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September 26, 2021



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September 26, 2021


PHD wins Unilever media business in the Middle East, WPP retains largest international remit By Alison Weissbrot The biggest media pitch of the year – for FMCG giant Unilever – has come to a conclusion. While WPP has emerged triumphant globally, Omnicom’s PHD has picked up significant pieces of the business, including in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey. Incumbent Mindshare retained most of Unilever’s media business across its top six markets: North America, the United Kingdom, India, Indonesia and China. The pitch was the first open review from Unilever in six years, since 2015. For WPP, GroupM and Mindshare, the win is a major retention and expansion of a critical piece of business with one of the largest advertisers in the world. Including China, the group expanded its remit to about 80 per cent of the global business, worth more than $3.4 bn. The brief, the largest it has been for WPP, is seven times larger than that of Unilever’s next largest media agency, according to an internal note obtained by Campaign US. Other holding companies, however, walked away with chunks of the business. Omnicom’s PHD won Austria, Germany and Switzerland, Canada, North Africa, the Middle East and Turkey from WPP, and Havas Media won France from the

Unilever’s underlying sales growth in the first half of 2021 was up almost 19 per cent to $1.5 bn

holding company, according to sources. WPP also lost Spain, and IPG’s Initiative retained some business. The losses amount to more than a third of the markets in play during the pitch, according to a source familiar with the review. More than $3bn worth of business was up for grabs, according to

Comvergence, making it the biggest media pitch of the year. The pitch did not include Latin America or China, a $600m chunk of the global account which Mindshare won from Omnicom last year. According to sources, Publicis and Dentsu pitched for the business but did not win, despite Publicis picking

up Unilever’s $30m retail advertising brief in March. Accenture Interactive reportedly competed for the business early on. Mindshare’s ‘Good Growth’ story resonated with Unilever, which has a big focus on sustainability and corporate social responsibility, according to the internal note.

Spotify Premium appoints And Us

DTCM DAVID GUETTA UNITED AT HOME DXB In collaboration with Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) and David Guetta, this event was the fourth instalment of the DJ’s ‘United at Home’ concept, performing live from the helipad of the Burj Al Arab hotel. The showcase was brought to life by Create Production and played out across various social media platforms belonging to the contributors on February 6 of 2021. The contributors for the event included Dubai Cares, Unicef, Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts, High Scream, Nomobo, Yosonic, 3db–Technical Production, The Stream Guys, Choppershoot, Base Films, Gecko, Dubai Film And TV Commission and the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority.

Music streaming service Spotify Premium has appointed And Us Dubai as its creative agency for its integrated 2021 MENA campaign. The agency worked closely with Spotify and its Premium team to devise and deliver a new marketing campaign called #ShowYourPremium that raises awareness of the Premium offering across multiple segments of Spotify’s MENA audience. The multi-channel campaign seeks to capture the zeitgeist of the region’s burgeoning Gen Z crowd, celebrating how individuality and self-expression may be manifested through what they are listening to on Spotify Premium’s mammoth library of Western and Arabic music. Spotify launched its Middle East and North Africa service in 13 markets in November 2018, featuring locally curated content and more than 70 million songs from around the world.


September 26, 2021

By Sofia Serrano The GCC chapter of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) released for the first time a study that revealed the investment for the digital adspend in the region. The study revealed that the total digital adspend in MENA in 2020 was $3.64 bn. Other findings included how the growth of social and video in MENA has led the region to be ahead of other more ‘mature’ markets even though the MENA region is still considered an emerging digital ad market. The IAB GCC study is one of the first to try to size programmatic spending. The full report, which you can find on IAB GCC’s website, includes details of the adspend including social channels that accounted for as much as 47 per cent of the total digital advertising in 2020, an amount that surpasses European benchmarks, considering the MENA region’s strong social user base. Digital video, worth $800m excluding social video, dominates over display’s $500m, confirming the region’s traditionally strong digital video viewership. Search advertising accounted for 14 per cent of total digital spend, well below the European average.

The IAB board is comprised of 14 of the largest companies in the ad industry including Choueiri Group, MBC Group, MMP, Anghami, Amazon, Google, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Publicis, OMG, MCN Mediabrands, GroupM and Dentsu. The board commissioned the study from MTM, a research organisation that has previously produced similar studies in Europe. The board approved the release of the data and released it via a webinar that took place on September 22. Ian Manning, IAB GCC CEO, said: “We’re excited to share this with the market as it shows that MENA’s digital sector is MENA’s digital ad spend is larger than many people thought, the IAB has found larger than many may have thought, it’s growing strongly and it’s market size to check our own bias on economist, said: “The methodology clear there is still substantial room for the type of industries we normally addressed an issue that many growth. Interestingly, while lagging service; the study clearly shows that markets across the world had been behind European markets in areas direct businesses, retail and grappling with … the lack of total like programmatic adoption, we are commerce, as well as long-tail platform spends. By including a mix in fact leaders in other areas, perhaps advertisers, constitute a large share of of reported actuals, collaborative indicating the future direction for the market, which really is a estimates, mathematical modelling Europe.” meaningful opportunity for our and comparative benchmarks to MCN Mediabrands CEO Shadi business to build solutions that cater come to an agreed industry figure, we Kandil said: “As agencies, it’s to this segment of the market” were able to estimate the total market important for us when looking at the Daniel Knapp, IAB Europe’s chief more accurately.”



Mars Wrigley Middle East Africa has announced the launch of Galaxy chocolate’s first women’s empowerment anthem, #IChoose, made by Arab women for Arab women, in collaboration with Anghami. The inspiring anthem, #IChoose, sung by rising pop star Zena Emad from Saudi Arabia and directed by music video director Angy Jammal from Lebanon, recognises the importance of consistently championing women across the Arab world. The upbeat anthem is yet another endeavour by Galaxy chocolate; the brand seeks to encourage women in the Arab region to keep living their best lives, achieving their goals and pursuing their dreams.

Horizon FCB Dubai launched the DHL Eshop App for the GCC markets with an online campaign that takes the idea of tapping your finger to buy to a whole new level. DHL Eshop is a B2C e-commerce platform that allows shoppers to browse and shop for their favourite brands from America with the tap of a finger. Horizon FCB Dubai took its insight of the finger-tapping action and recreated an American shopping street diorama in perfect miniature form. In partnership with a director with stop-motion experience, an architect, a civil engineer and a graphic designer, all based in Toronto, the film was planned and managed remotely from Dubai.

Client Mars Wrigley Agency Code8 Media agency: Mediacom Artist Zena Emad

Agency Horizon FCB Dubai Head of production Hicham Soubra Production house Fuelcontent Director Adib Mufty

Picture Credit MENA DigitalAdspend in 2020

IAB GCC reveals first results of MENA digital adspend research study

September 26, 2021

Broadcaster OSN appoints Sangeeta Desai as interim chief executive officer Faisal Al Ayyar, chairman of regional broadcaster OSN (owned by Panther Media Group), announced that Sangeeta Desai has been appointed as interim chief executive officer, effective immediately. Desai has served as a non-executive director on the board for more than a year. Faisal Al Ayyar said: “The Board is delighted that Sangeeta has accepted the position of interim CEO, which will increase her involvement with OSN as she works towards the board’s vision for the company as a leading entertainment hub. Sangeeta has a proven track record in successfully leading large-scale company transformations, scaling businesses, navigating disruption and growing global brands. She brings with her a unique combination of strategic, operational and financial expertise, having led global media businesses for over a decade, bolstered by an early career in private equity and investment banking.” Most recently, Desai was group COO and CEO of emerging markets at multinational TV firm Fremantle, and prior to that she was COO of Hit Entertainment. She started her career in investment banking at Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan before becoming a private equity investor at Apax Partners. Desai holds a bachelor of science degree in business

Sangeeta Desai, interim CEO of OSN

administration from the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and an MBA from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Desai said: “For over 20 years, OSN has established itself as a household name and market leader in the entertainment sector. As a member of the board, I have been privileged to witness the new heights scaled by OSN in the last 12 months. It is an honour to be selected as interim CEO

and I look forward to working with the team, as well as continuing to strengthen OSN’s position as a premier entertainment provider through the implementation of leading technology.” Desai succeeds Patrick Tillieux. The board said it acknowledges Tillieux’ achievements in renewing OSN’s technology platform. It thanks Tillieux and wishes him the very best in all future endeavours.


Pineda named ECD at TBWA

Creative agency TBWA\RAAD has promoted Alex Pineda to executive creative director. Pineda, who has been part of the company for more than seven years and previously held the role of creative director, will be co-leading the agency’s creative workforce and output with ECD Jim Robbins. Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Pineda holds a master’s degree in creativity and strategic management of advertising from the European Institute of Design in Barcelona, and a certificate in advertising management and graphic design from the Jorge Tadeo Lozano University of Bogotá, Colombia. His work has been recognised at major advertising awards, including the Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, D&AD Awards, One Show, Clio, Dubai Lynx, London International Awards, New York Festivals and many others.



With less than 30 days to go until the opening of Expo 2020 Dubai, Emirates invited visitors in a new global campaign. The ad has as protagonist actor and celebrity Chris Hemsworth, who shows the viewers the ultra-futuristic themes and experiences that visitors can have at Expo 2020 Dubai when it opens its doors to the world on October 1, 2021. Taking a layered approach to storytelling, the ad is supported by a myriad of animations and visuals. The ad was directed by two-time-Oscar-winning director Robert Stromberg, whose film credits include Avatar, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland and Disney’s Maleficent. The graphics were brought to life by multi-Oscar-award-winning visual effects and production company MPC (Moving Picture Company).

The ‘It’s Possible’ series explores language, art, music, innovation, creative arts, sport and cuisine to portray a modern, vibrant and multifaceted nation. Each short film features residents from a range of backgrounds, and from across the Emirates, who narrate engaging, highly personal stories about living, learning, working, creating and growing in today’s UAE. The content series, produced for the UAE Government Media Office by Virtue International, the commercial arm of Vice, is being released as part of ‘United Global Emirates’, the comprehensive campaign that launched in early September to promote the incentives and benefits that the UAE offers for talents, entrepreneurs and ambitious individuals from all over the world.

Production House MPC (Moving Picture Company) Director Robert Stromberg

Agency Virtue International



September 26, 2021

Customer Centricity and Sharpening the Customer Experience Professor Paul Hopkinson, Associate Head of Edinburgh Business School for Heriot-Watt University Dubai and Academic Lead for Heriot-Watt Online, shares practical CX advice


ustomer experience (CX) and customer experience design have emerged as important tools in the marketer’s armoury in the quest for customer-centricity. CX design is a valuable tool to help marketers promote loyalty and engagement by systematically managing customers along the path to purchase and repurchase. However, while most organisations believe they have sharpened their CX tools, some customers may disagree. Gartner has found that, despite a mandate to create a differentiated and innovative CX strategy that will drive business growth, more than 70 per cent of CX leaders struggle to design projects that increase customer loyalty and achieve results. Marketers must recognise their customers’ idiosyncratic and unique needs and design experiences with these in mind rather than opting for standardised solutions. Investing in improving customer experiences can be tricky, as the payoff may not be immediately apparent or readily measurable. So companies can be reticent when investing in CX programmes This can be a short-sighted strategy. Research by Deloitte and Touche, for example, indicates that customer-centric companies are 60 per cent more profitable compared with companies that are not focused on the customer. Placing the customer experience at the centre of your business speaks to the very core of what marketing is all about, and few would disagree that this should be central to any self-respecting marketer’s manifesto. Yet we so often let operational constraints and internal turf wars dictate our approach.

STRATEGIES TO SUPPORT CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Start with the internal stakeholders. An organisation cannot progress

towards the next steps of CX if the internal stakeholders are not aligned with the vision of creating positive customer experiences and understanding their importance. A clear understanding of the need for upgrading CX with an appetite to improve at every given chance is at the core of building a positive and satisfying customer journey. A company’s values and mission need to envision a customer base that is satisfied with a single purchase or service and will come back to repurchase and advocate for the company. While strategies are a part of every company’s growth plans, a marketing strategy incorporating human-centric tools and experiences will achieve faster and better results. For example, despite a large number of employees, Google maintains transparency and encourages employee feedback on policies and strategies, gaining the trust of its internal stakeholders. A company always needs the buy-in of its employees to implement radical ideas and strategies. CX needs to be driven by customer insight. Sounds obvious, but all too often we let our preconceptions about what constitutes a good experience rule the day or rely on limited, narrowly focused customer satisfaction surveys. Many companies focus on after-sales customer feedback. A study by Microsoft found brands are viewed more favourably by 77 per cent of consumers if they proactively invite and accept customer feedback. However, there are times when feedback is imperative in the early stages. Opening the door to feedback in the beginning of a customer relationship is equally important. For example, specifically with online purchases, many customers reach the end of the

purchase cycle by dropping the item in the checkout bag; however, they may not go ahead at the last minute. As a result, there is no conversion and neither is a reason provided by the customer. It is easy for organisations to track the drop or bounce rate through tools embedded in the website, but few spend on such tools. Asking feedback from non-converted potential customers can provide key insights and help the company improve CX and products. A global example of failing to listen to customer feedback is Nokia. The one-time telecom giant ignored calls to change their operating system to a more user-friendly one. This resulted in losing customer base and market share. The right employees with the rights skills and mindset go a long way. No technology or AI tool can compensate for the lack of a skilled workforce. Hiring people with the right skills for a customer service team, online or offline, is crucial in building a satisfactory customer experience. Hiring the right customer-facing team can be a challenging task; however, they are the ones that are the face or voice of the organisation. Communication skills are key, but all too often neglected in the quest to contain cost. Staff should be able to convey the brand message, have adequate product knowledge and provide answers to customers in a way that makes them feel valued. With the changing face of customer service, it is also important for the staff to keep improving their skills and knowledge. Another way to successfully build a positive employee base is by rewarding positive outcomes and the right attitudes. There is also a lot to learn from Amazon as an organisation. The company keeps enhancing it CX through improved services, be they faster tracked delivery, seamless return options or monitoring social media for customer feedback. Microsoft’s State of Global Customer Service Report states that 56 per cent of people cease doing business with a company because of poor customer service experience. Measuring the success rate and choosing the right measures. There are many known ways to measure if the CX strategy is proving successful or not for an organisation. One of the most common ways is using Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT), a metric used to understand how customers feel about a specific interaction or experience. CSAT tracks customer satisfaction on scale of 1 – 5 similar to a Google rating or feedback reviews. Another useful tool is the Net Promoter Score (NPS), which measures and tracks how likely a customer is to recommend your business. If a company scores low, it suggests that the CX strategy is not working and needs to be refined to cater to customer needs and demands. Another way for organisations to understand the success of their strategy is by understanding the churn rate. This is by measuring the number of returning customers that are lost during a fiscal year or quarter. This will also help pinpoint when a customer stopped purchasing the brand product or service by understanding their previous buying patterns and comparing them to the drop. Repeat customers are significant to the growth of an organisation and churn rate is an important tool to understand what works and does not work. It is an uphill task for most companies to correct and perfect their CX. It is not something that can be done in a short period of time but requires trial and error to create a winning strategy. CX is one of the most important factors while looking to improve and enhance the customer base.


September 26, 2021

Contour Media wins Dubai OOH locations The outdoor supplier, part of JGroup, has signed exclusive contracts for concessions incuding Bluewaters, The Walk at JBR and Outlet Village


ontour Media (part of JGroup), a leading provider of billboards and outdoor advertising in the region, has sealed a deal for exclusive advertising concessions of Bluewaters, The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, Al Khawaneej Walk, The Outlet Village and Boxpark. With the three-year advertising contract, Contour Media will drive outdoor advertising at some of the most visited lifestyle and retail destinations in the city, including Bluewaters, the vibrant retail and leisure destination that is home the world’s tallest observation wheel, Ain Dubai, set to open in October. Contour Media will cover all outdoor advertising concession of Bluewaters including popular attractions such as the world-famous wax attraction Madame Tussauds Dubai, as well as a rich array of distinctive residential, retail, hospitality, and entertainment experiences and concepts such as Caesar’s Palace Dubai, Cove Beach, Brass Monkey, Elev8, and DRVN. Among other prime assets Contour Media will serve is The Walk at Jumeirah Beach Residence, one of the most soughtafter retail destinations. The lively beachside boulevard offers enticing gastronomic experiences and incredible adventure zones with outdoor pop-up markets, live performances and incredible displays of public artwork. Unrivalled in its ambience, The Walk is an integral part of every tourist’s itinerary and a getaway for residents. Contour Media will also lead advertising concessions in Boxpark, a family-friendly destination offering visitors delectable culinary choices as well as a wide range of retail stores, entertainment activities and a cinema, all of which make it one of the perfect destinations to spend the day and unwind at in the city. Away from the bustling city life of Dubai, Al Khawaneej Walk has a cosy atmosphere that welcomes anyone who visits, with its greenhouse-inspired architecture. Another asset that Contour Media will serve, the new community mall blends the perfect balance between nature and shopping, making it the ideal place to shop, meet up with loved ones, dine in and unwind. The Outlet Village, a highly sought-after retail destination that offers a distinct ambiance for its high-end Tuscan-style

architecture inspired by the medieval hill town San Gimignano, is yet another prime location in the city that offers a varied advertising opportunity and will be served by Contour Media. Located next to Dubai Parks and Resorts, The Outlet Village is a hot spot for high-end retail brands and worldrenowned labels that can be purchased at value prices. Rabih Adnan, managing director of Contour Media, said: “We are honoured to win this exclusive advertising concession. Over the years, these leading destinations have transformed the leisure, retail, and entertainment landscape of the city, in addition to delivering exceptional lifestyle destinations where people live, work and play. To win this contract underlines the strong competencies of Contour Media in delivering outstanding values. As the provider of cutting-edge advertising solutions for the outdoors, we will focus on innovative approaches that will serve all our clients. With Dubai set to welcome visitors from around the world for Expo 2020 and the destinations set to be magnets for visitors, we will deliver outstanding services through our exclusive contract.” Contour Media offers outdoor advertising solutions across prime locations in the UAE. Led by a team of experts, the company offers LED, scrollers, unipoles, rooftop boards, wall signs and backlit panels on highways as well as unconventional out-of-home advertising and digital billboards. It recently strengthened its portfolio by offering full-motion advertising to provide clients with the most eye-catching promotions possible.

“To win this contract underlines the strong competencies of Contour Media in delivering outstanding values. We will focus on innovative approaches that will serve all our clients.” Rabih Adnan, managing director of Contour Media



September 26, 2021



We asked: Is advertising getting less creative over the years?

September 26, 2021


Mazen Jawad

President, Horizon Holdings Advertising is always progressing to be more and more creative, and the definition of creativity is also evolving. Looking back at the Cannes Festival of 2021, we’ve seen some astonishing work (‘Boards of Change’ on behalf of the city of Chicago or ‘Contract for Change’ on behalf of AB InBev, as a couple of examples). Data, technology and creativity, if used adequately, can create the perfect equilibrium for work that can deliver tangible results. Looking back just a couple of months, FCB won the coveted Network of the Year title at this year’s festival. So yes, advertising is becoming more creative and valuable when it can create or change a behaviour and stand as an economic multiplier.

Leila Katrib

Creative director, VMLY&R Commerce MENA Every year comes with a new set of challenges, a pandemic or a financial crisis, forcing agencies to get more creative with smarter, more efficient and innovative solutions. Not to mention keeping up with the latest digital, social and tech trends to engage with younger audiences with shorter attention spans, who are already overly exposed to so much more. Awards shows have elevated the standard, driving agencies to up their game. So, when clients ask you to answer the same brief year after year, how do you come up with a fresh idea that beats anything done or seen before?

Peter DeBenedictis

CMO, Middle East and Africa, Microsoft If creative advertising were a person, an apt quote would be, “The rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated”. Every year, incredible campaigns – from the largest brands to rising start-ups – hit the market, with its increasingly fragmented media landscape, at a pace few can keep up with. If attention is the currency of today and the future, advertising must increasingly innovate and, yes, be more creative to catch the attention of consumers. Anything less than creative will be dismissed with the swipe of a finger.

Michael Maksoudian Managing partner, Netizency

Advertising is neither getting less nor more creative. I think the textbook definition of creativity has changed and is not compatible with our traditional understanding of it. Creativity these days is contextually based and is dictated by the social media platforms and their audience. You cannot run what traditionally we would call a creative ad on TikTok, as it will not generate the response that the brand is looking for. Once advertisers understand this shift in creativity, their brands will succeed in being ‘creative’.


September 26, 2021

Vishal Badiani

Creative strategy lead, Snap Inc. MENA My first boss carried around a chart in his back pocket. It showed how advertising was being enjoyed less and less over time. One of the reasons may be less creativity and craft, but it’s also driven by today’s media habits. Media channels no longer offer a captive audience. Today, mobile is king, and audiences there are hard to impress and even harder to convince. That being said, I’d argue it’s easier than it’s ever been to develop impactful creative and win attention – branded AR experiences, for example, are so accessible now, and can drive interaction and involvement that audiences crave, value and – most importantly – remember.

Ali Rez

Regional executive creative director, Impact BBDO MENAP

Jim Robbins

Executive creative director, TBWA\RAAD I believe advertising has got less creative. Because in some respects everything has. I don’t mean to get too heady (I’m by no means a philosopher or psychologist), but it is my understanding that, as humans, we’re going through a period of over-reliance on logical, left-brained thinking. We’ve traded feelings for formulae. We see this everywhere, from advertising’s dependence on testing to Hollywood’s affinity for prequels, sequels and reboots over original scripts. We’ve bucked this trend before, but it’s done by surprising people with original things. Formulae, by definition, are not original.

I think advertising is getting ever more creative in this amazing new era where content, active engagement and brand love are more paramount than ever. There is much more innovation now: advertising has expanded exponentially – from a traditional mindset linked to only media, to become a business solution practice that goes beyond just marketing for brands. There is also a lot more focus on using creativity to solve issues that humanity faces, and these solutions get more innovative with each passing year.

Annie Arsane

Platform strategy Lead, TikTok For Business METAP 25 years ago, the only brands that could be creative were those that had access to expensive studios and specialised talent. Today, everyone’s a creator. Everyone has a studio in their pocket, and everyone can create content that appeals to their own community. Big brands can still make big, sleek TVCs, or they (and every other brand) can tap into thousands of talented people who can deliver big, bold, relevant and incredibly creative content using just their imaginations and their phones. We are way better off creatively today than we have ever been, and I can’t wait to see what the next creative evolution is.

September 26, 2021


Robert Nammour

Branded content director, DMS - Choueiri Group Digital advertising, especially social, is the great leveller, as the entry point for a brand to advertise has never been this low. And with the ever-increasing pressure to deliver short-term results, this has led to an overflow of generic and not creative ads. This might give off the perception that creativity in advertising has taken a dive. However, one needs only to look at award-winning campaigns from the region to know that this is simply not true. Creativity in advertising is thriving and it is fuelled by a new generation of multi-talented creatives who are constantly consuming and creating content as part of their everyday life. Trust the creators. Trust the publishers. Let them express themselves.

Rudy Haddad

General manager, Fusion5 Advertising

Trixie LohMirmand,

Executive vice-president, Dubai World Trade Centre Unless you have a big client with a big budget where the agency puts their number one account and creative team on it. Also, there are many boutique agencies now and everyone tries to set up their own agencies. Once in a long while you stumble onto a good one. Misses more than hits.

Advertising is getting more creative over the years due to continuous development of technology and more media choices and digital platforms for consumers. It is time to introduce a new metric, ‘return on creativity’, to measure creative against regular advertising. However, we are noticing a smaller number of good creatives for many reasons: marketers are shifting their focus to digital advertising (measurable, cheaper, reaches a wider audience, can be tested and ensures greater agility); lack of talent (mainly in digital, which is driven by technology and requires customisation by platforms, while respecting their restrictions and guidelines, to stop users scrolling when exposed to ads); pandemic-slowed offline creativity due to lockdowns, evolution and the shift of users to digital (and a decrease in offline media investments). It is expensive and lasts for shorter periods.

Joao Medeiros

Executive creative director, Havas Middle East The past always brings us beautiful nostalgia. It’s easy to remember iconic work and reminisce about better times, but we’re quick to forget less than stellar work that slipped through. We live in a time where anything is possible. If we can imagine it, we can make it. Production tools are the greatest they’ve ever been;we have all we need to craft our work to perfection. We have data and analytics tools to sharpen our insights. Pair that with the basics and timeless fundamentals of advertising, which are ideas, and just like magic that great concept that gives you a rush feels unstoppable. Frankly, it’s an awesome time to be in advertising.


August 29, 2021

August 29, 2021



September 26, 2021


ith the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) readying to mark its 20th anniversary in November, agencies operating in the region’s complex communications sector continue to navigate a period of relentless change and challenges. In tandem with the daily evolution of MENA’s traditional media landscape, the region is home to social media consumption rates that regularly rank among the world’s highest per capita. With the maturing Arab world’s relatively youthful populations typically tending to source news and media via digital and social media platforms over print, agencies are locked in a never-ending race to keep up with consumption trends. The rise of digital content – driven by video – is arguably the principal contributor towards a shift in content creation requirements from agencies across the board. Why? Social media demands it. As more platforms prioritise video content to harness

ever-shortening attention spans, video fits the bill. Audiences want it, so clients want it – that means agencies must deliver it. Our humble independent agency, which we rank as mid-size in a landscape where major multinationals compete daily with start-ups, is not alone in combating the consumption shift by expanding in-house solutions to enable richer content creation, specifically in the production domain. As a founding member of MEPRA, Action UAE, which also serves as our network’s MENA hub, has faced the winds of change many times during our 27-year presence in the Emirates. Action Studios, our recently launched production arm, may be our most ambitious – and calculated – undertaking to date. Ultimately, it’s no secret that video is very much in vogue – for audiences and agencies. However, agencies such as Action are not recent converts to the potential of diverse video formats as a conduit to more effective and impactful PR storytelling. Short and simple: Action Studios represents a strategic pivot to an in-house solution for work we have traditionally outsourced. PR agencies have used third-party videographers and photographers to produce and supply video news releases (VNRs) or B-roll to broadcast media for decades. Similarly, agency-led production shoots to capture content for video-based social media needs are commonplace for truly integrated agencies. We have been managing both for years. Indeed, Action’s video-driven work was historically linked to contracted deliverables or coverage ambitions for our PR or social media clients. Have we agreed a certain number of shoots per year that we’ve budgeted to be outsourced? Yes, then let’s do it. Can we use non-scoped video to amplify coverage? Yes, then let’s convince the client



Why a mid-sized communications agency is creating its own studio arm, taking in-house what it once outsourced. By Action UAE’s Euan Megson

to invest and do it. Action Studios enables us to preserve previously outsourced revenues while also creating exciting pathways to generate new revenue. We’ve felt for some time that there’s a considerable market gap nestled between the major productions – think huge crews shooting TVCs or producing long-form content – and the type of accessible, digestible video most of our clients want to amplify their share of voice, usually on social. In a city where large production houses and indie videographers offer a sliding scale of quality and value, agility and scalability are the foundations of Action Studios. While we aim to produce as much as we can

‘‘ACTION STUDIOS REPRESENTS A PIVOT TO AN IN-HOUSE SOLUTION FOR WORK WE TRADITIONALLY OUTSOURCED.” internally, we openly celebrate the fact that a busy production schedule for us means opportunities for an ecosystem of freelancers to support our team’s efforts. Vice-versa, we can help a smaller operation deliver on larger projects. Our growth is fuelling enterprise across the wider industry, and we celebrate – and revel in – that impact. The people aspect is also key. While Action Studios strives to provide flexible and affordable service diversity to fill a market gap, we are conscious the unit is simultaneously stoking creative storytelling potential among our employees and clients. We mix up narratives and content formats based on what audiences want, where they want to see it and how or why they engage with it. Video for purpose, whether that is factual, emotional or entertainment. We’ve also transitioned seasoned PR professionals into dedicated producers to manage preproduction workflows and liaise with clients as part of wider project management duties. I am thrilled to see our producers diving into and embracing the challenge of treading new terrain in a familiar environment. And so, the end game: How far can Action Studios go? How much commercial impact can our fledgling production arm have on the business financially? Honestly, we’re not sure yet. If our three-decade legacy in the UAE has taught us one thing, it is that clients can take months or minutes to sign up. But with more and more marketing and communications budgets intrinsically linked, we have high hopes that Action Studios will corner a significant share of the domestic market. With video no longer merely an enabler in facilitating wider remits for clients, we’re excited about Action Studios offering something a little different to existing options in the market – and opening new areas of service growth across our business.

By EUAN MEGSON, managing director, Action UAE

September 26, 2021


LOOK WHO’S TALKING Voice-over artist Maya Sarji explains what it takes to really speak to people


i there. Have we met before? Do you know me? Of course you do. You actually know me really well. You see, I tag along with you every single day.  I keep you entertained during your commute to work. I ever so often interrupt your radio, TV and online entertainment stream completely uninvited. I am quite chatty, constantly going on about something or other: a product or a service, and mostly a deal.  I always have something to tell you (“Visit our website for more information”) or announce (“A brand new series, premiering only at these times”) or rush you to (“Hurry up while stocks last”). I also instruct you to “Press 1” or “Please hold the line”, and even tell you the “Doors are closing”. Oh, and you will probably hear me say all this in both English and Arabic. So, did you make the connection? My name is Maya Sarji and I am a multilingual voice-over artist and voice actor. I am also a singer-songwriter, voice director and speaking coach.  I often feel I have one of the most challenging jobs on the planet, which is essentially to personify different brands and promote their services or products in under 30 seconds – using just my voice.  There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, ‘The tongue can paint what the eyes can’t see’, and this is exactly what I do. The microphone is my closest friend, the headphone is my fanciest accessory and the pop filter is my armour. I have read my fair share of bemusing scripts and have played off-the-wall characters, including an opera singer, a famous Khaleeji cartoon character and a zipper. Good fun, eh?

So, what is being a voice-over really like? In voice-over work and during pretty much any recording session, there is inevitably a ton of information that we have to get across to the consumer (this is why brands choose to advertise in the first place) and we don’t have all the time in the world to do this. There is also a plethora of different emotions that need to be injected into every script, depending on the idea, context and role. Most importantly, there is a ‘connection’ that has to be established with the ‘brand’ audience. We don’t just read the scripts; we bring the scripts to life. Your voice says a lot about you and your character as an individual, but as a voice-over artist and brand voice, you lend your voice and your emotions out to the brand, to serve its individual personality, values and message. There is more of the brand and less of you. It is for this very reason that I like to use the term ‘voice acting’ as opposed to ‘voice-over’, because it is not simply placing the voice over the edit or film. There is much more to it. Even with direct, instructive voice recordings such as announcements and instructional videos, there is still a brand identity that needs to speak louder and clearer than anything else (metaphorically, of course), and this is no easy feat.  People are always fascinated when I talk about my job. They almost always recall a particular tag line I have read or a character I have played or remember hearing my voice at a particular venue. This sense of old acquaintanceship just makes me extremely happy, knowing that a connection has already been made a long time ago. It’s almost like meeting a childhood friend. Few, however, realise how complicated and complex a voice actor’s job really is. In the absence of body language, facial expressions

or props, you have got nothing to work with but your voice. A ‘nice’ or appealing voice could be an advantage, although vocal timbre or quality remains a matter of personal taste. A nice voice, however, is not all that matters for this job; there are other essential criteria to keep in mind, and here are some of them: 1. TALENT. A voice actor is an artist at heart, and true, unpretentious talent is paramount for this job. I often say that just because we all have legs doesn’t mean we can all be Lionel Messi. Talent is what sets people apart. 2. TECHNIQUE AND TRAINING. Like every job, you need a good set of skills that must be honed and developed. Breathing, articulation, performance and voice projection all require constant practice and perfection, because proper technique and training promote flexibility, performance and endurance. An academic musical background will also help tremendously. 3. TACT. By this I mean social intelligence. The ability to deal with different clients, understand their needs, take directions from them and convert those into deliverables is a talent by itself and is critical for a fruitful recording session. 4. TEMPERAMENT. Having the right attitude, openness and patience are key personal and professional traits. Not every day is a good day, not every client is low-maintenance and not every recording is a walk in the park. 5. TIME. Time makes experience, and experience is the best teacher. No small number of sessions will skyrocket you to mastery; it will all take time. And no, you will not surely make it if you try to sound like Morgan Freeman. Remember, the human voice is an amazing instrument. And it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.


September 26, 2021

cameras, visual effects, sound effects, 3D, powerful animations – and all the new LED wall production capabilities that we have access to, which will eliminate greenscreen in the long run. We are in the business of visual storytelling and it’s important to keep updating our tool kit with the latest technology that will enable us to increase the production quality, lower long-term costs and, ultimately, offer a more impactful viewer experience. 3. THERE WILL ALWAYS BE SOMEONE CHEAPER. I never refuse to quote for a project. If someone wants something filmed and has a vision, I’m there to support them. But, just like in any profession, there will always be alternatives and people willing to do work for cheaper – and that’s OK. This market is big enough for everyone to survive, and while some people may choose to work with freelancers who shoot on their iPhone, there are others who prefer to work with directors and crew, who bring a whole new dimension into play.


regor Amon is a Dubai-based filmmaker and director with Shadani Consulting. He is also a serial entrepreneur and ex-airline pilot, who discovered his passion for filmmaking while growing up in Vienna, Austria. He recently shot Canon Middle East’s acclaimed “Trailblazer” campaign, which was accompanied by a special behind the scenes (BTS) segment documenting how the video was shot. He has just completed an independent short film, shot entirely in Dubai, that will be debuting globally in early 2022. He gives his top five tips on how to succeed in the competitive arena of directing and filmmaking: 1. WORK WITH EVERYONE, ACROSS EVERY BUDGET. This may sound misguided because we all strive for unlimited budgets, which make our job so much more easier to execute. But it’s also important to work on projects that don’t have significant budgets, yet make up for it by being passion projects that are original, fun and artistic. For a creative person, this guarantees innovation, fresh ideas and the ability to think on your feet. Some of my greatest professional learnings have come from projects where the budgets were tiny, but everyone on the team was so committed to seeing it through that we had to be continually innovating. 2. INVEST IN THE LATEST TECHNOLOGY. Technology is a big part of what we do. From the way we film to editing, sound engineering and post-production, technology is one of the foundations of how we tell stories. Look at 4K and 8K cinema

4. THINGS WILL GO WRONG – THAT’S THE NATURE OF OUR BUSINESS. There is a saying that I love: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” The irony, however, is that no matter how much you plan, something will always go wrong. Sometimes the talent falls ill, it’ll start raining, the equipment won’t work, or some other unexpected occurrence will happen. The important thing is to take it in your stride and, even if you’re panicking inside, never let your cast or crew see it. The director is the captain, and it is important to always be in control and inspire

‘‘THE DIRECTOR IS THE CAPTAIN, AND IT IS IMPORTANT TO ALWAYS BE IN CONTROL AND INSPIRE CONFIDENCE IN OTHERS.” confidence in others. There is always a solution, so don’t panic when things go awry. 5. COLLABORATE WITH YOUR PEERS. When I was starting out, there were times when I needed advice or equipment that I couldn’t afford, and I remember reaching out to different UAE Facebook groups and digital studios for support. The response was beyond what I could have hoped for and I realised that the filmmaking and directing community in the UAE is a relatively small and close-knit community, which thrives in extending support and collaborating. There is a strong sense of solidarity, and while we are a competitive bunch, it’s more on the creativity front, rather than any other motivation. We challenge each other to be better and to always keep pushing the boundaries.

By GREGOR AMON, head of production, Shadani Consulting @derherrdirector


Pilot-turned-entrepreneur-turned-director Gregor Amon gives his advice on how to get ahead in filmmaking

September 26, 2021



ow, more than ever, it is time to look towards the future. There is no doubt that for almost two years life has been tough for everyone, not just in the Middle East, but also around the world. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel as we start to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic and there is an ambition to return to some form of normalcy. But even beyond that, there is an appetite and thirst to take the next step in innovation and push the boundaries of what has come before. There is no doubt that in recent years the Middle East has started to become a hub of exciting business and commercial opportunities. Dubai has emerged as the epicentre for trade and commerce and there are signs that it is going to become even stronger in the coming years. For example, the delayed Expo 202O Dubai, which kicks off in October, exemplifies the step forward that the Middle East is taking. It is a sign that businesses want to take that exciting journey towards new



As the advertising and production industry recovers from the pandemic, it has a chance to become a better version of itself, writes Electiclimefilms’ Oliver Harbourd

beginnings and innovation. So when it comes to their advertising and how they portray themselves to the rest of the world, this is something they demand from their production houses. Advertising in the Middle East is moving away from the more traditional marketing style, and looking to provide a more immersive experience for its consumers. Social media has exaggerated that market and the roles of Instagram and Twitter in reaching consumers have never been greater. That’s why, when clients approach Electriclimefilms, they are not only looking for traditional advertising films, but also at how social media trailers can be used to help target their audience. Technological advances have also opened doors to the possibility of remote filmmaking. For example, our teams in Singapore and Sydney linked up for a project filmed in both Asia and Australia. Our Singapore-based director Pabz


Alexander was able to use live streaming to remotely direct when the action took place down under. The end result was a project that showed the capabilities Electriclimefilms could provide, without reneging on the quality expected from clients. “During shoots, it’s imperative that the director is present with the crew and talents when we require dialogue or emotional responses that will ensure the film’s vision is brought to life,” says Electriclimefilms director André Rodrigues. “However, with today’s advanced technology, we’re able to overcome limitations and achieve that even when the director isn’t physically there. “That, I’ve found, has further built rapport between our teams and advertising partners, as clear and collaborative communication is more vital than ever.” Something that seemed impossible just a few years ago has materialised to provide even more flexibility to clients to create their vision. Another exciting area where the Middle East is continuing to grow is in its diversity. For example, Dubai Tourism’s recent campaign to drive its recovery postpandemic has highlighted the area’s multicultural society and inclusiveness. Another sign of the change is new Dubaibased agency Freedm, which was highlighted in Campaign Middle East in September. The article said: “Freedm is designed to offer clients the chance to give back as much as they get, by working with diverse talent regardless of creed, ethnicity, social and political environment, location or age.” Mimi Nicklin, the creative CEO and founder of Freedm, said: “People buy from companies that stand up for humanity, so why wouldn’t clients want to buy from agencies that do this too? “Today, where we spend our money, reflects our own ideals and choices. For us it’s about far more than delivering exceptional work, but also knowing wholeheartedly this is a conscientious business in action. Freedm is a business that monetises doing good rather than continuing to systemise the longstanding status quo in our industry.” There is no doubt that the industry in the Middle East is moving forward with diversity and inclusion, and advertising is taking that big step with it. That remains a vital part of the Electriclimefilms culture in Dubai, through our director Damiano Fieramosca and other creatives we work with. So, while the last two years have been bleak for many, what has never changed is the clients’ desire and need for top quality production. It’s what they demand of us at Electriclimefilms and something we demand of ourselves with every project that we take on.

By OLIVER HARBOURD, content manager, Electriclimefilms


September 26, 2021


LAPSED PRODUCER What would Snow White think of today’s production landscape. It’s a question you might never have asked, but Milkshake’s creative leadership are here to answer it


f this article were a film, we would open on Snow White working as a producer in Dubai in 2006. We would slowly close-in as she bites into the apple that puts her to sleep… for 15 years. Cut to her waking up in 2021. It’s a new world. She begins her new journey trying to navigate social distancing norms while getting to know the handsome prince waiting there. What other changes would she wake up to in today’s production industry here in Dubai? Let’s cut away to follow her through some areas where she finds some startling differences. Snow White sees some changes in how agencies work. Firstly, the rise of the in-house production company in recent years has not only affected the market, it has further blurred the lines between production and agency. She sees the coming of age for the agency producer, who is now more integrated in approach compared to how things were managed in the past. She scratches her head and thinks to herself: “Does it make sense for the client? Is he getting the best resources from the market?” And she realises that’s the old TOM GATT way of thinking. The new OS agency with the new agency producer makes sure the client is getting the best value for his buck. We follow her as she discovers there are many new ‘digital’ independent agencies now, which approach ideas differently and make them more experiential, more immersive. She wonders if they have perhaps lost some of the imaginationbased perspective of the creative agencies? Nah. Old thinking again. The

new agencies are in fact closer to the consumer with the data-crunching and analytical tools to make videos that are insightful and timely. We zoom out as we see her comparing a creative campaign with a pay-per-click ad. Brands are still building, and selling, she assumes. Good for business. She decides to visit a set. She sees how involved directors are in the aesthetics of the image, and is relieved that not all things have changed. Directors today are equally involved in storytelling for the brand and the marketers as they were back in the day, if not more so. Pretty awesome. Not worried about 30-sec any longer, she loves the new I SWAN storytelling techniques. DEV VA 35mm died a while back, she knows, and she is overjoyed to see that everyone, from client to production, is still excited about producing great looking commercials. Hang on; the shots somehow seem different. While peering into a playback monitor, she’s informed that it’s not about horizontal framing any longer. The deliverables include vertical and square formats. Aha. She begins to understand the new ways of the world. What else has changed, she wonders? Cut to her watching the Emirates commercial with the stewardess standing on top of the Burj Khalifa. What a great ad. She is especially impressed by the compositing. Hold on. It’s not a stewardess. And it’s not chroma. And so, she understands the journey of the commercial. Everyone has watched the commercial, but it’s also about the social media campaign

supporting the commercial that goes viral. The behind-the-scenes video and the commercial go hand-in-hand, creating an ad that is entertaining, effective and informative. And the videos supporting the commercial create content that is equally entertaining, informative and somehow personal. It is impressive that social media is an integral part of the campaign, adding to the creative, media and production. It begins to dawn on her that despite the uncertainties of the past year and a half it’s not old vs new ways of thinking. Its old and new that are working hand-inhand. While newspapers are almost extinct, in a world of ad-free streaming and power to ‘skip this ad’ at a click of a button, it seems that creative and consumers are working together. What a wonderful equation. If it’s not interesting, no one is going to watch. Simple. And so, for Snow White, who has only just scratched the surface, it’s not a happy ending… but a happy dissolve to a new beginning.

By DEV VASWANI and TOM GATTOS, Milkshake Media


September 26, 2021


Anghami’s Josh Rouhana and Sabine Oneissy explain why music-streaming service Anghami has launched a studio, and how marketers can do more with audio



their sonic strategies, which drive results across the business funnel. The beauty of audio is that it delivers the message while giving your brain enough space to wonder. It unlocks a world of creativity that cannot be seen. So, what should brands keep in mind while building their audio strategy? 1. THINK IDENTITY. If your brand was a person, what would they sound like? How would they talk? What would they say and how would they say it? 2. THINK MOMENTS. People use music to run faster, get through breakups and revisit their favourite memories. Identify which moments are relevant to your brand – using data – and produce sounds that matter. 3. THINK AUDIO. It is a unique medium that comes in many different forms. Don’t just adapt your display and video strategy. Think audio first to make your brand stand out and unlock its full potential. At Anghami, content sits at the heart of what we do, and specifically with audio. With the rise of Covid-19, we’ve brought Anghami Studios to life, which offers brands the access to create musical content; whether it’s audio ads, songs, music videos, podcasts or concerts. Audio offers a powerful format of storytelling for brands.

usic has always been a conductor of emotions. It has the power to change the way we feel: ease the sad moments and accentuate the happy ones. Music influences our mood and changes our perception.

It is paving the way for a new advertising era – where creativity is not only seen but also heard and felt. With a data-driven-creativity approach, brands will be able to deliver new multi-sensory experiences that will take them places.

2020 was a stunning reminder of the true power of audio. As the pandemic hit, audio in general – and music more specifically – became a constant companion and a global connector. As people were locked down in their own homes, brands started adopting audio in all its formats to connect and engage with their audiences in a more personal way.

By GEORGES ‘JOSH’ ROUHANA, Anghami Studios Lead, and SABINE ONEISSY, Anghami Ad Product Manager

Today’s world has become visually cluttered. We sit in front of our screens for hours, scroll on our phones throughout the day and have become visually numb; that makes it hard to capture people’s attention. For brands, audio can cut the noise and make them stand out. When the right brand gets together with the right music, it’s perfect harmony. The sonic identity of a brand is now as important as its visual identity. According to a YouGov study, 33 per cent of young adults prefer brands with a sonic identity. At Anghami, we always try to marry data with creativity to deliver sounds that resonate with a brand’s target audience. Being the pioneer music streaming platform in the region for more than nine years now, we’ve got the insights, we’ve got the content and we’ve got the tools, and we stitch them all together to support brands as they build

ANGHAMI STUDIOS LAUNCHES Anghami Studios, the new production unit for MENA music-streaming service Anghami, has been launched to convey brand identity through a sound-based concept, where brands will be able to boost awareness, increase reachability and connect genuinely with their users. Anghami Studios provides smooth accessibility to brands through a streamlined process from production to roll-out and distribution. Its mission serves not only brands, but also local talent, increasing their streaming exposure and reachability. Local emerging talent is shaping a community that gives art meaning and brand relevance. With more than 10 million branded song streams, Anghami Studios has given a handful of clients an opportunity to improve ad recall by 42 per cent and increase favourability by 53 per cent. These clients include Pepsi, TENA, MAF, Galaxy, Rani Float, Shield Me and Muse.



September 26, 2021

To catch a phisher Emirates NBD’s Don’t Make a Fraudster’s Job Easy campaign serves to educate the public about scammers’ techniques using multiple channels and engaging, interactive creative


s the cost of cybercrime to the banking sector rose 10 per cent in 2020, Emirates NBD has committed a major portion of its AED 1bn digital transformation investment into fighting cybercrime. The UAE bank’s last television commercial in 2019 was a big hit, riffing on the popular 2002 Shaggy song It Wasn’t Me, but the pandemic has made it harder to shoot such high-productionvalue TVCs. It has also meant that fraudsters have moved on with their tactics. With the world staying at home and conducting more of its business online, more channels have opened up for digital fraudsters, and their tactics have become more sophisticated. Emirates NBD launched an integrated campaign – in partnership with ad agency Leo Burnett and Dubai Police – to educate the public on how to identify and protect themselves against the deceptive tactics fraudsters employ. The public service campaign is part of Emirates NBD’s ongoing initiatives to remind customers that although fraudsters might be sitting miles away, the internet brings them dangerously close to us. It urges people never to share their password or CVV (the code on the back of your card), never to trust unverified vaccine registration links, and never to wire money or make a donation without proper verification. When people don’t verify a source, they make a fraudster’s job easier. The bank created a fictional fraudster, an ostentatious Welshman called James Jefferson, who was promoting his book How to Grow Rich During a Pandemic. A short film, in which

Jefferson discusses his scams, ends with him being arrested. Emirates NBD then released a series of short Instagram videos of ‘FAQ’s – Fraudsters Asked Questions’ – where Jefferson explains how he targeted people. The bank also created a live video game show on Instagram. A Dubai-based key influencer hosted the 20-minute live slot on Tuesday evenings at 6pm, when members of the public were presented with messages from three actors and asked to figure out who the fraudster or fraudsters were from among them. The winners of each round would get AED 250 in gift vouchers. There was also a website full of information about scammers’ techniques, and an augmented reality Instagram filter. “We have noticed that the public does find gamification campaigns more engaging and consistent,” says Moadh Rashad Bukhash, chief marketing officer at Emirates NBD. “The era of campaigns only showing a video to the public has less impact than introducing gamifications and interactive activities.” He adds: “Campaigns in the future will require more engagement tools than just a video to spread awareness and knowledge.” The campaign reached more than 5 million people across the UAE. It saw a 3.6 percentage point lift in ad recall, and a 3.7 point lift in association among residents aged 35-44, a demographic that is typically a target of fraud. The Spot the Fraudster element of the campaign got 2.1 million impressions, 196,000 views and a reach of 1.8 million, with 28,000 people engaging with it.

“The public finds gamification campaigns more engaging. Campaigns in the future will require more engagement tools than just a video to spread awareness.”


September 26, 2021

Emirate NBD created a fictional fraudster


Moadh Rashad Bukhash, Chief Marketing Officer, Emirates NBD “As part of our ongoing commitment to financial wellness, Emirates NBD has always been a strong advocate of raising consumer awareness on safe banking habits. Human error is often the biggest vulnerability when it comes to online fraud or phishing scams, and our campaign aims to educate consumers on fraudsters’ tactics, with a small dose of creative humour to make this very serious social message memorable and engaging.”

Dana El Zein, Financial Services Partner, Facebook “In today’s world, where content is king and grabbing people’s attention is increasingly difficult, Emirates NBD set an example of how a financial services institution can stand out from the clutter by creating an integrated campaign through paid media and organic content to raise awareness on a very important topic that many unfortunately fall victim to. Partnership and close collaboration was key – we worked closely with Leo Burnett and Emirates NBD to expand on the core concept and raise awareness through the wealth of Facebook solutions – we ended up with multiple short-form video ads, the Spot the Fraudster weekly live video series and an AR filter, which just launched.”

Austyn Allison, Editor, Campaign Middle East “Just as the pandemic has enabled fraudsters to develop their tactics and become more sophisticated, so has Emirates NBD made its marketing more sophisticated to change with the times. It’s good to see content that is educational, amusing and engaging, and that is cleverly using the many channels available to marketers today. There’s something here that will speak to everyone, and I’d hope it will help educate people about the dangers of fraud, without speaking down to them.”



September 26, 2021

Production House Guide



elcome back to our annual Production House Guide.

Last year’s guide was full of companies struggling valiantly to survive in what must have been the toughest year on record. I wrote in my introduction back then that luckily production houses are both resilient and nimble by design, and that stands true today as well. Which is why they are bouncing back strong. Some, if not most, are still suffering, and especially those in Lebanon. The country – a breeding ground for production creativity – is in economic crisis, which affects the production houses based there. Some of the production houses listed here are not production houses in the traditional sense of the term. That should come as no surprise, given the un-siloing of the creative industries in general. There are also the production arms of creative

and communications industries listed. One example is Action Studios, a new arm of Action UAE communications agency, and you can read managing director Euan Megson’s thinking on this diversification strategy on page 14. There’s room for everyone in the production ecosystem. Demand for content is growing, and the range of content keeps expanding. These teams produce for social posts, feature films, TVCs, VR, AR… the list goes on. The volume of work is expanding too, although I suspect budgets are moving in the other direction. If the cliché of ‘content is king’ is accurate, then the companies listed in this guide are truly the kingmakers. Have a read through, circle the ones that look promising, and get in touch. The people you speak to will be the teams producing the work that can raise your brand to the next level through their skill, craft and passion.


September 26, 2021

1505 Studio

AKA Media

Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Beirut; +961 3 489 348

Number of staff: 10 Founded: 2011

1505 Studio is a boutique multimedia production company. In 2018, producer Samer Fleihan and director Jad Rahmé teamed up to create marketing and storytelling content for global and regional brands. 1505 is dedicated to working with the best talent, carefully curated to fit the desired needs and challenges of our partners. Whether it’s a TV commercial, documentary, photography or digital content, our work reflects the stories and values of our corporate and creative clients.

SPECIALISMS: AKA Media covers all aspects of visual communication, be it production, post-production, VFX, branded and marketing content, social or innovation, for any screen and medium. KEY CLIENTS: Dubai Tourism, Rapp, C3 Arabia, Dentsu, various international production companies

KEY CLIENTS: Always, Facebook, Ariel, Trident, Pampers, Nestle Waters, Vox Cinemas, Ocean Spray, L’Oreal Paris

AFP Services

At Your Service Productions

Founded: 2010 Ownership: AFP Regional headquarters: Beirut Number of staff: 52

Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in Abu Dhabi Founded: 2001 +971 4 397 8906 +971 50 496 6620

SPECIALISMS: Content production, pre-production, scripting, editing, postproduction, distribution

SPECIALISMS: Feature films; TV commercials; TV series; music videos and photography

KEY CLIENTS: Coca-Cola, Perrier, Auditoire, El Gouna Film Festival, UNICEF


Founded: 2021 Holding group: Action Global Communications Headquartered: Dubai, UAE Number of staff: 12 +971 4 390 2960 + 971 55 546 5830

Euan Megson

Barry King

Managing Director, Action UAE

General Manager, Action UAE

Action Studios, the dedicated production arm of Action Global Communications in the UAE, represents an exciting new area of growth for one of the country’s legacy communications firms. SPECIALISMS: High-end video production including social media, digital and online content optimised for mobile consumption; TV commercials; micro/macro documentaries; events coverage; web/podcasts; aerial and drone video/photography; 2D animations; timelapses/hyperlapses; underwater content creation; promotional trailers; still photography KEY CLIENTS: Abu Dhabi Department of Education & Knowledge, Dubai World Trade Centre, Etihad Cargo, Messe Frankfurt Middle East, Strata, Zabeel House by Jumeirah – The Greens, Rafed, Petronas, UAE Tour, Germany Tourism

Lauren Williams

Rayan Ahmed

Director of Finance, Action UAE

Director of Action Studios, Action UAE




September 26, 2021

Anghami Studios Holding group: Anghami Headquartered: Beirut, Lebanon Number of staff: 9 Founded: 2019 +961 4 719 446 Anghami Studios came to life to convey brands’ identities and help them connect with their audiences through music and sound. The studio merges creativity with data and engages with artists to strike the right notes and create customised sounds that sync with the brand story. SPECIALISMS: Creative audio ads; immersive audio (8D); dynamic ads; podcast production; song production; sonic identity KEY CLIENTS: Sephora, PUBG, Pepsi, Mars, MAF

Barry Kirsch Productions (BKP) Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 20 Founded: 2000 SPECIALISMS: Sonic branding; original music composition; audio production, concept and development; full-service PH; post-production; music for events KEY CLIENTS: TBWA\RAAD, Expo 2020, HQ Worldwide, Dubai TV, Du, RTA

Big Kahuna Films Offices: Dubai, Beirut Number of staff: 16 Founded: 2007 SPECIALISMS: Producers of high-end advertising films and digital content. AWARDS: Ranked 3rd Best Production house in Middle East & Africa at the Loeries awards in 2015 and awarded Best Production House of the year, Golden Palm at the Dubai Lynx 2019.


Founded: 2002 Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 17 +971 4 390 3970 Experienced, creative, innovative and dedicated to the production of quality content. Boomtown has been privileged to work with the most dynamic brands and agencies in the region since we started over 20 years ago. Our growth has mirrored that of the region and our production offering has diversified, adapting to the demands of the content world. We put the film first.

Shane Martin

Daniel Kilalea

CEO and Director

Executive Producer

Zoey Gumbs

Rana Gebran

Senior Producer

Senior Producer

SPECIALISMS: Production; concept development; specialised in high-end TVC and long form; post production KEY CLIENTS: ADNOC, Emirates, Aldar, Expo2020 Dubai, DTCM, National Geographic, Masdar, Emarat, LG, Genesis, Ford, Lincoln, Tencent. M&C Saatchi, Impact BBDO, HSad, Innocean AWARDS: Cannes Lions, Cannes Dolphins, Dubai Lynx, The One Show, NY Festivals, Loeries, Cresta and London International Advertising Awards, D&AD, Gerety Awards

Mannu Singh

Suresh Nair

Director’s Producer / Post Producer

Head of Post Production


Bigfoot Films Headquartered: Dubai (Bigfoot Middle East) and Cairo (Bigfoot Films) Number of staff: 11 Founded: 2011 SPECIALISMS: Television commercials; music videos; mini-series; documentaries; online content

September 26, 2021

City Films Founded: 1994 Headquartered: Beirut Number of staff: 9 +961 133 2267/8/9 +961 331 3040

Founded: 2005, Dubai; 2000, UK Regional headquarters: Dubai

You don’t have to be in front of the camera to smile. To us, filmmaking is not just an industry. It is an art, a craft and a journey in itself. At City Films, we work with a curated team of the most passionate producers, and a pool of talented local and international directors, building a consistent track record of creating quality productions across the Middle East. More than 20 years of unparalleled experience in filmmaking and production have allowed us to be selective and choose projects that stimulate creativity and inspire us to push boundaries. Boundaries that are ever evolving with time, and that we progressively challenge as we look excitedly towards the future of bringing great ideas to life.

SPECIALISMS: International service facilitation and local clients; we specialise in cars but we do a whole load of other work too.

SPECIALISMS: Production company, production services

KEY CLIENTS: Apple; Jaguar Land Rover; Hyundai; Toyota; Save The Children; Korea Telecom; Uniqlo; LG; Sunrise Insurance; BBC; National Geographic

KEY CLIENTS: OOREDOO, Almarai Company, Nissan, Etisalat, QNB

Central Films

Camouflage Productions Founded: 2017 Headquartered: Dubai +971 4 422 8480 +971 54 345 6082 Camouflage is a boutique production house founded by a collective of filmmakers whose love and passion for filmmaking crossed paths throughout our professional years, blending into each other’s lives and striving to always raise the standards of our productions with no compromise. We manage an exceptional roster of talent from all over the globe and work closely with them along with our highly motivated partners to achieve their goals in any type of production belonging to any genre. Since starting our journey in 2018, we have expanded our network of directors in addition to exclusively representing Gimpville VFX, an acclaimed post-production studio based in Oslo. Besides our branches in Dubai and Beirut, our current plan is to grow into the European market and branch our boutique house elsewhere. We guide our vision and careers with confidence and aim to grow our reputation alongside our distinguished clients to ultimately create distinct work for the betterment of the media industry. KEY CLIENTS: Etisalat, Coca Cola, Dole Asia, Johnson and Johnson, GM, Emirates NBD, Nissan, Dubai Holding, Presidential Guard, Mars, Unilivier, Dettol, Nestle


Dania Salha Quaglio Owner / Executive Producer




September 26, 2021

Crisp Arthouse


Headquartered: Dubai Founded: 2019

Founded: 2007 Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in Mumbai and Beirut +971 4 375 7410

SPECIALISMS: Creative (brand consultancy; identity design; concept generation; copywriting; scriptwriting; storyboarding and illustration); production (directors and DOPs; high-end equipment; sound recording; aerial and drones; art direction; photography); post (editing; colour correction; voiceover; sound design)

SPECIALISMS: Production and post-production for feature films, commercial and digital content

KEY CLIENTS: Volkswagen, Virgin Megastores, L’Oréal Paris, Aldar, Tashkeel

Epic Films Offices: Dubai (HQ) and Abu Dhabi Founded: 2012 SPECIALISMS: Film production servicing; feature film facilitation

Dreambox Creative Consultants Headquartered: Sharjah Number of staff: 15 Founded: 2017 SPECIALISMS: Photography; video production; drone/aerial filming; online streaming; video recording and live feed KEY CLIENTS: Novo Cinemas, Al Yousuf Motors, Al Jalila Children’s Hospital, Dubai Silicon Oasis, and Dubai Sports Authority

KEY CLIENTS: RSA (Ridley Scott & Associates), Legendary Pictures, Image Nation Abu Dhabi

The Film House Headquartered: Doha, Qatar Number of staff: 25 Founded: 2012 SPECIALISMS: Full-service production KEY CLIENTS: Qatar Airways, Qatar Tourism, Ooredoo, PUMA, SBE


Dia Hassan Managing Partner

Founded: 2016 Ownership: Create Production is part of Create Media Group Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Cairo People crave content in today’s mobile society. If you’re not delivering it to them, your competitors will be. As part of Create Media Group, one of the leading digital agencies in the region, we understand digital consumption like few other production houses, and can create the content you need to get your message seen, heard and remembered.

Tom Otton Managing Partner

KEY CLIENTS: Visit Dubai, Emirates Airline, EXPO 2020, Volkswagen, Coca-Cola Arena, Audi Middle East, Red Bull, Visa, EMAAR, EGA, W Hotels, Qasr Al Hosn, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, REEL Cinemas, Nespresso, Accenture SPECIALISMS: Long-form and short-form video production; social-first content; TVCs; documentaries; 2D & 3D animation; live event coverage; photography; live streaming; large-scale events like David Guetta United At Home DXB concert and Red Fest DXB; AR development for social platforms and web

Shona Royston Production Account Director


September 26, 2021

Filmmaster MEA Productions

HW Media

Holding group: Italian Entertainment Network Offices: Dubai, Riyadh, Milan, Madrid, Rio and London Number of staff: 80 Founded: 1974 (Milan); 2005 (Dubai)

Heads of company: Eve Hester-Wyne, Hisham Wyne Founded: 2014

SPECIALISMS: Creativity; production; post-production; international servicing

KEY CLIENTS: Expo 2020; Dubai Future Foundation; Smart Dubai; Emirates Airline; Abu Dhabi Fund for Development

Giga Works Virtual Reality Film Studio

JBM Sound Studio

Founded: 2013 Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in Beirut +971 50 350 2735

Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 10 Founded: 2006

Giga Works is a VR film studio offering 360-degree content capture and storytelling and virtual reality experiences. We have undertaken many virtual reality experiences across the UAE and worldwide since 2013.

SPECIALISMS: Audiopreneurs; music composition; sound design; voice-over casting and recording; mixing and mastering


SPECIALISMS: Content (written and audio-visual); specialised content (complex and technical sectors); TV production and direction; media training

KEY CLIENTS: Expo 2020, Deliveroo, Spotify, Mercedes, PepsiCo

SPECIALISMS: 3D and 360-degree video content capture; VR content creation; VR post production; VR apps and games production; VR Cardboards production KEY CLIENTS: Daimler, Red Bull, MAF, Emirates, Jumeirah, Dewa, GDFRA, Tecom/DIFF, Etihad Rail, DP World, TS&S, Strata, YahSat


Founded: 2015 Offices: Dubai, Singapore, Sydney Number of staff: 20 +971 56 801 4011 (head of production) Electriclimefilms is a boutique film house with offices in Dubai, Singapore and Sydney, bringing an expression of art to commercial film through innovation and vision. The film house represents emerging international directors and directors of photography from diverse artistic disciplines and has worked on global client and agency campaigns.

Michael Ahmadzadeh Partner/Executive Producer

Damiano Fieramosca Director

SPECIALISMS: Director representation; film production; post-production (offline, online, colour, finishing, audio mixing) KEY CLIENTS: TBWA, M&C Saatchi, DDB, Dentsu, GTB AWARDS WON: Finalists, Ad Stars 2020; Finalists, AOTY Singapore 2020; Campaign Brief, The Work 2021; Finalists, Shots Awards Asia Pacific 2021; Bronze Video/Production Company of the Year in Marketing Magazine’s Agency of the Year Awards 2020

Rory Cavanagh Head of Production



September 26, 2021

K Kompany

Magic Beans

Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 15-20 Founded: 2010

Founded: 2013 Regional offices: Cairo, UAE +20 111 600 0006

SPECIALISMS: Video; television; audio; store music KEY CLIENTS: NFPC, Unilever, Fine, Agthia, Friesland Campina

Lizard Founded: 2013 Headquartered: Cairo Head of company: Karim Mira, founder SPECIALISMS: Editing; colour-grading; VFX KEY CLIENTS: Bigfoot Films; Excuse My Content; Rhino Productions; Nojara Productions; DéjaVu; JWT; Impact BBDO; Leo Burnett; FP7; Kairo

Having been created with creativity, passion and team work, Magic Beans has succeeded in establishing its own territory in Egypt over the past six years. Its scope of work is not restricted to TV commercials; Magic Beans has coproduced more than six TV series and more than three TV shows. In addition, Magic Beans co-produced one of the most trending TV Shows in the Middle East, SNL Arabia. Furthermore, Magic Beans produced the Gouna Film Festival, 1st edition. SPECIALISMS: Production for TV commercials, feature films, short movies, TV series, documentaries, TV programmes, music videos, digital content

Magnet Connect Holding group: N2 Media Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 12 Founded: 2001 SPECIALISMS: Creative; film; photography; talent; production facilitation; locations; post-production KEY CLIENTS: Jumeirah, Atlantis, KFC, Puck, Costa

Feel Productions Owner: Sandip Shivtarkar Founded: 2015 Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 10 +971 4 223 5688; +971 50 287 9032 If you hear the trumpeting sound in the desert, you’ll know the success story of Feel Productions, a production house that has left its mark in the films world since 2015. Feel, synonymous with its name which means ‘elephant’ in Arabic, imbibes the unequalled qualities of loyalty, intelligence and powerful senses of the animal that has made its commanding presence in the region. A happy clientele speaks volumes for Feel Productions, and a list of awards only reflects the passion and ingenuity of every individual and project. Action to that.


SPECIALISMS: Production; Post production; Audio recording studio/Radio recording and Shooting floor; TV commercials; Digital films; Animation; CGI; Photography; Line production. KEY CLIENTS: FP7 McCann, McCann Health, C2 Communications, Classic Partnership, Tonic International, Amber Communications, Impact BBDO, BPG Orange, Landmark Group, Majid Al Futtaim Group, Western Union, Adidas, ENOC, Taleem, Centrepoint, Babyshop, Styli, Shoemart, IMG world, R&B, RTA, Honda, Ducab, Sadia, Betty Crocker, Himalaya, IFFCO, Noor Oil, Dubai Islamic Bank, Anchor, Nestle, Asmak, Dubai Science Park, Sketchers, Crocs, Talabat, IKEA, Porsche, Rotana, OPPO - South Asia. AWARDS: Babyshop Al Umobuwah – Gold at WARC Awards for Effectiveness by Cannes Lions. And Bronze for Creative Effectiveness at Cannes Lions. Plus awards at LIA, D&AD, Loeries, Dubai Lynx among others.

Founder/ Executive Producer Sandip Shivtarkar


September 26, 2021


Misfits Content Creators

Owner: Hikmat Ghandour Headquartered: Dubai, with office in London Number of staff: 5 Founded: 2015

Headquartered: Dubai Founded: 2015


SPECIALISMS: Marketing strategy; creative campaign platform ideas; film scripts; directing; editing and grading; VFX; audio

SPECIALISMS: Full-service photo and film production house KEY CLIENTS: Ralph Lauren, Cheil Worldwide, Jumeirah Group, Beautiful Destinations, Chalhoub Group

Motivate Connect Founded: 1979 Headquartered: Dubai

Mile Studios Owner: Leo Joseph Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 18 Founded: 2011; SPECIALISMS: Videography; photography; location sound; digital imaging technicians; event coverage; live streaming; specialised in post-production services such as editing, colour grading, sound design and 2D & 3D animation KEY CLIENTS: Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi, Mubadala, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, International Fund for Houbara Conservation, Imperial College London Diabetes Centre

From conception to distribution, Motivate Connect delivers! We help brands tell their stories through bespoke content creation across any media platform and device. From ideation to multi-lingual scripting and storyboarding, videography, photography, drone filming, animation and design and editing, our services cover every stage of the production process. Our specialised 360-degree approach integrates within your content strategy, and our distribution network extends the reach of your content across the Motivate Media Group portfolio including online, social media, influencer marketing, cinema and our partnerships with Emirates ICE and Discovery MENA feed. Through our partnership with Intermedia, your brand message can reach new television audiences with key distribution in households across the MENA region via the local Discovery feed.

Filmworks Group


Founded: 1998 Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 20 +971 4 457 3132 Julie Smythe

Jax Dyer-Donaldson


Executive Producer

Mofeed Abu Al Gebeen

Ramzi Selouan

Executive Producer


Established in 1998, in Dubai, Filmworks is one of the longest-standing film production service companies in the region and the first to service Hollywood feature films. Filmworks has a reputation for delivering high-end projects from complex mega productions to on-demand social content. SPECIALISMS: Filmworks Group provides high-end production services for TV commercials, feature films, TV series, digital content and documentaries within the region and internationally. The Filmquip and Media Crew divisions offer equipment rental and crew support to the entire regional industry. KEY CLIENTS: Almarai, AUH Tourism, DTCM, du, Dubai Holding, Emaar, Etisalat, Miral, Mobily, Nadec, Nike, OPPO, Saudi Tourism, Saudia, STC, Yas Island



September 26, 2021


Founded: 2017. Holding group: Horizon Holdings Regional headquarters: Dubai. Number of staff: 8. +971 4 354 4458

Mazen Jawad

Reham Mufleh

President Horizon Holdings

General Manager FuelContent

Hicham Soubra

Rodrigo Rodrigues

Head of Creative Services and Production FuelContent

ECD FuelContent

We are a specialist global production network for advertising, marketing, communications and brand experiences, executing work through an omni-channel approach. Our world-class production and creative services capabilities, coupled with a highly agile workflow and asset management technology, delivers exceptional quality at scale, brand control and savings for global businesses. We’re in Dubai, Toronto, Paris, Cape Town, Johannesburg and London. SPECIALISMS: Film and video production; 2D and 3D animation; stop-motion; VFX; colour grading; sound recording; sound design; sonic and music production; AR/ VR emerging technologies; events and on-ground activations; mobile app and game development; web and HTML development; advanced print management KEY CLIENTS: Ain Dubai, Asharq/Bloomberg, Boeing, Citi, Clorox, DHL, Dubai South, Manga Arabia, Nivea, Visa


Founded: 2016 Holding group: GP&K Headquartered: Dubai, UAE Number of staff: 26 +20 100 251 2085 Good People is really just a group of good people who are in love with what they do. Our producers would donate blood (and, if needed, sweat) to get the camera rolling on time, while our directors are as eclectic as they get. But hey, don’t take our word for it. Ask the crazy people that made us Agency of the Year for three years straight.

Ali Ali Director

Maged Nassar Director

SPECIALISMS: Production and servicing in Cairo, Athens, Dubai, Beirut KEY CLIENTS: Lavazza, Pepsi, Palm Hills, Zain, Coke, Google, Diesel, Amazon AWARDS: Cannes; D&AD; The One Show; NY ADC; Clios; Lynx Khaled Zaki Executive Producer


September 26, 2021


Offices: Dubai, London, Los Angeles Number of Staff: 15 Founded: UK, 1995; UAE, 2008 +971 4 435 6019

Ali Azarmi Managing Partner

Joy Films was started in 1994 in London by Mehdi Norowzian and soon grew to international acclaim, winning numerous awards along the way. We became part of RSA Films, and were known as Joy@RSA till 2009. In 2008 Joy expanded into the Middle East with offices in Dubai and Beirut. Joy has always been a creatively led film production company with greater consideration paid to the creative integrity of ideas and elevation of production values above all. We care about the end result and we care about our clients’ experience. A joy to work with anywhere in the world. SPECIALISMS: Film production; production servicing; commercials; online content; music videos; documentaries; features; editing; creative concept development; copywriting 

Mehdi Norowzian Founding Partner

KEY CLIENTS: Expo 2020, Neom, Beiersdorf, Innocean AWARDS: D&AD; Atlanta Film Festival; Academy Awards Nominee; Epica; NFF


ALI AZARMI Managing partner, Joy Films

include the many entities not aligned with any agencies or networks, but in the last couple of years it has become a more common reality. With experienced and mature clients, it is a different way of working, often with greater creative responsibilities, transparency and a more collaborative partnership. Our client base is no longer confined to the region. Although the process of working with agencies is different, our policy of putting the creative integrity of the project above all other considerations remains the same for all clients.



In our individual experience, the pandemic only affected our business in 2020 during the UAE summer lockdown, but we ended the year on a very high note with the first big production post-lockdown signalling business as usual to the industry. Business continues to grow as we expand into the USA.


Our client list has been changing by design. We had always aimed at expanding our client base to

With the increasing presence of AI in almost every field, there will be inevitable changes in our industry. Currently, most changes are to do with the evolution of equipment used. Virtual studios are evolving fast to enable complex scenes and lighting with live action in one studio with minimal crew. It is very pandemic-friendly. The pandemic’s limitations on travel and locations have given a massive boost to post production to fill the gaps in film production. The UAE has been one of the greatest promoters of knowledge-based industries and will be one the first adopters of tech innovations across industries. It won’t be long before we see drones and robotics perform intricate and complex camera work with far greater ease and economy. AI will redefine possibilities of filmmaking from sets to casts of characters. This is already a reality in terms of technology. But the greatest interim impact of all this technology will be in creative development and testing of ideas. Films will be worked out in precise detail in terms of script, performance, edit, post, ultimately saving a lot of time and cost. As always is the case with

technology, there will be pros and cons of how it is used. In this process we will lose some of the magic of filmmaking initially, in that the gap between idea and final execution will be drastically reduced, but that opens the potential for film makers to find ways to push the boundaries of the final vision further, and that is how we progress.  


Writers, directors, actors, creators, stylists, production designers and DPs will always be in demand but their teams will shrink. Anything that is technical can be and will be replaced by AI. Talent, creativity and ideas will always remain in demand. All human creativity has come from our ability to break the rules and conventions and take a chance making mistakes and capitalising on them to create something new. The new generation of skills will be the programmers of the new tech.


Embrace the production company as a creative partner and consultant and share ideas during development to assess feasibility and cost. Give a greater consideration to the production company and not just the director they have put forward. A strong, experienced and creatively focused production house can create much more value with young talent with less experience. Make sure your creative ambitions are compatible with your budget. If they do not match, evaluate creative solutions proposed by the production house. Give more weight to the director’s reel than the treatment. The reel is the best representation of the director’s talent and potential.




September 26, 2021

Milkshake Media

Moving Stills

Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 8 Founded: 2008

Founded: 2015 Founder: Sadanand Chhatbar Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 6

Milkshake Media is a creatively grounded content creation and production house, offering directors and writers to suit any budget and style. In-house post capabilities help craft stories. With a discerning eye and deep understanding of budgeting, we work hard to delight our clients.

SPECIALISMS: Video and photo production and post-production, TV commercials, corporate films, social media videos, 360-degree videos, timelapse, 2D animation, 3D walkthroughs, cinemagraphs, parallax animation, stills photography

SPECIALISMS: Production of commercials; visual content; stills photography; animation KEY CLIENTS: Mubadala, Landmark Group, Unilevers, GSK, Bosch, Samsung, Subaru, Jotun Paints, Al Futtaim Group, Mini BMW, Volkswagen, ADCB, Ikea, Amazon, PMO, P&G Middle East, BBDO, Chiel, Wunderman AWARDS: MENA Cristals Best Film; Loeries Best Film; D&AD Creative Excellence; Dubai Lynx Best Content; Digital Studio Excellence in Post-Production; MENA Cristal Best Use or Integration of Experiential Events

Odeum Founded: 2019 Headquartered: Dubai, with an office in Riyadh Holding company:Augustus Media Holding Odeum, the in-house content studio of Augustus Media, owners of Lovin’ Dubai, Lovin’ Saudi and Smashi TV, is powered by data and insights, designed to produce new media formats, in real time for clients that live across our brand channels. We connect brands with communities and culture. SPECIALISMS: Video; social; written; content; events; audio; online advertising

KKDD Film Production Founded: 2004 Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 6 Local phone number : +971 4 396 6999 Address : 52 B, Zomorrodah Building, Zabeel Road, Karama, Dubai, UAE Website : Email id : I Contact number: 04 396 6999 I 050 246 0999 KKDD Films team has been in the industry since 2004 with an expertise in film and postproduction. We are situated in Dubai with two audio suites, two post suites and a colourgrading suite in-house. We produce TV commercials, digital content and audio content for our widespread clientele. KKDD Films works with several local and international directors for shooting content. Whacky Films Mumbai is our Indian company, which takes care of the Indian advertising market. SPECIALISMS: Production of TV commercials; digital content; corporate video and presentations; post-production; 2D/3D animation; radio commercials; music compositions; recording songs/albums; service production for international companies that wish to shoot in UAE


Kinjal Jagdish Tanna CEO/Producer

KEY CLIENTS: Emirates, Dubai Parks and Resorts, RTA, Dubai Customs, Dubai Duty Free, Emirates NBD Dabur, Colgate, Kelloggs, Toyota, Al Futtaim, Indomie AWARDS: MENA Digital Awards 2019 – Best Use of Video (Bronze), Best Use of Digital by Sector (FMCG, Silver); Digital Studio Awards 2020 – Best Live Action Capture (Shortlist)

Sharwari Bawkar ldeator


September 26, 2021



Founded: 2007 Offices: Dubai and Los Angeles +971 4 341 1128

David Balfour

Craig Borthwick



We are a creative experience agency with a full-service creative production house. Human first, technology empowered, operating at the forefront of culture. Together we craft engaging and effective content for the world’s largest and most prestigious global brands. Based out of Dubai and Los Angeles, we are a team of award-winning filmmakers hailing from all parts of the globe and united with a passion for the medium of film and technology. Our ambition is to push the boundaries of production by creating highly shareable films that drive conversation and business results. SPECIALISMS: Strategic consulting; live brand experience; film (creative, production, post-production, photography, XR, animation); creative services; digital experiences; original IPs

Joseph Aquilina

Lizzie Howitt

Head Of Partnerships

Group Account Director

KEY CLIENTS: Estée Lauder Companies, TikTok, Sony PlayStation, Burberry, MINI, Mastercard, Power Horse, Breitling, Richemont, MDL Beast and Make Up For Ever. AWARDS: Burberry – TB Monogram Landscapes: Best Heritage 2021, Windows Wear; Make Up For Ever – Rouge Artist: Top 20 Film Campaigns 2020, Campaign Middle East.

Simon Walsh

Jemma Cassey

Design Director

Executive Producer


Make Up For Ever – Rouge Artist The launch of Rouge Artist and the reinvention of lipstick by Make Up For Ever called for a dynamic regional-first campaign that invites everyone to express their creativity and unique personality. The maison invited eleven inspiring personalities from the Middle East, including Maya Ahmad, Hala Abdallah and Assalah Kamel, and its collective of makeup artists to celebrate its philosophy together in a buoyant and disruptive series of films. With the brand’s exceptional expertise and high-performance products, LIGHTBLUE and Make Up For Ever inspired each and every watcher to reveal their unique personality by reaffirming the brand’s philosophy: offer creative makeup products that inspire and empower people.

Burberry – TB Monogram Landscapes Burberry reveals the next chapter of its TB Summer Monogram campaign, captured through three breathtaking vistas featuring the Thomas Burberry Monogram. In the Dubai desert, multidisciplinary artist Nathaniel A. Alapide created unique sand inscriptions, celebrating the larger-scale Thomas Burberry Monogram introduced in the new collection. “If you create something in the desert, it will always cover it up – it has that ephemeral nature to it,” he said. “The desert is unforgiving. But when you go out into the desert, it is always a collaboration with nature.” LIGHTBLUE created a series of content around the unique sand inscriptions, including multi-platform social edits, an exclusive behind-the-scenes film and photography.

Vacheron Constantin – Spirit of Ramadan Aiming to go beyond traditional Ramadan brand messaging, Vacheron Constantin combined heritage and tradition with modern innovation, harmonising the brand’s values with those of the true spirit of Ramadan. Built around Arabic proverbs which evoke emotions of purity, thoughtfulness and self-discovery, the campaign revolved around three main concepts: ‘Every sun has to set’, ‘For you, a thousand times’ and ‘Time is made of gold’, with each metaphor representing a unique moment in time. With a three-part series achieving more than 1.2 million views, the campaign sees one man’s journey from self-reflection to travelling treacherous waters for his true love and honouring tradition with his new family.



September 26, 2021


Founded: 1987 Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in New York, Colorado and Mumbai Number of staff: 30 +971 4 457 2332 +971 52 911 8197 / 6

Rohit Arora

Vijay Kumar

General Manager & Head of Strategy

Chief Creative Officer

Liwa is an award-winning video marketing specialist. We do everything content, powered by strategy. Our in-house creatives, strategic thinkers and production services understand what it takes to create truly compelling content. We’re not just a production house. By creating over 1000 video assets annually, we help brands tell their stories, evoke emotions and drive actions in favour of their market-share and equity. SPECIALISMS: Holistic video marketing from strategy, creative ideation, scripting to storyboarding to production and post-production. Videos (live-action, 2D-and-3Danimation for TVC, thematic online films, YouTube pre-rolls, snackable social videos, performance-driven tactical content, product/service explainers, testimonials, webseries; branded content, case studies, how-to videos, demos, event and retail experiential screen content), strategy (through-the-funnel content strategy, brand positioning and essence development strategy, marcomms strategy), interactive (VR with usernavigation intelligence, interactive videos, react-based websites, 3D walkthroughs) KEY CLIENTS: Emirates NBD, BCG Digital Ventures, DEWA, HCT, Goldman Sachs (Marcus), Dubai Future Foundation, Smart Dubai, Injazat, Damac AWARDS: From marketing effectiveness to creative awards, our work has been awarded by MENA Effie, AME Awards, WARC, Dubai Lynx, NY Festivals, amongst others.


SAGAR REGE Director & Executive Producer, Liwa Content. Driven


Film making and content creation is more relevant than ever before. Brands have realised that their stories need to be told and an intrinsic connect with the audience is important. ROI accountability was always important, but since the start of the pandemic, it’s been on steroids. Whether it is brand equity metrics or achieving the lead-generation targets, we’ve been at the heart of the conversations. The clients want more of their investments deployed in the production itself (and they should) rather than being channelled to commissions. Strategy-first video specialists like us are an extended marketing team – solving business challenges, which may or may not lead to video-storytelling as a solution.


conscious effort not to be perceived as a production house alone. Thinking and ideation coupled with in-house capabilities of execution is our forte. Very few agencies can do what we do at scale. Once we internalise the client’s brief, we run budgeting in parallel to ideation to ensure efficiency of time and output. Digital is all about here and now, and that is exactly how our process is designed. And this, coupled with technology solutions plugged in for audience engagement, gives us a specialised edge.


As the consumers prefer tech interface for everything they do with brands, it has given way to several avenues for different types of content. With digital media being so fragmented – from social, YouTube, TikTok, e-commerce, display networks, retail displays to brands’ owned media – each channel has its place and needs a varied approach. We go deep into understanding the mindsets at each touchpoint and different stages of the buying funnel, before suggesting any content. To make videos more relevant, we ventured into interactive videos where a viewer can create his own version of the story through choosing ‘what happens next’ or ‘what interests you’. And we can even make the videos shoppable. Virtual reality with intelligence is another addition to our ever-growing portfolio of interactive digital solutions, where not only is there a VR tour of a property, car or destination, but the tech also gives you intel on what users are

Puja Chatterjee

Sammy Elshazly

Account Director & Producer

Sr. Account Manager & Producer

Abhijeet Chaubal

Arsalan Ahmed

Group Head - Art

Head Of Animation

interested in, so the sales pitch can be tailored. Being able to creatively implement technology and push boundaries to innovate solutions that solve a problem beyond just video is where the future of engagement lies.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO CLIENTS LOOKING TO GET THE MOST OUT OF WORKING WITH A PRODUCTION HOUSE? Set clear benchmarks of what you are looking for and then choose wisely.


September 26, 2021


Saluki Media

Founded: 2018 Founder: Pirlanta Toubba; partners: Hiam Salibi, Karam Tabbe Headquartered: Dubai

Founded: 2012 Offices: Dubai, Abu Dhabi. Number of staff: 14 +971 4 375 2435 +971 50 103 9117

Phenomena is a film production house and creative studio representing emerging talent locally and internationally. We are a third-culture team with a shared passion for film, music and culture. We take on projects as early as the development phase and drive them home for delivery. SPECIALISMS: Production for TV commercials; digital content; music videos; short films


SPECIALISMS: Documentaries; corporate films; aerial cinematography; animated content creation; episodic television; event coverage; foreign facilitation; opening ceremony films; virtual event creation and administration; TVCs

KEY CLIENTS: Dubai Design District, Masdar, GMG

Shadani Consulting Headquartered: Dubai Founded: 2020

Red Stone Films Founded: 2011 Principal partner: Mohammad Irfan Dar Number of staff: 7 full-time; 20-member floating team of cinematographers, animators and directors.;

SPECIALISMS: Professional video production including corporate videos, commercials, documentaries, interviews and training videos. Full pre and postproduction capabilities with scripting, video editing and colour grading KEY CLIENTS: Canon Middle East, MB&F, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, Hotel Data Cloud, Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund Innovation Fund


Founded: 2012 Ownership: Nomad Media Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 20 +971 4 551 5368 We believe in being brave. Whatever the brief, whatever the subject matter, we guide and inspire our clients to make content that stirs emotions. We believe in trust. We trust our people, we trust our ability, we build working relationships on trust. When trust is your foundation, you can achieve great things.

SPECIALISMS: Nomad is a multi award winning creative agency that makes high end moving image campaigns, specializing in scripted and factual storytelling. KEY CLIENTS: ADNOC, Dubai Tourism, Disney, National Geographic, Discovery Channel, Emirates Airlines, ENBD, Emaar, Jumeirah, ESPN, ENEC, Mubadala, Arla, Chrysler, EY, Under Armour, Jaguar Land Rover, Adidas AWARDS: Broadcast Pro | Production House of the Year Broadcast Pro | Best Long Form Production of the Year MENA Digital Awards | Best Use of Social Media & Best Use of Digital Digital Studio | Best Live Action Capture SPIA | Best Sports Event of the Year

Phil Griffiths Founder and director

Zoë Griffiths Founder and director

Tim Swain Managing director


September 26, 2021


Phoenix Film Founded: 2000 Headquartered: Dubai +971 4 340 3713 Phoenix Film is an ideas-inspired production company, producing films for notable brands and government entities for 21 years. We provide a wide range of talented directors, locations, equipment, talent and crew. Think Production, Think Phoenix. Continuingly welcoming trending topics, while working towards a sustainable green production for our future generations. SERVICES: TV commercial productions; feature films; documentaries; creative development; film production services KEY CLIENTS: Emirates, Etihad Airways, Almarai, Kraft, Mercedes, Bentley, Porsche, Lexus, Honda, Isuzu, Toyota, Samsung, Sony, Toyota, Rani, Barbican, Pepsi, Vimto, Johnson & Johnson, Rotana, HSBC, Rainbow, Kraft, Kiri


Shadow Studios Founded: 2003 Owner: Shadow Professional Photography Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 25 +971 4 340 7713 Shadow is a Dubai-based leading creative and production house known for its work in photography and videography. And we do it all in-house – with our full team of directors, producers, photographers, videographers, editors, 3D artists, and creators. Shadow has grown to become a trusted, full-fledged production partner in the region. SPECIALISMS: Photography; production (social media, medium, big scale); aerial photography/ videography; post-production (3D, CGI, colour grading, VO, studio recording); timelapse and 360-degree VR; studio rental; digital content creation and management

Joe Sassine Co-Owner / Photographer

Fares El Jammal Co-Owner / Photographer


September 26, 2021


Founded: 2017 Offices: Beirut, Riyadh, Dubai Number of staff: 15 Website: 

Truffle was founded in 2017 with a passion and a dream. A dream that has been taking its form since Truffle’s first productions, modelling it into a leading production company despite its young age. Truffle’s

first office was established in Lebanon, then expanded within no time to KSA and UAE. All three offices are run by their founding partners and executive producers, Michel Abou Zeid and Cynthia Chammas.

Cynthia Chammas Founding Partner and Executive Producer

SPECIALISMS: Behind Truffle, there’s a full-fledged team of producers, production managers, researchers and post production to offer the highest standards of productions and post-productions, as we believe in the primacy of film craft. KEY CLIENTS: Stc, Saudi airlines, Aramco, Twitter, KAFD, VW, Coca-Cola, Mars, Jawwy, Toyota, Emirates airlines, KFC, Nestle, Ikea... AWARDS: Have won awards in Loeries, The One Club for Creativity, LIA, Effies and Lynx

and clients and will continue to grow. It’s an ongoing process fuelled by passion for what we do.

Michel Abou Zeid Founding Partner and Executive Producer


SPECIALISMS: Film production and servicing

Founded: 2001 Owner: Rafic Tamba Offices: Dubai and Beirut Number of staff: 10 Address: Dubai Studio City, BS1, Off 102 Tel: +97143914789 Website: “With three generations under one roof, you are bound to have an interesting flow of ideas and creativity but also a unique contribution. From baby boomers to millennials, that’s what you’ll find at VIP Films. We don’t just work for a client, we work with him, to create a film beyond his expectations. It’s a collaboration between the VIP team, agency and client. The company has been moulded and shaped throughout the years through its diverse collaborations with team members

AWARDS: ADSports TV idents – Promax BDA Europe 2016 Gold; Dubai Lynx 2015 Shortlist – Film Craft Achievement in Production; Sharjah Tourism Film – International Tour Film Fest Bulgaria’s Special Award of the Team 2016; Toyota TRD – Dubai Lynx 2015 Shortlist, Film Craft, Cinematography; QNB Achievers – Dubai Lynx 2015 Shortlist; Beirut Aftershave – Golden Cesar Award for Best Short Feature, France; Fnac Award in Clermont Ferrand France; Nominated for Best short feature at Cannes; Mabrouk Again (short feature) – more than 10 awards for Best Film in international festivals; Ksara Wine – IAA Awards, Lebanon; Exotica ‘Pencil’ – IAA Awards, Lebanon (Silver); Asthma Awareness – IAA Awards, Lebanon; Chevrolet Trailblazer ‘Kung Fu’ –IAA Awards, Dubai (Gold); DDIA ‘Invest in Dubai’ – IAA Awards, Dubai (Silver); MBC television –IAA Awards, Dubai; Nissan Patrol ‘Conquering the City’ – Sword Awards, KSA (Silver); Cadillac Escalade ‘The Chase’ – IAA Awards, Dubai; Al Wasat Magazine – IAA Awards, Dubai; Toyota Corolla – IAA Awards, Dubai; Dubai Sports Bumpers – Gold Award at Promax BDA Arabia 2011, Dubai; Mention D’Honneur web award at the 2011 FICTS, Milan.

Rafic Tamba CEO

Paula Tamba Senior Executive Producer

Martha Nassar Regional Producer




September 26, 2021

Seven Production

Ti22 Films

Founded: 2011 Offices: Dubai, Riyadh

Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 20 Founded: 2011

SPECIALISMS: Video production; film and broadcast services; studio facilities

SPECIALISMS: Film and video production; animation; social media management

KEY CLIENTS: MBC; Al Jazeera; Imagic; OSN; Dubai Media; Abu Dhabi Media; TwoFour54; BeIn Sports; IEC In Sports; Studio Vision; Talpa



Tomorrow Film

Founded: 2013 Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in Lebanon +971 58 566 3247; +971 58 537 7393; +961 3 824 192;

Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 4;

Stoked is a creative production company with main offices in the UAE and Lebanon. We produce and facilitate commercials, TV and digital content, short films, documentaries, photoshoots, activations and feature films across the Middle East. SPECIALISMS: Creative production; film production; post production; audio production; TV and digital content; documentaries; photoshoots; feature films KEY CLIENTS: UN-WFP, International Committee of the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, Greenpeace, Nestle

Tomorrow Film is an audacious, quality-driven and no-compromise production house founded by Rula Bevilacqua and Antonio Sabatella in 2018, after a decade spent acquiring top-notch experience in the UAE and the Middle East. Since we started this amazing journey of Tomorrow, we have quickly achieved a reputation among clients, directors and crew as a reliable and flexible production hub, able to empower the vision behind each project and to push quality and creativity further. SPECIALISMS: Production and post-production of TV commercials and highend digital content KEY CLIENTS: Mondelez, Emirates NBD, Netflix, Centrepoint, DTCM

AWARDS: Since 2013, Stoked has won awards including 6 Cannes Lions, 14 Awards at the Dubai Lynx including 4 Grand Prix, and 2 Awards at the Loeries including 1 Grand Prix and 1 Gold.

Two Tales The Studio96 Founded: 2014 Ownership: Blurred Lens Films and TV Production Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 12 +971 4 284 6503; +971 55 508 5572; +971 52 722 2122; The Studio96 is more than four years old and is specialised in video production at various levels including short films, films for CSR campaigns, corporate commercials, etc. We create stories and we believe stories create movements and brand-building, and ultimately change the world SPECIALISMS: Production of commercials and corporate films; CSR campaigns and content creation KEY CLIENTS: Emirates NBD, Centrepoint, Kioxia, Rabdan Academy, DiovidVidimed, Jacky’s, Berger Paints, Ikea

The Talkies

Founded: 2018 Owners: Farah & Sami Joe Headquartered: Jeddah, with office in Riyadh Number of Staff: 5;; +966 56 075 4883 SPECIALISMS: Full-fledged production house KEY CLIENTS: RSA, Quad, Al Agosto, Deja Vu, Truffle Films, Big Kahuna Films, VIP Films

Verge Vision Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Dubai +971 4 361 8821

Founded: 1988 Ownership: Talent Holding Headquartered: Beirut, with branches in Dubai, Cairo and Casablanca Number of staff: 22

Verge specialises in film production, helping to create shareable and engaging high-quality content. We embrace change and produce innovative content campaigns with stunning film, photography and high-tech virtual reality experiences. We love nothing more than telling compelling stories that inspire audiences.

SPECIALISMS: Studios; casting; set building; post production

KEY CLIENTS: Yas Island, Flash, Expo 2020, Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Warner Brothers World Abu Dhabi, ADMM, Future Foundation, Mubadala, PIF KSA

KEY CLIENTS: Leo Burnett, Cheil Worldwide, BBDO, FP7, JWT

SPECIALISMS: TV and feature films, commercials, documentaries, digital content and new media including VR and AR.


September 26, 2021

Viola Producers

Wonderful Productions

Founded: 2001 Holding group: Viola Communications CEO and board member: Ammar Sharaf Headquartered: Abu Dhabi

Founded: 2009 Offices: Lebanon and Dubai Number of staff: 5

Creatively inspired, we develop and deliver meaningful corporate communications, specialising in high-quality video production, 2D and 3D animated videos, virtual reality videos, interactive media, branded assets, CSR, health and safety, events and theme videos.

Wild Media Founded: 2013 Owners: Hattie Bowering and Dalia Penzi Headquartered: Dubai Number of staff: 4 SPECIALISMS: Digital content, documentaries, commercials, campaigns, exhibitions, corporate films, events KEY CLIENTS: Louvre Abu Dhabi, Dubai Tourism, Abu Dhabi Tourism, Saudi Arabia Ministry of Housing, Burberry


SPECIALISMS: TV commercials, corporate and music videos production

Zia Creative Network Founded: 2009 Offices: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Halifax Number of staff: 15 SPECIALISMS: Video production; photography; advertising; PR and communications KEY CLIENTS: Ministry of Interior, Dubai Police, Jaguar Land Rover, Abu Dhabi Pension, ADNEC

Zooxel Founded: 2013 Holding group: Aidem Media Headquartered: Dubai SPECIALISMS: Commercial and feature film production; 3D Animation; cinematics; virtual production KEY CLIENTS: Abu Dhabi Government, Sharjah Government, Daimler, Microsoft


Nasrallah Saad

Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Dubai +971 4 397 3233

Executive Producer & Founder

Hugo Narciso Managing Partner & Founder

We are a creative studio with a passion for all things film. We produce, direct and post produce. We enjoy our work. Problem solving is what we do best. Bridging budget and circumstance with talent and creativity towards a singular vision – the client’s – we have no ego, only solutions. A core team with a big reach, our network includes the top talent in the UAE and extends throughout the world. SPECIALISMS: Production; post production; ideation KEY CLIENTS: EXPO 2020, DTCM, Wunderman Thompson, MOHAP, TBWA, AMEIO

Elena Ozova Post Production Producer

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September 26, 2021

September 26, 2021


Saudi focus

Your playbook to get into the Saudi market (without fumbling) Extend’s Ghassan Kassabji offers four tips for global and regional brands on how to reach the Saudi customer authentically and effectively


SAUDI TALENT (THE NEW OIL OF SAUDI ARABIA) We are in the midst of a creativity supernova in the kingdom – from the rise of local agencies to global agencies setting up their regional HQs in Saudi and hiring and training local talent. It is only with local know-how and specific insights that brands can succeed. Saudi is multifaceted, with different regions, dialects and humour (which is a big aspect of brand communication in the kingdom). We have seen mishaps by global brands who decide to work with global agencies that don’t have any footprint in the kingdom – and in some cases don’t have Saudis as a majority part of their teams. We are also seeing a trend of government arms and brands only choosing to work with Saudi-led agencies. And with Saudi being the largest market in MENA, the only way to connect with the Saudi customer is to empower local talent: from strategists to creatives.


SOCIAL MEDIA AND TRENDS (A SOCIALLY TRENDY KINGDOM) The Saudi consumer is tech-savvy, and one of the highest per-capita users of social media globally. Brands need to have an aggressive digital-first strategy, (say no to TVCs), be attuned to the latest platforms (yes, I’m talking about Snapchat and TikTok) and leap onto viral trends – the latest viral trend are brands creating memes from Drake’s Certified Lover Boy album cover. Additionally, Saudis keep up with global trends and pop culture, and brands need to integrate popular references in comms and marketing. A prime example of this is the use of music and visuals from Casa De Papel/Money Heist. While local content needs to be top-of-mind, brands need to be aware that Saudis are part of a global community and want to be part of the conversation.


INFLUENCERS (THE AUTHENTIC INFLUENCERS) The power of influencers on consumer purchasing habits is undeniable – and this couldn’t be truer in Saudi Arabia. The main issue is not about finding influencers (they are in abundance); it’s about finding the right ones. Brands need to have a robust and localised influencer strategy and trust that Saudi influencers know how to reach their audiences (please don’t dictate to them what to do). Brands need also to be aware of the increased regulations on influencer marketing in the region. It is strongly recommended for brands to work with agencies on the ground to ensure influencers are adequately vetted and free from controversy. This can come back to haunt brands later if not done correctly.

By GHASSAN KASSABJI, chief growth officer, Extend, The Ad Network

‘‘While local content needs to be top-of-mind, brands need to be aware that Saudis are part of a global community and want to be part of the conversation.”


LEVERAGE LOCAL AND REGIONAL EVENTS (WEAVE INTO SOCIETY) As Saudi begins to lessen Covid restrictions, events – an integral part of Vision 2030 – are coming back bigger and better. Brands need to be part of the story of change that is happening on the ground. We are seeing an exciting meld of local and global events in Saudi, from the Saudi Seasons (Riyadh and Jeddah) to the first Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. The two main events that every brand needs to engage in are Ramadan and Saudi National Day (September 23). Content around these two events has become an opportunity for brands to showcase Saudi creativity and stories, and connect with customers. Your global and regional communication strategy needs to be properly localised to be effective in Saudi. Isn’t it time to rethink your approach to the most important market in MENA?


September 26, 2021

Memory lane Saudi focus

Nostalgic ads are an untapped way into Saudi Arabian consumers’ hearts, writes Bassmat’s Abdulrahman Saud


here are moments where we’re taken back to an earlier time of our life. For some, it’s a smell while for others it’s a particular song or a TV show. Nostalgia and yearning are a strong wave and make an impact that many marketers should take advantage of. They should try to evoke and harness their power for good with their advertising. Especially during the global pandemic, people want to go back to a time when life was good –whether this was two years ago, 10 years ago, or more. Saudi millennials and Gen Z represent more than 50 per cent of the Saudi population. They are coming of an age in a time of real change. They stood by and watched as all sorts of changes were thrown their way, but their childhood was still a story of a totally different reality from this openness era. Saudis tend to remember the1980s and 1990s most fondly; even somebody who considers their greatest days to be in the present will feel warm when looking back

By ABDULRAHMAN SAUD, CEO, Bassmat Advertising Company

‘‘people want to go back to when life was good – whether two years ago, 10 years ago, or more.” on memories. It has been said that consumers are more receptive and likely to act after getting past the initial barrier if they are made to feel a level of warmth and comfort. A study published in the Journal of Consumer Research found that nostalgic feelings made participants more willing to spend money on consumer goods and services. This means that nostalgic marketing works best for those who had their golden years during these decades. Saudi businesses, and even global ones, should create advertisements to induce this kind of feeling and make people smile while thinking of a better time. This concept was first discovered in the 17th century by Johannes Hofer while trying to understand soldiers’ need to return home during a war. Originally, nostalgia was thought to be a mental disorder rather than a way to find comfort during a difficult situation. Nostalgia is the reason we love curling up under a blanket watching a Disney film with a hot chocolate: It takes us back to our childhood. It also serves an essential psychological function, in that it is a highly social emotion. In a time when most Saudi marketing focuses heavily on the future, the potential to interact with a nostalgia-fuelled generation pushes companies to take people back to their glory days through

advertising, which has become increasingly valuable in the international arena. Strategic insight is crucial for developing ideas that tap into the emotions of viewers by harnessing the power of nostalgia, which can be ruined and can go wrong with one false move. Regardless of age, nostalgia’s impact is huge on everyone. In fact, it’s one of the effective ways to evoke emotions and the right memories if it’s used in a smart way, because at the end of the day everything in life is a double-edged sword, and understanding the audience and what they find special, and paying attention to the small details, will evoke the desired response from the consumers. Nowadays, TV commercials aren’t on the radar for most marketing teams. However, this doesn’t mean those teams can’t enjoy this technique. In fact, some of them are already doing it with a ‘throwback’ vibe. The marketing team can use social media to send trends regularly to generate that nostalgic feeling in their followers – and include the story of the brand in the strategy. Once again, it is the nostalgic marketing that takes people back to their younger years, but nostalgia is not solely used for targeting millennials; it appeals different ages. It can make us think of our own holidays with family and friends when the aim is to show a realistic and recognisable image of the authentic roots of Saudi life. The key to nailing Saudi nostalgia is to understand what motivates Saudis, how they were raised and where their deepest interests lie. Here in Saudi Arabia, the opportunity of nostalgic marketing is more than a Super Bowl or a commercial. It can take place on a variety of mediums, which can combine providing the opportunity for brands to improve relevance and impact. Some Saudi companies have already used this method to reach their audience, and if you were fascinated and touched to buy a product or service after watching a commercial, you’ll instantly recognise the power of nostalgia in marketing.

September 26, 2021


itecore, a digital experience management software company, has released its Holiday Shopping Trends 2021 report exploring how consumers in Saudi Arabia intend to celebrate, indulge, and recuperate this holiday season. Saudi Arabia’s residents are eager to resume their normal lives and make up for last year’s Covid-controlled holiday season, with 88 per cent of those aged 25-34 saying they are ready to embrace pre-pandemic shopping, travel and holiday experiences. About four-fifths (79 per cent) of Saudi Arabia’s consumers surveyed plan to make bigger and more mindful holiday purchases this year, fueled in part by the fact that 76 per cent of Saudi consumers say they have more savings set aside for the holidays this year compared with last year. Sitecore’s Holiday Shopping Trends 2021 report shows insights from consumers around holiday shopping, gift giving, spending, and sentiment. The data arms marketers in categories such as retail, travel, automotive, and others with the intelligence they need to deliver winning experiences that satisfy the evolving tastes and demands of consumers, said Sitecore. “As 88 per cent of consumers in Saudi Arabia are very clearly ready to move on from the pandemic, they are looking at Holiday 2021 as the beginning of the rest of their lives,” said Mohammed Alkhotani, area vice-president for the Middle East and Africa at Sitecore. “Our research shows pent-up demand and more savings than usual will result in younger consumers splurging on self-care and big-ticket items at the register, which is great news for those in retail, travel and hospitality. It’s also heartening to see that 69 per cent of Saudi Arabia consumers want to support their local community, including locally owned businesses. The industry will need to respond with more offerings from these businesses.”

SAUDI ARABIA’S SHIFT IN PERSPECTIVE 73 per cent of consumers would prefer experience gifts to “more stuff ”. 85 per cent of consumers are now planning “the trip of a lifetime”. 73 per cent of consumers under the age of 44 said they are now more spontaneous, more social and enjoying life more. YOUNG SAUDI ARABIA CONSUMERS BRINGING SPENDING BACK 87 per cent of those under the age of 44 stated that following their experiences during the pandemic they now “value travel and appreciate other cultures more”. SAUDI RETAILERS COULD SUPPORT MORE LOCALLY OWNED BUSINESSES 95 per cent of consumers believe it is essential that retailers offer more products from locally owned businesses, but only 66 per cent report seeing more locally owned products when shopping.

Back for the holidays Saudi focus

A Sitecore survey has found young Saudi consumers are starting to spend again, with 88 per cent ready to re-embrace pre-pandemic shopping, travel and holiday experiences MOHAMMED ALKHOTANI

‘‘69 per cent of consumers want to support their local community, including locally owned businesses.” BUYING LOCAL AND BEING MINDFUL WITH PURCHASES IS A PRIORITY FOR SAUDI ARABIA 69 per cent of consumers are willing to pay more for locally made gifts. 59 per cent of consumers are annoyed when they find a purchase was made in China after they thought it was a local purchase. 93 per cent of consumers stated that the pandemic has made them think more carefully about how they spend their money. IN SAUDI ARABIA, SELF-CARE NOW INCLUDES SELF-GIFTING 46 per cent of those buying a gift for themselves cite therapy as the main reason.




September 26, 2021

Analysis beyond the data Boopin’s Zeena Kurd explains how to prep your 2022 content strategy


f you’ve been overexposed to the terms ‘we live in unprecedented times’ and ‘now more than ever’, you’re not alone. 2020 hit hard and 2021 was the recovery room where most agencies and brands around the world learned how to cope and adapt to change faster than you can say ‘social media’.

product using interactive methods like augmented reality, gamification, quizzes and puzzles, and real-life imagery. Avoid sales-led calls to action and focus on audience-centric key messaging. Go for key opinion leaders (KOLs). Thought leadership has always been a pillar for B2B marketing, but how can a brand affect its audience with thought leadership? Look at collaborating with key opinion leaders rather than your typical influencers. They tend to have a specific tonality and mindset that affects opinions rather than advocating purchases or products.

It’s now time to use those learnings to shape our social media and content strategies for the year. Here are some tips on how to unlock the best content approach for your clients or brands:

Your content should be data-driven

It’s time to go beyond data gathering. Take a step forward and analyse your data, go beyond numbers and typical demographics. For example, if your engagement rate is lower month-onmonth, try to understand who’s consuming your content. What are their habits, their passion points, their challenges and their preferred tonality? There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to content; you’ll need to adapt and be where your audience is and communicate with them the way they prefer.

Don’t underestimate the impact of search

Keep it real

“With so many trends and tools emerging, it’s easy to fall into the rabbit hole of over-planning. Keep a reality check in place by answering key questions first.”

What better way to deep dive into your audience’s interests than knowing what they’re searching for? Simply put, invest in identifying your industry’s keywords, look at your services and your competitors, and use tools to list down those keywords for you like SEM Rush or Google Keyword Planner. You can then measure the volume of search per keyword and identify the missed opportunities in your content to adapt accordingly.

Let experiment overcome FOMO

As a marketer, it’s important to avoid falling into the trap of ‘shiny new syndrome’. Sure, some platforms made a strong debut in the past couple of years, like TikTok and Clubhouse, but are they the right platforms for your brand? Not necessarily. The best approach is to experiment and learn as you go. New platforms require their own content strategy based on what audiences prefer to consume, so think about what’s best for your brand’s long-term objectives and measure whether it’s working. If you play it too safe, there’s a good chance you’ll miss out on conversion opportunities in comparison to your competitors or industry trends.

Help your audience make the right choice

Think of it as a shopping experience at the mall. You’ll want to try out new items and visualise if they fit you best. The same applies to social media content. Help your audience visualise your products or services. Tell them a story, or showcase your

With so many trends and tools emerging in the digital world, it’s easy to fall into the rabbit hole of overplanning. Keep a reality check in place by answering key questions before building your content strategy: What is it that we want the brand to say? What is your brand’s value proposition without fluffy messages? What does my brand want to change? Is it an experience? Is it a service that tackles a major pain-point? Does my brand want to change a specific mindset? What does my brand hope to inspire its audience with? What do you want your audience to do? Based on the above, you’ll be able to unlock suitable platforms, tools and journeys to dictate your content.

Be vocal about your values

Being the most diverse generation to date, Gen Z (and even millennials) are keeping an eye on brands’ cultural values. According to latest research, 62 per cent of consumers want brands to stand up for the issues they care about. Communicating your CSR activities, your brand culture, and the causes you and your employees stand for builds credibility and, ultimately, advocacy. Therefore, it’s important to go behind the scenes of your products or services. Tell the story of your business and the story of your people. Showcase what you stand for, who you support, and why you’re doing it. Aim to inspire rather than boast, and let your people speak on your behalf. In conclusion, invest time and effort in deep-diving into who your audience really is. As marketers, we have the access to magnitudes of data, but that data will come off invaluable if not stirred into the right direction. The digital industry is dynamic, and with all the changes incurred on data privacy, it’s vital to learn how to analyse beyond numbers. By Zeena Kurd, social media and comms director, Boopin

September 26, 2021


MATTER OF FACT News, views & trends from across the spectrum


THE ART OF LETTING GO TARIQ AL-SHARABI Managing Director of Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy

When the pandemic struck, professionals across all spectrums were blindsided. Most found themselves struggling to navigate the novel situation while some managed to traipse through the contemporary reality one step at a time, and a small handful of them and the brands they represented transcended the challenges and turned every possible minus into a plus.

Many companies stepped up to the plate with innovative and ingenious campaigns that served their communities while creating the kind of positive press that could not have been achieved in any other way. Instead of sitting behind closed doors conceiving the next promotional campaign, brands should spend more time listening to the needs of people to deliver on their exact requirements, because, whether the intention is truly altruistic or in search of a tax cut, the result is the same: a happier, more fulfilled and cared for community.

79.5 million


Forcibly displaced people that Gap Inc. donated apparel to.

Afghani refugee housings that Airbnb offered free of charge.

$15,000 The fine that Calm settled on behalf of any tennis player opting out of media appearances for mental health reasons.






To heist a fan base

The YouTube mobile app is rolling out a new translate feature for comments that supports over 100 languages. If you are a comments prowler, this will prove to be a cool feature that will grant you further insight into what everyone is talking about.

Reimagining a song is not a new trend, but when it is the Bee Gees’ ‘Stayin’ Alive,’ you can never go wrong. Yas Island came out with a brilliant parody of the song that repurposed the tune and lyrics to present an ad that went viral the moment it hit social media. The best bit? More ads of this nature for Yas Island are being produced!

Netflix rounded up the most fervent 100 online fans of its show ‘Money Heist’ and kept them on a plane for the duration of the five newest episodes to ensure that they not spoil the show for others. While it worked, do you really want to force your biggest fans to watch their favourite show on those small airplane screens?


September 26, 2021





Ramsey Naja is regional executive creative director at DDB Middle East. @geminisnake

or some reason, I tend to have a strong opinion about whatever new trend there is in this venerable industry of ours. And, yes, I must admit it: by “strong” I normally mean “disparaging”. It is grossly unfair, of course but, hey, harsh negatives tend to be highly inflammable fuel for conversation – ask right-wing extremists. But I’d like to make an exception when it comes to DCO. DCO stands for dynamic creative optimisation. It is a name which, by itself, feels like it makes quite a few assumptions if you’re a touchy creative, as it seems to suggest your work is a bit shoddy and could do with a little help. Elsewhere, however, DCO is considerably more popular. Account management sees it like a good way to kick the can down the road when the client is unsure; the client sees it as an even better way to clean up their agency’s act; and media sees it as the perfect way to wash their hands clean of any planning accountability by passing the buck to consumers while raking in more cash in the process. The truth is, like most data-based tools, DCO is as good as how it is used. Essentially, it is a useful way to help disseminate large amounts of assets with optimum – yup, hence the name – efficiency. It takes into consideration the seemingly unmanageable number of consumer digital touchpoints and removes that itchy aspect of subjectivity by coldly pointing out what targets would prefer to be exposed to. The flip side of that coin, however, is much murkier. DCO critics will tell you that it is an instrument for lazy, make-it-up-as-you-go-along thinking driven by lowest common denominators. Others will tell you that it is media planning by proxy. And the most vociferous will point to the danger of it becoming a recipe for endless library-based vignette commercials that will be to social media what plastic is to oceans. This observer, meanwhile, will try to make the fence he sits in as comfy as possible, mostly because there’s hardly any point in arguing. This baby is here to stay, along with the plethora of responsibility-shirking tools, from programmatic to micro-targeting and, quite possibly, AI-driven creative. Whether this lot will add value to your brand and make people stick to it, advocate it and pay over the odds to buy it is another matter. And one about which, believe me, I have a pretty damn strong opinion.

DCO critics will tell you it is an instrument for lazy, make-it-up-asyou-go-along thinking driven by lowest common denominators. Others will tell you that it is media planning by proxy.

Motivate Media Group Head Office: 34th Floor, Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Email: 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: London: Motivate Publishing Ltd, Acre House, 11/15 William Road, London NW1 3ER. 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.

Carbon integrates Narratiive’s data After recently announcing a partnership, tech companies Carbon and Narratiive are continuing to build their offering to publishers to more accurately measure, manage and monetise audiences. Narratiive specialises in actionable insights and intelligence for marketers and publishers in MENA, South Africa and emerging markets where it has a large footprint of demographic, behavioural, technographic and intent-based audience data. This data is now flowing through Carbon’s platform for AI-driven audience data management and activation, so publishers can extend their audience reach to make inventory more addressable, improving their programmatic yields and drive betterperforming ad campaigns for buyers. Narratiive’s data lake (data stored in its native format) will be available to use for publishers who are Narratiive measurement clients. For some publishers, this integration has already increased addressable data by more than 600 per cent in some categories, said Narratiive and Carbon in a press statement. Carbon’s vice-president of commercial and strategic partnerships David Snocken said: “Surfacing these high-quality signals within Carbon allows publishers in South Africa and MENA to leverage the value of Narratiive data for targeted audience activation in a way that’s never been possible before. This latest integration is a further reflection of the innovation that the two companies are looking to bring to the global publisher market by working together.” In June Narratiive, an audience measurement platform for emerging and fast-growing markets, partnered with Carbon, an adtech company responsible for developing a revenue management platform for publishers. They aim to bring together a publisherfocused DMP, revenue analytics and audience data.

September 26, 2021


Lights, camera, debate


arlier this year, a lapsed-journalist friend set up a film club. He picks the films (mainly from the 1990s and 2000s, and somewhere in the comfortable middle ground between art-house and blockbuster) and reveals the latest instalment to a bunch of close aquaintances. We watch them on our own, and then meet up every second Tuesday to discuss them. At first, in the interests of social distancing and because we live in Dubai, we would gather a short drive into the desert and discuss the fortnight’s movie around a fire pit. As the city became more vaccinated and the weather less clement, we moved to a borrowed meeting room full of beanbags. A few of the films we’ve discussed (there’s been a couple of dozen of them at least) I had seen before. Some I ought to have. Many I’d not watched, including some I’d not heard of and some I’d not had the inclination to see. That’s the first great thing about a club like this: it exposes you to genres you might not have considered. (How could a documentary about basketball be something I’d enjoy? Hoop Dreams answered that question.) Then, having someone who shoots films and studied cinema and filmmaking lead the conversation means that you look at movies in a new light. (Next time you watch Snowpiercer, notice how the action always moves from left to right – how had I not noticed that before?) The other people in the group bring whole new viewpoints (try discussing Glengarry Glen Ross with a salesman, or Always with the son of a pilot). My friend structures the discussions with questions, and expertly persuades the more bombastic of us to pipe down and the more retiring to speak up. The result is the sort of constructive debate that feels rare these days – nuanced analysis of multi-layered artistry. All of us who have attended have managed to expand our critical abilities from “I like this film” or “I don’t like this film” to explaining what we like or don’t like and how it makes us feel beyond good or bad. And we’ve learned from one another. I’ve had my mind changed both ways on occasion.

The discussion also helps show off the art and craft of the films. I’m sure our interpretations are often massively at odds with what the director originally intended, but going beyond superficial reactions means that we are at least getting closer to his or her thought process. By the end of the evening we have delved deeper and invariably appreciate the film more than when we first watched it. I really enjoy hearing smart people Editor discuss any sort of creativity, including ads – especially people in the industry who know what they are talking about. @maustyn We’ve been trying to introduce some of this to our webinars. In our last Online Briefing an academic led a discussion with an ECD, the marketing head of a major social platform and the CMO of a bank about… Cheetos. I’ll never look at the orange powder on crisps in the same way again. Of course most people see ads fleetingly, and certainly don’t look into them in much depth – that’s pretty much a given. To suggest taking an ad that you like or dislike and analysing it with friends or colleagues is preaching to the converted here; if anyone in the region is likely to do that, they probably subscribe to this magazine. Things like a film club and structured debate about anything that has been created – from advertising to high art – will always help us see that there’s an awful lot of nuance and hard work behind something that makes us say, “I quite liked that”.


The letter of the law, not the spirit of the law M


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

any years ago, I got a call from someone at a South African advertising association. He said: “We’d like to invite you to come over and lecture. Bring your wife, we’ll make sure you have a wonderful time.” In those days, South Africa had a policy of apartheid, so I said: “That sounds great, there won’t be any problem will there, only my wife’s Chinese?” He said: “What a pity, if she’d been Japanese she could have stayed in the same hotel as you.” And he explained that Japanese counted as honorary whites, whereas Chinese didn’t. So obviously I told him thanks a lot but we couldn’t come. It was hard for me to take it seriously because I couldn’t believe that anyone in a sane country could act like that. In reality, of course, we all know it wasn’t just stupid it was cruel and vicious. But South Africa wasn’t the only “civilised” country where people took that stuff seriously. In Hollywood in 1935, Anna May Wong was a movie star, she was Chinese-American. MGM were about to shoot a film about China called The Good Earth adapted from a novel written by Pearl S Buck. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932, and the Nobel Prize for fiction in 1938.

Anna May Wong was perfect for the part of O-Lan, the wife of the farmer, Wang Lung. But the part of Wang Lung had already been given to another star, Paul Muni, a Hungarian. Between 1913 and 1948, the law forbad miscegenation: the mixing of different racial groups through marriage, cohabitation, sexual relations or procreation. Although the characters were both supposed to be Chinese, Paul Muni was white. So they couldn’t cast him as married to a real Chinese woman. So they cast a German actress, Luise Rainer, to be his wife. Now it was legal because, although both of them were playing a Chinese couple, they were both white. Anna May Wong, the actual Chinese woman, was rejected because she was Chinese. It sounds stupid to us, to let reality be subjugated to a silly set of rules. And yet that’s what we do every day in our jobs. Take the fashion for ‘laddering up’ and the belief that this process results in ‘higher-order benefits’ for the brand or product. We start with our product: what it physically is. Then we climb to the next rung: what are the functional benefits? Then we climb to the next rung: what are the emotional

benefits? Then we climb to the next rung: what are the transformational benefits? Finally, the top rung of the ladder: what are the benefits to society? How does ‘laddering-up’ work? Well suppose we are selling Pepsi. The first rung (functional benefit) is that it’s a cold refreshing drink. But laddering up, the next rung (emotional benefit) is that it’s a younger image than Coke. The next rung (transformational benefit) is it makes you feel part of a younger, fun crowd. And the top rung (societal benefit) is it makes the world a better place. (Top Tip: the highest rung is always ‘it makes the world a better place’.) And so we end up with Kendall Jenner stopping a riot by giving a cold Pepsi to a policeman. Try it yourself to see how Gillette went from selling razor blades that shave to blades that stop toxic masculinity. We are implementing a set of silly rules instead of the reality of what people want. We have lost touch with reality and the job advertising is supposed to be doing. Which is, as Carl Ally said, “Imparting useful information in an executionally brilliant way.” All because we let silly rules dominate common sense.


September 26, 2021

Land Rover… ‘Utterly beautiful in its craft and fantastic sound design.’ (MN)

Dubai Tourism… ‘Action scenes, multiple settings and Hollywood stars.’ (FS)

Al Etihad Credit Bureau… ‘Charming and tear-worthy in equal measure.’ (MN)

Emirates … ‘Unbelievably simple and yet incredibly complex.’ (FS)

MTV… ‘Dramatic and eye-catching.’ (MN)

September 26, 2021




Creative CEO and founder, FREEDM

General manager, Havas DXB Creative

LAND ROVER (1) Utterly beautiful in its craft and fantastic sound design, this had me captured from the beginning to end – this may, however, be because I am a brand loyalist and a film lover. As a consumer, it’s quite a long journey and I couldn’t quite understand the link between the dancer and the car. The dancer feels very tribal for a Qatari concept, which I found confusing, and I couldn’t place her role and the car’s journey as a holistic story. Transfixing, and a feat in terms of locally produced films, but the deeper meaning could have been clearer.

LAND ROVER (1) As dance and photography go, the film is a piece of art – well produced, beautiful shots from the car and amazing landscape. The almost-three-minutes-long clip definitely grabs attention the first time you watch it (not sure if it does so enough to watch it a second time) and, while the execution seems to work better in longer formats, I’d love to see how it comes to life in shorter versions.

DUBAI TOURISM (2) It’s big, it’s bold, you want to watch it (twice). You cannot take away from the mammoth reality behind making this film, especially in these times, nor the financial commitment, which must be eye wateringly high. But something about this just feels ‘foreign’ to me as an insider to the city. It is clearly not made locally, and the Americanness makes it feel off-base. Spectacular storytelling and entirely PR-able, but I wish it had a little more local relevance and power. AL ETIHAD CREDIT BUREAU (3) Charming and tear-worthy in equal measure. I am so thrilled to see this level of storytelling coming out of the banking sector in the region. This reflects Dubai in such a fantastically human way that it totally wins the brand into my heart. It’s been a while since I felt so compelled to share an ad with others. 10/10. EMIRATES (4) This one isn’t for me, I am afraid. I feel it is gimmicky and undermines the power and depth of the brand. I am left wishing there was a far more poignant and emotive consumer-centric story to drive people back into their planes. As a huge fan of the brand this feels off, but hats off to the stunt woman – rather her than me. MTV LEBANON (5) Dramatic and eye-catching, this feels extremely personal to the creatives behind it. With a poignant message and a unique glass artwork concept, I found the execution overplays the message somewhat. I wish the sound design and music uplifted the content more, given the media channel it was placed on. An extremely powerful idea and message feels to have been lost in the focus of the execution itself.

DUBAI TOURISM (2) Action scenes, multiple settings and Hollywood stars – the production doesn’t shy away from being unapologetically expensive. The trailer-like narrative of the main film is hard to follow, but it does manage to present Dubai as a global cosmopolitan city filled with beautiful places and exciting experiences. The full set of assets of the campaign, with the behind-the-scenes and shorts with the actors and director talking about Dubai, are a good example of how the right support material can strengthen the message and help to drive engagement and interest. AL ETIHAD CREDIT BUREAU (3) Good craft and a heartfelt narrative. Although the metaphor of a library and the borrowed book is an interesting starting point for the communication platform, the subtle message and choice of execution do not strike me as the right creative strategy to connect to the target, or to raise awareness about the responsibilities and the work developed by AECB.    EMIRATES (4) Unbelievably simple and yet incredibly complex. The message is clear and the visual astonishing – one person, on top of the Burj Khalifa, with a sign that was seen across the world. The city of Dubai in the background makes the stunt and making-of films even more spectacular. MTV LEBANON (5) The cause is admirable, and the use of the artist is relevant when put in the context of it.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Swiss artist Simon Berger has partnered with an advertising agency for an admirable cause – one year ago BBH NY used the same artist and a very similar execution to reference the breaking of the glass ceiling by the US vicepresident Kamala Harris. Although beautifully executed, the campaign loses points on originality.

Land Rover

Title: Defender Production house: The Film House Dancer: Nicole Nyemi-Tei Director and executive producer: Omar Khalifa Producer: Nic van der Bijl DOP: Christopher Moon Art direction: Alleine Nadal

Dubai Tourism

Title: Dubai Presents: a Five-Star Mission Agency: Mother Director: Craig Gillespie, MJZ

Al Etihad Credit Bureau

Title: Majd and the Librarian Agency: Serviceplan Middle East Art directors: Kenneth Barnes, Kunal Gagwani


Title: We’re on Top of the World Production house: Prime Productions AMG Filming company: Choppershoot Event company: TECS Event Services

MTV Lebanon

Title: We are Unbreakable Agency: TBWA\RAAD Artist: Simon Berger


September 26, 2021

The Spin They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so company set-up service Virtuzone must be glowing with pride. Look at their Instagram Stories post from August 29 about the UAE reopening to tourists, followed by a post a day later by a company offering similar services. Spot any similarities? Virtuzone’s slogan is ‘Be your own boss’, as illustrated by a lady standing in front of a giant hashtag. It’s evidently a good slogan, as another rival has been running the banners below in blue. And as for Virtuzone’s catchy ‘Ready, set up, go’ campaign from July 13, there seem to have been echoes online less than a month later. Sometimes it’s tough being an inspiration. The Spin loves taking pictures and is very pleased to see a revival of analogue film photography. We are pleased to see a local brand jumping on this trend to make old-school-style disposable cameras. But if there’s one thing any retro typographer could tell those retro camera guys, it’s be careful with typespacing. Especially if your product is called FLICK.

Appointments Horizon FCB Dubai is expanding its team. (1) TENNYSON TORCATO is the new head of traffic.


(2) ZAYD ABIDI joins in the role of senior art director as part of the creative team, Force.

(3) MUHAMMAD NOUMAN joins Horizon a junior graphic designer. (4) LUNA AL ARJA joins as digital graphic designer to support the creative team. 2

TBWA\RAAD announced the appointment of (5) MARIANNE SARGI to the role of head of production. Sargi will work closely with the production team




to drive integrated productions for the agency’s clients across the Middle East, including brand campaigns, content executions and activations. 5

BMW Group Middle East, responsible for BMW and MINI business operations across the region, has announced (6) OSAMA SHERIF, previously at Talabat, as its new head of corporate

Eyewear startup Eyewa has announced (7) SHYAM SUNDER as its chief marketing officer. 6 The brand said bringing in a seasoned marketer from the region was a decision made now that it has evolved into an omnichannel player. (8) OSAMA SIDDIQ has been appointed senior art director at Memac Ogilvy, working on clients including Toyota, Lexus and Jeep. Siddiq was previously an art director at TBWA/Raad.



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

Painting by Abdulrahim Salem

Photograph by Faisal AlRais

Sculpture by Ana Laserna Villa

Profile for Motivate Media Group

Campaign Middle East - 26th September 2021  

Production House Guide 2021

Campaign Middle East - 26th September 2021  

Production House Guide 2021

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