolving space.


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n our daily lives we try to find a balance between the old and the new; aspects of our routines that are constant and those that are changing. During the pandemic we have been given time to consider more closely what it is we want from our lives because part of it has been taken away. The global pandemic has undoubtedly changed our society, our behaviours and our experiences and has significantly affected the way consumers browse and shop. The ‘new normal’ will be marked by deep and fundamental changes for businesses, markets and societies. The retail industry is shifting attention to focus on immersive shopping and customer experience. The market landscape is changing across the region and especially in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where consumers are demanding hybrid experiences more and more. We, as a leading partner for luxury across the Middle East, have a mission to respond to this changing market and consumer dynamic. We use data analysis to try to understand what consumers want and have the ability to offer them the right product or right services through the means of memorable experiences both online and offline. We know that most of our customers trust us to create something special, to instinctively know that desirable item, that exclusive piece, that unusual brand. It is because, for over 60 years, we have had long-term experience in the region – a legacy built on a perpetual cycle of research into our customers’ needs. Now we know our customers are changing, we must ask ourselves how we keep delivering the same luxuries that they have come to expect from us. At Chalhoub Group, we are experiencing a cultural shift in the workplace that has helped secure us a Great Place to Work award. Our highly skilled workforce of nearly 3,000 employees in KSA is sourced locally for a reason: we aim to better understand the behaviours of our customers by working alongside local people, and by putting our trust in them to fulfil their potential with the Group. Achieving the pitch-perfect working culture, by implementing progressive initiatives where our people are connected and inspired, in a diverse and inclusive environment, was our aim. The GPTW award recognises that accomplishment and further signifies our commitment towards Saudisation and supporting Saudi Arabia on its path towards achieving Vision 2030. To that end, the Group is creating an environment that young talented Saudis want to be part of because they know it is a place to grow,

May 30, 2021

The hybrid retailer and the hybrid shopper Chalhoub Group’s Henri Abi Nader explains how the brand is maintaining its legacy while constantly innovating

develop and, eventually, lead. Long before Covid-19 struck, we recognised that our customer base was evolving; it would possess a confident individuality and self-assurance that is open to discovery and adventure. It is true that retailers must now provide an experience to customers in-store, to offer an element of the unknown that provokes an emotional response. Digitally aware customers with inquisitive minds share these experiences on

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social media; but it must be new, it must be different, and it must have substance. Long-term connections are built on mutual trust and understanding so it is down to us to learn how to develop these relationships to create an experience worth sharing. The Group’s digital transformation did not have a defined start and end point where projects were finalised and signed off. Ours is a continuous cycle of evolution, driven by our customers and taken up and moved on by our teams, where we have emerged as a hybrid retailer: agile, future-proof and innovative. Investment in technology, data and supply chain will generate opportunities for us to deliver a customer experience that is consistent with our history but with its eyes firmly on the future. Over time, we aim to build a community around our physical channel. Our stores will move organically into experience-driven community hubs, hosting events, masterclasses and educational workshops. It will enable our customers to fully immerse themselves in the experience, provide interaction that has been absent in many of our lives, and help us grow as people. According to Statista, 62 per cent of the population shopped online in 2020. E-commerce is here to stay and as a retailer we welcome it, yet to utilise its full potential we must be consistent in our message that we are here to engage and support our customers, whichever channel they choose to use, and on their own terms. Whether you are an adventurer or risk averse, have a preference of the old or of the new, at Chalhoub Group our doors are open, on- or offline. We are ready for the next generation of hybrid shopper because we are the hybrid retailer, and we will continue to bring luxury experiences to the fingertips of customers everywhere.

‘‘Our stores will move organically into experience-driven community hubs.”


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May 30, 2021

Destination: Saudi Apco’s Liam Clarke examines how past myths around tourism in the kingdom are becoming contemporary reality

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s recently as five years ago there would have been many raised eyebrows if you were to say that international tourism would become a powerful and integral part of Saudi Arabia’s growing and ambitious diversified economic strategy. We are fortunate to have been an agency intimately involved in the kingdom’s rapidly emerging tourism industry over the past four years. Those tentative green shoots of a few years ago are rapidly flowering into the world’s newest and undiscovered global tourism destination. Since Saudi began opening up to broader tourism in 2019, more than 400,000 of the new tourist visas have been issued to travellers wishing to savour an enticing taste both of what this extraordinary nation has to offer and what is to come. While the pandemic has stopped global travel in its tracks, it has not

stopped Saudi Arabia’s major ambitious tourism projects from continuing their development phase – putting the infrastructure and systems in place to welcome millions of international tourists in the future. At the national level, as part of Vision 2030, the government has set a goal of 100 million tourist visits – domestic and international – in the next decade, vastly more than any other comparable destination in the wider Middle East region. The government is placing major investments behind its ambitious tourism program. Saudi Arabia’s minister of tourism, Ahmed Al-Khateeb, said the kingdom is aiming to attract new tourism investments worth SAR 220bn ($58bn) by 2023, and more than SAR 500bn by the end of the decade. Outsiders will ask just what is going to make the world’s travellers take a glimpse into a destination that for many years has been – with the exception of religious tourists – impossible to visit for ordinary travellers. A major asset for Saudi Arabia is the country’s sheer size and diversity. Some destinations around the world can offer just a single, albeit extraordinary, visitor experience. Whether that is a focus on heritage and history; unspoiled sun-kissed beaches and azure waters; the relaxation of a cruise liner; spa and wellness experiences; the tranquillity of the mountains or adrenaline-fueled theme park adventure. In the kingdom there are already destinations in place or under development that offer every one of this enormous diversity of visitor attraction and much more. History and culture buffs can experience civilisations more than 2000

‘‘International visitors will be a vital part of the tourism mix – but building a vibrant domestic visitor market is just as important.”

years old; explorers can hike through green forests, traditional forests and be at one with nature; ride on what will be the world’s fastest rollercoaster; scuba dive or snorkel among untouched coral reefs or relax on a luxury liner in the world’s newest cruising destination. And it means for communications professionals a rich and compelling diversity of stories to tell about this surprising and unexplored nation of contrasts and opportunity. These are also stories that are built on hard facts and figures. The coming winter season, for example, is set to see Saudi Arabia welcome an estimated 170,000 international guests enjoying its new and emerging cruise line sector. Construction is under way to build tens of thousands of new hotel rooms nationwide that will deliver wide-ranging experiences, and the kingdom’s hotel pipeline is set to increase by more than 65 per cent in the coming three years. These range from boutique hotels created in heritage areas by global brands that are new to the nation to innovative properties literally carved into a desert mountainside. International visitors will be a vital part of the tourism mix – but building a powerful and vibrant domestic visitor market is just as important. Young Saudis and families will no longer need to travel to other destinations for diverse and rewarding vacations. Now they can explore their own country, discover new experiences and enjoy world-class visitor attractions on their doorstep or just a short drive or flight away. This expansion will open up new career opportunities for thousands of young Saudis given the opportunity to train as chefs; as guides and hosts; manage tour operators; run hotels. They will take their place with pride and professionalism to welcome the world to a vibrant and developing Saudi Arabia. As the world’s newest undiscovered destination – to international visitors at least – it is abundantly clear that Saudi Arabia offers extraordinary scope and opportunity to the global hospitality sector and an opportunity to create new and unique developments that have “wowfactor” hard-wired into their essence. My advice for those of you who have yet to visit is: don’t hesitate. Every international journalist, colleague and friend we have hosted in the past three years has been amazed at what they have seen and experienced – in a place where truly seeing is believing.


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hile public relations was traditionally a one-way tool for governments and organisations in the kingdom to announce their news, now corporate communications is gaining ground and importance among organisations and companies looking to engage with today’s digitally empowered stakeholders at all levels. The Covid-19 pandemic played a significant role in pushing companies in Saudi Arabia towards accepting corporate communications and strategic PR as a key function to meet the ongoing challenges of the crisis. To understand Saudi Arabia’s public relations practice, it is important to know how cultural factors influence the country’s unique audience preferences, habits and influences. Communications strategies and PR campaigns need to consider the strong interrelationship between knowledge, culture and public communication. In addition, the new environment we live in requires new behaviour, a new way of life and authentic interactions between people and organisations. Companies have had to consider how to maintain a solid reputation in a fastmoving situation, from external to internal communications, Covid-19 crisis management and CSR initiatives. Business leaders have been expected to engage frequently with their internal and external audiences and the communications function has taken on a whole new strategic importance with the C-suite to protect corporate reputations. Everyone needed to review and adapt their communications and be much more sensitive to public and employee sentiment. Employee engagement really came into its own last year and I expect this change is here to stay as companies are continuing to manage remote workforces, ongoing health and safety messaging, return-to-work policies and business recovery efforts. More than ever, Saudi organisations rely on the energy, commitment and engagement of their employees to survive.

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In the drive for economic diversification and development under its Vision 2030 programme, Saudi Arabia had already undergone a rapid technology transformation to achieve the digital readiness required to respond to the pandemic. Online conversations and media consumption across all generations are at an all-time high in the kingdom, so brands have had to adapt to this new behaviour. We seized the opportunity of the growth of digital PR to achieve media coverage and engagement for our clients with quality content, creativity, relevance, and humanity as critical campaign elements. Covid-19 has changed everything around corporate social responsibility (CSR). People are looking at the companies they do business with, and will support organisations that share values and beliefs similar to theirs. CSR is the strong arm that will help overcome the short- and long-term impact of Covid-19. Often considered as a ‘nice-to-have’ in the past, CSR is now a core element of the corporate communications strategies we formulate for our Saudi clients. There is a greater need for localisation of communications that aligns with accurate and most up-to-date in-country public policy, economic circumstances and messaging. Right now, companies need to hit the ground running again and proactively reach out to their customers. This is where Saudi communications agencies and brands need to be bold and creative, from strategic creativity to content creativity, to responding to the news agenda creativity, to campaign creativity. With the evolution of the communications industry in the kingdom, there is acceptance that in-house departments and agencies no longer need to prove their value to senior management. The function of corporate communications is better understood and increasingly taken seriously as critical to long-term business survival. The point has been reached where the PR industry in Saudi Arabia is fast aligning with the standards of the global industry, and this development is set to continue against the backdrop of the country’s ambitious Vision 2030 development plans.

If we have learned anything from 2020 and the pandemic, it is the value of the corporate communications function as a strategic discipline. It is important to maintain this momentum and, as communicators, we must support business, governments and organisations by coming up with solutions and helping drive them forwards. There has never been a better opportunity for the PR and communications profession to come into its own in the kingdom to join corporate decision makers and play an active role in determining the new strategies companies and organisations adopt to grow and prosper.

New behaviours for a new environment

From CSR to creativity, Covid-19 has helped drive the rise of corporate communications in Saudi Arabia, writes W7Worldwide’s Abdullah Inayat

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May 30, 2021

How do Saudi youth see their future? How young Saudis see their future plays a key role in defining the identity of the kingdom – and the region – in the coming years, writes Sunil John, drawing on research from Asda’a BCW’s Arab Youth Survey

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audi Arabia is at the heart of some of the most exciting futuristic developments in the world today. Giga ventures such as Neom and The Red Sea Project, among others, reflect the grand ambition of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to build a new era of opportunity and progress. Sustainable, scaleable, innovative and high-tech, these transformational projects aim to create new opportunities for young Saudis. With more than 17 million young people below the age of 25 and nearly two-thirds of the population below 30, it is not surprising that the kingdom’s new development framework has upended conventional norms. Young Saudis see the monumental changes across the kingdom with optimism. They trust the vision of their leadership to address one of the biggest concerns among youth across the Middle East and North Africa region: the challenge of rising youth unemployment. This was highlighted by the 12th edition of our annual Asda’a BCW Arab Youth Survey in 2020. As the region’s largest and most cited research project on the Middle East’s largest demographic – its more than 200 million youth – the

survey has consistently mapped the hopes, attitudes and aspirations of young people in 17 Arab nations, including in Saudi Arabia, since its launch in 2008.

Confident of the future In the latest survey, a majority of young Saudis – over 70 per cent – said they are confident they will lead a better life than their parents did. Very few, 11 per cent, said they expect to have a worse life than their parents, with the rest expecting a quality of life similar to what they have now. This is despite the many challenges the kingdom has faced in recent times, including low oil prices. More pertinently, this positive sentiment recognises the confidence of young Saudis in government programmes such as Saudi Vision 2030. Our survey identified that a remarkable 91 per cent of Saudi youth expect the strategic roadmap of the government to secure the future of the economy. Saudi Vision 2030 would not have gained such support if the country’s youth felt they were not being prepared for the jobs that the strategy of economic diversification and investment in


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

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‘‘81 per cent of all young Saudis believe they can “easily achieve” their top personal goals over the next 10 years.” digitisation is expected to create. Most young Saudis (89 per cent) are satisfied with their level of education and their preparedness for technology-oriented jobs in their home country, feeding the overall optimism towards their future. Compared with the rest of the region, the optimism on the course of the country’s future by young Saudis is much higher than that shared by young people in other nations about their own governments, especially in the Levant and North Africa. For example, 89 per cent of Saudi youth believes the country is moving in the right direction, compared with 84 per cent across the GCC and 58 per cent across the Arab world.

An ecosystem for professional growth Professionally-minded, nearly one in every four young Saudis is looking to start a career soon – a higher priority than starting their own family (17 per cent). Similarly, nearly half of the youth are interested in opening a new business over the next five years. The confidence of young Saudis in the future also stems from a personal belief that their professional goals are achievable. Our survey identified that 81 per cent of all young Saudis believe they can “easily achieve” their top personal goals over the next 10 years.

Regional recognition of Saudi youth The voice of young Saudis reflected in our study has also been a barometer of the rise in eminence of the kingdom in shaping geo-political dialogue. In fact, one of the top findings of the study was that Saudi

Arabia is seen as the region’s top rising power by a majority of Arab youth from the 17 nations we surveyed. Going beyond geo-political power, two in five Arab youth also are keen to visit the kingdom for non-religious tourism, especially following the issuance of tourist visas to people from 49 countries in late 2019. This points to the increasing ‘soft power’ of the kingdom.

Young Saudis want to uphold traditional values A defining finding from our survey is the high level of concern shared by Saudi youth about the loss of traditional values, even as they embrace modernity. They say it is essential that culture and values are protected, with three in four (73 per cent) of Saudi youth expressing concern about the declining use of Arabic and 92 per cent worried about the erosion of traditional values. Three-quarters of Saudi youth want traditional values to be preserved, and an overwhelming majority of 93 per cent are confident in the government’s ability to deal with preserving the Arabic language. Religion remains important to their personal identity for a majority (60 per cent) of Saudi youth, one of the highest levels across the region. They are particularly likely to see themselves as religious, with 73 per cent stating they are more religious or at the same level as others across the kingdom. What these findings tell us about the largest youth population in the GCC is that while they embrace modernity, they do not want to shake off traditions and values. The co-existence of these two forces could well shape the Arab mindset of the future.

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May 30, 2021

Driving change Ahmed Al Sahhaf, CEO of MMS, explains how MBC’s new commercial arm will leverage the broadcast and streaming giant’s power in the kingdom

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ive years into Vision 2030 and we are already observing a tangible and diverse growth in the public sector’s operating models, economy and society as a whole. We have witnessed 46 million visitors take part in more than 2,000 entertainment, cultural and sporting events in the kingdom. The Private Investment Fund grew to an approximate SAR 1.5 trillion and non-oil government revenue increased by nearly

122 per cent in the last five years to SAR 369bn in 2020. The kingdom has achieved a monumental transformation all acrossthe-board and these great strides are attributed to the unprecedented social reforms, and the clear vision put in place by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. All these developments have created change in consumer behaviour, which gave brands endless opportunities to connect with their current and new consumers. As the country continues to take effective measures to control the spread of the coronavirus, and as the kingdom focuses on expanding non-oil revenues such as entertainment, tourism, media and much more, brands are looking to further enhance their position in the market to resonate better in consumers’ minds and hearts. This is especially evident amongst Saudi government entities that are utilising various platforms to communicate the goals and projects of Vision 2030 to its people and the world.

Areas of opportunity A report by Emerging Markets Intelligence and Research from February 2021 outlined several positive opportunities that include: government projects related to Vision 2030; the National Transformation Plan; education; healthcare; entertainment; housing; tourism; privatisation; e-commerce; and much more. This is especially true when it comes to the entertainment and tourism sector.

Cinemas reopening and entertainment events kicking off pose opportunities for brands to connect with their audiences. The Saudi government’s plan to invest more on entertainment in the coming 10 years presents further opportunities for the industry at large. It is also worth noting that Saudi Arabia ranked first in the Arab world and 21st worldwide last year in the Happiness Index, increasing 16 ranks since the beginning of Vision 2030.

Role of TV When it comes to media consumption, Saudi newspaper Okaz stated that not so long ago there were endless restrictions on television broadcasts, yet nowadays the Kingdom has become among the top 10 countries in the world in mobile internet speeds. In a short period of time, the number of homes connected to the optical fibre network heavily grew from 1 million to 3.5 million. Data also showed that terrestrial TV is still thriving in Saudi Arabia, with set-top-box data showing that in 2021 TV is reaching 84 per cent of the total Saudi population on a monthly basis. On the level of MBC GROUP, TV reaches an average of around 53 per cent (10.24 million) of Saudi individuals aged 15 and over daily and owns an audience share of about 44 per cent from the Saudi landscape. At MMS, MBC GROUP’s commercial arm, we have noticed a healthy and consistent growth in TV investments, with clients revitalising their marketing campaigns.

MMS’s focus on the Saudi market There are notable opportunities in the Saudi market with increasing demand from clients and opportunity for growth across all sectors including government


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and SMEs, both of which are growing rapidly in the recent years. To meet this demand, MMS has put in place a category-focused team in Saudi Arabia. MMS structures its talent to best cater to both agencies and clients in a symbiotic manner, with two teams servicing agencies and three teams servicing clients divided by sectors. These teams work together to ensure there is one voice, one solution and one approach towards the brands and businesses we cater to. Instead of the usual industry sectors, MMS has categorised the client teams based on how consumers make buying decisions adapting to the continuous consumer forces. With their institutional knowledge and expertise, the team aims to service clients and guide them on how to access MBC GROUP platforms to leverage on the integrated solution-oriented approach we have developed.

Data-driven solutions With our proposition, which includes data accuracy, scale and quality relevant content, we believe MBC GROUP is uniquely positioned to deliver on our client’s performance goals. We are planning on continuing to drive incontent opportunities to deliver more innovative and creative solutions that engage with audiences. MMS offers integrated solutions across MBC GROUP’s television, audio, digital, social, and video-on-demand (VOD) platforms. We depend on the latest data measurement technologies to provide data-driven solutions, which is something new to the industry. With more accurate data between both linear TV and digital VOD, we are able to see one version of our consumers and understand exactly what works and what does not work. This has strongly influenced the innovations that we are working towards to ensure benefit to both the advertiser and the viewer. Some of these solutions revolve around advanced investment technologies, enhanced performance solutions and more contextually precise targeting. Advertisers are asking for accurate and timely measurements that ensure transparency and quantify return to ensure that each ad dollar invested is even more accountable. To achieve this, we made a standardised measurement framework and reporting system available to the industry, along with other new solutions that will be rolled out in the near future. MMS is currently gathering data

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through MBC GROUP’s set of TV boxes in Saudi, which is reported daily on a minute-by-minute basis for content and second-by-second for commercial breaks, allowing advertisers to know precisely what is working for them and what is not. MMS also overlays TV data with data from Shahid, the Group’s VOD offering, providing clients with a unique and better representation of household and individual consumers in a much more realistic and uninterrupted manner. Providing these solutions helps clients better plan their marketing strategies and foresee future opportunities to achieve outcomes that deliver on their expectations.

Branded Integration Apart from viewership growth, we are working closer with our clients to understand their challenges and offer them multiple solutions across the Group to increase their exposure. With the strong content line-up, which continues to attract audiences, brands are more and more keen to be associated with key programmes. Additionally, because of the pandemic, we are able to attract new categories of clients that have not leveraged TV in the past, which is helping growth in TV investments. Furthermore, MMS’s branded content team is providing our clients with integrated branded content solutions to seamlessly deliver key desired messages in an unobtrusive way and without interruption because we believe in the power of branded content solutions. Branded content offers a more consumer-centric approach compared with traditional advertising, where the focus is not on the product being sold, but on the value offered to the customer. Studies have found that – when done right – this approach is more effective than traditional advertising as it amplifies a brand’s values and therefore resonates more effectively and achieves high engagement levels with the consumer. We offer integrated audio solutions to cover every touchpoint, ensuring consumers see all angles of the content and engage with it seamlessly, providing brands with organic opportunities to interact with their target audiences, whether on the go or at home. Other non-intrusive formats can be found on Shahid where we have introduced –for the first time in MENA – native formats that look and feel seamless to the browsing experience using Pause Ads. These digital static ads appear when a user pauses the show, so they do not interrupt his or her viewing experience.

‘‘With more accurate data, we are able to see one version of our consumers and understand exactly what works and what does not.” Shahid Shahid, MBC GROUP’s VOD platform, is currently the MENA’s number one premium video service, reaching up to 25 million users in Ramadan and 9 million users in other months and beating competition’s viewership numbers. As MBC GROUP continues to provide premium content and produce high-end Arabic originals, these numbers are expected to increase. This will provide an attractive opportunity for clients to work with our MMS teams to find the best way to position their brands within this VOD platform. We are continuously working on enhancing Shahid’s offering to include innovative ad formats that can only be found on integrations into our Shahid Originals. Our offerings include more advanced targeting, as one would expect from a leading digital platform. Our goal is to continue providing a platform that draws engaged viewers that advertisers can target through premium Arabic content, which brands can be a part of. This can be achieved by having a strong customer value proposition and defining what we aim to offer in the market across three pillars: content excellence, data-driven thinking and partnership-led solutions. We are diversifying our offering to our clients across all MBC GROUP platforms and we are focusing on diverse talent from sales to data scientists, underpinned by processes and automation. We look forward to being part of enhancing the landscape in Saudi Arabia by supporting brands through our various media solutions and offerings.

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May 30, 2021

Blockbuster opportunities Motivate Val Morgan’s Avinash Udeshi examines the post-Covid cinema landscape, and polls cinema chains about their plans to capitalise on Saudi Arabia’s unprecedented potential for growth

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et’s wait till the situation stabilises. Are movies releasing? Is occupancy reduced? No one goes to the cinema… or even ventures out of their homes. Are cinemas even open? Welcome to being a salesperson at Motivate Val Morgan and facing the opening salvos while trying to pitch for cinema advertising currently. Bah! Cinemas across the GCC have already welcomed more than 5 million customers in 2021. The reality is that audiences are continuing to patronise cinema. Content released in cinema has evolved to be more diverse. A country in our portfolio is presently even adding several screens and hosting more admissions than in 2019. It is no secret, though, that with two seats behind, in front and on each side being blocked off to create a safe environment, the movie theatre is visually going to look empty. So here is the story (based on true events) of what unfolded: In March 2020, cinemas shut to curb the spread of the deadly Covid-19 virus. A few months later, cinemas re-opened in select markets, operating at limited occupancy due to social distancing measures, with strict sanitisation protocols in place. Movie studios, however, withheld new blockbuster releases, awaiting the collective reopening of cinemas across the world, thus affecting the content pipeline in markets where cinemas were open for business. The lack of new content and reduced seating capacities had a short-run effect on movie demand and box office revenue. Nevertheless, the industry remained resilient and improvised by re-releasing movies that performed well at the box office in previous years as well as new content such as Minari – a

Korean movie that had six Academy Award nominations and for which actress Youn Yuh-jung secured the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Many other smaller movie titles also found a theatrical window and success at the box office. Cinemas thus gave audiences a reason to return to their beloved large screen and partially circumvented the effect of the

pandemic to ensure a steady revenue for their business. This led to 51 per cent of patrons returning to cinema when compared with 2019. Recently released Godzilla vs Kong has reached a new global benchmark, having already grossed $422m worldwide. It is presently the highest-grossing film in 2021 across 19 markets including the UAE, China, Russia, Spain, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mexico. In combined like-for-like markets, and at today’s rates, Godzilla vs Kong is running 6 per cent above Kong: Skull Island, 44 per cent over Godzilla: The King of Monsters and 90 per cent ahead of Godzilla, and the movie is still to release in 20 more markets including Brazil, Japan and the UK. Another recent release, Mortal Kombat, has already totalled $72m globally. Both Godzilla vs Kong and Mortal Kombat, along with Nobody – an action film starring Bob Odenkirk – have generated over 500,000 admissions in the UAE so far. In Saudi Arabia, Arabic movies rank very high in terms of popularity. Egyptian comedy Waafet Reggala is the biggest box office hit in the history of Saudi Arabia. The film – about four friends who unite for a holiday on the coast of the Red Sea – has done astounding business in the kingdom, bringing in a total of 765,412 admissions for a cumulative box office of SAR 52,625,412 in 12 weeks as of April 15, 2021. The film remains at the No.1 position in the country to date. Having said that, audiences in KSA love cinema in any form. Movies in languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telegu and Malayalam – the national and regional languages of India – and even Korean movies, along with the Hollywood and Arabic titles – are watched with equal enthusiasm. In Saudi Arabia, cinema exhibitors continued their build with gusto, adding many multiplexes after the lockdown. Weekly admissions in KSA decreased by a mere 11 per cent when compared with 2019. This impressive feat has been achieved in Saudi Arabia as it is the only market across the globe to add cinemas on such a massive scale. As a medium the unique attributes of cinema remain unchanged; it is still the best environment for brands to showcase their ads. If anything, current cinema audiences are more courageous – given their love of being out of their homes – and are those whose incomes have not been that affected due to the pandemic.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

We thus started sharing all the above information with agency planners and clients, and while we continue to offer insights from our research studies on the quality of engagement and cinema demographics as before, we now also offer quantitative insights by way of a forecasted admission model and guarantee delivery on these forecasted admissions, with weekly reviews through a comprehensive post-campaign report. The idea was to launch a new cinema advertising currency as one that was no longer focused on blockbuster titles but instead was driven by admissions. We reflected the current admissions in our rates, delivered many presentations on the same and sent out related collateral, but did not get much traction. And then things turned a corner. From the time the news of F9 – the latest instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise – and Salman Khan’s Radhe were made public, our engagement with planners and clients increased exponentially.

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SA has been a key market for many well-established industries for decades. It’s a market that enjoys high purchasing power (driven by youth) and is currently enjoying a significant transformation since the establishment of Vision 2030, which opened the door for many new industries such as cinemas. KSA’s cinema industry was born in April 2018 when AMC Cinemas opened the first cinema in Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District. Since then, the cinema market in KSA has kept on growing year-on-year very significantly, becoming a leading market in the Gulf and Middle East. The importance of the KSA market was also demonstrated after last year’s cinema closure due to the pandemic, which lasted for three months. Cinemas in KSA reopened in June 2020, welcoming guests with 50 per cent restricted capacity (till today) and with limited content as all big blockbuster movies were significantly delayed or kept on hold. Despite

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‘‘The importance of blockbuster titles to the psyche of brands, planners and clients remains, and will remain, unparalleled.” Thus, we realised that although we wanted to change the narrative of cinema advertising to ‘not about the content but the cinema environment and its patrons’, the importance of blockbuster titles to the psyche of brands, planners and clients remains, and will remain, unparalleled. Globally too, cinemas are opening their doors after the extended hiatus. This will only add to the narrative and restore confidence in

such challenges, Saudi moviegoers returned safely to the cinemas and exhibitors continued their expansion plans, opening 17 new cinemas in 10 cities across Saudi between June and December. As a result, the KSA box office was considered the only growing cinema market in the GCC and the Middle East in 2020. The growth journey in KSA is expected to continue, as 2021 started with positive momentum. Major film studios started releasing their content, and the current film slate for this year is very promising and will be appealing to the Saudi moviegoers. We are continuing to expand in 2021, aiming to close this year with 12 cinemas and 76 screens in eight cities. Our target by 2025 is to have 51 cinemas and 445 screens in 19 cities.

studios, pushing them to release an unprecedented line-up of movies that have been held in reserve; more than 150 releases are planned in 2021, of which more than 20 are blockbusters. Delivering box office numbers of $1.1bn in April, with over 20 countries still in lockdown and with all countries having a seating capacity restriction, cinema has proved that no other business – be it streaming services or any other platform – can match its return on investment. These numbers have now persuaded major studios, including Warner Bros, to confirm that blockbusters will debut in theatres first in 2022, before making their way to streaming platforms. Here you will hear from leading cinema exhibitors in KSA and gain insights and a glimpse into the future plans they have for the medium over the coming year. With ad campaign briefs pouring in and several ads across a range of industries going live on the screen this month across our portfolio, long live cinema!

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inépolis is the third largest cinema exhibitor worldwide and has tapped into markets across the globe. The market where we see potential for the largest and most consistent growth is in Saudi Arabia. We expect to reach 100 screens by the end of 2022. We are currently operational in Jeddah and Dammam and have two sites under construction, in Jizan and Jeddah. Our plan over the next 12 months is to continue our growth path in Jeddah and Dammam while expanding our presence into Riyadh. We take pride in our ability to bring all types of content to our audience, be it Hollywood, Indian or local content. One feature that sets Cinépolis apart is our movie festivals and alternative content, which cater to customers who prefer a more unique viewing experience.

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he cinema industry in KSA is a new market for all cinema exhibitors. When the ban on cinemas in Saudi Arabia was lifted and the first cinema was opened in 2019, we took advantage of the opportunity and opened our first site that year. Today Muvi Cinemas is a market leader by box-office share with 10 sites across six cities. Due to

population and based on global benchmarking, the screen count in KSA should be between 1,800 and 2,300. However, the market today is only about 350 screens. Currently we are in six different cities with 103 screens. Our plan is to open an additional 30 sites with more than 300 screens in the coming 12 months. Mostly the new openings will be targeting Riyadh and Jeddah, in addition to becoming the first cinema chain to operate in Qassim province and Taif City, with two sites in each. Our premium cinema platform, Muvi Suites, will be opening a complex in Khobar. Saudis are not new to the film industry, and as a

culture we are big fans of all genres. The tastes of Saudis are like people from everywhere else as we appreciate the efforts of great productions. There are so many moviegoers who are big fans of not only actors, but also directors and writers, and who follow the global awards and ceremonies that are related to the industry. Action, comedy and family films are still considered to be the preferred choice. Usually, action movies are produced with higher budgets in order to have content that meets audience expectations. Saudi Arabia is considered to be the biggest market for Arabic content, and this was proved with the Egyptian title Waafet Reggala; it broke all records to see the highest box office admissions since the first cinema in Saudi opened. Almost 800,000 tickets were sold, which is even more impressive given the fact it is a R18-rated film and it is only targeting adults.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

May 30, 2021

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audi Arabia is the region’s top grossing territory and is on track to become a billion-dollar market in the next three to five years. As such, it is a priority market for Vox Cinemas and we have ambitious expansion plans, which underpin our commitment to bring our world-class leisure and entertainment experiences to families across the kingdom. Last year, Vox Cinemas opened three cinemas across Saudi Arabia, some of which are in new cities such as Tabuk, whose first cinema we were proud to launch, and others are in cities where we are already established, including Jeddah and Riyadh. Building on the momentum of 2020, we will continue with our ambitious expansion plans. Earlier this year, we opened the first ever multiplex in Hail, which reiterates our commitment to enter new cities, support job creation and make our leisure and entertainment and concepts accessible to families throughout the kingdom. We will open three more multiplexes – two in Riyadh (15 screens total) and one in Jubail (with five screens) – this year, which will bring us to 154 screens across 15 movie theatres in six cities by the end of 2021. Vox Cinemas has a wide range of customers with diverse tastes. Audiences here enjoy local content, and Egyptian films have been particularly popular in Saudi Arabia, such as El Badla, El Khetta El Aayma and Waafet Reggala. Master, which was distributed by Vox Cinemas in Saudi Arabia, has been the highest performing Indian title across the kingdom since cinemas opened in 2018. Demand for blockbusters is also high and Japanese anime culture has a large following here. As a guestcentric brand, we screen a wide variety of movies to cater to the different tastes and preferences of our guests.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

TapShiftSwipeClick The Classic Partnership’s Alok Gadkar looks at how modern Saudi advertising is pushing boundaries to speak to a new generation

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nder the supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, and in alignment with Saudi Vision 2030, KSA is busy clicking. 77 per cent of consumers are shopping more online, and 60 per cent of consumers are spending more money on virtual experiences as per an online study done by Mastercard. The mobile phone seems to have become a part of the human anatomy that hardly rests on the side table. More and more people are migrating to online platforms for their day-to-day lives. Grocery, clothing and healthcare products have become the most purchased products online. The rule book is now being built as communication with consumers changes swiftly. This very change in behaviour and media consumption habits drives the change in creative thinking. Let’s talk about the classic billboard. There was a time when a woman’s face was forbidden entirely on those lightboxes. If printed, most times it would be either inked out or pixelated. A few moons have gone by and we now see signs of hope and colour springing from these same out-of-home sites. As marketers and storytellers, we are the mirror to society. What we create will be a seamless reflection of what the consumer takes a fancy to. From old to new, from safe to bold and from acceptance to activation. When society goes through a change, it opens up new conversations. People want to express themselves more freely, and a new order comes into being. With more and more Saudi nationals joining the workforce and businesses being run locally, the narrative is rapidly morphing and, therefore, there is a need for efficacious communication. YouTube reached more than 20 million people across KSA in August last year, according to Arab News; 95 per cent of users watch DIY content, with an average watch time of 55 minutes per day. With digital taking precedence, optimised content has become paramount. The advanced Saudi consumers are ready to express themselves more openly and absorb novelty. This switch in user behaviour entails giving birth to dynamic content, and also opportunities to recruit young content creators. A recent campaign to introduce 5G for Saudi telecoms operator STC is one such example of how understanding consumer interest can provide real-time insight to audience sentiment and needs. By

analysing Google Search, the brand discovered that many consumers weren’t familiar with 5G. They used famous Saudi YouTuber Sohayb Qubs, who answered the most searched questions on Google through a series of fun videos to tackle this challenge. Simple questions like: What is 5G? How does 5G impact my life? These videos were further served back to the people who searched for these questions. In collaboration with Google’s experts and with access to their data, a unique problem was solved. For Splash, the region’s leading fastfashion brand, we launched a new bold, fun and fresh campaign, ‘In Love With Fashion’, based on today’s Saudi youth. Inspired by the raw energy that defines youth, the campaign showcased the diversity and eclectic insights of Saudi Arabia, bringing to life a dystopian diary that plays on the reality of what it means to be young and ‘Khaleeji’ and to truly be in love with fashion in your own unique way. A series of films were developed based on different insights that would work specifically in Saudi, and a few within the region. One such film was a tribute to the Qahtani Tribe from Habala, often called ‘flower men of Saudi’, who wear colourful headpieces for both aesthetics and wellness. An idea based on a human truth or a solid cultural insight can drive the required engagement for a business. This is the moment when brands need to make a change, pushing boundaries and being fearless. This is when you take the plunge and break the pattern. Here is when marketers need to stop accepting a blanket creative that goes across GCC, which is of no consequence to anybody in the kingdom. Clients are willing to accept, and while consistency and predictability are two critical sides of the same coin, some polish is required. Amine Hammoud, head of marketing at Centrepoint KSA, says: “Over the past 25 years of Centrepoint’s existence in Saudi Arabia, we have adapted our product offering and customer communication to the taste and preferences of our Saudi customers. This stands true with the latest social and behavioural changes that the kingdom has been witnessing for the past few years. Centrepoint is adapting its content and communication strategies to appeal to Saudi customers in a fastchanging environment.” In between the socio-political representation of Saudi Arabia, the story will constantly evolve. We are catering to Gen Y as we continue to engage with the audience through humour and other such yardsticks. Regardless of the past, the present and the future, the conversation of ‘Modern Saudi’ vs ‘Truly Saudi’ will continue and so will the creative interpretation.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Change agent Saudi Arabia’s rapid transformation calls for a new breed of agencies, says OMD’s Wissam Najjar

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ith his recent interview on the progress on Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 development plan, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud broke local TV rating records and achieved millions of views on YouTube. His global ambition for the country is clearly infectious, and the excitement is rising. The signs of change are everywhere and hard to miss. At a societal, cultural and entertainment level, the break from the past is significant. Most recently there’s been a push to attract major global sporting events, from boxing to golf, the Paris Dakar Rally and soon F1. Combined with a groundbreaking tourism drive, they open a new window to the country and help update perceptions. There is also the rapid transformation of the economic and business fabric of the kingdom. As well as the headline-grabbing megaprojects and tech investments designed to create a modern infrastructure and diversify the economy, there is also change on a more granular level. Through liberalising societal reforms and economic incentives, Saudi Arabia aims to attract companies and individuals to its cities, create jobs and become the region’s dominant business hub. This ambition is spreading and, coupled with the size of the home market, creates an attractive growth environment. As well as stimulating local entrepreneurship, it’s enticing international businesses to either upgrade their local presence or relocate regional HQs to the kingdom, including Google Cloud, Alibaba and PepsiCo. What we’re seeing today is the early stages of a powerful virtuous and transformative cycle that is shaping the future of our region. As the proverb goes, “fortune favours the bold,” and we too believe in the country’s enormous potential. Now is not the time to sit idly on the fence. Already present in the kingdom with two large offices, we’re investing heavily in our operation, meeting or anticipating the needs of a new breed of clients with ambitious goals. More than traditional agencies, service providers or business partners, the new dynamics of the Saudi market call for change agents, catalysts that don’t just respond to but anticipate their brands’ needs. Performance is everything but so is pace. Thanks to the major Saudi clients we’ve been working with in the past few years, we’ve seen the trend form and have adapted quickly to changing talent and requirements. To lead from the front, we’ve already re-organised our resources on the

‘‘What we’re seeing today is the early stages of a powerful virtuous and transformative cycle that is shaping the future of our region.”

ground and placed some of OMD’s network leadership team in Riyadh, including our regional COO, GM and head of investments. With the newly recruited head of digital and head of strategy, they’re spearheading our future-readiness across all disciplines and verticals. These moves create attractive career opportunities for Saudi talent across all levels and functions. To deliver on our clients’ higher expectations, we have deployed several strategic initiatives, such as automation that ensures pace, precision and performance at all times. To get the necessary data and resources to flow through the organisation, we’ve broken down silos. To prepare our talent, our internal initiatives have elevated our local teams’ skillset further and changed their mindsets from solutions to know-how. As well as minds, we’re upgrading and integrating our physical spaces in our Jeddah and Riyadh offices, redesigning them to become stimulating environments that foster creative thinking, collaborative work and effectiveness among clients and employees. This far-reaching programme has already attracted ambitious local and global brands with exciting objectives, requiring much more than a media agency’s traditional service offering. One needed us to use data and technology to launch a new loyalty programme and deliver on aggressive acquisition KPIs. It joins an impressive portfolio of world-class local brands and clients with objectives that cut across countries and continents. With this assertiveness, resolve and mindset, the local market dynamics are redrawing the lines of the client-agency relationship. It is pushing us to aim higher still and work not harder but smarter. In a fast-changing environment like this, the ability to navigate uncertainty is the difference between success and failure. Our innovative technology solutions have helped clients quickly learn from and act upon real-time data signals about markets, consumer perceptions and behaviours, product categories and media. Underpinned by the Omni marketing operating system, they deliver real-time visibility, on a market-by-market basis, to determine when, where and how much to invest. Ultimately success awaits those who adapt to this new Saudi mindset by strengthening their local presence on the ground, including an impressive talent and tech stack, and activating their global know-how and resources. It’s the radical collaboration between the two that will realise the true scale of opportunities in Saudi Arabia.

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Rays of light amidst the storm Video and e-commerce can become the stars of digital media in KSA

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hen the weather becomes unsettling, lighthouses shine bright to alert travellers and navigate them safely to shore. For the media industry, the storm has yet to subside, but rays of light are piercing through to offer numerous indications about where the digital media landscape is headed, the challenges brands are facing and the opportunities that await them in the MENA region in general, and in KSA in particular. BEHAVIOUR SHIFTS ARE NO LONGER A SURPRISE Covid-19 has changed people’s lives in many ways, affecting how they work, learn, behave and communicate. The same can be said for their media consumption, which has skyrocketed in alignment with their newly adapted lifestyle changes. This in turn has prompted marketers and media publishers to embark on a new quest to reach their consumers. While some storms can be disruptive, the current one withholds lots of potential for clearing-up the inherent chaos in the media industry, especially within the KSA digital scene. Today, we can rise a little above the storm and view the opportunities that lie ahead, mainly when it comes to the upswing being witnessed in video and e-commerce. TO RENEW OR NOT TO RENEW MY VOD SUBSCRIPTION? THAT IS THE QUESTION Lately, the media and entertainment industries have been thriving in the digital space. This is due not only to the growing penetration of mobile devices and internet connectivity, but also to Covid-19 and the multiple lockdowns affecting the kingdom. Local reports indicate that users shifted from AVOD to subscription-based models. And then the rebound-smart subscriber made a special appearance. With consumers increasingly considering VOD subscriptions as switchable, the competition between streaming platforms went up to an all-time high. Local reports also estimate that a total of 74 per cent of VOD subscribers mainly watch new series. With content now available across multiple platforms, only a few are willing and able to spend across all of them. As subscribers will eventually need to make a choice, content aggregators are now being pushed to unlock new customer acquisition strategies, and chiefly collaborations to appeal to different viewers personas. This is taking shape in parallel to users’ consumption behaviour transitioning from solo to co-viewing behind the same screen. Marketers are therefore invited to invest in a deeper understanding of the co-viewing habit, and how the overlaps and migrations between

streaming platforms reflect the shift in viewers’ behaviour. Content providers and platforms must take this trend into consideration and work together to guarantee a successful growth strategy for the long run. The question here is: for how long? Despite in-home media consumption surging during the pandemic, we cannot help but wonder if these viewing habits will last. This also holds true for the challenges video advertisers in KSA will face as they seek to optimise their media buys. Research shows that the pandemic will continue to affect regional video expenditure, even when consumer behaviours vary by audience, media and category.

VIDEO FACILITATES THE NEW LIFESTYLE The pandemic has changed how we consume video. Creative context now takes centre stage. When we look at smaller budgets in KSA, for example, online video is looked upon as the cherry on top, as it ensures differentiation. We are seeing advertisers accelerating their adoption of the latest media channels, while content creators are shifting their efforts towards platforms that provide them with best monetary value. Across channels, customers can view different types of high-quality videos to keep them up to date and connect to brands.

E-COMMERCE MANIFESTATION HAS MADE IT EASIER THAN EVER TO SAY “I SEE IT, I LIKE IT, I WANT IT, I GOT IT” Covid-19 injected a big dose of adrenaline to the growth of e-commerce in KSA. Customers’ willingness to shop online has increased, owing largely to the convenience of shopping online, as well as its social distancing benefits. Over 32 per cent of people are now making purchases online across categories which they did not previously consider, according to our research. Despite presenting a great challenge for retailers and traditional search engines in reaching customers at different touchpoints, there exists an even bigger opportunity if we are to take a closer look. To achieve an efficient, omni-channel media presence that will influence consumers at all stages of the purchasing journey, brands gain the opportunity to learn how to juggle between communicating their purpose, stretch beyond sales and connect with customers at a deeper level, on the issues that matter. Brands can also use relevant data to activate customers across all touchpoints with both social and retail media that will help them to drive awareness and consideration, while ensuring that online conversion is taking place. This will guarantee returns on their infrastructure and shift investment. YOU CAN ONLY IMPROVE WHAT YOU CAN MEASURE As consumers in the kingdom re-evaluate their purchasing behaviour, brands need to adapt their strategies to deliver results within smaller budgets. This will lead to significant growth in the use of analytics to drive optimal investments. With the quality of content serving as a top priority, the focus on corporate sponsorships, experiential events and philanthropic efforts will help to generate earned media opportunities to reach even more consumers. For media professionals to achieve these results, access to broader data sets that allow for better decision-making and opportunity recognition becomes imperative. Building on the idea of data democratisation, data platforms must become open-source, enabling brands to own integrations with multiple programmatic partner platforms, to ensure optimal funnel conversion. Like all forms of adversity, storms don’t last forever. In KSA, marketers and media owners that are embracing and leveraging the fast-moving digital media scene and selecting the right tools have found the ultimate recipe for success. They are delivering better overall customer experiences, meeting KPIs and guiding all of us users smoothly to the shores that lie ahead of us after the storm.


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brands must continuously find ways to get into consumers’ consideration early on and continue to stay with them until their next decision journey. This task becomes impossible to achieve if magnetic and original content, fueled by technology and data, is not at the centre of their thought process. HOW DO YOU SEE THE SAUDI ARABIAN MARKET CHANGING? ALI AL HAZMI: The KSA market sees content marketing as a necessity. The Saudi Vision 2030 is a good indicator of how prioritised digital transformation really is across the kingdom. It’s a big snowball that you could either benefit from or get sidelined and damaged by, should you not keep up with it. We believe in mutually beneficial relationships with leading brands. But it’s important to note that what sets apart content marketing in partnership with publishers is that publishers create value. Their content educates target audiences while adhering to stringent standards and guidelines. This takes place in the presence of smart, digital content, which attracts audiences to achieve results that go beyond purchase or profit. Digital content must be authentic, smart and inspiring and take users on a journey. By following this approach, brands can gain wider audiences.

THE GROWTH AND REACH OF DIGITAL MEDIA OVER THE PAST DECADE, AND ESPECIALLY AFTER THE PANDEMIC, FUNDAMENTALLY SHIFTED HOW BRANDS ENGAGE WITH THEIR CUSTOMERS AND PROMOTE THEIR BUSINESS. WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES BRANDS FACE WITH THIS CONSTANT CHANGE? CAROL MATTA: Today, content marketing has become a crucial investment for brands, as the need to be constantly present and stay top of mind increases. The main challenge is the fierce competition inside a saturated industry; brands are competing not only with their competitors for consumer attention, but also with every individual content creator out there. The consumer decision-making process is not just a simple funnel, it is way more complex. For this reason,

FROM YOUR EXPERIENCE WHAT TYPE OF CONTENT ARE SAUDI USERS MOST RECEPTIVE TO? ALI AL HAZMI: At Sabq, we strive to offer the best-in-class experience to our millions of readers, bringing them the latest events as if they were part of the action. We do so through varied, highly engaging content formats. Nearly 96 per cent of our users consume our content through smartphones. We distribute many content formats (infographics, videos, text) and leverage our verified social media platforms as well. These often feature customised content not published on our website. We have over 12 million followers on Twitter (where you can find the largest audience of Saudis in particular) and millions of daily views on Snapchat. In addition, our users can customise their experience by signing-up to the website and enjoying many special features. It also goes without saying that our smart device apps rank among the most downloaded media apps. CAROL MATTA: Adding to Ali’s point, leading publishers play an essential role in the halo of trust, which also affects users’ receptivity. Today, professionally produced news sources have an advantage over other

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Varied and highly engaging Ali Al Hazmi, Founder and Editor in Chief of leading Saudi news website Sabq.org, and Carol Matta, Native Advertising Product Director at DMS (The digital media arm of Choueiri Group) discuss why publisher content should play a mandatory role in 2021 for brands in KSA sources, as they are creating among the greatest perceived added value for brands. According to a recent study by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), advertising with trusted news sources can improve a brand’s image in the eyes of consumers. “Research found that 84 per cent of consumers feel advertising within the news increases or maintains brand trust and improves brand image”. At the heart of branded content is great storytelling, and publishers have a great deal of experience in ensuring that impactful pieces of content are created for brand. In a recent study conducted by CG-Data, Arabic was revealed to be the preferred language when consuming content. 84 per cent of locals preferred content that was in their native language. WHY DO YOU THINK NATIVE ADVERTISING IS ON THE RISE IN THE KINGDOM? CAROL MATTA: The degree of positive value a brand capitalises on by advertising in a given environment underlines the importance of local

market knowledge and context. This is one of the main reasons native advertising has proven to be so effective in achieving higher engagement from users. It ensures brands cut through the digital noise by merging the strengths of publishers’ credibility and editorial skills with the right technologies and targeting capabilities. This makes readers feel like paid pieces of content were specifically written for them. Our native advertising solution has proven to leverage brand favourability and long-term brand recall as it places users at the centre. It not only ensures that meaningful content (which adds value) is produced, but also that it is seen in a brand-safe environment – from both a contextual and sentimental perspective. ALI AL HAZMI: In these ever-changing times, we must continue to work hard to stay ahead and we only accomplish this if our readers are satisfied. This is why advertising solutions that do not disrupt our users’ online experience are key, and native advertising stands out as a very engaging solution.


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Audit, audit With a lot of players taking a cut from advertising budgets in Saudi Arabia, FirmDecisions’ Stewart Morrison says it’s important for brands to know where their money is going

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May 30, 2021

he Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is once again growing in importance as the country pursues its Vision 2030 plans and its rapid modernisation – welcoming business investment and tourism, and establishing entertainment such as cinemas, concerts and sporting events for the first time. Entertainment and sports bring a wealth of sponsorship and activation opportunities, whether they are branding sports events around Formula 1 and boxing, or pop concerts. The opportunities for brands to build consumer awareness among the 30 million population are tantalising. Winning business with government bodies, however, is a slightly greater challenge, as the KSA government has stated it will cancel all contracts with entities that do not have regional headquarters in the kingdom – which may pose a challenge for advertising agencies wanting to pursue these contracts. There may be ways to manage this, though. From the perspective of advertisers targeting consumers, they need to get smarter. With modernisation comes an increasingly monied and educated consumer who wants to be communicated to not only in Arabic but in their own dialect of Arabic, and with content and messaging that resonates with them. At one time, creative from an advertiser was shoehorned to fit all MENA markets and advertisers could just churn out regional creative lacking country relevance. That has changed, and advertisers now need their agencies to develop creative relevant to KSA. This is a challenge for advertisers and their agencies as they either develop creative at their regional hubs and test it locally, or their agencies must subcontract to an affiliate or third-party agency in that market. The local agency will have to balance developing creative that speaks to consumer

needs, while remaining within brand guidelines. Advertisers will also have to ensure brand consistency at the local level, in line with regional and global campaigns and within budget. In turn, local agencies will be supported by a network of production companies to bring these ideas to life. This adds extra layers of suppliers, mainly unsighted in terms of skills, capability, quality and, importantly, costs. As advertisers become further removed from the creative process, they can lose transparency on costs being charged by these intermediaries, which leads to inefficiencies in value for money, supplier selection and agency compliance with advertisers’ corporate policies and selection process. Media spend in KSA is estimated to be $1bn, according to Ipsos, with the majority of local media spend being digital and OOH. Most pan-Arab TV – although it mainly affects the KSA population – is bought via agencies in the UAE, so it’s difficult to identify the KSA spend. As with other countries, digital spend continues to take an increasingly larger share of the media budget and makes the supply chain increasingly complex. With intermediaries all charging fees, often with no disclosure as to how much, the mechanism or visibility of how much ultimately reaches the publishers. To ensure transparency of both media and creative spend, as well as merchandising and point-of sale materials for those advertisers operating in the FMCG and consumer technology space, auditing key strategic partners on a regular basis is good practice. This not only ensures compliance to existing contracts but identifies areas to improve in those agreements and systemic weaknesses in operations, which ultimately builds stronger trust between advertiser and agency partners. Auditing global advertisers’ spend is common in KSA, and while there is much negotiation between agencies and advertisers to reach those agreements, defining every supplier and the fees and charges, the work doesn’t stop there. Are all agencies buying media according to the agreed terms? Is there full transparency of fees through the digital supply chain? All industry stakeholders should work towards achieving and maintaining highquality standards of advertising in the kingdom, to build a more transparent and cost-effective media supply chain. In our experience of auditing media and creative agencies in KSA, all advertisers have three common contract questions: Who are the agencies in my supply chain (particularly in digital)? What does each agency really cost me? Are they operating as expected? Digital ad buying often lacks transparency. Programmatic ads are bought via agencies’ own trading desks, who in turn buy from demand-side platforms (DSPs) such as Appnexus, DV360 and The Trade Desk – that is three sets of fees already. Informing the target media decisions and verifying are a myriad of data management platforms and verifications tools as well as the exchange itself – all taking fees. Improving digital marketing investment performance is vital for clients and there are several ways to do this. Using high-quality and trusted editorial sites allows for optimum ad

performance, but it’s also important to mitigate risks and ensure the right inventory by regularly reviewing media inclusion and exclusion lists. When it comes to viewability KPIs, advertisers may need to look beyond the standard ratings (the Media Rating Council (MRC) defines viewability as one second for display and two seconds for video) and use their own, more realistic, definitions instead. For example, 100 per cent of the ad in-view for three seconds. Brands should also move toward an outcome-based KPI, measuring short- and long-term effectiveness of digital media spend. Digital media has increased in complexity and may require audits beyond media and creative, such as of social influencers, data solutions and other non-media activities. Wherever the money is being spent and budgets are migrating, ongoing contract compliance is required. By monitoring marketing investment at least annually, brands can incorporate learnings from last year’s innovative campaigns into next year’s investment. Better contracts and auditing deliver better performance outcomes, increased efficiency and improved partnerships between advertisers and their agencies.

‘‘Brands should move toward an outcome-based KPI, measuring short- and longterm effectiveness of digital media spend.”


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Add to cart Online shopping is a pandemic trend that has come to stay, says Bassmat’s Abdulrahman Saud

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n Saudi Arabia, the market volume is expected to reach $8.2bn by 2024. Reflecting expanded consumer choice, analysis shows that consumers worldwide are making purchases at a greater number of websites and online marketplaces than before. Residents in countries like Saudi Arabia are buying from 33 per cent more online stores, on average, followed closely by Russia (29 per cent), the UK (22 per cent) and the UAE (21 per cent). In the era of tap-like-love, the add-tocart and shop-now buttons have become two of the most popular. They introduced to the world a different shopping experience, and when the pandemic hit the shop-now button became an integral part of people’s lives all over the world, giving e-commerce platforms an edge. And that brings us to the question: Have Saudi consumers and local businesses followed the same change in shopping behaviour as seen in other parts of the world, or will the love for malls never fade away? Not all consumers convert to online shopping, as it is mainly popular among the younger generation that has been

‘‘In the era of taplike-love, the addto-cart and shopnow buttons have become two of the most popular.” boosting the online market. Millennials and Gen Z are the future of purchasing power. Their consumer behaviour is shaping the future market and is pushing marketers and agencies to change their strategies. In addition to that, young Saudi consumers are increasingly using their mobile phones rather than their laptops or desktops to purchase online, which shows that convenience is king. Taking a deeper look into the Saudi consumers’ behaviour, the most popular shopping items online are clothes, airline tickets, watches and mobile phones. The most popular e-commerce platforms in KSA are Amazon, Noon, Haraj.com and AliExpress. Within the fashion industry they are ASOS, Namshi and Shein. So, what does all this mean for agencies – digital ones on particular – and brands in Saudi Arabia? Firstly, online presence has become a must for every business to keep up with the changing consumer behaviour and the new normal of this era. Covid-19 has forced a real-life, real-time digital transformation on the majority of enterprises, start-ups and even regular services. Many entrepreneurs such as Jahez, Marsool, Nana and other emerging applications have seen digital’s long-term value as a result. Accordingly, agencies play an important part in boosting the digitising of services and the emergence of apps. Secondly, convenience and trust for consumers is vital, especially for fintech solutions, which sped up their plans in some ways as a result of the pandemic. For such solutions, technology consultants should explore creating campaigns or programmatic (in-app) advertising opportunities and using social platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and, most of all, TikTok.

To step up their games, enterprises, brands and agencies need to keep in mind that nowadays user experience sells. So, the more attractive the campaign is and the more entertained the user is, the higher are the chances of making an impression and even more of a buzz. Therefore, brands should be looking to create immersive experiences through every online opportunity, such as 3D, augmented reality and video experiences. Another important point for agencies is to make sure they integrate all the new communication options such as social media ads, programmatic ads, search engine marketing and influencers to keep up with consumers and ensure the safety of consumer data within their platforms. During each programmatic campaign, agencies need to develop a 360-degree understanding of programmatic advertising, its effect on consumer perceptions and behaviour, current industry best practices and its projected future. Consequently, they should pay attention to multiple phases and research methods. Qualitative research with managers and a field experiment with consumers have shown that programmatic advertising positively affects purchase intentions of online shoppers to a greater extent than other forms of online advertising, and builds more positive attitudes towards brands. New findings have broad implications for consumer behaviour researchers, and advertising and media executives. Panellists said marketers, strategists and campaign executives now have a better understanding of the customers’ needs using customer data analytics in order to understand the requirements of the consumer better. Data collection and analysis should be part of their communication strategy. It is all about trying to get to know your consumer better through their online decisions and behaviour in order to be able to cater to their needs more and guide their decision later. With data, it becomes easier to make business decisions regarding targeting and future strategies. As the whole world and the region are still coping with the long-term impacts of Covid-19, the pandemic has definitely favoured digital marketing, as we can all see a spike in opportunities in this sector, which will eventually force businesses to change.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

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or retailers and shoppers, the accelerated adoption of e-commerce during the pandemic has been dramatic. As we begin to return to a way of life that is no longer familiar, retailers and shoppers are reassessing what it is that we consider integral to our everyday lives and what makes us happy. When evaluating how we spend our time, we must consider what it is about the shopping experience that we cannot do without. Shopping in the most conventional sense has been taken away from us as social distancing measures and face masks have made our typical shopping experience far from normal. Despite this, the retail experience in Saudi Arabia remains woven into the fabric of society, to such a degree that it is essentially representative of all that we hold dear: family, friends and human interaction. Shopping, here, is more than just a purchase – it is an experience to savour, to remember and to recount.  As shoppers reassess their options based on this premise, retailers must also consider their online offering as consumers look to online shopping for that experience. Retailers must listen to shoppers to find out what they want from the experience and respect this new mindset. The removal of physical boundaries has meant shoppers care less about where they buy and more about what they buy. They are more conscious post-pandemic and it is crucial for retailers to concentrate less on the channel and more on shopper experience, with an aim to fill a specific role in people’s lives. To draw shoppers out, in-store must involve them on an emotional level – it could be an extension of that human interaction that we all miss, but it must be meaningful.  The rise of e-commerce should drive innovation in KSA malls. Retailers can

‘‘To draw shoppers out, in-store must involve them on an emotional level.” create immersive environments by giving their people the freedom to engage and to create a memorable human interaction. Stores are already locked into a digital revolution that will make it easier for them to attract customers using new technology. Mobile payments and digital wallets are close to breaking through to the mainstream, and this is perhaps a bigger change than it may seem. It will provide an ease and convenience that has been missing in offline shopping. In a recent poll by Standard Chartered, two-thirds of UAE residents said they expect the country to become fully cashless by 2030. Go-to-market planning, content creation, merchandising and channel execution must all be connected, because any breakdown in that chain can leave you exposed. Shoppers can identify companies that do not fulfil their promises, and that includes environmental and social commitments too. If retailers are getting these functions right offline by communicating product benefits and knocking down purchase barriers, then they must use this same blend online. Brands around the region recognise the need to engage with shoppers online and are committing more resources to

Changes in store

Liquid’s Khaled Ghorayab asks what the future holds for retail in KSA

dynamic content and brand store templates. These steps help shoppers make more informed choices based on the knowledge of a product and its alternatives. According to Statista, 62 per cent of the KSA population shopped online in 2020. It is essential that retailers use their digital marketing platforms wisely by treating the online space as a place to shop rather than simply to buy.  As a retail channel, social media is just getting started and retailers are scrambling to find the most effective ways to make it work. Instagram, Facebook, Reddit and TikTok are now viable routes to market for brands behind the evolution of the retail space, but the emergence of social channels should be a cautionary tale for retailers and brands. This industry is not standing still. Social media can offer brands the chance to present a customer journey while creating a distinct brand voice, offering a call to action and engaging on an emotional level. By the end of 2021, social media could account for a third of the total digital media advertising spend in the Middle East and North Africa, according to Consutlancy-me. Backed by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) and a willingness on the part of retailers and brands to adapt and listen, the outlook for retail in the kingdom is overwhelmingly positive. What is required from retailers is an appetite for change, because if we can take one lesson from the past year it is that even if life as we knew it will be similar, it will never be the same again. 


PARTNER CONTENT

SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Prosperity and progress MMS’s Ziyad Alomair explains how the Government and SME division is structured in line with Vision 2030

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veryone is aware of the extraordinary leaps and groundbreaking developments achieved by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in a remarkably short period of time. These revolutionary changes – coupled with the increase in the Public Investment Fund from SAR 560bn to more than SAR 1.3 trillion – are resulting in tangible economic prosperity and progress. Furthermore, the increase in non-oil revenues and non-oil GDP has aided in boosting employment rates and increasing Saudisation employment rates in the private sector. As Vision 2030 continues to create an attractive environment for local and foreign investments, we are expecting a lot of entities, especially SMEs and government to lean on media solutions to connect with their customers and communicate projects and initiatives that align with Vision 2030.

Government solutions

To meet this expected demand, MBC Media Solutions (MMS) is presenting a suite of offerings across premium content to forge consumer connections and drive business growth. To achieve the government’s goal of communicating Vision 2030 projects and announcements to the region and the world, MMS is offering integrated data-driven solutions across MBC GROUP’s television, audio, digital and video-on-demand platforms. We are ensuring that clients meet their goals and targets by utilising the latest data measurement technologies to provide solutions that are accurate and efficient. Our focus on quality and relevant content gives our clients, especially government, the advantage as we deliver on innovative and creative solutions that engage with our audiences.

SME solutions

When it comes to SMEs, there has been an increased interest in Saudi SMEs due to their ability to foster new job opportunities and economic growth. Saudi Arabia has taken important steps to support SMEs. It has recently approved the establishment of a bank for small and medium enterprises to aid SMEs to access appropriate financing and achieve stability and growth. The country also saw a surge in financing SMEs last year in 2020, as figures released by the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) in late January showed that in the third quarter of 2020 the total amount of

credit awarded to SMEs was SAR 176.2bn, up from SAR 115bn in Q3 2019 While the total figure rose 8.3 percent in 2019, it surged 52.4 percent in 2020. In a bid to connect SMEs with audiences, MMS is creating customised offerings that best suit their goals be it awareness, initial public offering or transactional. Our bespoke and accessible solutions address their specific challenges and help them successfully implement TV solution investments to maximise their return on media investment. Our teams are categorised into distinct groups: High-Involvement category, Fast-Moving Consumer Decisions category and Government & SMEs category. The Government & SMEs category, which is based out of Riyadh, caters to the new Saudi government’s ambitions, which will further amplify how we can go to market. Establishing MMS has empowered us to work more closely with our clients and internal teams (agency, content and data) to deliver against client briefs and challenges. This enables us to better understand their marketing challenges and provide better integrated solutions. Furthermore, our use of the latest data measurement technologies to provide data-driven solutions further aids our clients to better plan their marketing strategies and foresee future opportunities to achieve outcomes that deliver on their expectations. Our aim is to deploy our offerings, which rely on content excellence, data-driven thinking and partnership-led solutions, to aid government and SMEs to attain their goals. We hope to achieve this by continuing to diversify our offerings to our clients across all MBC GROUP platforms and by focusing on diversifying talent.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

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ollowing the rapid growth of Snapchat in KSA in recent years, what is unique about Snapchat’s audience in KSA today? There is a fundamental understanding of Snap’s full-value proposition, in communication, entertainment, commerce and more, that has led to a highly engaged Snapchat community in Saudi Arabia. We now have a monthly addressable reach of 19.5 million users in the kingdom, which grew 16 per cent year-on-year as of March 2021. Snapchat reaches more people than Facebook or Instagram in the kingdom, with a reach of over 90 per cent of 13-34-year-olds. This audience is not only large but is highly engaged on the platform. In Saudi Arabia, nearly 90 per cent of our daily users interact with Lenses every day. More people in KSA watched Snapchat Discover every day than any of the top 10 TV channels, both before and during Covid-19. In the busy Ramadan period, Snapchat had a higher open rate than Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in 2020. Snapchatters in KSA also spent an average of 77 minutes daily on the app during Ramadan last year, a 20 per cent increase year-on-year. Snapchat continues to grow because we tap into the rich storytelling tradition of Saudi culture, and our continued emphasis on visual communication resonates with Saudi’s relatively young population. Our audience also appreciates how Snapchat’s design purposefully emphasises personal privacy through ephemeral messaging, facilitating connections between close friends and family without ‘share’, ‘like’, and other public metrics. Moreover, we see high engagement amongst the age bracket of 35 and up, more so than in many other global markets. We recently unveiled a study exploring how Snapchatters in Saudi Arabia are adopting new behaviours and values. For example, the Snapchat generation is 1.2 times more likely than non-Snapchatters to feel like they are a part of others’ lives via their stories on apps. They also have significant discretionary spending power, estimated at a whopping SAR 1.4 trillion in KSA alone, outspending non-Snapchatters in many categories. With Snap’s experience in augmented reality in particular, how do you apply those capabilities in KSA, and what do brands in KSA ask from you? Snap has pioneered the innovation behind augmented reality (AR). The capabilities we offer our Snapchat community remain unparalleled. AR ultimately adds both utility and entertainment to people’s lives in Saudi Arabia. We are pushing the boundaries on both of these fronts. With regards to our work with brands, our Saudi partners are working with us while recognising that AR is the future of immersive customer experiences. During last year’s KSA National Day period, more than 20 Lenses were activated on Snapchat by partners – including STC, Mobily and others – generating over 355,000 hours of AR playtime.

AR in Saudi has shifted from being something fun to play with to a utility. About 81 per cent of people in KSA expect and desire to use AR as a practical tool in their everyday lives. 96 per cent of Snapchatters in KSA agree that they’ll use AR the same amount or more when shopping next year. This is a huge opportunity for brands when you know that, globally, interacting with products that have AR experiences leads to a 94 per cent higher conversion rate. We are thus developing the technology to facilitate virtual try-ons, catalogue browsing, showrooming and much more, with new campaigns being rolled out all the time. With audiences in KSA hungry for mobile video content, what opportunities are you exploring? Today, the Discover section of Snapchat has stories from publishers, creators, Snap Stars, the community and more. We want Discover to make a positive impact on our community through the content we feature. In Saudi Arabia, we have leaned into Shows and publisher content that reflects the diverse makeup of our community and their interests. Snap already works with many premium content partners, from Rotana Media Group to MBC, Saudi Broadcasting Authority, Sky News Arabia, UTURN Entertainment and many more, in mutually beneficial relationships. We expose our audience to names they already know and trust, while we help broadcasters discover new audiences. Separate to Discover, but related to mobile video, we just launched Spotlight – our newest user-generated entertainment platform. Our Saudi users will be presented with videos in a unique, personalised feed that is curated to them. Approximately 100 million Snapchatters engaged with Spotlight in only two months after launch in the US, and we expect similar enthusiasm in KSA. As we approach the halfway mark of 2021, what are your priorities for the Saudi market over the rest of the year? Our vision aligns with the broader digital transformation trends under way in Saudi Arabia, where innovative technologies create new value for organisations and raise the quality of life across communities. There’s no better and more exciting way to envision this future than through the camera. During this year’s Snap Partner Summit, we also showcased over a dozen new partnerships and partner-powered innovations that help people express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world and have fun together. Many of these updates are now being introduced in the region. In the end, our unique competitive advantage of being one of the most used cameras in the kingdom – and the world – will enable us to keep shaping the future of how people experience the world around them, combining what they see in the real world through our camera with all that’s available to them in the digital world.

The first choice Snap’s Abdulla Alhammadi explains Snapchat’s popularity among Saudis for media, entertainment and more


CASE STUDY

NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® Partners with Snapchat to use AR to drive sales The Story

For the launch of their new machine Genio S Plus, NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® turned to Snapchat to build awareness and drive sales. NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® had been active throughout the year on Snapchat with snap ads and dynamic ads, driving sales of their coffee pods, but for the machine’s launch they had to take it a step further. Because of the impact COVID-19 had on the in-store experience where people would see the machines in person, NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto®’s team wanted to leverage the full power of AR to bring the in-store experience to the Snapchat audience in a personalized way.

The Solution

Snapchat’s team suggested a camera + content strategy where Snapchatters discovered the new campaign “Your Coffee Shop at Home” in the camera through an AR lens and were encouraged to take action through Snap Ads in the content space.

The AR lens let consumers build their own “coffee corner” directly in their homes playing with the different coffee machines in AR. Once they had chosen their preferred machine they could get it delivered to their doorstep. NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® decided to make this lens permanently accessible from their webstores in KSA, KW & UAE believing this is the right tool to let consumers choose their perfect machine for their home coffee corner, without having to go into the store to view it in person.

The Results

The campaign delivered scale and impact. It reached 6.2M Snapchatters in KSA, UAE and Kuwait, of which 2M users were reached solely by the lens. It managed to move all measured brand metrics – brand awareness (+14pt), ad awareness (+16pt), brand favorability (+5pt) and action intent (+6pt). The AR “trial” experience resonated so strongly that it is now on the website for anyone looking to buy the machine.

+14 pt

+16 pt

+5 pt

+6 pt

Lift in brand awareness

Lift in ad awareness

Brand favorability

Action intent

“2020 brought lots of surprises and Snap selling power was one of them. During our first campaign of the year we achieved more sales through Snap than FB & IG together. Therefore, we knew we had to put our ecosystem to work not just across platforms but within Snapchat. Executing Camera & Discover simultaneously with relevant content for the local audience helped us broaden our reach as well as positively impact our brand and ad awareness in all countries.” Maria Dodero, Senior Brand Manager, NESCAFÉ® Dolce Gusto® MENA

Source:

1. Snap Inc. internal data November 7 - December 31, 2020 2. Snap Inc. brand lift survey of 965 Snapchat users November 7 - December 31, 2020. Control n= 471 exposed n=494


CASE STUDY

Landmark achieves 36% higher instore ROAS using Snapchat Dynamic Ads & offline Conversions API The Story:

The Landmark Group is one of the largest retail and hospitality organizations in the Middle East, Africa and India. Delivering omnichannel shopping experiences that extend through apps, websites and stores is a crucial strategy. For their Centrepoint concept in KSA, Landmark finds that a significant proportion of their customers engage, discover and research products on mobile before ultimately purchasing in-store.  Looking to expand on their immersive omnichannel shopping experiences, Centrepoint partnered with Snapchat to reach Snapchat’s unique community using Dynamic Ads.

The Solution:

Working with ForwardPMX and Snapchat Certified Partner StitcherAds, Centrepoint leveraged Snapchat’s Dynamic Ads to drive in-store sales. Snapchatters were shown products from the Centrepoint Catalog before Installing the app where they could continue browsing and

researching products, make an in app purchase or retrieve product details when shopping in-store. Using the Centrepoint product feed, ForwardPMX leveraged the StitcherAds platform to enhance and customize their Dynamic Ads creatives resulting in a seamless product experience for Centrepoint’s customers. They also used the StitcherAds platform to process the daily in-store transaction data for 74 stores leveraging the Snapchat Conversions API. This allowed Centrepoint to attribute in-store sales to Snapchatters that had engaged with their Snapchat campaigns.

The Result:

Snapchat Dynamic Ads helped Centrepoint achieve 36% higher in-store ROAS as well as a 270% higher average in-store value compared to the next best performing social channel. Dynamic Ads also drove a more efficient CPM - 76% lower than other platforms. The campaign also drove strong in-app purchases and ROAS.

76%

36%

270%

More efficient CPM

Higher in-store ROAS

Higher in-store AOV

“Centrepoint was seeking ways to enhance the power of dynamic ads in order to drive more in-store sales, we found that by working with ForwardPMX, StitcherAds and Snapchat, we’ve been able to achieve that. Using their powerful combination of data-backed insights, personalization driven by machine learning, and dynamic creative formats, it has enabled us to extend our already successful use of Snapchat for eCommerce to drive more consistent in-store sales, while keeping shoppers more successfully engaged.” Mithil Shah, Senior Marketing Manager at Centrepoint

Centrepoint internal data, 1 October 2020 - 31 December 2020

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Adapt or die The pandemic and Vision 2030 have seen the kingdom embrace the new while remaining loyal to the old, writes RMS’s Nezar Nagro

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very day brings new challenges and every day brings change. In the last few years, The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia presented the world and its population with a progressive and challenging vision. The 2030 Vision has redefined what challenge is and what change can look like. The progress since then has been monumental. Alongside this great task, we are still faced with the other kinds of day-to-day change. Change in lifestyle; change in demographics; change in economics and business; and, most importantly, change when it comes to tourism in the kingdom. We are already seeing change in the media landscape. It is accelerating, which is driven by the change in the consumer purchasing behaviour and dynamics. Our young population is ever more exposed to this change through traditional and new channels. They are at the forefront in the Arabic region when it comes to proliferation and internet adoption, with the highest penetration on certain social media platforms, in internet connection and subscriptions on platforms, e-commerce and the likes. With change comes adaptation. Consumers have been leading the conversation for a while and the brands and the media are following suit. They demand

‘‘The average Saudi is consistently and exponentially demanding more social content over time.”

better technology, more imaginative and inspired content and interactions, and have empowered themselves to not being on the side lines any more. Saudi Arabia’s consumer is not standing by but leading the way to the new norms. Saudi Arabia has embraced this new culture of change and is accelerating it, while ensuring that the kingdom’s richness in culture and history is still celebrated. This is perfectly exemplified by the dream of Vision 2030: a vibrant society, built upon by actions such as adding archaeological sites to Unesco’s World Heritage List; an ambitious nation, exemplified by the significant increase in non-oil revenues; and a thriving economy, which has already reached its target for women’s participation in the workforce. Rotana Media Services (RMS) believes in this endeavour and is strongly working with both the private and public sectorw to transform this shared dream into a reality alongside the transformation of Saudi as a whole. The pandemic has seen a wide range of major changes to everyone’s lives. These changes have resulted in a massive shift in consumer behaviour as ownership of desktop and laptop computers increased 61 per cent in the first half of 2020. In Saudi, 72 per cent of the population uses social media, for an average of 3 hours per day, and the number of social media users increased by 2.1 million. This data shows that the average Saudi is consistently and exponentially demanding more social content over time. RMS is perfectly situated to meeti these consumer demands as we have a high level of engagement across all social platforms, with 35 million Facebook followers and more than 8 billion annual views on YouTube. Also, we joined forces with Deezer, one of the largest music platforms in the world and the largest in the region. Going even further, we created Rotana Stars, a platform for influencers and influencer marketing. This new marketing tool helps brands reach their audiences in a new way, by having creative content, enhancing interaction between consumer and brand, and helping influencers better tune their approach.

However, this heightened demand for social entertainment has not resulted in a lack of interest in TV. On average, Saudis spend 4 hours and 13 minutes a day watching TV which is another area that RMS is perfectly positioned to engage with, due to its wide range of music, movie, and general entertainment channels. Channels that embrace change by providing the consumers the high-quality programming that they are increasingly demanding, while channels like Rotana Khalijia still preserve the vibrant culture of Saudi Arabia. In times of change, adapt or die. We chose to adapt to keep bringing people our classic, memorable jewels, while embracing the great transformation around us. We are working at our usual breakneck speeds to welcome the new world and the new user. Be sure to keep an eye out for us. You won’t be able to blink.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

The evolving role Socialize’s Ailidh Smylie draws out actionable brand insights from We Are

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etween 2020 and 2021, social media users in Saudi Arabia surged from 25 million to 27.8 million; an 8 per cent year-onyear growth equating to 80 per cent of the country now using social networks and messenger services. We’ve deep-dived into KSA Digital 2021, published in partnership between We Are Social and Hootsuite, to understand the unique data patterns and behaviours in the kingdom – highlighting four key trends for 2021 and beyond.

1) Human connection drives hyperconnection A year of intermittent lockdowns has seen social media channel penetration for almost all platforms rise ahead of global trends, with the biggest increases seen on YouTube (+14.5 per cent), Twitter (+13 per cent) and TikTok (+12.8 per cent) when comparing the KSA Digital 2020 and 2021 reports. So why are Saudi consumers such fans of Snapchat and Twitter? Why are they commonly described as ‘hyperconnected’, ‘socially savvy’ and‘ digital natives’ in the first place? Because – data. We know they spend, on average, 3 hours and 6 minutes on social a day – ahead of the global average of 2 hours, 25 minutes. They also have on average almost 10.4 social accounts per head, two more than the global average. When combining these stats, with Saudi’s young average consumer age of 32 and their high uptake of smartphone usage (98.7 per cent of 16- to 64-year-olds) it isn’t so surprising. Then add in the high percentage of expats (roughly 30 per cent), as well as geographical barriers and cultural benefits of private platforms like Snapchat; we see that to KSA consumers social is culture. Hyperconnectivity equals human connection. Brand Takeaway: Rather than getting distracted by the (big) numbers, try asking first and foremost: Why do we want to engage with them in the first place? Then: Are they using social in a particular way that will help unlock a two-way communication? Which platforms would be most relevant to their motivations? Finally: How can I use channels to achieve desired outcomes? And remember, you don’t need to use them all. Our audience is truly platform-fluid.

2) Gaming becomes social media As Peter Mazloumian, Head of SLZ Gamez, puts it, “For starters, Covid-19 made a gamer out of most of us. With a new-found abundance of time at our disposal, we started seeking new ways to keep ourselves entertained.” This rings true when looking at KSA, where gaming has become a growing area of interest, with a huge 91 per cent of internet users aged 16-64 reporting they play games on any device. Console play in particular has grown, from 19 per cent to 35 per cent, for an extra 25 minutes per day, when comparing our Digital 2020 and Digital 2021 reports. Brand Takeaway: Our three ‘rules of play’ are:

Read the room: When playing on new turf we need to respect existing online cultures; offer more than self-serving product placements, and instead use time to create a positive impact in the communities. Not just any ad: Creative has to be crafted with the spirit of gaming at its core, born from truths that gamers can connect with and executed bespoke to platforms and communities. Play like a streamer: Take Twitch, for example. Whether bringing gaming characters to life or ‘raiding’ streams of smaller channels for a good cause, remember the platform’s purpose, and let brands enter the lives of gamers by simply playing alongside them.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

of social media Social/HootSuite’s KSA Digital 2021 research report

3) The switch from search to social search: Between 2020 and 2021, we’ve finally seen the scales tip. In KSA, the preferred primary way to conduct brand research among internet users aged 16-64 is to refer to social media, with 60 per cent using this channel, ahead of 58 per cent who use search engines. No other channel is close in terms of use – in third place comes consumer reviews, which 38 per cent of this group use to do brand research. This could be a direct result of a distinct lack of Arabic-first search approaches from brands, favoured instead by Arabic-first

social approaches, which result in richer Arabic social content, and search strategies primarily in English. Brand Takeaway: When we say ‘social search’, it’s important to remember consumers don’t just actively visit brands’ social pages. Search is conducted in numerous ways via hashtags, explore tabs, shopper tabs, Instagram Reels, vloggers and influencers, and ads served. Brands must adopt a multi-faceted approach, so they’re visible and available in the right spaces for your consumer. This also allows for organic frequency – the more they see you across different channels in different forms, the stronger your brand recall will be.

4) Age-agnostic e-commerce growth The growth of e-commerce in KSA has been accelerated by Covid-19, with consumers forced to shop from their homes – and the extended length of the pandemic forming long-lasting habits. With this, we’ve seen the use of shopping apps increase from 55 per cent to 68 per cent year-on-year in KSA, and an annual growth of 38 per cent in the consumer products e-commerce market. The surprising takeaway from the data is that internet users in Gen Z (age 16-24) are no more likely to use e-commerce than millennials (25-34) or even young Gen X. In fact, each age range from 16-54 has similar e-commerce adoption, and we only really see a drop off with consumers aged 55+. Brand Takeaway: All consumers shop online. Brands need to be where the consumer is (which is everywhere) with a focus on ‘aggressive’ acquisition of new customers and first-party data. Measurement is key to understanding how to strategically, and often very quickly, pivot an approach, as well as keeping up to date with the rapidly changing ecosystems and inventory available to continually optimise the ever-fluid consumer journey.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Facing the music Roddy Campbell of MDL Beast – the company behind the SoundStorm festival – says research shows young Saudis are a progressive bunch

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he events and content we produce as a business are really an embodiment of the rapid cultural change under way in the kingdom. Who would have dreamed a decade ago that by 2019 hundreds of thousands of young revellers would be mixing it up with the biggest international DJs in the world alongside regional music talent at SoundStorm? We knew we were tapping into a zeitgeist, but it was time to take the pulse of the nation, to move from anecdotal to analytical with a deeper profiling of Saudi youth than had been seen previously. To uncover the wants and needs of this change-making generation, qualitative research preceded high-quality online surveys with more than 2,000 18- to 44-yearold Saudis, selected on the basis of having at least some interest in music. An iterative statistical process then refined six segments, plotted against the dimensions of how progressive they are and the role entertainment plays in their lives. The behavioural nuances between the segments will be used to refine our own marketing and product development activities, as well as in the crafting and amplification of campaigns with brand partners across the region. On a general level, the love for music and music experiences surpassed even our optimistic expectations. 66 per cent of all people cited music as a real passion of theirs and, for 49 per cent, it was a clear number one amongst passion points, something they couldn’t live without. Whilst the ‘Social Hedonists’ are the standout group united by a love to party, the interest in live events and social experiences is high across the entire Saudi youth spectrum. 70 per cent of Saudi youth stated they’d like to see more events like SS2019 happen in the kingdom, with 66 per cent acknowledging the positive effect the festival had on their general happiness and wellbeing. I’d suspect many brands may underestimate this demand, given the conservative roots of the country. Cultural attitudes have changed quickly; clearly corporations that help satisfy this thirst for live entertainment by facilitating access or enhancing experiences can reap the rewards in terms of brand affinity. A key driver in festival interest was that it represented “something great to do without leaving Saudi Arabia”. This illustrates the

greater effect, in line with Vision 2030, of diverting some of Saudi’s sizeable overseas expenditure on entertainment into the domestic economy. As attending live experiences becomes a cultural norm, increasingly sophisticated brand platforms will emerge around this passion point. Logo-slapping will not cut it; our discerning audience groups will expect an authentic role for brands within this fast-emerging ecosystem. We anticipate some of the biggest and best brand platforms in global entertainment to come from this region over the next few years and we’re ready to push the boundaries. Saudis are a connected group, as we’ve seen with the high per-capita usage rates across the various social networks, a trend that won’t change any time soon. “Keeping me entertained” was the top

reason for social media usage (66 per cent). Arguably the relatively low number of traditional media brands in KSA could create an opportunity for non-traditional content creators (influencers, music properties, consumers, even brands) to fill the void in using entertainment as a social currency. It’s not all about the next party or FOMO-inducing experience for the Saudi youth. 83 per cent agreed that SoundStorm provided more opportunities for local creatives and, indeed, MDL Beast is committed to supercharging local creators, inspiring them to follow their passion and showcasing Neo Arab youth culture globally. 82 per cent were proud of the creativity and culture of Saudi Arabia, with all demographic groups displaying optimism for a promising future. Interestingly, optimism peaked with females aged 25-34. Moving beyond core music fans, much of our future activity will be targeting the ‘Cultural Futurists’, a group that really drives this patriotic push for progress. They have an appetite for entertainment with purpose, not just play, for platforms that ladder up to the betterment of society. Whether through driving communities, conferences or crowdsourced creativity, we see a huge role for brands in empowering this generation. Interestingly, the mainstream groups (‘The Follower’ and ‘Old School’) represented just 30 per cent of consumers surveyed. Indeed, The Follower segment was found to be three times smaller than the US equivalent when a replica survey was completed for benchmarking. Clearly KSA consumers are taking an active role in accelerating change. They are vocal and will be loyal advocates for brands that appeal to their passions and sense of values through this next phase of cultural evolution. What an exciting time to co-create culture.

‘‘66 per cent of all people cited music as a real passion of theirs and, for 49 per cent, it was a clear number one.”


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

MUSIC OBSESSED

“Music is life. I connect to myself and others around me. Energy is released and it rejuvenates my spirit”

This segment are united by a shared deep passion of music and everything that comes with it. Their passion is so strong it could be consider obsessive. Their fandom revolves around listening, discovery, gigs, partying and connecting with friends through music. They are younger, female skewed, higher earners with an international outlook on media and music. They have high social media consumption. They have the strongest relationship with MDLBEAST of any segment.

KEY ATTITUDES (VS. ALL SAUDI YOUTH)

(9% of Saudi Youth, estimated 0.9M people)

DEMOGRAPHICS:

67%

(vs. 51%) female

74%

(vs. 62%)

International media content

38%

(vs. 31%)

aged 18-24 years

61%

(vs. 58%)

Saudi Arabian media content

46%

(vs. 46%) Saudi music

68%

(vs. 42%) Pop music

This segment live for the good times with friends. These free spirits are always on the hunt for the next party, and of course music of all genres plays an important part in this. At the same time they take great care of their friends and loved ones around them. They have no strong skew in age or gender. They have a broad range of media tastes across international, regional & local media channels. They have the very strong relationship with MDLBEAST and cannot wait for SS21.

53%

(vs. 51%) female

67%

(vs. 62%)

International media content

(vs. 48%)

aged 25-34 years

73%

(vs. 58%)

Saudi Arabian media content

(vs. 53%)

Earn SR15k+ per month (~$4k)

International music

51%

(vs. 37%)

Hip-hop / RnB / Rap

49%

(vs. 30%)

Rock music

(vs. 38%)

Dance music / EDM

KEY ATTITUDES (VS. ALL SAUDI YOUTH) I’m someone who always finds time to have fun and party

65

98

I truly value the strength of relationships with loved ones

68

99

56%

(vs. 23%)

79%

55%

regularly attend live music events

DEFINING MUSIC LISTENING APPROACHES:

30%

(vs. 78%)

(vs. 41%)

“Partying is a big passion. Nothing beats that feeling of dancing with your best friends around you”

(22% of Saudi Youth, estimated 2.2M people)

59%

95

56%

(vs. 18%)

listen to music at home recently attended a everyday music festival

SOCIAL HEDONISTS

DEMOGRAPHICS:

95

55

32%

(vs. 53%)

Earn SR15k+ per month (~$4k)

International music

I am constantly discovering new music artists / tracks

81%

(vs. 23%)

91%

45

DEFINING MUSIC LISTENING APPROACHES:

31%

(vs. 78%)

Music is my #1 passion, I couldn't live without it

listen to music at home everyday

57%

(vs. 46%) Saudi music

64%

(vs. 54%)

Traditional Arabic music

50%

46%

(vs. 37%)

go to a party or nightclub weekly

44%

(vs. 38%)

Dance music / EDM

(vs. 41%)

regularly attend live music events

36%

38%

(vs. 37%)

(vs. 42%)

Hip-hop / RnB / Rap

Pop music

“Do what you can, try to change what you can… Nothing is impossible. We will shape the future”

CULTURAL FUTURISTS

(17% of Saudi Youth, estimated 1.7M people) This segment represents the future of Saudi Arabia. They are strong-willed & open-minded, creating their own path in life. Their global mindset inspires them to push boundaries and fight for their beliefs. They are distinctly the youngest Saudi Youth segment. There’s an international skew to their media consumption and broad usage across many social media channels. They are in the process of building their relationship with MDLBEAST and are the target of many of our new business extensions; they represent our future.

DEMOGRAPHICS:

53%

(vs. 51%) female

62%

(vs. 62%)

International media content

45%

(vs. 31%) aged 18-24 years

56%

(vs. 58%)

Saudi Arabian media content

63%

(vs. 23%)

(vs. 53%)

Earn SR15k+ per month (~$4k)

84%

International music

I’d go against cultural traditions if it didn’t align with my beliefs

37

92

I fight for what I believe in, even if it's not a popular opinion

79

99

DEFINING MUSIC LISTENING APPROACHES:

15%

(vs. 78%)

KEY ATTITUDES (VS. ALL SAUDI YOUTH)

56%

(vs. 48%)

46%

listen to music at home have music on in the everyday car everyday

34%

(vs. 46%) Saudi music

56%

(vs. 54%)

Traditional Arabic music

47%

(vs. 37%)

Hip-hop / RnB / Rap

(vs. 35%)

play music whilst exercising everyday

46%

(vs. 42%) Pop music

38%

(vs. 38%)

Dance music / EDM

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

THE ACHIEVER

“Something I truly believe is hard work. To achieve anything in life and dream bigger, you must really work”

This segment are dedicated & planned individuals who are motivated by their own personal success & achievements e.g. grades, career progression. They still very much enjoy music and partying, but it’s not their #1 priority. They have a male skew, and their professional attitude leads them to be higher income earners. After Music Devotees and Social Hedonists, they’re the segment next most excited for SoundStorm 2021.

KEY ATTITUDES (VS. ALL SAUDI YOUTH)

(10% of Saudi Youth, estimated 1.1M people)

DEMOGRAPHICS:

55%

(vs. 49%) male

57%

(vs. 62%)

International media content

32%

(vs. 31%)

aged 18-24 years

61%

(vs. 58%)

Saudi Arabian media content

I am more ambitious about achieving success than my peers

68

99

52%

(vs. 53%)

Earn SR15k+ per month (~$4k)

International music

100

53%

(vs. 23%)

81%

75

DEFINING MUSIC LISTENING APPROACHES:

26%

(vs. 78%)

The best measure of my success is my personal achievements

41%

(vs. 48%)

(vs. 37%)

listen to music at home have music on in the everyday car everyday

46%

(vs. 46%) Saudi music

55%

(vs. 54%)

38%

Traditional Arabic music

go to a party or nightclub weekly

35%

(vs. 42%)

32%

(vs. 37%)

Pop music

(vs. 38%)

Hip-hop / RnB / Rap

Dance music / EDM

THE FOLLOWER

“I’m no trailblazer but I love the buzz of trying something new if it’s safe”

This segment represents more mainstream consumers who are content following in the path of others. They tend to seek the approval of others rather than pushing boundaries. They skew slightly towards older males. They have relatively narrow media consumption, meaning they could be somewhat difficult to reach. They are in the process of building a relationship with MDLBEAST, and would likely feel more comfortable when the brand is even more established.

KEY ATTITUDES (VS. ALL SAUDI YOUTH)

(13% of Saudi Youth, estimated 1.3M people)

DEMOGRAPHICS:

57%

(vs. 49%) male

58%

(vs. 62%)

International media content

26%

(vs. 22%)

aged 35-44 years

45%

(vs. 58%)

Saudi Arabian media content

International music

47%

(vs. 46%) Saudi music

40%

(vs. 42%) Pop music

50% male

57%

(vs. 62%)

International media content

(vs. 22%)

aged 35-44 years

55%

(vs. 58%)

Saudi Arabian media content

International music

26%

35%

(vs. 30%)

(vs. 38%)

Rock music

Dance music / EDM

23%

(vs. 25%)

Blues / Jazz / Soul

KEY ATTITUDES (VS. ALL SAUDI YOUTH) 47

Following cultural traditions is extremely important to me I'm content without any real excitement or adventure

46%

52%

(vs. 23%)

(vs. 53%)

(vs. 48%) listen to music at home have music on in the car everyday everyday

Earn SR15k+ per month (~$4k)

74%

(vs. 60%)

28

84

71

DEFINING MUSIC LISTENING APPROACHES:

16%

(vs. 78%)

67%

(vs. 48%)

“I generally think the change happening in my country is a positive thing, but I’ll take it at my own pace”

This segment places great importance in following cultural traditions. They don’t crave the new excitement and adventure now available to them. However, they still have a passion for music and socializing with friends. They skew slightly older and have lower income compared to the rest of Saudi Youth. Their media consumption consumption skews towards local & regional channels over international. Some of them did check out SoundStorm 2019, and many would attend in 2021.

(vs. 49%)

60

listen to music at home have music on in the listen to music while at everyday car everyday work

(17% of Saudi Youth, estimated 1.7M people)

24%

47

29

33%

(vs. 53%)

THE OLD SCHOOL

DEMOGRAPHICS:

My music tastes are mainstream - I like what's popular

37%

(vs. 23%)

Earn SR15k+ per month (~$4k)

65%

10

DEFINING MUSIC LISTENING APPROACHES:

27%

(vs. 78%)

I like to follow in the footsteps of others

41%

(vs. 46%) Saudi music

57%

(vs. 54%)

Traditional Arabic music

35%

(vs. 42%) Pop music

35%

(vs. 37%)

Hip-hop / RnB / Rap

31%

(vs. 35%) play music whilst exercising everyday

30%

(vs. 38%)

Dance music / EDM


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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

d video spending in Saudi Arabia is due to increase exponentially in the upcoming years. By 2025 it will have more than doubled, from $231m in 2021, to $483m. All that money on the line means it’s more important than ever for marketers to gather consumer insights that drive ad effectiveness. With that in mind, Twitter, in partnership with IPG Mediabrands’ intelligence team, and with support from UM Saudi Arabia, took an in-depth look at the role of context in video ad effectiveness. In the recently released study, The Influence of Context: Premium Content, User Experience and Beyond, researchers found that shelling out extra marketing dollars to advertise on premium content is often worth the spend. The study gathered a representative audience of approximately 2,400 viewers and documented demographics and media consumption habits beforehand. Participants were then randomly directed to consume video content of their interests across in-feed and non-feed environments and exposed to one of three types of content: premium content of brand safe, broadcast quality; highquality user-generated content (UGC); and lower-quality UGC. Pre-roll ads were served prior to each type of content. Researchers then surveyed participants in order to measure the impact of the pre-roll ads on branding metrics across content type and viewing experience, in-feed on Twitter versus non-feed on a video aggregator. Key findings of the research show that quality content can be worth the premium price. Brands that appeared within the context of premium content benefitted from a halo effect, in that consumers thought the content was more trustworthy and shareable, which led to a +4 per cent higher intent to purchase from the brand. In terms of UGC, researchers found that production level didn’t appear to matter to consumers in Saudi Arabia, as there was no discernable impact on brand favourability or perceptions based on ads being seen in the context of high- and low-quality production content. In fact, 73 per cent of the audience believed low-productionquality content was actually highquality-production content created by verified content creators. Though quality matters to consumers, they define what is actually considered ‘quality’. Researchers also found that consumers felt less forced to watch ads that appeared in-feed, as they created an opt-in effect that had them interested and believing that culturally relevant, brand new information was being shared with them. This naturally had a positive impact on purchasing intent. Non-feed ads served a purpose as well, however, reaching a broader audience of people who spent more time viewing the ads,

A question of context A Twitter and Mediabrands Saudi Arabia study has found ads viewed in the context of premium content are worth the spend – but it’s the viewers themselves who define what content that is

likely because they were intentionally viewing a particular content topic. This higher ad completion rate fueled curiosity in the brand.

interests and passion points of the receiving audience being targeted. And, on top of that, the context maximises the impact of the brand’s key message.

Walid Issa, head of research, MENA, at Twitter, and Nadeem Ibrahim, digital director, UM MENA, explain more about the findings.

What are some new ways of identifying the right UGC for your brand?

How can marketers and media planners use the information in this study to make their ad spending more effective? Walid Issa: The context within which an ad appears plays a crucial role in capturing attention, but more importantly it has a direct impact on achieving the desired efficacy of any ad campaign. From an audience-experience standpoint, the environment within which the content is being consumed goes hand-in-hand with the creative content itself in influencing the effectiveness of the message being communicated.

How can marketers ensure that their ads are appearing alongside quality content if ‘quality’ is user-defined? WI: Ultimately, if the content is relevant, it will resonate. For marketers to ensure that the content their brands appear alongside is perceived as quality content, it’s a matter of having the right targeting parameters in place. The answer is in ensuring the full alignment between the content and the

Nadeem Ibrahim: We tend to find that content quality that is user-defined matters the most in KSA. By leveraging premium content and high-production UGC, brands can significantly elevate their content. However, in a market where influencer marketing is on a trajectory growth, the study fiund production quality of UGC bears no difference on brand performance, particularly for when we consider the results for telco provider STC. It became apparent users engaged mainly with interesting content that nudged the bottom-line results.

Why should advertisers leverage in-feed video to take advantage of curated feed and an opt-in ad experience? NI: A user who opts in clearly wants to see ads that are more relevant to complement their personal feed. In the case of STC, we noticed a curated user experience leads to a positive impact on brand metrics. There is a clear synergy between brand and premium content, which noticeably results in the brand benefiting from a halo effect. Since quality of production is least important for consumers, there is the opportunity for brands in KSA to take advantage of a curated feed by appearing across high-quality content.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Numbers game There’s accepted wisdom that video is the king of content. But static content, especially around news, is a pretender to the crown, writes Create Media’s Osama Taher

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s a person working in the Saudi agencies ecosystem for the last 12 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many decision makers across government and private sectors. Whenever a new concept or idea is suggested, we always hear the same thing: “Can we make a video?” Regardless of where this content will go (Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) clients always believe a video will score much better with social media consumers, no matter what the nature of the content is. However, we have seen a lot of interesting changes in the behaviour of social media consumers in Saudi Arabia across 2020/2021. People are paying more attention to static informative posts. Consumers are hungry for numberoriented posts and they are sharing and engaging with this type of content more than ever before. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, people started to pay more attention to numbers and facts, listed in a direct and shareable format. We have seen higher engagement rates with static designs across Twitter especially; this might even indicate a higher focus from the young Saudi nation toward the achievements, momentum and goals of the 2030 Vision. Since 2016 the whole country has learned the importance of numbers in every detail of its strategic and transformative Vision. People have saved and reposted content to take pride in, and celebrate the amazing achievements so far, looking for more infographics and static designs with important information. We also noticed that: Larger private companies, especially in the telecoms industry, banking and aviation, have embraced the trend, using well-designed statics to highlight important announcements and offers. Twitter is the most popular platform to

‘‘Since 2016 the whole country has learned the importance of numbers in every detail of its Vision.” find and share static posts with family and friends. Professionals will use static posts as the starting point for an article to express a wider opinion or a view about certain changes. This is a sign of great maturity in how Saudis consume visual content, and this will influence the way agencies should present their content. Video will always be king when it comes to entertainment, but this doesn’t apply to news any more. Consumers want to see numbers, share them and have an opinion about them in a much simpler and direct way. In conclusion, social media strategies, like any other communication platform, should be agile, evolving with the key behavioural changes and cultural progression of every market. This will influence the development of new tools and value offerings to engage users in a meaningful way.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Vision and collaboration Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation journey should be a marathon not a sprint, writes MediaCom’s Burt Reynolds

“T

his is a new chapter in how marketing should be done in a digitally-transformed world and I am very excited to be leading this charge both personally and professionally,” said the regional marketing vice-president at one of MediaCom’s key FMCG clients in Saudi Arabia. The reason I began with this assertion from a client of ours is to state the obvious. What started off as a trend has today become probably the most common buzz-phrase in marketing and agency circles: Digital transformation (DT) has hit home in KSA, and in a big way. The second highlight here is that this quote comes from a category that perceptually would be the last to jump on to any bandwagon, due to its time-tested and anecdotal ways of marketing thinking. Yet, this is where we’ve seen the maximum shift of the cultural and marketing ethos in Saudi Arabia. This is possibly due to the predicted impact. However, in my opinion it is more because, on-the-now flattened Maslow’s hierarchy of consumer states of ‘needsto-wants’, this is the white space where traction will be a critical driver of growth. A clear definition of DT is in vain because it is an agile philosophy that continues to iterate. Against the backdrop of KSA, we can simplify it in a more formulaic fashion: ‘DT is when the rate of internal organisational change is greater than the rate of external consumer change.’ On the same note, there are certain asks from marketers if they wish to accelerate on this journey. They need to make a fundamental and assisted shift in mindset, skillset and toolset.

‘‘A clear definition of DT is in vain because it is an agile philosophy that c ontinues to iterate.”

Skillset

A further challenge has been clients wanting to rapidly internalise the function without due diligence. This can be a big stumbling block, as the entire roadmap gets relegated as a cost centre and, worse, gets caught up in red tape. To circumvent this double-edged sword, it is advisable to go in for a multi-stage engagement that spans phases of consulting expertise coupled with strategic workstream- and projectlevel deployment. This build-operate-transfer model is not new and has been the cornerstone of how the software as a service (SAAS) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) platforms operate. While this is diametrically opposite to the method some practitioners preach, Saudi clients need to view DT as a turnkey project, which necessitates a client-consultancy partnership as opposed to a scope signoff resulting in a templatised report that sits in an inbox with little to no execution.

Toolset

Mindset

The main issue we’ve seen in the past year is how clients locally tend to commoditise the discipline and group it with its distant cousin, digitisation. This dilutes the spirit of what it is meant to be. Digitisation is your technological readiness to service your business, while DT has far higher external outreach and incrementality baked into it. Transformation is also likened to evolution. This again is a disservice to the practice, as it places the capability in the hands of a few avant-garde marketing organisations. The reality on the ground in Saudi Arabia is that we’re witnessing momentum across multiple sectors, irrespective of maturity. The last limitation is becoming obsessed with frameworks. Instead, one needs to start with short- to mid-term goals that showcase tangible business value creation to stakeholders. It makes the road less travelled a whole lot easier. On the upside, Saudi clients are natively demonstrating the understanding that it can be a long-drawn and iterative process, one that will need handholding as they are exposed to newer models of business in their domains.

This brings me closer to home and my favourite area of martech. It is an area that has seen exponential crowding from new vendors every day, each offering the Holy Grail and promising a soon-to-beunicorn status. DT is about having the right fundamentals in place; uncannily for clients and agency personnel, martech is an area of discord because you cannot run before you learn to walk. We need to be less heady and more pragmatic about what benefits can be leveraged from DT. You need to audit, assess and articulate where the martech vision needs to land. Objectives and KPIs will follow automatically. Start off with a detailed gap analysis for assessing improvement areas in the stack that you are currently operating on. This will help to methodically augment your existing infrastructure with modular technology components that are essential in delivering the desired use-cases. In summary, there is clearly an addressable – and, more importantly, serviceable – need in the kingdom’s marketing scene for DT, with martech currently being the North Star. The good news is that the rate of change at the consumer end of the DT story has been phenomenal, largely due to the fast-paced adoption and adaptation by the government and private sector alike. In turn, KSA has become a torchbearer in internalising emerging technologies, overshadowing several more established countries. The onus is now on brands to acclimatise themselves to these new consumer ways and let marketing lead the charge in truly designing and delivering the value proposition by focusing on the four Ps of digital transformation: platform, processes, projects and people.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Innovate or deteriorate

Developing data – and a business model built on that data – is essential for fast-evolving Saudi marketers to grow in the modern media landscape, says Starcom’s Jad Saab

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he world is dramatically changing, especially since the Covid-19 pandemic. Countries have had to change, migrate and incorporate different economic strategies and technological integrations to ensure they move with the reality of the times. Even though the kingdom’s vision withstands the crisis, Saudi Arabia has experienced the new world dynamics with a rapid shift to remote working, increased online education, remote health services and the drastic rise in e-commerce. All those factors drove not only multinational brands but also local brands to digitally transform and cope with the new reality. Today, more than ever, media agencies play a critical role in bringing marcom strategies to life. The biggest challenge for agencies is to make each dollar invested in media work harder for their clients, and they can only make this happen if they ensure a great synergy between people, practices and products. To put some context into how this transformation is happening, the winning models are those that can grasp and analyse an organisation’s diverse requirements from product inception to customer retention through data – and the work being done with data by marketing agencies falls at the heart of this model. It starts with the right setup for processing omnichannel sources with a ready-defined technology and synchronisation process, followed by capturing and analysing real-time interactions of users with touchpoints, identifying audience clusters across these touchpoints and being able to make predictions using predictive analytics – all to support the goal of facilitating the decision-making process. The work, however, does not stop here, because interests and habits change with time, although they remain related. Therefore, the need for a solid data-driven business model that is able to capture these changes is a critical success factor.

‘‘The breadth of reach has lost is essence as a success factor, as consumers get spoiled with choices.” The breadth of reach has lost is essence as a success factor, as consumers get spoiled with choices; and creating value is becoming harder by the day, as it can vary across effective personalised content, better targeting, optimised scheduling or churn prediction and prevention. An intelligent approach to

data and analytics that can capitalise on audience insights with an unprecedented level of granularity is what will separate pioneer agencies from the rest. In addition, they will efficiently and fully leverage the fact that analytics have made it possible to monitor the swinging dynamics of ROI to utilise every penny spent on paid media. Meanwhile, the emerging conversation about data privacy and compliance is worrying some brands and advertisers. Some of them have their own doubts about the grounding of a cookieless world, and with very low user prompt-ins, the new iOS 14 secturity feature is raising the pressure to find alternatives, especially small to medium ones who today rely mostly on third-party data for precise and efficient campaigns. This notion by itself puts more responsibility on media agencies to keep transforming at a faster pace and become fully rounded data consultants. While not all advertisers realise the importance of first-party data or even their potential to collect and own such data, our key role is to help them through this transformation, advise them on (and implement) the technologies they need, build their data infrastructure, integrate their CRM, etc. We should help them establish and fully leverage owned data and become less dependent on third parties. Lastly, amid this dramatic change and the continuous Saudi evolution, agencies must continue to innovate. The media world’s challenges are beyond ‘postCovid’. We have to anticipate how the media world will look post-Covid, post-cookies and pro-privacy in all forms. We have to ask ourselves all the right questions: How can we ensure readiness of all parties? Are we building sustainable business models? How do we define success in the coming period? Vision 2030 provides a wider spectrum of growth and agencies will only be able to win if they properly define their role within this growth and keep innovating for human-driven solutions powered by data.

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

You had me at hello. What next? Saudi brands have started to grab attention globally, but consumers are asking for more, writes The MediaVantage’s Dan Qayyum

T

he Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a nation of 34 million people (that is almost as many people as Canada has). It is three times the size of Texas, with a GDP twice the size of the UAE. With 93 per cent internet penetration and 75 per cent mobile penetration, it also has the 11th largest stock market in the world, one of the most advanced banking systems, free healthcare, the largest airport in the world, and is home to multiple Unesco World Heritage sites. As part of a bold 2030 Vision aiming to diversify the economy with a particular focus on driving investment and tourism to Saudi Arabia’s many mega projects and attractions, the challenge faced by the Middle East’s newest and most exciting destination remains one of perception management: perhaps with good reason. In recent decades, the UAE – and particularly Dubai – has led the charge globally when it comes to

shaping a bold new vision of the Middle East. International audiences have grown familiar with Dubai aiming for and successfully achieving or creating the biggest and the best. The tallest building, the biggest mall, the largest man-made coastline, and so on. This often came at an expense to the rest of the region, which is perceived to be far behind and uninspired by Dubai’s progress for far too long. While that has started to change, so have media consumption norms and best communication practices around the world. Big iconic billboards in New York and London do little to impress or engage the locals, and instead serve more as an egomarketing exercise. While great for grabbing attention, these need to be backed up with engagement strategies, thought leadership and content marketing. Even on the basic awareness metric, ego-marketing sans strategy falls flat on its face with lack of communication depth. Donald Trump once said, “I love the Saudis; they make a billion dollars a day. They’ve got nothing but money.” Flattering, yes, but the time has come to change that narrative. The focus needs to shift from the brand to the consumer. Rather than announcing how amazing the new destination will look once done and what records it will break (that may have worked in the 80s and 90s, however there is a ‘record fatigue’ within consumers, particularly to do with this region), the focus should be on the problem it solves for the consumer. Conversations should revolve around the experience and what differentiates it from the region or the world. Content-led communication drives more engagement than massive screens that only serve as a costly way to display a brand’s logo over a visually appealing backdrop. For ‘challenger’ brands, content engagement is more meaningful from the audience’s point of view and provides a measurable impact on ROI for the brand. We have seen this with Sharjah Tourism’s pre-Covid campaigns on Ixigo in India and with Tencent in China – both of which boosted Sharjah’s searches and travel bookings from these markets, with some of the content going viral and driving millions of likes and shares. Brands that suffer from external challenges such as negative perception need to be smarter about how the advertising dollar is spent. Dubai faced unfair negative coverage earlier this year in sections of the Western press, due to perceived irresponsibility around Covid-19 when social posts

of a few ‘influencers’ went viral. Dubai’s response was less ‘in your face’ brand promotion, and instead more communication on its handling of the crisis and the safety and security afforded to travellers visiting the country. In the latest issue of The Economist, Facebook – which rakes in a significant chunk of the global digital ad spend – published a full-page ad talking about its Covid-19 measures and how it is helping governments around the world fight the pandemic. Facebook realises that the audience of The Economist, Wall Street Journal and Insider Inc. are not only influential but also opinion leaders and policy makers. Effectively communicating to this sector results in perception shifts on a far larger scale than brand promotion campaigns. Whether it is The Red Sea Company looking to take a thought leadership position on protecting coral reefs, Amaala talking about controlling the environmental impact of its projects, or the Ministry of Investment promoting the kingdom’s many measures to attract foreign direct investment, the conversation should be engaging and directed towards audiences that will help shift the narrative in both the short and longer run. Similarly, travel-starved audiences globally are itching to learn about newer destinations off the beaten track, and the likes of Asir and Al Ula are primed to attract hordes of travellers once restrictions ease up. This can be ensured by informative campaigns and content-led initiatives that drive deeper engagement with potential visitors from key source markets. The good news is that global consumers are now open to, and even expectant of, Middle Eastern brand messaging. What has changed is how we, as consumers, fabricate opinion from the brand messaging we now see. We are all aware the huge bombardment of brand messaging we are now subjected to has resulted in a subsequent lowering of our attention spans. Therefore, a constant cross-platform followup is important for multi-platform consumers, as this is where the opportunity lies. With so many questions surrounding KSA, but even more opinion-altering, forward thinking developments, the dialogue must be continuous – not just ‘look at me’ attention-grabbing executions. Consistency of follow-up wins the game every time. While form and attention is temporary, class and consistency deliver permanent results.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

C

ovid-19 has had a significant impact on every aspect of life, from how we go about our daily lives to how we do business. Brands and marketing agencies had to rise to the challenge and adapt with speed to the new landscape presented by the Covid-19 crisis. And now, as we emerge into a new post-crisis era, we have to pivot again to establish a ‘new normal’ way of working and design a new chapter of storytelling. When Saudi Arabia, together with the rest of the world, went into lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, at FP7 we realised we had to evolve how we told brand stories quickly. We had to ensure our brand stories remained relevant and resonated with their desired audiences. This continues to define how we are building a path of

The road to renewal FP7’s Mark Lawandos examines the path to a ‘new normal’ of constant change in the wake of Covid-19 and the changes sweeping Saudi Arabia

May 30, 2021

meaningful wholesale change as we invest in post-crisis renewal. An example of how the crisis was a catalyst for change is our work with the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA). The SFA’s mandate is to increase the number of people undertaking regular physical activity in the kingdom to 40 per cent by 2030. The Federation had planned a series of large-scale events throughout 2020, and we had developed an extensive marketing and communications strategy to support it. The introduction of the Covid-19 restrictions meant that everything had to be cancelled at a stroke, and a new marketing and communications approach had to be conceived quickly. We had to demonstrate our ability to react decisively and creatively to a huge, unforeseen challenge. We devised an innovative approach to community fitness to inspire and motivate physical activity during the lockdown. We developed the concept of a digital national health and wellness campaign: Baytak Nadeek (Your Home, Your Gym). The campaign was launched in mid-March with a series of calls-to-action. At the same time, a new healthy Living portal was launched on the SFA website offering informative and inspirational features on all aspects of fitness and wellbeing. The result of the campaign was: a 7.6 million online audience, a 60 per cent increase in walking, 8 billion steps logged and 1,800 videos shared online of Baytak Nadeek workouts. The campaign was also recognised with the Gold Award in the MEPRA Awards 2020, Best Campaign in KSA category. Another good example is “Listening is Everything” campaign from Spotify. With lockdown keeping people locked within the confines of their homes, music became their means to escape the monotony of indoor life as well as stay connected to the outside world. Using a series of quirky, smart and witty films, Spotify not only entertained them with good content but also encouraged them to stay entertained with the power of personalised music on the platform. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed behaviours, expectations and how customers want to consume content. The years ahead will offer a tremendous opportunity to those that

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‘‘The years ahead will offer a tremendous opportunity to those that have used the crisis to innovate and evolve.” have used the crisis to innovate and evolve. At FP7, we embrace change and are committed to designing a new chapter and a new future. We have a once-in-alifetime opportunity to refresh, reboot, and rediscover, and we are rising to that challenge. The path to renewal happens with purposeful intent, and we are determined to lead the way in post-crisis renewal and secure a sustainable future.


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SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

3Points Advertising

Accelerate Online

Type of agency: Digital 3points-ad.com info@3points-ad.com

Type of agency: Creative pl@acceleratemeonline.com acceleratemeonline.com

It started with a spark of passion; an obsession to build brands and build our clients’ businesses. And so we started it, a revolution, a Saudi ad agency that dared to compete with the multinationals. Our start shaped the map of advertising in the region and an advertising history was made. You know you are a leader when others follow. Today, many young men and women are following the road that 3Points walked through in 1998. For us, it was the road less travelled.

Accelerate Online provides its new age of consumers with digital and integrated marketing solutions. Through incorporating the various aspects of typical agencies, we are able to provide complete and comprehensive approaches to fit your marketing needs, while ensuring a strong brand image across various popular platforms.

77 Media Holding Type of agency: Production house 77-m.com 77@77-m.com Established Feb 22, 2010 with very limited capital, 77 Media started as a one-man multimedia production house. Today, 77 Media has become a holding company with seven subsidiaries in the fields of communication, entertainment, and technology.

9SS Creative Type of agency: Creative anmar.m@9sscreative.com 9sscreative.com

Accenture Interactive Type of agency: Creative middleeast@accenture.com accenture.com Accenture Interactive is a new kind of partner for a new kind of client. We are designed from the ground up to empower clients to own Experience from start to finish. We believe that a great idea can transform an Experience, and a great Experience can transform lives. We are committed to helping design, build, communicate and run experiences that make peoples’ lives better, more productive, and more meaningful.


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Advisors 360

APCO Worldwide

Type of agency: Marketing and communications advisors-360.com kapoor.d@advisors-360.com

Type of agency: PR Founded: 2017 Saudi office: Riyadh Managing director, Saudi Arabia: Liam Clarke lclarke@apcoworldwide.com

Advisors 360 is a fully integrated marketing communications agency. With over 25 years’ experience, we offer you a diverse range of services including advertising, events, BTL, promotion, activation and design. Real solutions to real marketing issues. Down-to-earth, honest and hardworking communication solutions. We love our clients irrespective of the value of their project. We believe in building our business by building your business. It many sound cliched, but we take pride in the quality of our work, speed of service and the fact that we are available 24/7 for our clients.

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APCO Worldwide, an international advisory and advocacy communication consulting firm, has a full-service offering in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Services include media, digital and social, public relations, marketing communications creative, advertising, research, advisory services and more. Saudi Arabia is one of the fastest developing business markets in the world today. It is growing and changing at an exponential pace due to a focus on innovation, investment and diversification of the nation’s economy. APCO’s presence in the region is led by a nuanced understanding of this market, tailored to the country’s ambitious economic and social agenda. APCO was founded in the United States in 1984, in the Gulf in 2006 and has been operating in Saudi Arabia since 2017.

AGA-ADK Advertising and Marketing Founded: 1997 Offices: Beirut, Cairo, Dubai (HQ), Jeddah, Riyadh Chairman: Roger Sahyoun General manager: Sami Darazi Regional ECD: Joe Maalouf info@aga-adk.com aga-adk.com +966 12 606 2207 Founded in 1997 as a full service agency. In 2004, it signed an affiliation with Asatsu-DK (ADK), the third largest advertising network in Japan, AGA-ADK is a full-fledged communications agency in the MENA region. Known for its blend of memorable and effective ad campaigns that aim to deliver results. Using data to drive creative solutions, and with a content-first approach, the team focuses on creating relevance in communication in a world where individualisation and hyper-personalisation in advertising is taking lead in building consumer relations. SERVICES: Full marketing communication services, strategic planning, creative designs, consumer activation, production, branding and corporate identity, content planning and production. KEY CLIENTS: Al Fardan Group, SAMACO (Porsche, Porsche Design), GAWAMEN, Umm Al Qura for Development and Construction Company, Langnese, Saudi German Hospital, Al Hussaini, Indomie, Zagzoog Group, Bosch, Siemens, Toshiba.

SERVICES: Stakeholder engagement, creation of advisory boards, capacity building, public relations, branding KEY CLIENTS: Public Investment Fund, Qiddiya Investment Company, Transport Ministry, Sunbulah, Abdul Lateef Jameel and other government and private sector entities.

ARC Type of agency: Event management Founded: 2005 Director: Faisal Al Abdali Saudi office: Jeddah faisal@arcme.net ARC is the events management arm of TRACCS, the largest independent communications consultancy network in the MENA region, with extensive experience in exhibition stands, innovative installations and branding, and visual remodelling. ARC has catered to the event management needs of many clients, delivering tailored, brand-centric, and creative concepts and ideas. ARC’s full-service turnkey event solutions have inspired events that have delivered unprecedented outcomes and results for clients. SERVICES: Events, conferences, and exhibitions

Archimedia Type of agency: Digital sherif.eldahshan@archimedia-me.com archimedia-me.com

AKQA Type of agency: Advertising & marketing Founded: 1994 Saudi office: Riyadh Managing director – regional: Bassel El Sawy Deputy general manager – KSA: Mohamad Daher mohamad.daher@akqa.com bassel.sawy@akqa.com AKQA is a full-fledged, digital-first creative, communications and performance agency that employs more than 220 professionals across Middle East and 6,000 globally across 50 countries. Awarded two Cannes Lion Grands Prix in 2019, and recently named by Gartner and Forrester as one of the world’s leading experience design and innovation agencies. SERVICES: Creative & production, customer & brand experience, brand strategy, storytelling, performance, tech & innovation. KEY CLIENTS: Hardee’s, Google, Emaar, Aramco, Toyota, Hertz, Al-Futtaim, Ministry of Tourism – Saudi, Krispy Kreme, Home Centre, ACE, Kotex, Baskin Robbins

Archimedia is the region’s leader in audiovisual and automation technology. Since 2004 the company has prided itself on consistently delivering well engineered and brilliantly designed solutions for residential, corporate and marine projects. Equipped with a team of highly trained and certified professionals, Archimedia has received numerous international awards for utilising some of the industry’s finest brands to create award-winning, technology-enhanced environments. Archimedia are technology architects. We ensure that all your interactions with technology both at home and in the office are sleek, discreet, simple and responsive, enabling you to achieve what you want as easily as possible.

Bold Agency Riyadh Type of agency: Digital bold.com.sa +966 11 433 0099 +966 11 562 4400 Bold is a multi-disciplinary agency of artists, writers, coders, technologists, thinkers and what comes in between, leveraging cultural insights found at the intersection of a human truth and brand value to deliver powerful, evocative and truly unforgettable campaigns.


“We've been working with һ And Us since

2019 and we've been so impressed by their creativity and executional excellence. We are really in awe of the out-of-the-box ideas they comes up with every single time.” — George Schempers, Head of Marketing

Deliveroo.

“ They do not only push creative boundaries but also push us as the client out of our comfort zones and stretch us in taking bold decision to really create an impact in a very cluttered sector.” — Hussein Kandil, Regional Marketing Director

“Their signature is the creative thinking

out-of-the-box, the ideas are carefully crafted to uplift the brand and create high talkability - their approach is for clients that are ready to dare and take their brands to new heights.” — Anna Maria Aloe, Head of Marketing

Shahid.

“Their energy and passion

“We feel we have an agency that

genuinely feels like an extension of our team that is able to address real business needs with creative excellence. This has paved the way for Batelco to increase our top-of-mind awareness and spontaneous ad recall in the market.” — Bilal Adham, Chief Marketing Officer

Batelco.

Americana Foods. National Food Company.

“Working with һ And Us, isn’t just like working with an

agency partner, but rather working with the cooler side of your family tree. Their ability to bring unique creative ideas to the table that solve our complex business problems is what every marketer should be looking for.” — Ahmed El-Gamal, Head of Marketing

MetLife

for our projects have been something we always admire. They put their heart into the project and constantly and relentlessly want to deliver the best work. But most importantly, thanks for out-of-the-box unique and distinctive ideas.” — Mert Yener, Senior Marketing Manager

KFC MENA - YUM

“At Coca-Cola we are in a constant

quest of understanding people in deeper and more meaningful ways. һ And Us shares this ambition and their focus on clear, simple insights is reflected on work that resonates with our audiences, is creatively sound and distinct.” — Claudia Navarro, VP Marketing Eurasia & Middle East Operating Unit

Coca-Cola.

Dubai Lynx 2020 & 2021 Independent Agency of The Year is not so independent after all. Thanks to our team, our suppliers and the clients we depend on to make every day possible.

www.and-us.agency


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Type of Agency:Creative Founded: 2018 www.and-us.agency fadi@and-us.agency WHO WE ARE — We are an independent, creatively led agency.  WHAT WE DO — We provide business growth solutions and expert services across the entire customer journey. HOW WE DO IT — We work side-by-side with our clients to solve their business problems or create business opportunities with creativity, technology and design.

LEADERSHIP PANEL

WHY WE DO IT — To give our clients a competitive advantage and help them address their bottom-line and top-line growth objectives simultaneously. SERVICES: Creativity unbound: marketing and communication; digital; online and social; branding and design; strategy; data product development; content development and production; PR; media, Gaming events KEY CLIENTS: Google, Deliveroo, Batelco (Bahrain Telecom Company), Tencent Games, Shahid, Oppo, Hardee’s, KFC, Coca-Cola, MetLife, F1, Jotun and us

˘

Fadi Yaish CEO and Chief Creative Officer

Thanks to all our clients who make everything possible

www.and-us.agency

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SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Brandwill

Chesstag

Type of agency: Digital brandwillagency.com info@brandwillagency.com

Type of agency: Digital info@chesstag.com chesstag.com

We apply our combined 50 years of experience and an uncanny understanding of the digital landscape to our clients’ most challenging projects. And we love every second of it. Our solutions create the kind of engagement that transforms a company’s brand, and a company’s industry into a cultural touchstone that people care about and want to be a part of. We’re fiercely proud of our work on websites, videos, branding, apps and any other medium to help our clients bring their ideas to the world.

Businesses are always looking for solutions to reach their target audience. Let your messaging reach the right people using the digital marketing services we provide.

Cheil KSA

SERVICES: Integrated campaigns, social media management, digital campaigns, email marketing, creative content, web design and e-commerce, brand management, digital production, influencer collaboration.

Create Media

Type of agency: Creative infomea@cheil.com Cheil MEA is a leading 360-degree advertising agency regionally headquartered in Dubai, and with seven offices across the region. Its dedicated digital business provides full creative development and localisation (across channels such as social media, display and video), as well as e-commerce, CRM, media buying, and UX/UI design & development.

Type of agency: Creative www.createmedia-group.com We’re Create Media; the leading digital communications agency with offices and teams in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Cairo & Karachi, powered by a team of 100+ relentless innovators who constantly push boundaries. We’re ambitious, customer-focused creators, recognised as one of the 100 fastest growing agencies in the world in 2019 & 2020 by Adweek. From social media to e-commerce solutions, we deliver across verticals, all underpinned by a full inhouse production team that has been creating global campaigns for the likes of Dubai Tourism. SERVICES: Digital, digital strategy, logo design, performance marketing, social media, video production, web & app developments

Type of agency: Integrated PR Founded: 2000 Head of company: Sunil John, President – Middle East of BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW Saudi office: Riyadh info.asdaa@bcw-global.com asdaa-bcw.com +966 59 240 1958 (Mohammed AlMaskati) ASDA’A BCW is the region’s leading PR consultancy providing integrated communications services with eight wholly-owned offices and nine affiliates in 15 countries in the MENA region. Through its wholly-owned subsidiaries PSB Middle East (research and data) and Proof Communications (digital, social and design), ASDA’A BCW brings integrated and creative PR, digital and design solutions. SERVICES: Consumer & healthcare, corporate, enterprise & technology, financial and public affairs PR; in-depth research and data analysis through PSB Middle East, a wholly-owned subsidiary;

digital, social and design services through Proof Communications, a wholly-owned subsidiary KEY CLIENTS: The Red Sea Development Company, Amaala, Saudi Entertainment Ventures Company (SEVEN), Seera Group, Dar Al Arkan, Ithra by Saudi Aramco, Projects supported by the Public Investment Fund, Ford, GE, Nestle, Raytheon, VISA, Air Arabia, Huawei, Snap, DIFC, STARZPLAY, Gulf Craft, Engie Cofely and Pukka (Unilever) AWARDS: Global Agency of the Year 2020 at PRovoke Media Awards; Gold for ‘Best Communications During COVID-19’ and ‘Highly Commended’ as ‘Best Integrated Campaign’ for Snapchat at PRCA MENA Awards 2021; Dubai Lynx 2020-2021 Silver for Corporate Image, Communication & Reputation Management, and Bronze for Social Behaviour & Cultural Insight for Betty Crocker; Highly Commended for Best Agency in the Middle East at PRWeek Global Awards 2020; Best Campaign in the Middle East for 11th Arab Youth Survey at MEPRA Awards 2019; Middle East Consultancy of the Year at EMEA SABRE 2019 Awards

LEADERSHIP PANEL

Sunil John

Sameh Hamtini

President – Middle East of BCW and Founder of ASDA’A BCW

Executive Vice President Middle East

Geoff Beattie

Mohammed AlMaskati

Executive Vice President Regional Operations

Vice President – Saudi Arabia


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Creative Blend

Dice Marketing & Advertising

Type of agency: Creative hello@creativeblend.com.sa creativeblend.com.sa

Type of agency: Creative Founded: 2013 Saudi office: Riyadh Co-founder & managing director: Sari Kazma talktous@dicema.com

Integrating advertising, marketing and professionalism is the cornerstone of Creative Blend. As a Saudi-based agency serving the MENA region, Creative Blend utilises international standards, experience and ability to create innovative advertising solutions for our clients to give them a distinct advantage in their market niche. Our vision is to become the leading advertising agency in the MENA region and our team of experienced professionals strive to achieve that goal with every client we take on. Our creative minds provide an innovative look at advertising and create sustainable, results-oriented solutions that our clients can depend on. We think outside the box for our clients to provide them with the solutions they need for success. Creative Blend’s mission is to provide quality advertising services that integrate creativity with value designed to exceed our clients’ expectations. SERVICES: Branding, advertising, digital marketing, creativity, social media, print, public relations, events.

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Dice Marketing & Advertising provides high-quality, cost-effective marketing solutions that always remain on-brand and come in on budget. We help exceptional brands grow. Our beliefs are that relationships come first and deliver the best results. Our clients receive exceptional, creative, and influential ideas for their campaigns and brand. SERVICES: Creative, digital services, social media management, events & activations, photography & videography KEY CLIENTS: HPI, HPE, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Accenture, Schneider Electric, Honeywell, Philips, Xiaomi,

Edesign Creative Edge Type of agency: Media info@ceholding.com ceholding.com Since we set up in 2003, our team has grown internationally to over 150 dedicated employees, and we have offices in Riyadh, Jeddah, Dubai and London. Our core management team possess an unmatched knowledge of regional audiences, and brings world-class business and media expertise to every project. SERVICES: Media sales and consultancy, production, radio, digital media, sports.

Type of agency: Digital edesign.com.sa +966 50 911 1311 We are a team of about 40 professionals, including specialist designers, account managers and planners, marketers and IT professionals. Between us, we have all the expertise you need to achieve your aims, whether it’s growing your business, promoting your brand, maximising your returns, or communicating with your stakeholders. Our team are not just highly skilled and passionate problem solvers, with a flexible, forward-thinking and outward-looking approach; we are also committed to total transparency and honesty at all times. That ensures you get not just the best solutions for your needs, but the ultimate in service. SERVICES: Digital marketing, digital development.

Creative Formula SA Type of agency: Creative info@cf-sa.co cf-sa.co We grow your brand through combining creative strategic solutions with outstanding design. From 2015 until today we have kept on empowering businesses through growth-driven strategies. With a diverse portfolio, we deliver customised innovative solutions that create value for your clients. SERVICES: Strategic planning, digital marketing, creative and branding, event planning and management, AV production.

Dentsu Type of agency: Media Founded: 2007 Saudi offices: Jeddah and Riyadh Managingdirector, Dentsu KSA: Ahmad Haider ahmad.haidar@dentsu.com Dentsu is made up of eight leadership brands – Carat, dentsu X, iProspect, Isobar, dentsumcgarrybowen, Merkle, MKTG and Posterscope – supported by its specialist brands. Dentsu helps clients to win, keep and grow their best customers and achieve meaningful progress for their businesses. With best-in-class services and solutions in media, CXM, and creative, Dentsu International operates in over 145 markets worldwide with more than 46,500 dedicated specialists. SERVICES: Media, creative, customer experience, search, social KEY CLIENTS: Goody, Sunbulah, Savola, SADAFCO, Al Rajhi Bank, Saudi Post (SPL), Bupa Arabia, JLR, Microsoft, Burberry, MasterCard, Dr. Samir Abbas Hospital, Abbar Foods, Mazda

End Consumer Type of agency: Creative contact@endconsumer.net endconsumer.net End Consumer is an integrated creative marketing solutions agency, offering a comprehensive range of tailored services to our partners and clients. Our team of dedicated professionals originates unique concepts catering to specific segments from event concept, creativity development, design stage, to production, execution, management and result analysis. In a span of 25 years, End Consumer has conceptualised, managed and delivered successful events with the royal, local and international markets, a precedent for offering high quality standards and services.

Five Colors Type of agency: Creative info@fivecolors.com fivecolors.com From the shores of Saudi Arabia comes an answer to the creative needs of the Middle East, in Five Colors. The idea became a company that then opened up branches in Los Angeles, California and currently in the burgeoning capital that is UAE. As the times are changing so are our methods. We at Five Colors have not only in-house capabilities; we also have a team of freelance professionals that we hand pick specifically in accordance to our your needs and budget concerns. Think of us as one of those agencies you see on TV and movies that hire special agents to guarantee the success of your mission. Your success is our success. SERVICES: Advertising, photos, film, opportunities for work, web-site packages, as well as social media fans.


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SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Type of agency : Digital Founded: 2004 Head of company : Abdulrahman Saud: CEO Headquartered: Riyadh https://bassmat.com Info@bassmat.com +966 12 257 3737

LEADERSHIP PANEL

To be brave, to motivate people and brands to take on their titans. To create infinite impact that the world can sense and truthfully embrace. This is our purpose. We are not made for everyone. We are made for the few. Who trust that purpose isn’t just a business proposition but a way of life, and for those who trust we can do the unimaginable, together. We are braver together, we are Bassmat KEY CLIENTS: Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Human Resource and Social Development, Ministry Of Health, Naqua SERVICES: Strategies & brands experience (branding strategy, marketing & communications strategy, campaign strategy, developing brand experience); creative (brand identity, creative campaign, developing creative content); social media & digital PR (social media management, community management, digital PR, reputation management); media buying (media planning, media buying online/offline, influencer relations); digital content (content creation, creating and developing digital content, developing social initiatives, SEO); technology (creative technology, UX & UI solutions, mobile application development, digital transformation); marketing activation (brand activation, event development); analytics and data (monitoring and listening, digital campaign analytics)

Abdulrahman Saud

Hatem AlKharsh

Chief Executive officer

Chief Creative Officer

Faisal Algain

Marc Stevenson

Chief Growth Officer

Creative Director

AWARDS: MEA Transform awards – Best use of copy style/tone of voice 2021; MEA Transform awards – Best brand experience 2021; MEA Business Awards: 360 Best Local Agency 2020; Arab Social Award: Best Social Media Agency 2015

INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

ABDULRAHMAN SAUD CEO, Bassmat

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU HAVE SEEN TO THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS IN SAUDI?

After so many years working with governmental entities, we wanted to experience something different, to get more exposure, new challenges too. But we face two big changes that the impact of Covid-19 goes well beyond While some agencies have already taken some big and difficult steps forward, others seem to hope that things will go back to normal. A vaccine can halt the spread of a virus—and thank goodness for that—but it won’t reverse fundamental shifts where the business landscape or customer expectations are concerned. One more big change we face is the work-fromhome era, which has been here for a while now. You’ll be in a pretty good spot if you’ve found out how to keep the efficient stuff that makes you unique, effective in collaboration, delivering the highest possible customer support and providing a better employee experience.

HOW ARE SOCIAL CHANGES AFFECTING THE INDUSTRY?

Mohamed Bin Salman had announced that Vision 2030 succeeded in changing people’s mentality and

attitude to a new era. The true effect of the new Saudi Arabia and transformation taking place is its ability to power innovation and diversification and support entrepreneurship where its has never been more important. While this opens up more opportunities for agencies to be more free and innovative, agencies must not get starry-eyed. Bassmat, I believe, chooses to be more cautious in adhering to key customs and societal laws. We like to read the room because otherwise we would become tone-deaf.

WHAT ARE CLIENTS ASKING FOR THAT’S NEW?

Bassmat prides itself on being a local team with a global mindset. It has a focus on understanding the culture of every client that it meets, approaching each project with the idea of finding a unique business solution. We’re prepared for a lot of change and uncertainty. The briefs we’re seeing (especially new business briefs) are throwing all kinds of new challenges at us, but new opportunities are coming along with them. Our advantage – our understanding of the environment in KSA – has the most impact. We have a direct view into the way new technologies are emerging, and we’re able to use data to forecast tiny adjustments (like in the ways we serve clients) as well as larger shifts (like in the way we allocate our resources on a larger scale). Clients are more aware of the right way things being done.

WHAT DO YOUR CLIENTS VALUE MOST?

We know just what our clients will appreciate: versatility, flexibility and the desire to execute incrementally when working for the big picture. Our clients know where they want to go, but they

need our assistance in planning and determining how to get there. Oftentimes, they try to go for the game-changer – whatever that is with their brand – but transition is difficult. They must understand the surest way to take the most rewarding chance. It is not easy to have the very granular, strategic course and to pave it with proof points and gradual results. That is where they place their trust in us: in our digital-first approach, in our innovative ways of seeing the customer’s perspective, in our ability to design the interactions that matter while still connecting them through a diverse, harmonised ecosystem.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TO GROWTH IN KSA ,AND HOW ARE YOU TACKLING THEM?

It’s a time of change, and the most significant challenge is that new subspecialties and trends will pop up everywhere. But the ability to put everything together, being flexible, collaborative, and having ways to co-create, will be the key attributes of any successful agency. Bassmat has the ability to acquire these attributes, localising content fitting for international brands while being relevant to KSA’s unique culture and traditions. The tightening talent market is another challenge. Business success requires talent. KSA is rich in talent, but in a highly competitive market it becomes much more difficult to recruit and retain talent. We are proud of of our qualified national individuals and expertise and we develop a plan for training ever year. I’m in favour of promoting young talent internally. We consider other appealing job perks like flexible hours and remote positions.


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

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Focusadvertising

FP Social

Type of agency: Creative info@focusad.ae focusad.ae

Type of agency: Marketing info@fpsocial.com fpsocial.com

Focusadvertising is a boutique agency that has been giving brands in the MENA region the best focus to stand out in a competitive market environment. We are focus-oriented communication experts that deliver strong ROI. We produce creative yet effective campaigns and own the process from the strategic planning phase through production. We do not follow a one-size-fits-all policy with our clients. Every client has different needs, wants, goals and objectives, and we respect that. Our team is made up of a diverse group of people, with a diverse range of skill sets, providing grounded expertise in today’s evolving marketplace.

We blend events, social media and direct marketing strategies through the backing of our research design that empowers our client with cost-effective, deep and insightful knowledge of their local, regional and global marketplaces. We offer total brand activation, bringing brands to life through exciting, engaging and powerful experiences from strategy to execution. SERVICES: event management, social media, web development, direct marketing, design, public relations, content management, lighting.

SERVICES: Strategic marketing planning, advertising, creative development, printing and production, website development, corporate identity, social media and content management, media booking and management, and direct marketing.

Four Communications Type of agency: PR Founded: 2001 Saudi office: Riyadh CEO: Nan Williams ray.eglington@fourcommunications.com Four delivers integrated campaigns and a range of marketing and communications services based on a blend of industry knowledge, cutting-edge insights and inimitable expertise. SERVICES: Integrated campaigns; PR; digital marketing; social analytics & engagement; behaviour change

Framedkeys Entertainment Type of agency: Creative info@fke.sa fke.sa We create and produce content that stands out, speaks to souls and illustrates messages and ideas that help create a better tomorrow. We believe that sharing and giving are generous deeds, which certainly drives our enthusiasm to share content that people love to engage with.

KEY CLIENTS: Airbus; UPS; Honeywell; Marriott International; Dubai Tourism

Type of agency: Marketing & Events Agency Founded: 2009 Saudi office: Riyadh (headquartered in Dubai) Holding group: TGW Live Head of company: Mohammed Tayem, founder & CEO https://www.entourageintl.com/ +966 11 419 1919 info@entourageintl.com

LEADERSHIP PANEL

Entourage is one of the leading, fully integrated marketing agencies with a proven record of working on mega projects, offering the full spectrum of marketing services to design, manage and produce conferences across the MENA region, with the latest technologies for online marketing and events. SPECIALISMS: Event Planning & Management, Advertising, Creative, Content Strategy and Development, PR, Social & Digital Media and Media Buying

Mohammed Tayem

Nada Radi Subaih

Founder & CEO, entourage

Head of Event Planning

Ali Hamade

Nicholas Pereira

Senior Event Manager

Creative Director

KEY CLIENTS: Google, YouTube, G20, Egypt Tourism Authority, MISK, Monsha’at, Ministry of Education, and Snapchat AWARDS: Won the SME100 twice hosted by the Dubai Economic Department, the latest 2015 awards ranked entourage at No.19 among the top 100 companies in Dubai; EFFIE Awards MENA in 2012, 2013 and 2014; Dubai Lynx 2011 & 2014; MEPRA awards 2014; Middle East Event Awards 2012, 2013 & 2014; EACA Care Awards – 2018; Business Awards 2017 – Best Emerging Creative Agency


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SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Extend -The Ad Network

LEADERSHIP PANEL

Agency type: Full-Service (creative, digital, media) Headquartered: Riyadh www.extendad.com contact@extendad.com

Extend is a Saudi marketing communication agency. We are an agile, digital-first and idea-led marketing agency established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia with offices in Dubai and Cairo. With insightful local knowledge and game-changing technology, we influence culture and drive maximum impact. We are truly full-service and exist to form strong, bold connections between brands and people in Saudi Arabia. SERVICES: Communication strategy & planning; creative & content development; integrated media planning & buying; social media strategy & management; monitoring & reporting; 24/7 community management; live event coverage; influencer marketing; film production KEY CLIENTS: Al Majed Oud, Al Romansiah, Baja, HungerStation, Ithra, Local Content & Government Procurement Authority, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Tourism, National Sukuk, Oud Elite, Royal Commission for AlUla, Saudi Tourism Authority, STC Pay, The Diriyah Gate Development Authority.

INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

GHASSAN KASSABJI Chief growth officer, Extend

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU HAVE SEEN TO THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS IN SAUDI? No one can truly grasp the level of change in Saudi unless you live in Saudi. The changes are simply unprecedented and driven by Vision 2030. From an industry perspective, the biggest change we are witnessing is a clear emphasis by brands on Saudi culture and authenticity. Global and regional brands are choosing Saudi agencies and want to connect with their customers through genuine

Ghassan Kassabji

Ali Alzbdani

Chief Growth Officer

Executive Creative Director

Turki Al Sayari

Tarek Shalby

Business Development and Client Experience Director

Digital Operations Director

Saudi stories and experiences. Adapting regional ideas to the Saudi market will no longer resonate with the Saudi consumer. On the other hand, the transformation of Saudi into a global travel and entertainment destination has propelled both private and public sector brands to build effective creative and communication strategies. Extend is a Saudi agency and was established in Riyadh as a social/digital-first creative agency to work hand-in-hand with Saudi clients, and we have a wide range of clients in our portfolio across both government and private sectors. As Saudi is one of the largest social media markets in the world, we have to always lead with social/digital-first strategy and ideas. Overall, it’s an exciting time to be in Saudi, to be part of the creative renaissance, and to work with brands who want to truly understand the Saudi culture and customer and tell stories from their perspective.

build long-term partnerships and not just one-off campaigns. Clients want us to be part of their brand journey and are asking us to embed some of our team members as part of the creative process. We are also seeing a shift towards region-specific narratives and communication. A couple of years ago ads for Saudi would have been generic and probably in formal Arabic. Now, it’s all about local – and if you get it wrong the Saudi customer will make it very clear they are unhappy with the brand. Localisation in Saudi is nuanced and there is a big difference between the Najd (Riyadh), and Hijaz (Jeddah) regions: from the dialect to the influencers who are popular. And the only way to know? To have a local agency with local know-how.

HOW ARE SOCIETAL CHANGES AFFECTING THE INDUSTRY?

The challenge of talent acquisition and retention is not unique to Saudi. However, what is different in Saudi is the high demand for experienced local talent by both local and global agencies as well as both the private and government sectors. At Extend, we are creating an environment for talent to grow and prosper, and we want to be part of the process to foster the next generation of Saudi creative leaders. There are many lessons that have come out of the coronavirus pandemic, and that we at Extend have embraced. We have to be nimble and open to change; work fast, but smart; accommodate for different clients’ needs; lead with story and authenticity; and, most important, our team and talent are at the heart of our agency. We are a Saudi agency with big ambitions, and our story has just begun.

Over the past two years Saudi women’s participation in the workforce has spiked from 20 per cent to 33 per cent, and at Extend we are always working towards empowering Saudi women. We have also seen a shift in Saudis choosing a career in creative sectors (a bonus for us). Saudis need to be in control of their own narratives. At Extend, our leadership team is diverse, but it is only through our Saudi talent that we can tell Saudi stories. It is also exciting to be part of the rise of the local creative community of actors, singers, influencers, and so much more.

WHAT ARE CLIENTS ASKING FOR THAT’S NEW?

Authenticity is probably the key word for marketing and advertising in 2021, and clients are looking to

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TO GROWTH IN KSA, AND HOW ARE YOU TACKLING THEM?


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Fullstop

Gluetube

Type of agency: Creative, Digital Founded: 2002 Saudi offices: Jeddah, Riyadh Head of company: Omar AlAbdali info@Fullstop.sa

Type of agency: Digital info@gluetube.com.sa gluetube.com.sa

We were the new kids in the block 18 years ago. We wanted to bridge the gap between brands and consumers by providing creative solutions that are driven by local insight with stopping-power ideas. We find ourselves as one of the primary contenders for industry titles in terms of size, scale, revenue and awards. However, through it all, we remained true to ourselves and committed to our purpose. It’s just that the way we go about things has grown, and continues to grow and evolve.

SERVICES: Web, social, mobile.

SERVICES: Communication strategy; creative ideation; social media management; digital strategy; content creation KEY CLIENTS: Mobily, Misk, Jabal Omar, The Saudi Cup, Manga, Matarat, Flyadeal, Tawteen

GAG Events & PR Type of agency: Events and PR info@gag.com.sa gag.com.sa GAG has been a leading company in the field of event management & public relations since 1999. The company has international public relations success due the proficiency shown in: festivals, concerts, public and private and international festivals, tourism, forums, exhibitions, electoral propaganda and more. SERVICES: Public relation, event management, social media management, stage design, exhibition stalls, light and sound equipment, video editing, press conferences, music concerts, entertainment

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Established in 2006, Gluetube is a market leader with a solid track record. It has creativity and local understanding. It is professional and committed.

Go Clouding Type of agency: Digital go-clouding.com We are the Clouders. We have decided to travel to the top of all, to see and build a whole picture. We catch ideas from outer space and send them to Planet Earth as words and visuals the humans can grasp. SERVICES: Community and reputation management through social media, website development, branding, logos, influencer marketing.

Headline Communication Type of agency: Marketing & communications info@headlineme.com headlineme.com We are a fully integrated marketing and communications agency with years of experience in Saudi Arabia and in the rest of the GCC SERVICES: Marketing, events.

Type of agency: Creative Founded: 1968 (in KSA since 1983) Saudi headquarters: Riyadh Head of company: Tarek Miknas tarek.miknas@fp7mccann.com marc.lawandos@fp7.com +966 (011) 2152211 www.fp7.com

LEADERSHIP PANEL

FP7 is a fully integrated communications company servicing the Middle East and North Africa, representing IPG’s flagship brand, McCann Erickson. We are part of Interpublic Group ‘IPG’ that owns and manages a wide spectrum of marketing disciplines and specialized communication brands. SERVICES: Strategic planning; advertising (online and offline); brand marketing; product marketing; brand activation; event management KEY CLIENTS: Al Rajhi Bank, Jawwy by stc, solutions by stc, Sports For All (SFA) – Ministry of Sports, Tadawul AWARDS WON: Jawwy – The Ramadan Campaign That Didn’t Launch In Ramadan (New York Festivals – AME Awards / 1 Gold; MENA Effies / 1 Silver Effie; WARC Media Awards / 1 Bronze); Almosafer – As Far As We Go (MENA Effies / 3 Gold Effies, 1 Silver Effie; Dubai Lynx / Gold; WARC Global Strategy Awards / Gold / Brand Purpose; New York Festivals / 1 Silver; Loeries / 1 Silver, 1 Bronze; Epica Awards / Bronze; WARC Global Media Awards / Bronze; WARC MENA Awards / Bronze); Almosafer – Stories of Mecca (Dubai Lynx / Bronze; 2020’s Top Film Campaigns / Campaign Middle East); Al Arabiya Outdoor – Be A Man (Digital Mena Awards – Gold); Al Jazirah Ford – Decision Impossible (Digital Mena Awards – Silver); Spotify – Listening is Everything (2020’s Top Film Campaigns / Campaign Middle East)

Tarek Miknas

Marc Lawandos

CEO FP7/MENAT

Managing Director KSA

Claude Abboud

Dany Azzi

General Manager KSA

Executive Creative Director


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SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Hearts & Science

Ideal Choice

Founded: 2016 Saudi offices: Riyadh, Jeddah General manager, UAE: Dana Sarkis MENA@hearts-science.com +966 50 908 2230

Type of agency: Marketing & events info@ideal-choice.com ideal-choice.com

Hearts & Science is a data-driven marketing and transformation agency network, part of Omnicom Media Group. The company specialises in the use of data and technology to deliver on your business objectives. SPECIALISMS: 360-degree media planning and buying services, digital media planning, performance marketing and e-commerce solutions, SEM/SEO, business and digital transformation, tech consultation and orchestration (CRM, CDP, DMP, cloud infrastructure setup, blockchain), marketing science and ROI optimisation, advanced analytics and cognitive, data monetisation, web design & UX & UI, consumer insights and journey mapping, data partnerships.

Ideal Choice Establishment was founded in 2004 and built around several main points of expertise. Within these expert services we have further divided them into two subdivisions: Ideal Choice Marketing and Ideal Choice Construction. This smart and dedicated approach aims to give clients within each vertical a proper dedicated team to ensure 100 per cent satisfaction and meet and exceed expectations. Based on this smart approach, we were able to grow in a very challenging and demanding market. info@ideal-choice.com

Ideation iCom-Vizeum Type of agency: Digital +966 12 606 8890 We are a media services company providing in-depth expertise across all media contacts, including traditional mass media and new engagement connections. We leverage unique and powerful tools to generate consumer insight to build your brand. SERVICES: planning, buying, monitoring, communications.

Type of agency: Creative info@ide-ation.com ide-ation.com Ideation is a specialised marketing and advertising agency headquartered in the UAE, with branches in Saudi Arabia and the UK. As the name suggests, Ideation stands for the formation and creation of ideas and concepts. Ideas are the core work for the agency as we develop them according to the clients’ needs and requests. We believe that each client is different and requires a special strategy. SERVICES: Strategic planning, creative solutions, web design and development, interactive marketing solutions, research and development, branding and identity.

LEADERSHIP PANEL

Type of Agency: Digital Founded: 2011 Head of Company: Amer Massimi Info@hashtag-me.com www.hashtag-me.com +966 11 293 2889 Hashtag tells brand stories on social. Operating in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Hashtag’s core philosophy revolves around creating creative and strategic content that humanises brands on social media. Our team believes that behind every successful social media campaign is a human touch, human interaction and human conversation. SERVICES: - Brand defence; creative content; crisis management; data analytics; holistic analytics; influencer marketing; media buying; personal branding; social media strategy KEY CLIENTS: Amazon, Centrepoint, Fitness First, Splash Fashion, Oppo AWARDS: Two-times Forbes Top 100 Award winners

Amer Massimi

Samir Al-Sharmani

CEO

GM

Firas Al Sahhar

Reine Jalloul

Account Director

Digital Art Director


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Imagination

In Comms

Type of agency: Creative Founded: 1979 (Riyadh office opened 2021) Head of company: Patrick Reid oliver.marriott@imagination.com

Type of agency: Creative tarek@in-comms.com in-comms.com

Imagination is an independent experience design company headquartered in London, with 14 offices worldwide. Founded on a principle of independent creativity, we bring together diverse groups of strategic, creative and practical people who remain free to find the right answers to client challenges. SERVICES: Consulting, destinations, content and live experiences KEY CLIENTS: Ford, IKEA, LVMH, Samsung, Jaguar Land Rover, HSBC, Major League Baseball, 3M, Shell and Telstra.

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Our core belief in this new era of marketing is that brands become successful when they influence the culture and add relevant value to people’s lives. We are a specialised Saudi agency dedicated to building Saudi brands; this what set us apart from others. We believe in the new paradigm to create culturally influential value in the target market by leveraging and influencing the popular culture to make brands matter to people while driving business results. We develop inspiring marketing that goes beyond messaging to actions, and we aim to ignite consumer devotion and advocacy.

Initiative iMetric Head of company: Saad Sraj Hello@iMetric.net +961 382 4754 +966 56 545 3561 iMetric is an integrated digital media agency, with offices in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. Data, metrics and technology are at the heart of everything we do. We partner with our clients with the aim of growing their business and profitability through multiple digital marketing solutions. We add value to businesses by building dynamic media strategies and plans optimised for maximum efficiency. SPECIALISMS: digital media planning, media buying, SEO, SEM, social media, paid ads, programmatic, analytics, paid social, performance media, content management KEY CLIENTS: King Abdullah Economic City, ChuckEcheese, Burgerizzr, MCIT, Al Jomaih, SMSA, Harvey Nichols

Type of agency: Media Founded: 2003 Saudi office: Riyadh CEO MENAT: Bassem Massoud www.initiative.com +966 11 201 0878; +966 12 665 0474 Part of Mediabrands. Initiative is a global communications agency built to grow brands through culture. As consumers actively increase their advertising avoidance behaviour, at Initiative we believe that anchoring media activity to rapidly evolving cultural trends provides brands with the most effective route to relevance, and ultimately growth. Applying this philosophy to our clients’ brands has contributed to Initiative being named globally by RECMA as the fastest growing media network in the world. SERVICES: digital marketing; holistic analytics; integrated media planning; integrated media buying; performance marketing KEY CLIENTS: KIA Al Jaber, Bank Al Jazira, Americana, COTY Arabia, IFFCO

LEADERSHIP PANEL

https://me.havas.com +966 11 250 5703 SERVICES: Communications strategy; media strategy; investment planning and buying; data and KPI planning; programmatic; data analytics; performance marketing; mobile and geolocal; OOH and experiential; media experience (Mx); digital marketing; social media; performance media; e-commerce; brand design; advertising; content creation; website and app development; content studio; community management; brand communications strategy & consulting; media & influencer relations; influencer campaigns; corporate communications; executive branding; stakeholder relations; internal communications; event management; reputation management. KEY CLIENTS: Abu Kass, Carrefour, Meem (GIB), Sanofi Aventis, Saudi German Hospital, Jawwy, Tanmiah, Chalhoub group and Hyundai & KIA AWARDS WON: Dubai Lynx 1 gold, 2 sliver, 3 Bronze; D&AD; The One Show

Dany Naaman

Varun Kohli

Chief Executive Officer

Chief Financial Officer

Rami Husseini

Omar Redwa

Managing Director

Creative Director


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SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Kattan Media

Leo Burnett ME

Type of agency: Digital info@kattanmedia.com kattanmedia.com

Founded: 1974 Heads of company: Raja Trad (exec chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA); Bassel Kakish (CEO, Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey) www.leoburnett.com

Kattan Media combines 40 years of experience in various fields, including marketing and media in their traditional and digital forms. Our company is built on strong creativity and even stronger thinking, making it a source of endless possibilities in the media field. SERVICES: Social media strategy, social media management, influencers outreach, digital marketing, talent management, media planning and buying, video production, brand positioning.

Leo Burnett has been present in the region since 1974. In 1989 it established its regional headquarters for the Middle East and North Africa region in the UAE. With approximately 150 employees, we manage some of the world’s best brands, in addition to a multitude of regional and local brands in MENA. Deeply rooted in the region, Leo Burnett is the first global agency in the region to become a 100 per cent fully owned regional agency network. SERVICES: Integrated solutions encompassing: advertising; strategic planning; digital strategy; direct CRM; social media; brand & corporate communications; consumer activation; packaging design; brand design; audio/visual production and more.

LIVEmena Type of agency: Digital info@livemena.com livemena.com

Koraspond Type of agency: Digital info@koraspond.com koraspond.com Koraspond is a 360-degree digital media marketing agency that is born out of a passion for creative edge to build and deliver exceptional digital solutions. SERVICES: Social media marketing and management, mobile app development, e-commerce solutions, web application & design, creative artwork (branding and copywriting), SEO, 2D/3D animations.

An agency founded back in 2008 that pursues online marketing, advertising and social media with a full dedication to doing them perfectly. LIVEmena serves several corporations in the GCC and Middle East, aiming to lead the region with a high superiority for clients, and therefore we do it really well. LIVEmena gathers a group of talented and highly proficient people distinguished in marketing who intend to harness their skills and knowledge to establish, implement and adapt internet marketing, online media and search engine strategies. SERVICES: SEO and SEM, pay-per-click management services, online media planning and buying, online viral marketing, social media optimisation, Facebook apps, mobile application development and web development.

LEADERSHIP PANEL

Type of Agency: Fully integrated communication agency: creative, media, digital Founded: 1976 Saudi offices: Riyadh, Jeddah http://Horizonfcb.com +966 12 650 3100 admin.jeddah@horizonfcb.com Horizon FCB Saudi Arabia has, for the past 40 years, been a pioneering creative agency and brands consultant. The agency blazed a trail in the digital media market in the kingdom, providing 360-degree marketing and communication services under one roof, in addition to media planning and buying through its media arm, BPN. With more than 70 employees and main offices in Riyadh and Jeddah, Horizon FCB’s continuous presence

in the market geared the agency up to work with local and multinational clients, as well as government agencies. The agency’s deeply rooted culture supports the empowerment of women and local talents. It was the first to initiate co-op training programmes with local universities to attract their potential stars. SERVICES: Brand consulting, branding/identity, journey planning, integrated creative communication, content creation/ execution, BTL solutions, shopper marketing, experiential activations, promotions & sponsorships, video/ content production, social media management/ moderation. KEY CLIENTS: Real Estate Development Fund, Basamh Industrial, Petromin, Kimberly-Clark, Americana, British Council, Rubaiyat, Saudia Medical

Mazen Jawad

Tony Rouhana

President

Vice President

Mohamad Ayoubi

Nayef Mujaes

Deputy General Manager

Senior Creative Director


CREATIVE AGENCIES

May 30, 2021

Maestro Group

Memac Ogilvy

Type of agency: Media info@maestrogroup.com maestrogroup.com

Type of agency: Creative Founded: 1986 Saudi offices: Riyadh, Jeddah Regional managing director: Samer Abboud samer.abboud@ogilvy.com

Established in 2008 in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Maestro Group was founded by a group of people who believe in the power and potential of our country. With a continuous body of work aimed at fostering creativity and innovation in KSA and the region beyond, we look towards our homegrown talent to help leave a positive impact on our society. We base our work on data mining, using analytics to help us uncover local day-to-day cultural insights that make people tick. By reactive monitoring, we effectively steer social behaviour in the direction of needed change. But we understand that pretty things also inspire people and have built Maestro on a hybrid work culture that does not sacrifice design on behalf of efficiency. SERVICES: Event production, event management, conference management, multimedia show, AV and lighting rental, branding, advertising, digital solutions, media production, ob van rental, webcast streaming, studio services and facilities.

Magna Type of agency: Media Founded: 2005 Saudi office: Riyadh General manager, KSA: Nameer Abou Ismail www.magnamena.com info@magna-global.com +966 11 215 2211 +966 56 929 2192 Magna is part of Mediabrands, the number one media agency group in the region as per RECMA. We are the fastest growing agency at scale as per RECMA and the Most Effective Media Agency Network in 2020 as per the Global Effie Index. Recently named the agency of the year in the MMA MENA awards. We are a full-service agency that provides communication solutions across the MENA region. We combine the power of data and technology with creativity and innovation to devise tailor-made business solutions that deliver business results. SERVICES: Integrated media planning, integrated media buying, e-commerce, performance media solutions, DMP management KEY CLIENTS: Unilever; Subway; Al Nahdi Medical Co; Salam; Banque Saudi Fransi; Al Jazirah Vehicles Agencies; Sports For All; Saudi Stock Exchange, Shamel Food Company; Atlantis; Mezzan Holding Co; Baskin Robbins

Masader advertising Type of agency: Creative info@masader-sa.com masader-sa.com +966 2 657 6945 +966 2 657 6944

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Part of Ogilvy Worldwide, award winning Memac Ogilvy is the most local of international agencies and the most international of local agencies, with two offices in KSA since 1986. Sixty-two employees strong and constantly growing, we offer exceptional in-market expertise, creative solutions, and communications excellence. Leveraging combined regional and global capabilities, we create strategies and programs that create value. SERVICES: Creative; strategy; account management; social & performance; tech platforms, partners & data; media & content across five distinct expert groups. KEY CLIENTS: Saudi National Bank, Nadec, Ministry of Culture, AMEX, VOX Cinemas, and Savola.

Milk Type of agency: Creative hello@milkdesign.co milkdesign.co We make brands talk through creative solutions that are both effective and innovative – setting visual, verbal and practicable standards that creates your whole brand experience. SERVICES: Discovery, strategy and brand map, shaking the gap, implementation.

Mockup Creative Type of agency: Creative zorba@mockupcreative.com mockupcreative.com We are a group of young, passionate and ambitious integrated thinkers who come from different backgrounds and schools of advertising and communication, and who share the same vision: delivering to brands and consumers like never before. SERVICES: Strategy, understanding the MVP, user story creation, technical architecture, technical specifications, brand direction, growth tools integration, design, user experience, web & mobile UI, conversion focused, brand development, video & animation, email campaigns, development SaaS products, webGL & canvas, MYSQL & NOSQL, PHP/GoLang/node.js, JS/angular/backbone, HTML5/CSS3

MSL Group ME Founded: 2001 Head of company: Ajit Ramaswami (COO, ME) middleeast.mslgroup.com SPECIALISMS: Corporate communications; crisis management; strategic media relations; consumer & influencer management; public affairs

Mefan Creative Agency Type of agency: Creative and production Founded: 2017 Offices: Jeddah General manager: Rami Alkhizzy Creative director: Thamer Alwakili Rami@mefan.co Thamer@mefan.co info@mefan.co We come up with and produce creative ideas. We assist in customising and implementing ideas with our clients to start a journey of inspiration and turn dreams into reality. SERVICES: Social marketing campaigns, creative campaigns, media productions KEY CLIENTS: MoHRSD, Nahdi Medical Company, Basamh Group, & SBMF

Moon Productions Type of agency: Production house nader@moonproductionme.com moonproductionme.com Moon Productions is a content creation company and a full-service video production and distribution house. Whether you are an advertising agency, PR company, TV station, educational organisation, brand, producer or anything in between, we can assist you with your goal and message; whether it be a TV ad, educational video, awareness campaign or an entertaining communication piece. SERVICES: Creative content generation, pre-production services, production management and resource planning, video production services, postproduction services, motion and computer-based graphics, full audio recording services, CD/DVD packaging and duplication.


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SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Nasher

Phenomenal PR and Events

Type of agency: Creative info@nasher.co nasher.co

Type of agency: PR & events info@prphenomenal.co prphenomenal.co

Nasher helps its partners to compete successfully in marketing and advertising strategies through excellence in producing creative content and helping them to achieve proliferation, through multiple services in all media outlets.

Phenomenal is a Saudi public relations and event management agency founded by Shadi Zahid in 2006. It believes in Saudi capabilities, which is why it is managed by Saudis, giving the company an advantage as it is more in-tune with the local, GCC and MENA markets. Phenomenal provides strategic solutions to clients in order to highlight and improve their company’s image through creative plans that include media relations, event management and promotion campaigns based on international standards.

SERVICES: Content production, social media management, branding, advertising.

SERVICES: Media relation service, event management, press conference, crisis management, IPO camping, team building arrangement, brand activation, CSR activity, fairs event management, sport event services, opening and more

PG Integrated Type of agency: Creative pgintegrated.com One of Saudi’s most established agencies, we have 37 years’ experience, in the kingdom, with over 100 diverse marketing specialists who share a passion for brands and an understanding of the market and local culture. Our goal is to be our clients’ partner – a philosophy that we demonstrate daily, through our longstanding relationships with some of KSA’s leading companies. This philosophy of partnership is reflected in our unique approach. While PG Integrated has a broad range of offers and services, we tailor our communication mix to suit your unique requirements – working from strategic insights to develop individual solutions, across traditional and non-traditional channels.

Pixel Arabia Type of agency: Digital info@pixel-arabia.com pixel-arabia.com Pixel Arabia is a new media organisation founded in 2006 with so many media faces all geared up towards improving customers’ response to your brand and generating your desired business results. We believe that people buy products, endorse services and create revisions more because of the impression they have continuously of the brand’ behaviour. The small details lead to a big difference. As a dedicated digital partner, taking care of every single pixel of your business towards creating a strong digital image will always be our approach to intensify your brand’s luminance in an ever-evolving era. SERVICES: Website design and development, mobile application development, social media management, digital marketing, digital brand design, online business consultation.

LEADERSHIP PANEL

Type of agency: Retail ideas company Founded: 2016 Head of company: Sachinn J. Laala, CEO Saudi office location: Jeddah hello@liquidretail.com www.liquidretail.com +966 55 168 0850

Sachinn J. Laala

Colman Sheil

CEO

Chief Creative Officer

Richard Nicoll

Khaled Ghorayeb

Chief Strategy & Capability Officer

Managing Director, KSA & Egypt

Liquid is a retail ideas company, bringing together more than 90 experts, who are fully dedicated to helping brands win across all forms of commerce. We solve our clients’ business problems at the speed of retail by delivering creative, content, merchandising and execution ideas that help brands sell wherever, however, whenever. SERVICES: Retail planning and strategy; shopper-based creative, design and activation; store-back content for e-commerce; implementation and maintenance of e-commerce assets; e-media; e-commerce marketplace management KEY CLIENTS: P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Pepsico, Nestle, Bieresdorf, Savola AWARDS WON: Winners of the International Category for their work at the Shop! Greater China Awards: Pepsi Black – Gold; Head & Shoulders Charcoal – Gold; Wella Koleston – Silver; Gerber Organics – Silver; Pantene Superfood – Silver; Head & Shoulders Supreme – Bronze


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Promenti

Rocket Interactive

Type of agency: Digital info@promenti.com promenti.com

Type of agency: Digital +966 53 555 3740

At Promenti, we provide a complete continuum of marketing and creative services to help you get your message to your clients in a strategic and compelling way. We’ll help you develop a plan to engage your clients and stir them to action, then we unleash our creative team with deep experience across a wide range of marketing disciplines. SERVICES: Advertising, digital, branding & design, media, activation, social media, photo video shooting, video production, 2D & 3D animation, music & sound recording, copywriting, signage production, printing, public relations, IT solutions

Promovision Type of agency: Events info@promovision.com.sa promovision.com.sa Promovision started its operations in 1993 in Saudi Arabia, managing global brands with the best practices worldwide and meanwhile adapting to local insights and boundaries. It was founded by a Saudi entrepreneur with impeccable credentials, a PHD in logistics and more than 22 years’ experience in the events and experiential field, and operates with the support of a hybrid team of dedicated and experienced fresh graduates to ensure professionalism and liveliness in the work we provide.

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Building an intergalactic experience in digital product design and development, leading to a digital transformation journey. We are inviting you for an intergalactic experience to offer a new innovative concept and technology that will serve your brand and make it thrive all the way to the stratosphere. We offer innovation and creativity to redefine your experience to connect digitally with your client by creating outstanding websites and applications that offer the best user experience on any device.

Rowad Media Type of agency: Production house mamdouh@rowadmedia.com.sa rowadmedia.com.sa Rowad Media was established in 2005 to provide world-class Arabic media and entertainment content with Saudi hands, to form an integrated, creative work environment in the media and entertainment sectors with professional standards. SERVICES: Media production, renting, cinema, events management, design, theatre, TV, consulting, training, investment

SERVICES: Events management, experiential marketing, creative concepts and production

Saatchi & Saatchi ME Redimpact Type of agency: Creative Founded: 2007 Saudi offices: Jeddah, Riyadh Head of company: Taha Alawi Alsafi info@redimpactarabia.com A leading Saudi advertising agency and the only Saudi member of The NetworkOne – the largest global network of independent agencies – with a proven track record of achievements and management of megaprojects for public and private sectors, including recognisable projects for Saudi 2030 Vision. SERVICES: Strategic planning, building brand identity, creative communication, integrated digital marketing solutions, content creation and engagement activities. KEY CLIENTS: Public Investment Fund – PIF, Ministry of Communication and Information Technology, General Authority of Entertainment, Unilever, Panda Retail Stores.

Ritix Group Type of agency: Production house info@ritixgroup.com ritixgroup.com Ritix Group was established in Saudi Arabia in 2006 to provide effective solutions to develop business in the private, public and non-profit sectors through its consulting, production, media and investment companies. Ritix Group is one of the leading companies in the kingdom, with more than 200 projects completed. Our number of employees exceeds 50. Ritix is headquartered in Jeddah, with offices in Dubai, Cairo, Beirut, and Riyadh.

Founded: 1992 Heads of company: Raja Trad (exec chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA); Bassel Kakish( CEO, Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey) www.saatchi.com Saatchi & Saatchi has grown from a start-up advertising agency in London in 1970 to a global creative communications company headquartered in New York with 130 offices in 70 countries and more than 6,500 employees. Saatchi & Saatchi is part of the Publicis Groupe, the world’s third largest communications group. We are a full-service, integrated communications network and we work with six of the top 10 and more than half of the top 50 global advertisers. We believe passionately in the power of ideas to differentiate and motivate. And to change the world for the better. SERVICES: Integrated solutions encompassing advertising; strategic planning; digital strategy; direct CRM; social media; brand & corporate communications; consumer activation; packaging design; brand design; audio/visual production and more

Silkdeer Entertainment Type of agency: Production house info@sd-e.net sd-e.net Silkdeer Entertainment is a leading entertainment group in Saudi Arabia. Upon establishment, 2002, the company began with film production and motion graphics, and due to the absence of broadcast networks and cinema, focus shifted to the private sector, a market that has long desired local and quality productions. Today, Silkdeer Entertainment is home to a consortium of companies in a variety of disciplines, all within the entertainment field. Each company operates individually in its realm of expertise.


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LEADERSHIP PANEL

Type of Agency: Media Founded: 2000 Heads of company: Eyad Abdul Khalek (CEO); Ramez Zeineddine (Managing Director) Saudi office: Riyadh mena@mediacom.com www.mediacom.com +966 11 464 4408

Eyad Abdul Khalek

Ramez Zeineddine

CEO

Managing Director

We are a global media agency with a difference. Our network of 8,000 system thinkers helps clients to unlock growth by having a big-picture perspective across a brand’s entire communications system. We combine data, technology and creativity to design communications strategies that build brands, generate sales and maximise the effectiveness of our clients’ marketing investments. SERVICES: Media strategy, buying & planning; social; SEO; mobile; digital; research, analytics & insights; data leadership; digital transformation consultancy KEY CLIENTS: NADEC; Olayan Food Division; Flyadeal; Apparel Group; Virgin Mobile; adidas; Mars; Richemont; Shell

INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

RAMEZ ZEINEDDINE Managing director, MediaCom Saudi Arabia

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU HAVE SEEN TO THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS IN SAUDI? These are unrestrained times for industry folks within the kingdom. Not only are new rules of the game being amended daily due to the 2030 Vision, but we are also witnessing seismic shifts in how clients articulate objectives and identify drivers to growth. What is commendable is the excitement amongst local and foreign talents with this transformation and their commitment to these remarkable changes, which demands an outcomefirst mentality. The immediate impact for agencies is to go back to fundamentals to ride this wave – to have a clear product offering and the talent to deliver on this vision. I can confidently say that long gone are the old ways of conducting business in Saudi. Today, if you are to succeed as a business, you need to start implementing Saudi-first thinking and what it entails.

HOW ARE SOCIETAL CHANGES AFFECTING THE INDUSTRY?

What has become apparent is Saudi’s embrace of the recent societal changes that are already

Alex Jevons

Burt Reynolds

Executive Director Growth & Operations

Data & Technology Director

reflecting positively on the economy, individualwelfare and resulting lifestyle habits. Retail, QSR, automotive, domestic travel, entertainment and a whole gamut of sectors have seen near-term positive impact (even when averaging out the Covid-19 impact) on a large scale from these changes, due to the new opportunity segments that have opened up. We are also seeing more interplay from government and private sectors working together, aimed at ultimately delivering a better life for Saudis. To call out some of these: the ‘Sports for All’ initiative and the entertainment and motors sports initiatives by both GEA and SAMF. These were embraced by the population and then leveraged by the private

sector, all of which has resulted in a cascade of new projects and a great upside for the industry.

WHAT ARE CLIENTS ASKING FOR THAT’S NEW?

We are seeing clear, consistent requirements from our clients in Saudi: 1. Single, coherent and integrated multi-discipline team structures, as opposed to fragmented specialist agencies working in silos. There is an increasing need for holding companies to provide solutions that truly deliver a single-team ecosystem, and provide talents with horizontal experiences to service a progressive market. 2. A consultancy mindset with a capability to execute. Delivering the best of the two worlds to truly deliver client impact. 3. Technology that will help with scale, efficiencies and revenue. 4. A commitment to outcomes. An ability to define and deliver strategies that will unlock growth, helping to change the perception of the marketing discipline from a perceived cost centre to a critical core revenue driver.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TO GROWTH IN KSA AND HOW ARE YOU TACKLING THEM?

Greater focus is needed to support developing local content and thinking Saudi-first. This fittingly complements the client requirements I touched upon and are at the core of everything we do as MediaCom. Being part of WPP, the largest marketing and communications company in the world, helps us to address these challenges, ensuring we bring our clients the very best end-to-end solutions, talents and commitments.


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LEADERSHIP PANEL

Type of Agency: Media Founded: 2000 Saudi offices: Riyadh and Jeddah www.mindshareworld.com razmik.k@mindshareworld.com +966 12 665 0363 (Jeddah) +966 1 462 2238 (Riyadh) We are part of an extensive network of 10,000 people across the world partnering with our clients to use media with the intention of promoting good growth that drives both business and society. In 116 offices across 86 countries, we manage $24.1bn in billings as part of GroupM, the media investment arm of WPP. Our Saudi offices total over 30 diverse professional disciplines and cultural backgrounds. We are exceptionally proud to have been in the market for more than 20 years and this understanding of the evolution in the consumer, marketplace and media

INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

RAZMIK KALAIDJIAN Managing director, Mindshare Saudi Arabia

landscape ensures we deliver current and future clients’ growth. Our client portfolio continues to increase, and in 2020, COMVergence ranked Mindshare MENA with the highest billings in new business. SERVICES: Communication strategy; integrated media planning and investment management; performance marketing (search/SEO/PPC, paid social, programmatic); adtech & martech consulting; e-commerce; research & insights; econometrics; data solutions & analytics; social community management; content ideation & creation

Tony Bourached (MENA CEO)

Razmik Kalaidjian (MD)

KEY CLIENTS: Mobily, NCB, NEOM, Nova Water, PIF (Public Investment Forum), Kimberly-Clark, Baja, Alsafi Danone AWARDS: Campaign Global Agency of the Year, Cannes Lions Media Network of the Year, MMA Global Mobile Agency of the Year, WARC # 1 Media Agency Network

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU HAVE SEEN IN THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS IN SAUDI?

Conducting business in Saudi has not fundamentally changed. What we have seen in the past four to five years is a more structured approach to investments and a much bigger focus on achievements and results. That result-oriented focus obviously requires a well-trained and well-equipped workforce.

HOW ARE SOCIETAL CHANGES AFFECTING THE INDUSTRY? A little over five years ago life was very different in Saudi. The country is changing for the better, and various pieces of research suggest that Saudis believe better things are still on the way. This is a a reflection of how people perceive the changes today and the future. For example, if we take events (preCovid) like Dari3iya Season (which we promoted) or Riyadh Season, or Winter in Tantoura, the amount of interaction with the new image of Saudi Arabia is a reflection of how much Saudis look forward to the transformation that is taking place. These changes are societal, and the agency’s role is driven by consumer insight, and an understanding of consumer behaviour and motivations. Naturally our industry has a role to play in supporting the new societal changes and reflecting that in our client’s marketing efforts to connect

Elias Saroufim (DMD)

with new generation who are embracing these changes.

WHAT ARE CLIENTS ASKING FOR THAT’S NEW?

Fundamentally clients look for growth, and to achieve those growth targets we need to understand the drivers for growth. For example, Saudi consumer are well-versed in absorbing new tech and feel comfortable in interacting and engaging with new platforms. We see those as opportunities in developing new avenues for connecting with consumers. Covid has also accelerated digital transformation and e-commerce readiness, which varies by sector but is certainly a new stream that is on the top of the agenda.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TO GROWTH IN KSA, AND HOW ARE YOU TACKLING THEM?

The Saudi economy is around $800bn. If we take a step back and look at the 2030 Vision, at the heart of the Vision is moving the kingdom away from its oil dependency and a focus on diversification of revenue. That naturally opens the business ecosystem along with the government support to accelerate growth in the private sector. Having said that, the ecosystem is set up to minimise challenges for business growth but obviously market conditions, consumer pull, and aggressive competition can be hurdles for growth.


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Sketch Creative Boutique

Spark Foundry

Type of agency: Creative Services: Branding, advertising info@sketchcb.com +966 12 639 0066

Founded: 2000 Heads of company: Raja Trad (exec chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA); Bassel Kakish (CEO, Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey); Alain Brahamcha (CEO, Spark Foundry Middle East) www.sparkfoundryww.com Spark Foundry’s bold vision harnesses the spirit of a start-up combined with the soul of a powerhouse that melds an entrepreneurial, innovative business approach with the full resources, capabilities and marketplace clout of Publicis Media. SERVICES: Media consultancy, planning and buying; branded content; e-commerce; data and analytics

Smart Social

Starcom

Type of agency: Digital info@smartsocial.me smartsocial.me

Founded: 2000 Heads of company: Raja Trad (exec chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA); Bassel Kakish (CEO, Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey); Racha Makarem (CEO, Starcom ME) www.starcomww.com

We are diligently looking for everything new in the world of social media – all the hidden technologies, all the distinctive success stories around the world, and on the basis of which we develop our long executive list. Then we take all these technologies to put them in your hands and achieve your goals, and therefore our team is a social media agency; they are not just a group of people who live on the internet.

Starcom is a world-renowned media communications agency that architects connected human experiences to create value through precision marketing, content and technology solutions. With more than 5,000 employees worldwide, Starcom partners with the world›s leading marketers and new establishment brands. Starcom is part of Publicis Media, a key division of Publicis Groupe, one of the world’s leading communications groups. SERVICES: Media consultancy, planning and buying; branded content; e-commerce; human experience and research

Founded: 2002 Head of Company: Wissam Najjar, COO, OMD MENA Saudi offices: Riyadh, Jeddah hellosaudiarabia@omd.com https://www.omd.com/contact/saudi-arabia/ +966 11 216 7796 (Riyadh) +966 12 657 3087 (Jeddah) OMD is the world’s largest media network with more than 12,000 people working in over 100 countries. As the world grows with opportunities, the key is reacting to them, by making better decisions, faster – combining innovation, creativity, empathy and evidence to help them move faster, reach further and take smarter risks every day.

LEADERSHIP PANEL

SERVICES: Strategic planning & investment management, performance marketing, data and technology consulting and implementation, analytics and e-commerce transformation/marketplace management. AWARDS: Global Media Agency of the Year 2019-2020, Adweek; Media Agency of the Year 2019, Dubai Lynx; Most Effective Media Agency Office 2018, Best Place to Work 2012-2019, Great Place to Work Institute.

Wissam Najjar COO, OMD MENA


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LEADERSHIP PANEL

Abdalla Alsaid

Type of agency: Creative Founded: 2013 Head of company: Abdalla Alsaid Saudi offices: Dhahran, Riyadh info@om.sa om.sa +966 13 811 1181

Chief Executive Officer

Onsor Mosha is a brand-led creative agency guided by strategic foundations and a deep understanding of powerful human and local insights.

Ahmad Konash Co-Founder & Creative Director

Born out of a sincere passion for all things creative, we help build brands through marketing communications. SERVICES: Advertising and promotional campaigns, marketing communications, design services, internal and external corporate communications KEY CLIENTS: Roshn, Mayar Foods, Al Muhaidib Group, Haier, Royal Commission for Riyadh City, Almoosa Specialist Hospital, National Housing Company

Fathi Jibreel Client Servicing Director

INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

ABDALLA ALSAID CEO, Onsor Mosha

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU HAVE SEEN TO THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS IN SAUDI?

The biggest change is the fact that today, branding and communications have become a critical component of business planning and strategies being spearheaded by government bodies and initiatives. The strong infrastructures in internet speed and penetration, and ease of travel allow for more flexible operations across several cities.

HOW ARE SOCIETAL CHANGES AFFECTING THE INDUSTRY?

You need to be always on top of things that are shifting constantly and very fast. With the youth’s sense of responsibility in contributing to national aspirations, there has been a slew of fresh ideas and innovations that lend opportunities for the industry to create more impactful and sustainable work.

WHAT ARE CLIENTS ASKING FOR THAT’S NEW?

There are more real attempts at strategic thinking and insights to build more meaningful connections with their audiences.

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TO GROWTH IN KSA AND HOW ARE YOU TACKLING THEM?

Due to the many opportunities today, there is a myriad of creative shops springing up with “trendy” concepts. Our responsibility is to highlight the long term benefits of proper strategic thinking and creativity.


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Tajalla

Telfaz11

Type of agency: Creative hello@tajalla.co tajalla.co

Type of agency: Creative Founded: 2011 Saudi office: Riyadh CEO: Alaa Yousef Fadan sales@telfaz11.com

Tajalla is that companion you can rely on to set your business on the right path and take you by hand to the right audience on the right ride. SERVICES: Strategy, branding, social media management, OOH, radio ads, video, photography, copywriting, SEO, advertisement, design, motion graphics, signage, web design, infographics, publications.

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A creative media production company with offices in Saudi Arabia and the UAE specialising in locally relevant entertainment content from the Middle East. Led by a passionate team of storytellers and social influencers, the company specialises in digital content creation and client-led commercial productions, with an eye to expand its unique offering to long-form series, movies and feature films. SERVICES: Content creation, digital storytelling, creative entertainment, media production, creative ideation, influencer management. KEY CLIENTS: STC, Salamatak (Gulf Health Council), MiSK, IKEA, Burger King, Marsoul, Dunkin Donuts, Zain

Taurus

The Creative Squad

Type of agency: Creative hello@taurus.co.com taurus.co.com

Type of agency: Creative info@c-squad.com c-squad.com

Intrinsic values make up the basis for any human experience and facilitate delivering the desired impact. We believe that every experience is a human experience, and that learning only comes from doing. Hence, using empathy and intuition as our primary tools, at Taurus we design experiences that fulfill human needs, address human preferences and unlock human mindsets. We are living proof that when like-hearted, like-minded and like-intended people come together; they redefine the limits of what is possible.

We think deeply, we create stories, we activate experiences. Trusted by the world’s biggest brands, we transform small ideas into big strategies with thought-provoking creative solutions bringing brands and consumers together.

SERVICES: Branding design, business and marketing strategy, experiential design, digital design and technology, service design, product design, design thinking workshops.

SERVICES: Creative communication, research and development, campaign and brand strategy, concept development, conceptual designs, brand identity development, branding, brand packaging, design, brand consultation, social media content development, brand activation, shopper marketing, in store and in mall activations, digital and social media activations, event management, retail solutions, script writing and storyboarding, motion graphic and animation ads, TVC/ DVC development, radio ads, product photography, corporate

Founded in London in 1990; Dubai in 2006; Abu Dhabi in 2008; Riyadh in 2010; Beirut in 2017; Cairo in 2018 Head of Company: Luca Allam, CEO of PHD MENA Saudi offices: Riyadh, Jeddah Info.uae@phdmedia.com https://www.phdmedia.com/mena/ +966 54 134 9777 Guided by the ethos ‘Make the Leap,’ PHD is renowned for driving disproportionate growth through transformative and creative ideas. PHD is one of the most forwardthinking media agencies by challenging convention and breaking new ground in strategic thinking and planning. Built on a culture of thought leadership, innovation and creativity, it is one of the world’s fastest-growing agency networks. Globally, PHD has more than 6,000 staff, more than 100 offices worldwide, and is part of Omnicom Media Group.

LEADERSHIP PANEL

SERVICES: Media planning & buying; strategic planning; data analytics & technology consultants; social & content marketing; SEO; creative services including dynamic creative optimisation AWARDS: Network of the Year, M&M Global 2020; Best Place to Work 2012-2019, Great Place to Work Institute; The Most Effective Media Agency Office MENA Effies 2019; 1 Cannes Lion 2019; 1 Festival of Media 2019; 7 MENA Effies 2019; 2 Dubai Lynx 2019; Top 5 GPTW list consistently since 2013; Top 3 Most Effective Office MENA Effies 2018; 5 MENA Effies 2018; 7 Dubai Lynx awards 2018; 3 MMA Global Smarties 2018; Festival of Media 2018

Luca Allam CEO of PHD MENA


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LEADERSHIP PANEL

Type of agency: Media Founded: 2015 Saudi office: Riyadh info@relymedia.net relymedia.net

Ghaleb Abdoun General Manager

+966 11 201 1900

RELY is a media planning and buying agency located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Through a team of experienced media professionals, our job is to make the most effective use of the advertiser’s media budget, where the ad message is delivered to the right audience at the right cost. At RELY, we create well-crafted media strategies that reach and interact with end consumers. SERVICES: Media consultancy; digital & offline media planning; media investment management; market research

Mohamad Amhaz Media Manager

KEY CLIENTS: Centrepoint, Max, Homecentre, Splash, Home Box, Al Romansiah, Jeeny, Skechers, Michelin, Herfy, Baic, Canton

INDUSTRY SNAPSHOT

communicating the ambitious changes and transformations taking place in Saudi Arabia.

GHALEB ABDOUN

WHAT ARE CLIENTS ASKING FOR THAT’S NEW?

General manager, RELY

They’re asking for a stretched ad investment. With media budgets being affected by the recent pandemic, clients are more and more asking for customised media solutions that deliver on their marketing and sales objectives, yet take into consideration the limitations of media investment. Smart media planning is key to outperforming and delivering engaging campaigns without necessarily exceeding set budgets.

WHAT IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE TO THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS IN SAUDI?

Tactical short-term media planning, where media ad space is being ordered on campaign-by-campaign basis, has always been a considerable challenge to the way we do media business in Saudi. That is mainly applicable to small and medium-sized local accounts, which are difficult to convince of the benefits of long-term media planning. This holds back media planners from thinking in terms of strategic planning and limits their potential to tactical deliverables only. Hence, we sometimes see inconsistent media approaches. However, with the recent emerge of local young marketers, we are seeing a change to the way media investments are being tackled. This is positive news to media agencies and vendors alike.

HOW ARE SOCIAL CHANGES AFFECTING THE INDUSTRY?

The recent changes taking place in the kingdom had a positive impact on the media

WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES TO GROWTH IN KSA, AND HOW ARE YOU TACKLING THEM?

industry. For example, the entertainment and tourism sectors brought enormous opportunities, where concerts, festivals, and events highly contributed to local ad spend. Moreover, cinema has arrived to fill a gap in the media mix being offered in Saudi. The media industry has a key role to play in

We perfectly understand that media channels have multiplied, and new channels have recently emerged and are expanding by the day. This has affected consumers enormously making them easier to speak with and harder to speak at. Thus, creating media solutions that reach and interact with end consumers remains the biggest challenge to media agencies and their growth in KSA. Creating one general communication strategy is not helpful anymore. Instead, we use technology to design specific media strategies and implement them by conducting research and staying a step ahead of the changes the near future will bring.


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

The Social Clinic

Uturn

Type of agency: Digital contactus@thesocialclinic.com thesocialclinic.com

Type of agency: Creative uturn.me

The Social Clinic is a Jeddah-based social business consultancy and social media agency offering SMM strategies, campaigns, content, management and metrics. SERVICES: Social media marketing strategies, campaigns, content, management, metrics, personal branding

tph DDB Type of agency: Creative enquiries@tphddbsa.com tphddbsa.com DDB is one of the world’s largest and most awarded advertising and marketing networks and part of the Omnicom Group. With over 25 years’ experience in the kingdom, DDB´s ethos has come to life in a uniquely Arabic manner. We understand that that although Arabic is the common language, the variety of cultures that reside in the country couldn’t be more different, and each has to be considered when crafting creative communication.

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Uturn, the leading Arabic entertainment network in MENA, was founded in 2010 in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Uturn produces premium content with the aim to promote Arabic content globally. SERVICES: Entertainment, YouTube, online media, MCN, MPN, production, branded content, influencer marketing, social media, social media marketing, content creation, digital media, digital, digital marketing, consultancy, digital agency, social media agency, snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, communications, marketing, strategy, marketing strategy, and brand building.

Ubrand Type of agency: Creative info@ubrand.sa ubrand.sa Ubrand was founded on the idea of providing creative communication solutions characterised by progressive thinking and commitment to the client’s success. It reflects a desire to create and spark dialogue between people and brands through communication channels without sacrificing local culture authenticity. SERVICES: Advertising, digital marketing, social marketing, brand development, communication, content marketing, branding, media, media production, and events

SERVICES: Design, advertising

VMLY&R Commerce MENA (Geometry MENA) TTP Type of agency: Creative info@ttp.sa ttp.sa TTP is a creative agency that started in 2012 with one objective: to be your creative partner that helps in all your business and marketing needs. Your team of account managers, creative thinkers, experience and visual designers is there to partner with you to make great things that resonate. SERVICES: Marketing, marketing strategy, branding, advertising, content creation, art direction

UM Type of agency: Media Founded: 2001 Saudi office: Riyadh General manager, KSA: Ziad Soukkarie https://www.umww.com/locations/riyadh/ +966 11 215 3199 +966 54 030 9331 UM is part of Mediabrands, the number one media agency group in the region as per RECMA. In the latest 2021 published RECMA reports, UM was ranked as the #1 media agency in the region for the fourth year in a row and was also ranked as the #2 media agency in the world. At UM we are committed to futureproofing our clients’ businesses for the now and the next. We leverage the transformational power of rich business analytics and real-time intelligence to maximise growth and activate the full consumer journey across content and connections. Our consultative approach and agile model drive better business outcomes for brands. SERVICES: Digital marketing, holistic analytics, integrated media planning, integrated media buying, performance marketing KEY CLIENTS: STC, McDonald’s, Sabic, Aramco

Type of agency: Creative & digital Founded: 2021 CEO, VMLY&R Commerce MENA: Nick Walsh nick.walsh@vmlyrcommerce.com VMLY&R Commerce sits at the centre of WPP’s commerce and experiential pillars, offering brands future-fit solutions that lead to conversion. We focus on the inseparable relationship that binds CX/UX with shopper XP to deliver tangible solutions at the moments that matter. Marrying the best of VMLY&R’s creative & digital capabilities with Geometry’s deep understanding of people and shopper behaviour, we have founded the ultimate end-to-end creative commerce company. SPECIALISMS: Next-gen commerce unification; connected digital and physical experiences; retail activation; design product innovation; brand & business creative consultancy KEY CLIENTS: Coca-Cola, Coca-Cola Arena, British American Tobacco, Twitter, Colgate, The Galleria Al Maryah Island Abu Dhabi, Roads & Transport Authority, Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, BP Castrol, Global AI Summit, Dubai Taxi Corporation

Weber Shandwick MENAT Type of agency: PR Founded: 1983 Saudi office: Riyadh CEO: Ziad Hasbani zhasbani@webershandwick.com Weber Shandwick is a leading, full-service, integrated, global communications and marketing services agency that brings traditional communications into the digital age. Our team comprises social media experts, digital specialists, creatives, and strategists who believe in the power of collaboration to deliver high-value, high-impact communications and business solutions for our clients. SPECIALISMS: Corporate reputation; banking and financial services; consumer marketing; government communications; integrated communications KEY CLIENTS: Mastercard, Saudi Sports for All Federation, Netflix, General Motors, First Abu Dhabi Bank


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We the loft

Xelement

Type of agency: Creative we@wetheloft.com wetheloft.com

Type of agency: Creative info@xelement.co xelement.co

We build brands and materialise their image. Our brands constantly evolve, because their core is a soul with a consistent, relatable, and memorable identity.

More than a traditional communications agency, Xelement operates as a consultancy, working closely with marketing teams to build sound strategic solutions to complex business problems. As an award-winning agency, we engage deeply with strategic challenges, and only when we’ve identified that one key element pivotal to success, do we develop and execute brand communication and advertising. We’re exposed to thousands of commercial messages a day. Hundreds of hours of video will be uploaded by the time you finish reading this sentence. Digital media has changed everything we knew about the ways brands should behave. Today’s world is loud and fast. To succeed, marketing plans need more than traditional solutions.

SERVICES: Strategy & direction, consultation, brand strategy, communication strategy, art direction, photography & motion, stop motion, motion graphics, branding & design, web design, print & editorial, packaging, illustration, social media branding, social media content creation, design, animation, videography

W7Worldwide Type of agency: PR Saudi office: Jeddah Co-founders: Abdullah Inayat; Abdulrahman Inayat info@w7worldwide.com abdulrahman@w7worldwide.com a.inayat@w7worldwide.com w7worldwide.com +966 12 661 4579; +966 56 720 1039 W7Worldwide is an independent consultancy that has established itself as a prominent marketing communications agency in Saudi Arabia. Our understanding of the local market, combined with our global reach and knowledge enables us to bridge our clients with their audiences. We specialise in marketing communications, which serves as an umbrella for our broad array of services. Clients approach us when they are looking to build brand awareness, elevate their brand reputation, or are in need of crisis management. Our extensive work and experience has given us the proficiency to engage in the industries of technology, healthcare, government, corporate, consumer products and entertainment that further expand into subdivisions.

Zenith Founded: 2003 Heads of company: Raja Trad (exec chairman, Publicis Groupe MEA); Bassel Kakish (CEO, Publicis Groupe Middle East & Turkey); Firas El Zein (CEO, Zenith ME) www.zenithmedia.com Zenith is The ROI Agency. The first agency to apply a rigorous and objective approach to improving the effectiveness of marketing spend, Zenith transforms businesses and brands through evidence-led thinking. Zenith is part of Publicis Media, one of four solution hubs within Publicis Groupe. As a leading global media services network, Zenith has more than 5,000 people working across 95 markets. Supported by Publicis Media’s global practices, Zenith offers its clients a full range of integrated skills across communications planning, value optimisation, performance media, content creation and data and analytics. SERVICES: Media consultancy, planning and buying; branded content; e-commerce; data and analytics

LEADERSHIP PANEL

Founded: 2007 KSA Office Location: Jeddah Ownership: Dayem Al Muatamadh Head of company: Khaled Al-Dajani hala@sweetwatermea.com www.sweetwatermea.com +966 12 663 4512

Steven Hetzer

Khaled Al-Dajani

CEO & Founder

Managing Partner

We are one of the region’s leading experience agencies. Some of the most compelling and effective experiences in the region were dreamed up, carefully crafted and delivered with love from sweetwater. Our mission is to connect brands with their audiences by executing daring ideas flawlessly in order to deliver tangible results. We have been delivering experiences in KSA for more than 10 years and know what it takes to create ground-breaking consumer-centric experiences in this dynamic and exciting time. SPECIALISMS: Integrated experience marketing, experiential, live events, brand experiences, retail engagement, social media, digital & content, pr & culture marketing, sponsorship activation, conferences & exhibitions, virtual events and interactive technology, media research & strategy KEY CLIENTS: Al Nahdi Pharmacy, adidas Group, Hershey’s, Unilever, Netflix, Mashreq Bank, British American Tobacco, Rani

Usman Saleemi

Tarek Mansour

Head of Creative

Head of Client Servicing KSA


SAUDI AGENCY DIRECTORY

May 30, 2021

Type of agency: PR Founded: 1998 Head of company: Mohamed Al Ayed, President & CEO Saudi offices: Riyadh and Jeddah info@traccs.net www.traccs.net +966 11 293 2077 (Riyadh); +966 12 662 5757 (Jeddah) TRACCS is the MENA region’s largest independent communications consultancy, headquartered in Riyadh, with more than 200 professionals working across 13 countries.

LEADERSHIP PANEL

A multiple award-winning practice, TRACCS is the only MENA-based agency to be featured in the Global Top 250 PR Agency Ranking by PRovoke (#166 in 2021). Founded with the goal of building an indigenous Arab public relations industry, it is the only communications practice with a sustained commitment to nurturing the talent of young communicators across the region, and today has the largest pool of Arabicspeaking communications professionals, with 85 per cent of its team comprised of native Arabic speakers. SERVICES: Strategic advisory; media engagement; content development; crisis management; CSR; digital; Enrich (communications training); internal communications

Mohamed Al Ayed

Majdi Al Ayed

President and Chief Executive Officer

Executive Vice President

KEY CLIENTS: Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Ministry of Sports, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Saudi Arabian Military Industries, Saudi Customs, Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority, Center of Legal Studies and Research, Bahri, SIPCHEM, Amazon KSA, Mohammed Bin Salman College of Business and Entrepreneurship and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology. AWARDS: TRACCS has won 76 international and regional awards and distinctions for service and creative excellence from PRovoke (formerly known as The Holmes Report), The Sabre Awards, IPRA and PRCA.

Sarah Al Ayed

Roger Mezher

Chief Strategy Officer

Chief Financial Officer

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SAUDI WORK

May 30, 2021

SAUDI WORK SHOWCASE One size does not fit all in the Middle East. Here is a selection of campaigns made in and for the KSA market

Ramadan Campaign Client: Haier Agency: Onsor Mosha Production House: Hoku Films Director: Fahad Al Amari Cinematographer: Ibrahem Al Shangeeti Creative Director: Ahmad Konash Senior Creative Copywriter: Abdullah Al Rowis Account Manager: Murad Mansour Art Director: Adeeb Ramadan Designer: Mohamad Mahmoud For Ramadan, Haier KSA and Onsor Mosha launched a brand awareness campaign that aimed to reintroduce the home appliance giant to a more digitally inclined audience. Employing dry humour and sarcastic wit, the self-aware creative direction pokes fun at typical advertising landscapes. Human pop-up ads subvert concepts of word-of-mouth marketing and encourage it with quotable, witty phrases.

Aramco Life Client: Aramco Agency: AKQA Aramco Life is a comprehensive mobile app experience and informational marketplace that empowers and engages the people of Aramco, transforming the company’s internal communications. Originally, the assignment from Aramco to AKQA was to simply digitise Saudi Aramco’s weekly newsletters and magazines. But in order to do justice to the company’s strong culture spanning more than seven decades and the people of Aramco’s rich lives on the company’s vast compound, much more was needed. And so, Aramco Life was born. Aramco Life is a combined app and website based on the Sitecore platform. A content hub and informational marketplace for news, articles, and updates. It provides a digital version of the company publications and content articles, grouped by topic and publication. 


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Stepping up to Protect Saudi Citizens Client: ASJC Agnecy: W7Worldwide In response to the Covid-19 crisis, leading building management and HVAC systems provider Al Salem Johnson Control Systems stepped up to develop solutions that would help protect Saudi citizens in the pandemic. The company has the world’s second largest cooling station at the Holy Mosque of Mecca and one of the largest cooling stations in the world at the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, providing vital behind-the-scenes infrastructure many Saudi citizens are not aware of. W7Worldwide created a dedicated Covid-19 education and awareness programme for ASJC, to highlight the extraordinary preparations taken by the company to serve and protect pilgrims and the community. An integral part of the campaign was to evoke emotion around a technical solution since it relates to one of the most significant religious destinations for Muslims.

The agency described Al Salem Johnson Controls’ special measures and efforts undertaken to ensure a safe Hajj. It produced an educational infographic that demonstrates the sheer size and scale of the world’s biggest chiller provided by ASJC. For Ramadan 2020, W7Worldwide worked with local news outlet Sabq.org to engage Saudi and regional target audiences, securing a media partnership to show an explainer video and content on the website’s home page.

The Living Museum Client: RCU Agency: Create Media Group Filming: Argon Welcome to The Living Museum, an online constellation of stories of Al Ula that takes audiences from around the world on an immersive digital journey, inspired by the region’s geography, arts, heritage and nature. The website experience journeys through time, creating audience connections to Al Ula’s past, present and people. The site lives through its content; rich visuals, mobile-first video and 360-degree immersions. Through an acknowledgment of the deep importance of storytelling to the region, it builds a narrative for its audience. The Living Museum was designed mobile-first, with a user experience inspired by social media. Using the latest front-end techniques, developed on secure and scalable technology, an intuitive user experience was delivered. Mini history documentaries, a series of expert conversations, rich media galleries and interviews with interesting figures from the local community were conceptualised, scripted and developed in-house to deliver a content structure that builds layers of information as users explore the site.

Period or not, she can Client: Kotex Agency: AKQA Though Saudi Arabia is changing, many women feel restricted in expressing themselves freely regarding their periods. This prompted Kotex to launch SheCon (or SheConversation) – a 360-degree campaign to spark dialogue on periods as a natural part of womanhood through four ‘REDefiners’: Zahra Lari, the region’s first figure skater; Hatoon Kadi, Saudi’s first female comedian; Ghalia Amin, Saudi’s first plus-size model; and Leesa, Saudi’s first female rapper. The campaign triggered strong fan growth on social channels, over 1 million views on YouTube and, most importantly, sparked conversations helping eradicate the debilitating stigma around periods.


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May 30, 2021

The Richest Race Client: The Saudi Cup Agency: Full Stop Planning director: Khalid Abdulaziz Junior planner: Mohammad Alakil ACD: Mohammed Al Shoaibi Copywriter: Saleh Al Zuhair Senior art director: Omar Mougharbel Social media manager: Mohammed Hamadah Producers: Reema Talal, Laama Al Madani Production: Into Reflection The Saudi Cup is an international horse race held at King Abdulaziz Race Track in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It is the richest horse race ever held. In this race’s inaugural year, the Jockey Club faced some challenges on the logistical level to get the race under way. Full Stop identified a great positioning for the richest race (from a monetary angle) to become the richest race on other fronts (culture, fashion, food and experience).

Stressing the Importance of Fire Safety Client: OFSAC Agency: W7Worldwide The Saudi International Oil and Fire Safety Conference, OFSAC, represents a key event in the world’s largestproducing oil country as part of the kingdom’s commitment to continuous improvement of fire safety standards and policies in the oil and gas sector. As a government event, the project required a top-notch communications platform to attract visitors and raise awareness. W7Worldwide created an educational campaign highlighting the significance, progress and prospects of the oil and gas industry in Saudi Arabia. OFSAC 2019 attracted 10,000 visitors and was featured on CNBC.

From I Can’t to I Can Client: Sports for All Agency: FP7 Riyadh Creative team: Nidal Bou Hamdan; Hosam Mobarak; Alex Caayao; Mustapha Bash; Sara Fattani; Elizabeth Abou Haidar Client management and digital teams: Salim Fayed; Jad Abdelkader; Ahmed Alajami; Naif Alshaikh Sports for All Federation (SFA) sits under the Ministry of Sports, and its main role is to advocate healthy living and physical activity by organising neighborhood and outdoor sports events. The creative idea was built around a simple fact, that movement is an essential

part of life, and nothing can be achieved while standing still. As a result, the campaign had a direct and simple call to action: “Start Moving Now.” The films were based on insightful stories and testimonials of real people talking about their transformational journeys, agony, perseverance, commitment, and how eventually, they were able to change their lives by making physical activity a daily routine. After launching the campaign, FP7 created a digital hub, in collaboration with professional trainers, to motivate people and guide them by providing useful work-out routines and helpful tips.


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If Spiny-Tailed Lizards Spoke, What Would They Say? Client: Gulf Health Council – Salamatak Agency: Telfaz11 Producer: Mujahed Aljumaiah Creative director and writer: Mohammed Algarawi Director: Ziyad Alzahrani Art director: Ahmed Baageel Director of photography: Bilal Albader Special effects: Hasan Aldabaan Our story unfolds through the perspective of a spiny-tailed lizard, an endangered species suffering from rampant hunting (food/sport) and lumbering caused by humans who are positioned as the intruder to our protagonist’s environment. We go through our hero’s life from childhood and its relationship with its mentor and grandfather, to its first love story, its firstborn, and the inner/outer-harmony of the hero’s life and balance with the environment. Throughout this journey, the protagonist walks us through the importance of being in-tune with nature and the synergy between nature and the various life-forms it hosts. Tragedy strikes when the little daughter turns on the lights of their burrow, alerting humans to push them out of their dwelling using the common technique of gassing lizards. The story ends with the hero warning humans that if they stick to their evil ways, they will be the next on the extinction train.

Barefoot Luxury Client: Soneva Resorts Agency: W7Worldwide

Don’t Let it be Your Story Client: Mobily Agency: Full Stop Creative director: Loui Kofia Account manager: Rayan Jari Copywriter: Yara Morad Production: Leap, Nojara Telecoms provider Mobily has a wide variety of internet bundles that include 15 packages divided into data SIMs, data vouchers and add-ons that would be applied on your regular calling bundle. The objective of the campaign

Soneva is a sustainable luxury resort operator in the Maldives and the original ‘Barefoot Luxury’ brand. W7Worldwide needed to introduce and manage the brand image and reputation of this luxury brand to a specific, niche target audience. Soneva offers responsible tourism with ‘intelligent luxury’ in mind and a mission to create experiences for guests that provide real luxury in a sustainable manner and are meaningful, rare, and memorable. With no tangible presence in the Saudi market, W7Worldwide created a fully integrated and targeted communications strategy to introduce the concept to relevant target audiences as an aspirational and experiential dream destination. This involved profile-building for the founder of Soneva to communicate the brand’s DNA, vision and industry leadership. The agency identified a TV shows on the MBC Action channel called Eish al Door as the perfect platform. W7Worldwide brought the Soneva experience to life by securing a dedicated one-hour episode on the channel. is to summarise all data products. Full Stop’s campaign message was ‘Do not let it be your story’. The agency reflected our message in a video where it showcased people put in difficult situations for not picking the right package that suits their needs. The video was created in a serious dramatic style to exaggerate the situations to the maximum, positioning Mobily data packages as the solution and the uncommon saviour. The video was made with a cinematographic feel, which allowed Full Stop to extract a cinema teaser and reveal its videos across social media channels with visuals and the main video.


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May 30, 2021

Listening is Everything Client: Spotify Agency: FP7 Riyadh Creative team: Nidal Bou Hamdan; Hosam Mobarak; Alex Caayao; Sara Fattani; Ali Ahmad; Saleh Al Eshaiwi; Elizabeth Abou Haidar Client management and digital teams: Jad Abdelkader; Samar Abdelmalek In 2020 – and with people stuck at home due to Covid-19 – Spotify launched its “Listening is Everything” campaign highlighting the importance of music and the positive effect it has on one’s psyche. Music was the main aspect of this campaign, where it was highlighted as a power that can change one’s mood, and the fact that music can help with your mental health was raised as well. For the campaign to be successful, it needed to be smart, witty and with a light sense of humour. With this in mind, Spotify introduced its hyper-localised version of the campaign, celebrating the power of music in a more playful and joyous manner. Several films were shot reflecting these key transitional moments, supported by a memeinspired outdoor campaign that utilised a play on words and puns in delivered witty messaging about the power of music.

Strong Tea Client: Baja Agency: Extend Baja is a leading Saudi company that produces the finest nuts, coffee, teas and dried fruits of all kinds. Baja wanted to launch a campaign that communicates in a local narrative the launch of the “strong tea”. Extend created an insight-driven film that puts the consumer in the heart of the story. The film is a homage to those who celebrate concentrated/strong tea and used a visual language that is deeply relevant to our consumers in a way that was never before used in a tea commercial in Saudi Arabia.

SAUDI WORK


SAUDI WORK

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Tech Champions Client: MCIT Agency: Dice Senior art director: Ahmed Sabry Tech Champions is an initiative done by MCIT for Saudi entrepreneurs to share new ideas and projects, and 10 winners got awarded with money plus a push from the ministry itself to encourage entrepreneurship in KSA. Dice had planned to run the event as a physical event, but due to Covid-19 they had to convert the event in a very short period of time to a virtual one. The agency’s goal was to provide a fully branded, fit-for-purpose virtual event that offered a premium experience for attendees. It transported the audience into a new world with augmented reality and streaming virtual stage design, and hosted the conferences with a spectacular digital landscape for live presentations. Using a green screen and digital background, Dice superimposed a person onto a virtual landscape presenting statistics, keynote presentations and product launches to make it more visually rich and informative. More than 8,000 people joined the live stream.

Welcome to Arabia Client: Saudi Tourism Authority Agency: PHD Media Platform: TikTok With travel restrictions easing up and competition intensifying, The Saudi Tourism Authority searched for a tool that would help Saudi Arabia stay top-of-mind and further cement the kingdom as a go-to travel destination. Enter “Welcome to Arabia”. In partnership with PHD Media, the campaign’s first phase focused on increasing awareness through Top View Ads and Brand Auction across 14 international key markets. The second phase invited the world to see Saudi through the eyes of some of the kingdom’s most celebrated TikTok content creators. This was brought to life through #IfYouVisitMe, a series of native TikToks highlighting Saudi’s best destinations along with itinerary inspirations for each across three key pillars: Discover, Experience and Meet. In collaboration with Ipsos, TikTok For Business conducted a brand lift study that showed positive uplift in intention of visit across all 14 international markets. The campaign produced incredible results with native content on TikTok, achieving 118 million impressions and 85 million video views. In addition, the use of boosted TikToks and real-time discovery via TikTok Live amplified the familiarity of Saudi and positioned the kingdom as a must-see tourist destination.

The Neighbour that Gets You Client: HungerStation Agency: Extend HungerStation wanted to celebrate precious Ramadan moments through stories that position them as ‘the next-door good neighbour’. In order for HungerStation to own a humanised persona in the minds of the target audience, the campaign needed to be entertaining and brand specific. So Extend created a musical film that tells a story of a man who has a cooking accident as he is preparing the Ramadan Iftar and how his neighbours rush to his aid by ordering him grocery ingredients and food through the the HungerStation app. Extend launched a CSR initiative to encourage people to donate meals to those in need through the app. And to top things off, HungerStation launched a film for Eid Al Fitr that shows how the neighbourhood celebrated Eid with song and a dance challenge.

From Resistance to Resiliance Client: VirtuPort Agency: W7Worldwide The Middle East and North Africa Information Security Conference, MENAISC, is the biggest cybersecurity conference in the MENA region. Hosted by leading cybersecurity advisory company VirtuPort for the past eight years, the 2020 event took place virtually due to Covid-19, with the participation of seven different countries under the theme “From Resistance to Resilience”. W7Worldwide’s partnership with VirtuPort for the fourth year running in promoting MENAISC enabled them to respond quickly to the extraordinary circumstances. They adapted the communications strategy to the event’s virtual format, deploying digital PR tactics and providing timely thought leadership on the significant rise in cyber threats since Covid-19. To engage Saudi media and target audiences, they aligned MENAISC with Saudi Vision 2030 in uplifting the technology sector, helping to diversify the country’s economy and nurturing local talent.


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Empowering women in cybersecurity Client: WiCSME Agency: W7Worldwide Women in Cyber Security Middle East 2020 hosted its first annual virtual conference in November 2020 to attract women in the region to the industry, empower them, connect them with international and regional experts, and help them achieve their professional goals. W7Worldwide needed to respond quickly to the virtual format of the event with an effective communications platform that created a bridge with key target audiences to achieve coverage, awareness and attract visitors. They deployed thought-leadership content around topical issues, building a futureproof communications platform and authoritative industry voice for WiCSME.

Brand launch Client: Yelo Agency: Extend With the transformation happening in Saudi Arabia and the activation of tourism, Al Wefaq, a Saudi car rental company, wanted to rebrand into a modern brand that is easier to pronounce by visitors to Saudi Arabia and maintain the trust and recognition of the local consumer. Extend created a campaign that tells the story of this insight, showcasing the nostalgic brands that everyone knows and calls by their colour or mascot, and told a story of a brand that was part of the Saudi people’s journeys for the past 20 years.

Making Arabia Bake Again Client: Hershey’s Agency: Sweetwater KSA Sweetwater KSA partnered with Hershey’s Kitchen to bring some much-needed fun back to the malls of the kingdom. Mothers and kids were invited to book for special live baking lessons, hosted by some of the hottest chef influencers: chefs Maysa and Esraa. Despite flour and egg shells on the floor, the beaming smiles and enduring enthusiasm of the learner chefs produced some exciting recipes across the four days, all featuring, of course, Hershey’s Chocolate Chips. With more than 40,000 face-to-face engagements in Jeddah alone, coupled with 1,400 framed pictures given out, great family baking memories are sure to live on.


SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

Data and statistics* about the kingdom, its population and their habits Literacy rate 95.3% Population (Females) 42.2%

Literacy rate (Males) 97.1%

POPULATION (35.08 million)

Population (Males) 57.8%

POPULATION BY AGE (YEARS)

3.7

5.86

Number of Saudi families

Average size of family

MILLION

14-15

35.36% 53.02%

0-13 64+ 16-64

0-13 years old: 8.4% 14-15 years old: 16.2% 16-64 years old: 72.2% Over 64 years old: 3.2%

read newspapers and magazines read books

39.36%

watch TV

92.00%

PEOPLE

of families have a home book case

55.41% 53.96%

Literacy rate (Females) 92.7

listen to radio visit cultural and entertainment places where they live

55.15%

visit cultural and entertainment places inside and outside the kingdom

70.03%

visit archaeological and historical places and museums

2.51% 39.62% 53.91% 2.31% 8.96% 7.97%

visit book fairs visit the cinema visit amusement parks visit sports events visit national heritage festivals attend holiday festivals

Continued on next page

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SAUDI ARABIA REPORT 2021

May 30, 2021

HOW SAUDIS USE THE INTERNET Obtaining information about goods or services: 24.25% Searching for health-related services: 11.78% Using social networks: 97.34% Telephone calls: 59.21% Sale of goods and services: 0.98% Teaching or learning activities: 11.09% Reading or downloading newspapers, magazines or e-books: 14.68% Playing or downloading games, movies, photos, music and videos: 29.76% Listening to the radio and watching TV: 11.55% Downloading software and applications: 27.68%

FREQUENCY OF INTERNET USAGE

FAVOURED LANGUAGES FOR BROWSING

At least once a day 94%

Arabic 82%

At least once a week 4% At least once a month 0.23% Once in the past three months 0.06%

* Data by Trenddc.com, from the reports ’90 Saudi Informations’ (September 2020) and ‘Saudi Digitalization 2021’ (February 2021)

English 24% Other 13%


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Campaign 30th May 2021 /Saudi Report supplt 2021  

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Campaign 30th May 2021 /Saudi Report supplt 2021  

Radio Guide 2021 Saudi Arabia Report 2021

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