Campaign Middle East - September 2022

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August 29, 2022








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August 29, 2022


ArabyAds raises $30m in pre-series B funding round from AfricInvest MENA adtech company ArabyAds has announced that it has raised US$30m in a pre-series B funding round from AfricInvest, a pan-African investment platform managing multiple alternative asset classes including private equity, venture capital and private credit. ArabyAds will use the new financing to expand its footprint and further invest it to accelerate its technological advancement and talent acquisition to support its growth. The transaction marks the eighth investment for AfricInvest’s Maghreb Private Equity Fund IV, which provides growth capital to small and mid-capitalisation companies to expand regionally and across the African continent. Founded in 2013 in Egypt, with headquarters in the UAE and tech hubs across Egypt, Tunisia, and Jordan, ArabyAds helps advertisers in customer acquisition, retention, and monetisation by leveraging its technology platforms: iConnect, Boostiny, Ritelo, Dmenta and Deviceboost. Mahmoud Fathy, CEO and co-founder of ArabyAds, said, “We are delighted to welcome AfricInvest as one of our long-term investors and thank them for placing their trust in our vision to build value for all stakeholders in the ecosystem. ArabyAds is committed to transforming the digital advertising landscape with innovation and has been leading the way to deliver performance advertising with its platform offerings. Our fundamentals are strong, and as one of the fastest and profitably growing companies in the MENA region, ArabyAds is now looking to expand its presence in newer markets where it can leverage

ArabyAds plans to use its funding to expand in new markets

its scalable, secure, and end-to-end platforms to help e-commerce businesses scale effortlessly across the globe.” Skander Oueslati, chief investment officer at AfricInvest, said: “We are pleased to partner with ArabyAds at a time when the technology company is looking to further disrupt the adtech industry through its transformative technology platforms. ArabyAds has established a strong brand and excellent reputation in the MENA region and is

widely recognised for its reliability and expertise in digital marketing and advertising.” Gulrez Alam, chief investment and strategy officer at ArabyAds, said: “This funding round enables us to increase the pace of our international expansion, providing ArabyAds an opportunity to further deliver meaningful technology solutions to e-commerce companies globally. I am sure we will be able to replicate our success story in the new geographies as well.”

Netizency strikes oil with IFFCO

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ANNAHAR #REDRESSLEBANON Annahar newspaper and ad agency Impact BBDO have launched the ‘#RedressLebanon’ campaign, in collaboration with international fashion designer Zuhair Murad. In 2020, an explosion left the city of Beirut in shambles. Today, buildings are covered in mesh and scaffolding as they are rebuilt. The campaign makes a statement by transforming the fabric of mesh cut directly from the exterior of Annahar’s building into a dress. With the dress, Murad aimed to embody the resilience, beauty and willpower of the Lebanese people in the face of a spiralling economic and social crisis that has made their living conditions unbearable.

UAE FMCG group IFFCO’s oil and fats business has chosen regional digital shop Netizency to cook up social media content for its Rahma Oil, Sunny Oil, and Noor Oil brands. The assignment will serve up strategy, social media management, listening and analytics for the brands. Ola Fayed, GM of the oils and fats business for the GCC at IFFCO, said: “We are very excited to partner with Netizency as the new digital agency for our flagship oil brands. We are confident in Netizency’s expertise in creating relevant digital content that is engaging and that will delight our consumers, while solidifying the brands’ strong positions in the region.” Fadi Khater, founder and managing partner of Netizency, said: “We couldn’t be more excited to have added these three new brands to our menu and we’re ready to take them to the next level of digital presence.”


August 29, 2022

Cicero & Bernay Commmunication Consultancy wins Property Finder public relations account Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy, an independent, UAE-based communication firm, has announced it will be representing MENA real estate technology company Property Finder. Cicero & Bernay aims to take the lead on all Property Finder’s public relations requirements in the region to further the brand’s presence and inspire engagement to foster brand affinity. As a communication partner, Cicero & Bernay will be responsible for positioning the real estate portal as a trusted brand with the help of communication tactics built on key narratives to differentiate it. Tariq Al Sharabi, managing director of Cicero & Bernay, said: “As a communication consultancy, our mission is to work with clients on uplifting their market presence and influence. Property Finder is the most accomplished real estate platform in the region and one we are excited to be partnering with to empower its communication regionally and beyond through bespoke communication strategies and plans. Our ultimate aim will be to increase conversation around the portal further and convey the core values of customer-centricity and innovation that the brand is built upon.” Sevgi Gur, chief marketing officer of Property Finder, said: “We are

Tariq Al Sharabi (left) and Sevgi Gur

excited to partner with Cicero & Bernay as our PR agency. Thanks to their strong understanding of the regional media landscape and innovative strategies, I am confident they will play a critical role in driving an impactful PR and corporate agenda for our brand and communicate our purpose and

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commitment in the most effective way.” According to Cicero & Bernay, Property Finder stands to benefit from the agency’s experience and expertise in providing PR and 360-degree communication services to major real estate brands across the UAE. The agency, which was

recently awarded a Large Consultancy of the Year commendable award by PRCA MENA, will support Property Finder with industry-leading content created around public relations services and activities designed to enhance brand awareness for the property portal.

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Misfits has produced the latest marketing campaign for Careem Plus, a subscription plan that offers customers exclusive savings. The video features an idea that is direct, simple, stupid and engaging, taking literally the phrase: ‘Value that will blow you away’.

New Balance partnered with Anghami for Grey Day 2022 – a unique, annual celebration of its iconic grey colourway. The concept showed support to local talent for an experiential Grey Day event. The brands formed a strategic partnership and put the spotlight on two performers, Amy Roko and Lil Eazy.

Creative, strategy and production Misfits DOP Dennis Chehade Producers Misfits, Mutaz Salloum, Saif Khan, Nasrallah Saad

Creative partner Anghami Event Adam Griffiths–3DB PR agency StickyGinger

August 29, 2022

MBC Media Solutions renews Saudi Sports Company deal The commercial arm of MBC Group, MBC Media Solutions (MMS) announced the renewal of its partnership with the Saudi Sports Company (SSC) network of TV and digital channels for the coming three years. This positions MMS as the sole representative for all advertising on SSC content for the second year in a row. The announcement comes after a successful year between the two, where MMS provided its expertise in both digital and broadcast marketing and advertising to make SSC’s sporting content available to brands that want to be a part of some of the most followed sports in the Kingdom. SSC will be broadcasting across a roster of channels, which continue to be accessible through both GoBox & Shahid subscription services. SSC has the exclusive rights to broadcasting the upcoming Prince Mohammad bin Salman Pro League, including the King Cup and the Saudi Super Cup, as well as regional and international tournaments, such as the 2023 AFC Asian Cup to be held in China, and the AFC Champions League,.

SSC will also be broadcasting non-football sporting events, such as the American National Football League (NFL), Formula 1, World Rally Championship (WRC), and local basketball, handball and volleyball leagues. “Renewing the partnership between MMS and SSC is a testimony to the fruitful inaugural year we’ve had together. As part of this partnership MMS will once again offer brands great opportunities to be

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a part of leading and top-rated sporting events in the Kingdom and the overall region through its suite of innovative and state-of-the-art solutions,” said MMS CEO, Ahmed Al Sahhaf. Fahad Al Ahmad, COO for SSC, said: “We look forward to having more successful years with MMS, this partnership will open exceptional opportunities for media companies and others to be a part of the thriving sport field in the Kingdom.”


Industry mourns Firdaus Shariff

Firdaus Shariff, vice-president of the Middle East and Africa for marketing, communications and digital customer experience at Schneider Electric, passed away early in August. She was also a member of the Global Marketing International Operations Leadership Team. Shariff had previously worked at Cisco an SAP, where she was vice-president of global marketing for demand programmes and engagement. The Middle East and Asia CMO Council had honoured her with a Woman Super Achiever Award and named her Most Influential CMO for the Middle East region. She was named a Marketing Maestro by Reseller Middle East, and given a Women in Leadership Achievement Award from the World Federation of Marketing Professionals.

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The Dubizzle team, along with Dubai-based ad agency Amplify, have created a catchy campaign featuring the #dubizzleit song. Taking inspiration from the trendy dance moves popular on social media, the music video’s storyboard aims to display all the fun aspects of the UAE that you can explore through Dubizzle, including dancers, flamingos, motorbikes and televisions.

Electriclime produced the Stranger Things Season 4 promotional video for Netflix MENA in KSA. With creative agency Science & Sunshine, the video was created to promote the launch of the hit Netflix series within the MENA region. Set against the backdrop of AlUla in Saudi Arabia, the video aimed to localise the series launch.

Creative agency Amplify Art director Antony Shepperd Director Steve Kilby DOP Kris Brody Directors Tejal Patni, Zubin Mistry

Creative agency Science & Sunshine Production house Electriclime Director Karim Gemayel DOP Amin Shamsedine FX Paradox VFX


August 29, 2022



Have large-scale events lost their ‘wow’ factor›?

August 29, 2022

Farah Abu Salah

PR and communications manager at Arabian Automobiles Company


For marketers focusing on largescale events and brand activation, the value and strategies of these experiences were affected by Covid-19. Though things are slowly returning to a consistent state of normalcy, people are still emphasising safety measures and social distancing. In the past, audience size was a metric for success, but things have changed. Now, brands need to rethink the value that large-scale activations provide to audiences, at a time when they are still required to emphasise safety and preventive measures to inspire people to attend.


Reham El Didi

Head of corporate communications – Middle East at Stellantis


The event industry continues to change with the emergence of innovative technology and new ideas. As events and PR professionals, we need to continue to adapt. The definition of ‘large-scale’ has changed and the metrics of a successful event have been redefined. Five years ago, this may have meant that an event with over 5,000 attendees was a success. Today, where customer experience and personalisation are key, large-scale events are defined as being driven by technology and bespoke experiences rather than visitor numbers alone. Audiences have become less passive, and they expect to be drawn in to interact with brands. Large-scale activations need to drive and measure this engagement.

Amanda Fox-Pryke

Deputy managing director at Performance Communications


And they are unlikely to lose it either. The fundamental principle that makes any large-scale activation a success is simple: it is the extent to which it engages with and captures the imagination of its audience. While there were predictions during the pandemic of a shift to experiential digitisation, we are seeing that this hasn’t happened. People want to come together, as we see from the crowds at airports around the world, or at sold-out festivals. There is a willing audience waiting to be captivated and to enjoy experiences in person. People still want to be there for the next big ‘wow’ event.

Lynn Al Khatib

Group head of communication at Chalhoub Group


Today’s consumers are looking for experiences that resonate with their personal values and allow them to express themselves, while associating with the brand’s identity. Large-scale events are being redefined in terms of purpose, meaning and reach. Brand activations are curated and localised for the region with proper targeting taking place in exclusive locations and focusing on immersive experiences. One of the positive outcomes of Covid-19 is the ability to deliver hybrid events that can simultaneously delight, connect and engage people all over the world.

Jo Webber

Vice president – client relations at Spiro


They have changed forever. Gone are the days of creating a large-scale brand activation and expecting most of your customers to experience it in person. In the ‘new now’, the constantly shifting and changing landscape of today, your customers will engage with you how they see fit, across time zones, channels, platforms and more. You can still create a large-scale activation, but now it must cater to customers in many places, unrestricted by a physical space or digital platform. Today’s activations must first discover where customers exist and then build an experience to meet them there.


August 29, 2022

Zahraa Hachem

Communications manager at Red Havas Middle East


The answer to that question is contingent on other key variables that are more consequential than the activation size, such as, the delivery of the campaign, whether it was guided by rich insights and driven by creative imagination, whether the right channels were leveraged and how well the target audience engaged with the activation and if the impact led to action. It is important to re-evaluate how the wow factor is measured as it’s not just about the grandiosity of the stunt and activation, but about how that puzzle piece fits into the larger picture.

Lara El Khoury

Senior regional marcom manager at Choueiri Group – DMS


Despite, the ease of organising meetings or events remotely, the events industry has experienced a resurgence in popularity. The live experience has become more popular with people and brands, which means more connections with the audiences. When marketers want to research products and services, learn about trends or look into the future of their industry, conferences and trade shows are always the primary source of information. Now that we have experienced what it’s like to be informed through online connections, we’ve learned that human contact is more valuable. In spite of the potential of online events, it is difficult to satisfy attendees, compared with the real world. As event organisers are stepping out of their comfort zone, they are creating out-of-thisworld activations that still amaze people, and they make you wonder what’s next. Experiential marketing is still alive and well, but it’s only a matter of time before those events shift to a fully digital experience, where the sky will be the only limit.

Petra B Spanko

Regional director at Katch


They are still as special and appealing as ever. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and large-scale activations have gone through quite a transformation in the last two years. I would say they are now back with even more appreciation from the audience than ever before. Only the size and scale have changed, for safety reasons, but the wow factor and sparkle still remain. Online streaming is also giving the market a whole new perspective. Technology can afford a much wider audience for the chance to be involved, without having to be present at the physical location.

Ghada El-Kari CMO at W Group


Large-scale brand activations will continue to be a central phenomenon and a rising trend in the world of experiential marketing. These activations are gaining momentum and are becoming a prerequisite to marketers’ brand campaigns, especially those aiming to forge a lasting emotional connection with their target audience and get a solid return on investment in the process.

Craig Borthwick Partner at Lightblue


I side with the no camp on this in general terms, but it would be easy to say yes, given some that don’t put experience at the heart of the activation. The reality is generating ‘wow’ comes down to creating a tiered, mind-blowing experience that is built around every detail of the audience journey, and there are still many that have done this recently. Take Mdlbeast in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as a perfect example. Step back and put yourself into the position of the audience, every step of the way through planning, and if you’re not impressed, don’t expect anyone else to be.

August 29, 2022


Judy Bakieh

Influencer marketing manager at Gambit Communications


Khaled AlShehhi

Executive director – marketing and communication at UAE Government Media Office


There is no doubt that people are solicited more and more, across multiple channels and platforms, thanks to their increasing time with media. With 13 hours in a day, we’re exposed to around 10,000 messages in multiple forms. No wonder attention spans are dropping, now standing at about eight seconds. How do you break through that noise and warrant some of that attention? You need to be relevant, of course, but also excite, surprise and entertain. Today, large-scale activations do that job, but again they’re not enough on their own. You need social media to amplify them and make them rise to the top of feeds. Just look at what we’ve achieved with The Warmest Winter, the World’s Tallest Donation Box while raising millions for the needy, celebrating the opening of the Museum of the Future or accompanying the Hope Probe to Mars. All these provided results beyond our expectations and were award-winners. Large-scale activations do work, but you need to work harder for them to succeed.

It has been 10 years since Red Bull’s famous supersonic jump with Felix Baumgartner, and people still remember it for the sheer scale of the activation and ambition behind it. It’s true that the primary determinant of an activation’s success isn’t size; it is originality, brand authenticity and the ability to engage the audience. However, if you have achieved these factors then scaling up to make it bigger definitely increases the wow factor. Unfortunately, today it is harder than ever for marketers to be creative with their activations, as brands constantly copy each other’s practices, so the audience rarely feels surprised or special. Whether large-scale or small, brands need to look at activations as an opportunity for experiential storytelling that is original, engaging and personal.

Emad Raja

Digital marketing and social media specialist at Active DMC


The bar has been raised so high in Dubai that it’s no longer visible. Even advertising on the world’s tallest building is no longer dazzling. It has become the new norm with its repeated use by not only companies but also individuals for marriage proposals, birthday wishes and even gender reveals. Nowadays, due to the unmatched diversity of the audience in the region, you might find that focusing on multiple smaller niche campaigns that deliver impact could be your 'out of the box' idea that sets you apart from the crowd.

Marwah Eltom

Assistant marketing manager at Al Masaood Group


Diego Florez

Creative director at TBWA\RAAD


But large-scale copies or mediocre activations have. The industry is getting used to replicating activations by copying what’s already been invented and then replicating it on a larger scale. Being innovative pushes the culture forward and gives audiences the wow factor. And it makes us proud of being the first ones to do it. Let’s replicate less and get into being the first ones more.

However, what was defined as a large event is not large anymore as certain brands, mostly luxury and fashion brands, have taken mega events to a completely different level. Brands that cannot keep up are opting for more intimate events. Many brands are now shifting from mega events to experiential ones, where they focus on social media influencers for amplification through their large follower base. With the acceleration of virtual and hybrid events, the overall sentiment for large events has declined with budgets shrinking, as digital is eating away a part of the pie by proving to be a more costeffective option.


August 29, 2022

Euan Megson

Saheba Sodhi



Managing director at Action UAE

Head of Strategy at MCH Global

However, they must be fit for purpose. Largescale activations remain an important tactical option, within wider marketing and communications campaigns, for brands, products and events. While demanding a significant share of any project budget, major activations boast an inherent ability to offer a broad suite of experiences to potential audiences and consumers. Historically, large-scale activations are usually physical and offline in nature, although the integration of VR, AR and other digital technologies add online components that simultaneously open other owned, earned, and paid channels to promote the activity, drive footfall, and increase engagement and conversion.

Cherry Fu Qiuhui

Marketing director – GCC at Oppo


We believe in creating and delivering the wow factor through our large-scale activations that communicate to our audience and inspire those who are yet to explore our brand. By employing contemporary tactics for two very different audiences for our recent launch events and the use of a now record-breaking TikTok campaign, both launch events proved to be incredibly successful. They generated great engagement and pushed the boundaries of digital marketing by blending the creativity of social media users and influencers.

While the pandemic scared us all for a bit, it also offered an opportunity for brands and marketers to reimagine large-scale activations. The truism that ‘bigger is better’ doesn’t necessarily hold true anymore. Rather, it allows us to rethink the notion of ‘scale’ – shifting from lots of consumers in one place to lots of different audiences experiencing something curated for them. The euphoric feeling of being able to gather with a like-minded community to witness something impactful will probably never lose its charm, but just freebies and Instagrammable photoops won’t cut it anymore. Brands will have to offer greater value, belonging, utility, inspiration and a deeper connection to get people to come out and participate.

Thembi Hlekane Head of creative at BE Experiential


They lost their wow factor because we tend to focus more on creating a wow factor than on presenting the brand experience. When it comes to large brand activation, its value proposition has changed with time. Yes, the creative ways that used to attract people no longer have the same effect, but we also need to admit that we have started pushing wow factor without thinking about the brand and the audience. We have been focused on putting up the biggest and shiniest ideas to catch the eye, but it doesn’t always make sense to the consumer and their needs. The importance of the client budget and winning the project has surpassed building something important for the consumer. At some point people stopped paying attention to what we were supposed to do and started paying attention to its PR value. You shouldn’t build an event for the shock value, because if you do it well enough for the audience’s sake, you get organic PR. Therefore, brands must rethink what value they provide to people in their large-scale experiences and be more audience-centric. Start creating exhilarating experiences that present their brand value and product and using creativity to bring that brand to life for its audience.

Safwan El Roufai

Executive vice-president - MENA at VMLY&R Commerce


No amount of digital or virtual experience will have the same impact as a physical, multi-sensorial experience. After the long halt of physical experiences, due to social distancing and lockdowns, people are in need of human interaction; being in a physical space together, talking and discussing in real-time. People are keener than ever to be part of activations for many reasons. These reasons are: the FOMO and thirst for new things; making up for lost time and experiences; and being part of live multisensorial journeys. The more time we spend online, the more FOMO we develop. We see our friends attending and experiencing concerts, exhibitions and activations, and we want to be there too. We live in a world where there is something new to see and experience every day, and we all want to be part of that. We all missed the human interaction, the collective experiences and the activations with other people.

August 29, 2022


NO PRESSURE FRIDAY Zainab Imichi Ahlhassan Alli explains how Pop Communications has taken the hustle mentality out of a four-day workweek


ince starting Pop Communications, my business partner Sarah and I have always advocated for flexibility to foster a work/life balance. Implementing an accommodating work model has always been in our plans. Covid-19 forced many firms to re-evaluate operations, which meant working remotely for many. We found our firm thrived under this arrangement. Tasks were getting completed when team members felt they performed best. When the UAE’s government announced plans to change its workweek in January 2022, we took the opportunity to implement ‘No Pressure Fridays’ in accordance with the shift. As many agency founders know, our industry heavily focuses on client servicing. This element is pivotal but, just like with any challenges, there is a way to approach this practice as many have done. Sarah and I found that offering Friday as a cushion to either take off or reduce hours best serves our firm and team as opposed to implementing a stringent four-day working week.


When the burden of completing work within a set number of days or working hours is removed and flexibility is offered, efficient and positive operations result. We want our team to enjoy their work and not feel any tension or heaviness in the work environment. This approach does not mean we fully shut down on Fridays, but we are operationally versatile, which works for our business model and plays a key role in successful implementation. Contemplating a ‘No Pressure’ approach? Consider this: TEAM FEASIBILITY: IS YOUR STAFF A MATCH? Self-sufficient and proactive team: If your team needs to be micro-managed or overseen in an office, this approach may not be a match. However, it can be worked on over time as we did. The move to work remotely because of Covid-19 marked our first foray into offering flexibility with amended working hours. After ironing out a few bumps, our team championed the approach and its corresponding responsibilities, and we felt confident to move ahead. Time management skills: This is a big one. Sarah and I worked very hard to find, secure and maintain a team that can equally excel independently and as a group. GOALS: WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF THIS APPROACH TO YOUR BUSINESS? Operational efficiency/work-life balance: Eliminating time constraints and shifting mindsets has increased productivity. Say there’s a press release that needs to be with a client by Monday, one can choose to get it done by Thursday or take solace in knowing time can be dedicated on a Friday without other requirements. This fosters ownership of time and decreases any anxieties, encouraging a balanced work and personal

life. The result is often superior. Freelance support attractiveness: Flexibility is often an attractive element to this workforce. We’ve found this approach aligns with freelancers’ work styles and needs. As business owners, we are happy to collaborate with trusted and proven partners where there is a mutual understanding and agreement to do a good job. CLEAR COMMUNICATION: FOUNDATION TO SUCCESS Internal (team): Be clear on the flexibility/ functional components from the start. If work needs to be completed within a certain timeframe or a client has an urgent matter that requires action, it will be handled. Team members need to know this and be on board with it. We’ve found that this is often a non-issue, as time management skills are instilled when there is something positive to work towards. External (clients/media): Most clients are supportive of the approach and respect it if communicated properly. The ability to offer alternatives or work on a Friday when needed is required at times, and that’s OK. Next week and thereafter may be different. The same approach is practised for editorial connections. So, if you’re considering a four-day workweek but feel it may not be the right approach due to time constraints, give the ‘no pressure’ approach a try. You may find it to be the operational powerhouse practice you never knew was needed. It was a game changer for Pop Communications and is something that will be a standard policy from here on out. By ZAINAB IMICHI ALHASSAN ALLI, co-founder, Pop Communications


August 29, 2022


t’s been more than two years since the pandemic disrupted industries across verticals and turned businesses, from start-ups to large legacy organisations, upside down. Yet, many of us are still grasping for the ‘next normal’, ‘new normal’, or ‘back to normal’. We’re waiting for the great return to happen, but every aspect of the way we live, work, learn, communicate and collaborate has changed since 2020. There is no going back. The economic, cultural, emotional and behavioural shifts that we’re continuing to see in our customers, our employees and ourselves mean that the only path to the future is forward, through transformation. The business case for digital transformation is well documented. McKinsey & Co reported that only 11 per cent of companies surveyed believe that their business models are economically viable through 2023 without making any changes. Conversely, 64 per cent of companies said they needed to build digital business to stay competitive by next year, and almost 90 per cent said that their business models need to change – or have already. The digital transformation is also well under way for those on board. A recent PWC survey revealed that 60 per cent of executives say that digital transformation is their most critical growth driver this year. IDC forecasts that digital transformation across the Middle East, Turkey and Africa will double between 2020 and 2025 – with anticipated investment at $58bn annually by 2025. So, what’s keeping some from taking the reins of change and transforming their companies’ processes, performances, systems and value propositions – and how can they get past it? Due to the amount of change and disruption that has rocked our industry in the past few years, we must embrace change. Without accepting change as a constant in your work and industry, and without transforming first how you look at your company and its offerings, you can’t successfully digitally transform and meet the requirements of today’s consumers. Spiro transforms how we look at and create experiences, because we were inspired to evolve after seeing how much the brand-experiences and event industry has shifted in the past few years. That mind shift and acceptance of constant change has helped us to remain agile in the face of disruption. You can either embrace digital transformation and be actively looking at ways that new business models, value propositions, processes, talent and offerings can help your business – or you can be changed by the digital transformation that’s sweeping across all industries.

BEKI WINCHEL, director, thought leadership and innovation, Spiro

It’s move or be moved. As uncomfortable as moving might sound, being forced to transform is not how you want to innovate. Customers are now telling brands what they want and how they want it. At Spiro, we put the customer’s choices and preferences at the centre of our experience design process, not because this is a passing fad but because this moment and beyond is all about customer empowerment. It might seem odd to form such an intimate connection with your customers, but consider this: For all of us, a primary driver is to form connections with each other. This core human inclination has been cut off and rearranged in the past few years but, ultimately, connection is what humans seek. Digital transformation can help you reach customers across channels, platforms and mediums. Understanding human behaviour and embracing current customer behaviour will help you


transform both digitally and holistically. The industry often discusses hybrid, IRL (in real life), URL (online), omnichannel, etc., but today’s consumers effortlessly toggle between digital and physical. We live in a new space, the in-between. Hybrid is here to stay, but both technology and human behaviour have already surpassed that distinction. For any brand experience, attendees can be simultaneously together and remote, asynchronous and live. It’s what we at Spiro call ‘ARL’, or ‘All Real Life’. We wholeheartedly believe that medium- and channel-agnostic ways of working are here to stay. Moreover, connection builds trust. Businesses are the only institutions that consumers trust, according to Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer Report. More than half (58 per cent) of customers say that they’ll buy or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values. In a PWC ESG (environment, social and governance) report, Shargiil Bashir, chief sustainability officer for First Abu Dhabi Bank, said: “We have an ESG strategy because it’s the right thing to do; because it will become our licence to operate down the line; and because we need to support our customers from a business perspective. It is the future.” Brands today face a new reality full of business, behaviour, economic, sentiment and social norm change. The world has changed. Humans have changed. Why would we think our offerings and processes don’t have to change as well? So, how are you embracing digital transformation? By BEKI WINCHEL, director, thought leadership and innovation, Spiro

TRANSFORM OR BE TRANSFORMED Digital is here to stay, writes Spiro’s Beki Winchel

August 29, 2022


20 YEARS OF PROGRESS UM’s Hanan Tabsh looks back on her career and how women’s leadership roles have changed as the industry evolves


002 or 2022 differ by only one digit, but the difference is a journey of 20 years that simply feels like one day. Women in the advertising and communications industry, how many times have you tried to recall the first day you joined it? When I did, I realised the significant rise of women in leadership and I was thrilled to observe that progress. Back in 2002, most advertising and communications agencies in the Middle East had male heroes behind their success – from Elie Khoury and Mark Read to Tarek Mikans and Fadi Salameh, to name a few. Adding to this, the fast dynamic of the industry itself was another barrier for low gender diversity, and men typically dominated. Throughout the fast growth of the advertising industry, female empowerment and gender equality have risen exponentially with key personalities whose roles recently positioned them as gamechangers. People such as Eileen Kieman, global CEO at UM; Elda Choucair, CEO at Omnicom MENA; and Wendy Clark, global CEO at Dentsu. The big challenge is how a woman in a leadership position within a tough industry can trace her ambition to draw the full picture for a prosperous journey. I believe certainty and resilience should be the right mix. So, let’s embrace success stories and get inspired to pursue our goals and ambitions to keep the growth rolling. How can women become leadership pioneers? By starting from our strong belief that we can imprint a solid mark on the businesses we operate within, as long as we are determined, goal achievers and persistent. Alongside the industry’s evolution, women’s strengths in terms of agility and multitasking enable us to adapt to various norms, changes and rapid market dynamics. As an expat in Qatar since 2002, I have been proud to witness the key market milestones and developments with all their opportunities and challenges – from the Asian games in 2006 and the FIFA World Cup announcement in 2010 to the current digital transformation and the infrastructure readiness for 2022. As business leaders we have aimed to mirror our operation to be experienced in sports marketing, covering key and major sports events to be ready to deliver a significant media role for one of the major global sports events in Qatar for 2022: the World Cup. Considering that people are the major

‘‘THROUGHOUT THE GROWTH OF THE INDUSTRY, FEMALE EMPOWERMENT AND GENDER EQUALITY HAVE RISEN EXPONENTIALLY.” pillar of any business operation, a woman’s role is positioned as the pivot that enables teamwork and cross-functionality. Her emotional thinking is no longer perceived as a weakness in terms of decision-making, but helps her deep-dive into understanding her team better, allowing for better relationships with colleagues as well as clients and partners. It lets her deploy team capability effectively and accurately to create the best synergy. Synergy is not only determined with gender diversity, but it also brings in talent from different cultures, different skills and various age groups, focusing on the youth who are the new catalyst of any business growthl, regardless of their gender. As an employee who started like any new industry joiner, I was always eager to learn. Being part of a small organisation didn’t limit my prospects. Instead, it was an advantage; team members can find themselves responsible for different scopes and roles, and it challenged me to be a curious learner by nature. This proved how empowerment and motivation are two key essentials to build a productive and inspiring ecosystem. This was my flagship motto to embrace as a colleague, employee, leader and mother. With the right empowerment you can trigger the strength of each team member to bring diversity of thoughts and output, where every project will become unique and not a reflection of one leader’s approach. Leading an operation is the art of enabling team capabilities and forging potential that women in advertising are mastering. This is reflected today in agencies across the big four networks. At UM we can clearly witness the

rise of gender diversity and equality, as well as cultural diversity that enriches our business operations. As a woman from this industry and from the Middle East, I would like to invite every woman and all youth who believe in their potential to claim their seats at the table and take the lead themselves. Don’t wait for others to pave the road for you. As Estée Lauder, a phenomenal businesswoman, once said, “I never dreamed of success; I worked for it.” By HANAN TABSH, managing director, UM Lower Gulf



August 29, 2022

To the metaverse and beyond Disruptive and Disruptive World prepare industry leaders for impact, purpose and all things metaverse and Web3


ward-winning production house and content creator Disruptive is evolving to embrace and enhance Web3 accessibility in its profile. The company is building out its financial flow systems while implementing impact-driven models and projects along the way. Disruptive has garnered the trust of industry leaders, creating a diverse portfolio of work. The company found early success with a focus on the entertainment sector, as reflected in its star-studded showreel that includes many of the region’s A-list singers, including Hussain Al Jasmi, Rashed Al Majid and Maya Diab; international artists French Montana, Fat Joe and Sean Paul; and an extensive list of Bollywood superstars with the likes of Guru Randawah, Honey Singh and Akshay Kumar. The production house saw continued growth helping the corporate world capture its stories through commercials, documentaries and animated content for leading brands and organisations, such as Expo 2020

‘The Legacy’ NFT campaign for boxer Floyd Mayweather

production stars sports-icon and philanthropist David Beckham stepping into the metaverse and embracing its limitless potential. To view the 2022 Disruptive Showreel and its portfolio, visit Behind the Web3 brand evolution for Disruptive is parallel company Disruptive World, a strategic advisory firm with a passion for purpose. David Zennie, founder and CEO of Disruptive and Disruptive World, says: “The two seamlessly work together to guide our partners and clients through an educational, transformative and purpose-driven journey. We are currently developing signature projects that utilise cutting-edge technology in artificial intelligence and working with leading talent and meta-architects to build out virtual worlds in both Unity and Unreal 5. As we continue to move forward, I am happy to see purpose driven narratives that produce measurable impact at the centre of our efforts, with some very exciting partnerships and project announcements to be unveiled soon.”

Screenshot from ACUVUE advert

UAE Pavilion, Special Olympics, Cartoon Network, Dubai Tourism, Swarovski, Nestle, Unilever and Johnson & Johnson. During this time, Disruptive delivered more than 40 productions for Etisalat alongside ad agency Impact BBDO, including servicing specialised briefs such as a 360-degree visual experience that was animated specifically for the Expo Dome, and the rebranding of the telecom’s sonic identity, which has since been heard by millions and took Silver at the Middle East Transformation Awards. Disruptive, in shifting to adopt Web3, guided boxing legend Floyd Mayweather into the space by designing and producing his debut NFT campaign, titled ‘The Legacy’. The campaign tells the story of the undefeated boxer’s rise to the top, showcasing a multi-tier collection that leverages utility and access to grant fans unique experiences, merchandise, and boxing memorabilia. Disruptive’s latest


Screenshot from the Expo 2020 UAE Pavilion documentary

The permanence of the internet was once dismissed by many, yet today we find the digital age is accelerating the rise of Web3, DeFi (decentralised finance), NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and the metaverse to enhance the consumer experience. Gen Z-ers spend on average more than half their waking hours in front of screens, and if we have learned anything in the last two years, it is that there has been a significant shift in the way consumers interact with digital content and how central online engagement is to our lives. Leading financial institutions such as Goldman Sachs predict the metaverse will become an $8 trillion opportunity by 2030. Zennie shares a unique insight, “The metaverse is no longer a far-off fantasy. It stands to reshape and deepen the relationship between consumer and producer. The world of blockchain and Web3 is quite literally evolving


August 29, 2022

David Beckham stepping into the metaverse

at our fingertips, taking us away from the current transactional model that we know and shifting us towards a multi-stakeholder model. In the end, we find the metaverse becoming the multi-stakeholder arena, capable of fostering a new dimension in consumer-brand relationships. Encouraging innovation to meet consumer needs will be a must. A healthy community dynamic in which purpose and impact are a cornerstone will be the key to unlocking longevity and prosperity for all stakeholders.”


To holistically support the film and advertising industry, Disruptive World is hosting a purpose-driven virtual event, ‘Mind Matters: Healthy Mind, Healthy Body’. Mind Matters takes place inside a virtual representation of a creative’s mind. Amongst neurons and synapses, attendees as avatars can navigate the virtual world, attend live talks and special events, and chat with leading

Disruptive CEO David Zennie and sports icon David Beckham on set

wellness professionals. The virtual world engages an intersectional and meaningful dialogue around the importance of mental wellbeing and supports its contributors and attendees in their journey to a healthier mind. Using an industry-first approach, Mind Matters rolls profit redistribution and sponsorship allocations towards impact, offering support for the wellness of industry peers in the UAE navigating the high demands and complexities of the film and advertising industry. Mind Matters is free of charge and is open to anyone interested in learning about mental wellness. Registration has recently opened for those who wish to attend, speak, or sponsor at:


As industries transition, Disruptive World advises and

guides partners through a transformative process from start to finish, providing key services from designing immersive metaverses to core strategy development that establishes a strong brand presence within new virtual worlds. The Disruptive World team offers its expertise working closely alongside partners to structure and plan clients’ transition into the metaverse with a defined goal to ensure consumers experience a next-level engagement from their favourite and most trusted brands. Zennie says: “Early leaders who take the metajump shouldn’t be surprised when they quickly find themselves in position to lead their industry.” Disruptive World recognises that education is the first step to readiness. To support industry shift, the firm offers a comprehensive training course ‘Metaverse and Beyond’, designed to empower C-level executives and marketing and agency professionals with the knowledge and capabilities of Web3, blockchain technologies, NFTs and the metaverse. The course has

Screenshot from the brand film for Jetex

been carefully developed with the needs of industry and market demands in mind to ensure that participants are trained with the latest information to effectively comprehend this emerging ecosystem and the available tools that are empowering leadership and their teams to navigate the space with confidence and expertise. The course is now available for booking at Zennie says: “The goal is to fast-track the learning curve. We are supporting this evolution two-fold. Education as a major pillar in addition to advisory, strategic planning, and impact models that empower ad agencies and brands to stay ahead. This is all backed by production solutions allowing our clients and partners to step into the world of Web3, blockchain, NFTs and the metaverse with confidence.”



August 29, 2022

LET’S NOT STOP THERE Championing, or even achieving diversity is not the end goal, writes OMG’s Elda Choucair


here is a strong reason why the word ‘diversity’ is joined with ‘equity’ and ‘inclusion’. Diversity is the start, equity then guides the world we design so it caters to all kinds of people, and, finally, inclusion is the pursuit that tests our mindsets and upbringing to how we embrace diversity. In our region, when we talk about diversity, the prominent type of diversity being addressed is gender. According to the World Bank, in 2021, the percentage of women in the workforce was at 39 per cent worldwide, while in the Arab World, that number was half at 20 per cent. Some

countries, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, have come a long way, with governments taking the lead to improve these numbers; as a result, we have witnessed a tremendous 100 per cent improvement compared with five years ago. Increasing the consciousness of our deep biases has helped us progress, but it has also helped us understand how much more we need to do to design a more equitable and inclusive world.

‘‘THE REALITY IS, WE ARE ALL GUILTY OF EITHER EXCLUDING, MISJUDGING OR UNDERUTILISING SOMEONE.” No matter the practices we pick up and the policies we develop to create diversity and equity, they can never really answer the question of whether people feel included or not because that is about human emotion. The reality is, we are all guilty of either excluding, misjudging or underutilising someone, often unconsciously. Inclusion is the real litmus test and is the metric that broadens the concept of diversity, some even call it a ‘second dimension’ of diversity based on life experiences. Here it is no longer just about gender diversity. At OMG, we encourage practices that make people feel heard, wanted, valued and respected. It is all about respecting and celebrating people’s individuality and collaborating effectively. What are we doing to drive inclusion in our organisation? Here are the top four drivers:


Apply radical candour It is the prerequisite to creating a safe environment where people feel comfortable to speak up and where

transparency is celebrated and appreciated. This is where we elevate the practice of giving feedback and guidance.


Promote based on merit Career advancement is an important priority for the agency world’s workforce. We deploy the tools and methods to show that promotions, pay processes and the criteria behind them are fair and transparent. What’s more, we are eliminating biases in recruitment and hiring processes whilst training our leaders on how to call out unconscious bias in talent-related discussions.


Have the leaders’ commitment Studies confirm that “what leaders say and do makes up to a 70 per cent difference whether an individual feels included”, to quote the Harvard Business Review. We understand that our leaders must have a visible commitment to this topic; that’s why we discuss it often and openly. We challenge our biases and encourage others to be aware of their pre-conceived beliefs. We are also committed to the Omnicom guiding principles rooted in making our workplace more open and welcoming and have a DE&I dedicated leader to help us all advance.


Access senior leadership We create multiple channels to connect employees with senior leadership. They vary from anonymous, written or in-person meetings. This includes ‘Tea & Talk’ sessions where anyone can sign up to choose the leader they want to engage with. These are not formal sponsorship programmes; however, leaders can serve as sponsors. Ultimately, we need to build trust; those who trust their leader and their team members feel valued but those who lack trust in their work environment do not feel valued or included. DE&I, they say, is a marathon, not a sprint, but I believe it is neither, since a marathon implies there is a destination. In reality, it is an infinite pursuit and a way of life that keeps evolving. We just hope to be advancing on the right track. By ELDA CHOUCAIR, CEO at OMG MENA

August 29, 2022



arpenter.’ That was my genuine, enthusiastic answer to the classic question that every elementary school student is asked. But it was always met by laughter from the teacher, as if I was telling a joke. I went home to my mum, who explained how the profession I chose was unsuitable for women, and only men could do such work. I am certain there are countless stories like mine. Many girls dream of being boxers, rally drivers, electricians, automotive mechanics, and many other ‘untraditional’ professions. But they can’t do more than dream because it’s against society’s norms. With time and openness to greater possibilities, things improved regarding gender equality in the Arab region. Yet, studies show a gap between female labour force participation rates and those of males in certain professions, and this gender gap leads to many talents and opportunities being lost. UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, wanted to launch an awareness campaign encouraging society to break the perception that women can’t work in any profession they choose. Thinking of it from a creative design perspective, the insight was how the male form takes over inclusive speech in the Arabic language, especially in job ads. For example, the usual form is ‘Doctor wanted’. ‘Doctor’ is used in male form, although the ad is directed at both men and women. From here, as a global team from the House of Communication in Munich and Dubai, we wanted to create a symbol and add it to every male-formed job title in job ads. People would then see these teaser ads on LinkedIn, which would take them to platforms where we have our full campaign communication. To promote women’s economic empowerment in the Arab states, UN Women organised a webinar on the role of media and advertising. Together with my colleague Natalie Shardan, managing director of Serviceplan, I had the chance to talk about the All-Gender campaign, discuss the situation of gender equality at work, and state our take on gender inequalities. UN Women Arabic Tweeted: “Jobs have no gender, so why should job advertisements address only half of the population? With our latest campaign, we want to highlight that inclusiveness should be promoted in the workplace from the recruitment phase.” Many media entities in the Arab region have discussed supporting women at work and the information around this topic. And obviously there is a massive interest in highlighting inclusivity as much as possible. The campaign is still in its first phase. The next challenge is to get as many entities as possible to adopt the


Serviceplan’s Rana Ahmad was laughed at when she told her teacher she dreamed of being a carpenter. An inclusivity project for UN Women means women will be ridiculed less for their career choices symbol and use it in their job ads. To make the process even easier for everyone, we created an All-Gender font that can be easily downloaded and used. Seeing the emblem online will prove that this initiative succeeded in revealing that jobs such as truck driver, carpenter, firefighter or even CEO are not maleexclusive anymore. This is just the beginning of something big. Together with UN Women, more milestones can be expected, such as the release of a powerful manifesto and collaboration with influencers for targeted editorials. With all of that, we want to encourage girls and boys alike to start their professional lives in whatever direction they are dreaming of. While still pursuing the carpentry profession on a smaller scale – by starting my own handiwork projects at home – I am more than grateful to contribute, as part of the Serviceplan Group team, to the global issue of diversity and inclusion. Through our work, every day we see how bringing together diverging mindsets, skills, and cultural imprints in one common project is by far the most effective way of fostering

true creativity and enabling major breakthroughs. We want to share this spirit of ‘Strength by Diversity’ with our clients, as we strongly believe that respecting every human being, overcoming all forms of systematic exclusion and unlocking the full potential of all talent gives companies and individuals the inner strength, resilience and innovative energy it takes to overcome the challenges of highly globalised, rapidly changing markets and local issues. Together with UN Women and the All-Gender Sign, we are fighting for our shared mission of making this world we live in an equal, diversified one – starting with a girl’s dream profession and her teacher’s encouraging reaction to it. By RANA AHMAD, senior copywriter, Serviceplan Experience



August 29, 2022

‘‘INCLUSION IS ABOUT ETHNICITY, SKILLS, GENDER AND RACE, AND IS CRITICAL.” TJ Lightwala Managing director, marketing services and transformation – ME and growth markets, diversity, equity, inclusion – ME at Accenture Middle East



hile the industry has come a long way towards gender equality in the workplace, the highest echelons of management are still predominantly male. Speak to anyone with an interest in agency talent, though, and they will tell you that the brightest students and the most promising fresh grads are, by contrast, generally women. This means that somewhere along the way, women are losing heart and dropping out. As part of our ongoing commitment to champion gender diversity, Campaign reached out to a cross-section of women in the industry to ask them about their careers, their experiences and their advice. Women in advertising is a showcase of a small number of inspirational women in the industry. They are in positions of leadership – whether through job title or personal or professional influence – and are leveraging their leadership to shape the industry and elevate the women within it.

I lead the growth markets practice for Accenture’s marketing services and transformation business. It is a great opportunity to be in a position to consult and support client businesses in meaningful ways and unlock new growth opportunities. Prior to that, I was at WPP’s Mindshare and GroupM entities, leading their performance and programmatic portfolio regionally across MENA. Earlier in my career, roles at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Dentsu Aegis and FedEx International provided the eclectic set of responsibilities that really shaped my corporate approach, but also, and most importantly, set me on a quest for empathetic leadership. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? Why is being a woman so different in any case? I believe individuals should have equal opportunities at work. However, in the Middle East, in Dubai, I did find certain roles like sales, administration and corporate functions enabled more women, whereas commercial, product and business enabled more men. However, things are rapidly changing. Two of my professional high points have been the creation and launch of the first fully transparent model in programmatic and performance business in the region at GroupM, and being appointed the region’s leader for inclusion and diversity (I&D). I&D is not an agenda, but an absolute business imperative. This section is incomplete without my personal high point, over the course of last year: specifically, realising that slowing down is beneficial and rewarding. Giving myself permission to let go of any judgement that comes with endless pursuits, and learning an important aspect, that we are perfectly imperfect treasures – and that is worth appreciating.

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What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? Returning to Dubai in 2013 and discovering the advertising ecosystem in the region worked very differently. It was chaotic. There was a lack of structure, especially in the products and commercials, and I really thought I made the wrong choice. Yet, over time, new leadership and governance provided the opportunity to bring change, new ways of improving productisation and new ways of doing business. It provided a test bed for learning experiences and creating the right change in business. Second, less of a low point but more of an observation: We are still largely male-dominated in the corporate ecosystem. The sooner we grow to appreciate that there is a need for movement and change, the more empathetic and respected we will become. I say with humility that inclusion is about ethnicity, skills, gender, race, and is critical within the cultural fabric. Our generation has a huge opportunity to make a difference for the next. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? Be willing to roll up your sleeves and get into the deep end of client business and product details. Be ready to fail, for if you are not, you are not trying new areas of growth. To me, this is invaluable. Dream big. Set bold goals. When one is slightly scared of one’s goals, that is exactly the right place to be. It starts the engine of real creativity and new dimensions of acceleration. Choose two people in the organisation, your career counsellor and your learning coach, both sponsoring different areas for professional growth and development, respectively. Also, be curious and get involved in different projects and companywide initiatives. First, it helps you widen the aperture outside of the client or industry you are involved in; second, it clearly underpins the culture, purpose and values of the organisation. What warning would you give them? Do not get too comfortable in what you are doing, even if the programme is delivering at expectation. The best way to garner support for the hard work is by communicating and celebrating the milestones and successes and making it known to your superiors, peers, counsellors and, yes, the organisation, through townhalls and other formats. Do not be shy to raise your hand for projects outside your expertise and knowledge. Most times we do not ask because we are assuming the answer is not favourable. Set your personal and professional

boundaries, whether workload or timing. Be willing to prioritise what is the optimal solution for yourself first and, certainly, business next. Be brave in face of injustice, whether you or another woman is facing it. We need to raise our voices together and address issues women are facing in the workplace – collective rising. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? I see a lot of forums now have an I&D agenda; it’s in vogue, almost. That is great. I hope it does not go out of fashion. There is an important dynamic that multicultural advertising and marketing must adopt, being relevant to all audiences and even more to underrepresented groups. I think women are, generally, more sensitive and empathetic about issues and feel that a system of bilateral coaching or sensitisation of issues that employees face at all levels should be an important element to consider in the new framework of leadership objectives.

‘‘I HAVE NEVER DEFINED MY ACHIEVEMENTS BY MY GENDER, AND I GUESS I HAVE MY FAMILY TO THANK.” Sally Makarem Managing director – UAE and Qatar at DMS I have been working with DMS for more than 11 years, and today I am the managing director of UAE and Qatar, looking after the sales operations of those two markets. Previously, I also worked in digital, having started my career at Yahoo! Maktoob. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? I believe that the role I have today is the high point in my career so far. I wouldn’t frame it as my high point as a ‘woman’ in advertising, rather, a high point in my career journey. I have never really defined my capabilities or achievements by my gender, and I guess I have my family to thank for that. Being part


of an all-girls family household meant that we never felt gender bias. In fact, I have always felt empowered. Currently, I lead a team of skilled and motivated salespeople, representing leading publishers in the region. My role is focused on enabling my team to deliver on growth for our partners by creating an environment where they can learn, achieve and grow. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? At a certain point in my career, I decided that I wanted to establish a family, and the decision wasn’t a difficult one to make. I truly believe that being a working mother has been a great motivation for me and has made me who I am today. However, the biases I faced had at times created some self-doubt. For many, it was either a career or family due to the fast-paced nature of the industry. I am happy that I pursued both and I am proud of the women and mothers who are continuously paving the way and reaching top-level positions in this industry. There is still a long way to go, but more companies are looking to diversify their workforce. I know that at DMS we are pushing to empower more women. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? Never allow anyone to define your capabilities, and don’t settle for anything less than what you believe you deserve. Successful women, just like successful men, can have it all. Fortunately, there are great role models in our industry today to inspire future generations. What warning would you give them? I don’t really have a warning; things might get difficult and you might feel trapped. Don’t settle and know when to make a positive change in your professional life that can develop your career further. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? Inclusivity and diversity are very important to drive growth and positive change in the industry. It’s not gender, age or race that one should consider; the focus should be on the merit that the individual will bring or add to the role and the company, which is what we have been focusing on at DMS.


August 29, 2022

‘‘A GIRL SHOULD BE TWO THINGS: WHO AND WHAT SHE WANTS.” Nisrine Ghazal Chief growth and strategy officer at SMC I’m the current chief growth and strategy officer at Saudi Media Company, and I’m responsible for setting strategies, assessing risks and looking for growth opportunities for SMC. I held various senior roles, previously on the publisher side, client side, agency side and now partner. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? I’d rather say what was a high point for me as a professional. I do know that there are variances between the genders, but the gap is ever-diminishing, and I’ve stood very true to my values and what I believe in. As a result, I’ve been respected and treated for what I’m capable of rather than for my gender. It does help that I work with leaders who champion women in executive roles. The highest point for me in my career was restructuring and repositioning a company, to oversee its revenue grow by more than 300 per cent in my first year there, followed by a steady compound average growth rate of 30 per cent year-over-year for four years, and winning awards for the work the team delivered. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? Everything in media is a cycle of ups and downs, so for the latter I would rather see them as challenges rather than negative episodes to dwell on. A low point would probably be if gender bias is used against me and, in turn, I use it as an excuse and let that dictate my situation without doing anything about it to change my circumstances. That would be a low point, but, gladly, I don’t make excuses. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? In his book, The Trial, Franz Kafka wrote of a protagonist who’s on trial for a crime he knows nothing of; the jury has no clue of what he’s committed, and to top it off neither does the judge. Being a woman is not a scarlet letter we wear, but a badge of honour standing on the shoulders of others before us, and we all continue to build on that. It’s not a felony to be female. Come on in, the door is open. If you go into a profession and use your gender to get away with things, don’t complain if it’s used against you. It’s you who will dictate how you

are treated. Work with integrity and passion to succeed, and, again, not as a woman but as a dedicated, worthy professional who knows her worth and her contribution to the industry, and who is independent if anyone around her praises her or belittles her due to gender bias. What warning would you give them? Are there gender inequalities? Of course, but it’s all a glass ceiling. Then again, here’s something that Coco Chanel once said that may enlighten you: “A girl should be two things: who and what she wants.” Anything else is inconsequential. Embody resilience, perseverance, confidence, courage, and a healthy stubborn attitude to what you do and what you stand for. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? I have no message. Just look across to the right and you will see me standing there, not behind you, but beside you. And, in time you may see me – or another woman – way ahead in the distance.

‘‘INVEST TIME AND ENERGY IN YOUR PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT, AND PRIORITISE YOUR HEALTH.” Dana Sarkis General manager at Hearts & Science I started my career in Omnicom Media Group 15 years ago. I have been curious enough to have experienced different verticals and specialisms within the group, from strategic planning and buying to marketing science and business intelligence, as well as research and analytics. Today, I lead Hearts and Science, where I identify opportunities across different areas of the business and help my team to fulfil their passions and deliver great work. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? 2017 was one of the most challenging and transformational years in my career, as it was the year we set up Hearts & Science in MENA. I remember receiving a call from our head of HR informing me that I had been nominated to represent Omnicom Media

Group at a conference organised by the American University of Beirut and the Stanford Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering. It was a significant and highly motivational moment because it aimed to empower and enable future generations of females in the field. At this time, this niche category of data science had only recently been identified as a critical pillar in advertising. It was a truly extraordinary experience to be given the opportunity to inspire students and business partners from across the MENA region through discussions around applied mathematics and data science in advertising. I hold this memory close to my heart because it reflected my vision of how media and advertising should be backed by meaningful data. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? It’s difficult to answer this particular question as I have always managed to regard times of adversity as key inflection points, necessary to propel me in new directions, which have been pivotal in shaping the person I am today. When I first joined Omnicom Media Group it wasn’t easy for me to transition from engineering school directly into the media world, which back in 2007 lacked many of the science- and data-driven approaches we have today. This made it difficult to adapt and fit in. I am grateful for the challenges I faced and what I now consider the low point in my career because it got me to where I am today. If I had to start again I wouldn’t choose it any other way. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? Make it a point to try new things and learn every day. Allow yourself to try and experiment, and know that it’s OK to fail – but it’s not OK to not pick yourself up and try again or try something entirely different. Challenge the status quo if your heart is not in it; get out of your comfort zone and be around people who know more than you do. Invest time and energy in your personal development, and always prioritise your mental and physical health, as it dramatically affects your work health and career development. What warning would you give them? This industry is one of the fastest-moving industries, and the pace at which information and technology evolve is exponential. While it is hard to keep up, ensure your learning curve is accelerated so that you are agile enough to unlearn what was viable yesterday and that may no longer stand today. Continuously evolve your skillsets and knowledge to keep up with the unimagined realities of tomorrow. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? I would like to thank the men in the industry today, for a changed mindset and mentality. Due to acceptance, empowerment and less pronounced biases, we now work stronger as diversified teams in leadership, executive councils and decision-making forums. The only way from here is up, and I can only see more magic to come for this dynamic industry.

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‘‘I’M GLAD I HELD ON. IT HAS BEEN A REWARDING JOURNEY.” Houda Tohme CEO at Havas Media Middle East I started out at Havas, back in 2006, as media manager. I now serve as the CEO of Havas Media Middle East, proudly leading a team of talented media specialists while overseeing the operations and development of our product across the region. As a member of the management team, I reinforce the agency’s mission to unite people and brands through meaningful connections on a daily basis. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? The pitches we won, the recognition my team received, the growth we achieved and all the successful moments throughout are what I consider high points in my career. Was there a specific high point for me as a ‘woman’ in advertising? Not yet. I think that will happen when we are not referred to as ‘women in advertising’ any more. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? The guilt I felt when I left my children every morning to go to work when they were very young was overwhelming. Those moments made me feel like quitting the workforce, but today I’m glad I held on. It has been a rewarding journey. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? If you’re looking to get into the advertising industry, you might be thinking it’s all fun and games. While it is true that advertising can be a fun, creative industry, it’s also very demanding and stressful. If you’re not willing to give it your passion and commitment, don’t venture in at all. What warning would you give them? If you’re going to leave the workforce, make sure it is not for temporary reasons. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? Stay humble. Allowing ego or machismo to get in the way of your work style limits the benefits of open communication and feedback.

‘‘MY BEST CREATIVE IDEAS CAME WITH MOTHERHOOD.’’ Marie Claire Maalouf Executive creative director at Impact BBDO After my studies, I did a couple of freelance jobs that included experiential designs with my brother’s architecture company, drawing shooting boards with production houses, and various 2D and 3D animations for different projects. My first formal job was with the company that I’m still part of, Impact BDDO, where I started as an art director in 2006. Within the agency I had the opportunity to develop myself in different roles, going from associate creative director, followed by creative director, to my most recent one as an executive creative director. During my career, I have had the privilege of being invited as a speaker and a judge for different conferences around the globe. But one of my career highlights was being voted the ‘Next Creative Leader’ by the 3 Per Cent Conference in 2019, a movement encouraging women to lean into leadership roles, by The One Club for Creativity in Chicago. Women’s empowerment is a cause close to my heart, and it was an honour to be recognised for it. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? The highest point in my career has been intertwined with the highest point in my personal life, which is motherhood. My best creative ideas came with motherhood. The challenge of being a working mother pushed me to redesign my life and the way I work. We are naturally resourceful and creative beings, and there are literally no limits to what we can achieve. I keep getting surprised by the inner resilience and adaptability that we as humans are capable of. In my personal journey as a Lebanese woman, I had to endure war in Lebanon, which taught me a lot of survival skills, as well as adding resourcefulness to my character. This resourcefulness has been tested once more with motherhood, a stage in my life when I have been pushed to become sharper, faster, more focused, more effective, better at management and, overall, just wired differently. It really brought out the best in me. Additionally, my creativity has blossomed as I’m now learning from my child how to unlearn what I know and look at the world through the eyes of a five-year-old.


What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? I am blessed to be part of an organisation that implements equal treatment, so I have always felt valued, regardless of my gender. Even my promotions have come through the management, and they have always encouraged me to keep growing. However, outside advertising I have experienced a draining attitude from a segment of society that has prejudices about my role as a working woman. There are expectations of a working mother and what she should be doing. For instance, I have heard comments about what I should do in my life, and about how “work will never stop but your clock is ticking; think of baby number two”. I’ve also heard condescending comments like, “You look so dedicated at work; it doesn’t look like you have a family.” These judgmental attitudes add unnecessary pressure on women and create dissonance in their lives. There are limiting beliefs about how a woman must behave in her roles as a professional, a mother and a wife. Fighting these stereotypes is still one of the most difficult aspects of being a woman in any industry. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? I would advise any woman to set powerful goals for herself. Even if they seem scary at first, just power through. Each of us deals with our own limitations and saboteurs. Whether dealing with impostor syndrome, motherhood pressures, self-sabotaging thoughts or any other challenges, I would encourage women to activate their naturally built-in creative problem-solving skills that they use for projects and clients, and apply them to life. Redesign something that works for you. What warning would you give them? You are your own limitation. If you say it can’t be done, it cannot be done. Watch your inner language and listen to the words you use with yourself. Are they life-enhancing, or a repetition of what a patriarchal society and old systems have planted in you? Whatever your internal and external dialogue is, it will translate into the experience you create for yourself. Your words shape your world and create your identity. For work, it is important that you see yourself as a professional individual and take yourself seriously by valuing yourself and your professional goals, regardless of the labels created by society. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? Are you from the clan of ‘women don’t’ and this is ‘boys’ stuff ’, or are you a fully bloomed individual who is limitless and sets their own standards, benchmarks, and targets? I’ve heard people in the industry say, “You’re a woman, you won’t understand cars, so better not to have you on this account.” I’ve seen male copywriters write brochures on breastfeeding, and I respect that. It’s amazing to be able to have a fresh perspective. It’s all about choices and interests; there’s nothing wrong and nothing right. My message, to both men and women, is to welcome diversity and focus on the best people so that you can get the best work done. The best work comes with different points of view and open collaboration.


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‘‘DON’T THINK OF YOURSELF AS A WOMAN VS. A MAN. YOU ARE AN ADVERTISING PROFESSIONAL.” Reham Mufleh General manager at Horizon FCB Dubai I have chosen a career in creativity, and I am lucky today to be heading Horizon FCB Dubai, an agency and a brand that belongs to one of the most iconic global creative networks in the world. My job is to lead an agency and its people, to create creative work that can drive the economic multiplier of our clients. While I set the agency’s vision, I am also making sure that my team has all it takes and what they need to be as creative and relevant as we aim for. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? My first high point was my appointment, a few years back, as the first Arab female to head a multinational advertising agency in Dubai. The other high point, regardless of gender, was to bring the first Cannes Lions to Horizon FCB this summer for the ‘Breakchains with Blockchains’ campaign. The campaign was to support women in Egypt, Al Gharemat, and free them from prison, where they have been sent due to their debt. We came back with three Silver Lions and five shortlists, which placed us in the top three most awarded agencies in the region. I’m proud to have achieved this during my time, but I’m most proud of our amazing team, who did all the heavy lifting in bringing this campaign to life. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? I genuinely don’t believe that I’ve had a low point in my career, at least at the times when it mattered. Maybe I was lucky to have had supportive leadership, thanks to our CEO Mazen Jawad, who always pushed me to my fullest potential, supported me, guided me and, most importantly, believed in me. We’re also a part of a global network that embraces inclusion and empowers women. I’m grateful that, as a woman, I was always supported, recognised and celebrated. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? You are a woman and that’s your

superpower. Use it. What warning would you give them? Don’t think of yourself as a woman vs. a man. You are an advertising professional. Period. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? Thank you for being great partners to work with and great competition to beat.

‘‘WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, SHOW UP IN HIGH HEELS. CONFIDENCE SAVES THE DAY.’’ Frances Valerie Bonifacio Head of strategy at Serviceplan Group Middle East I’ve definitely seen both ends of the spectrum, having started out as a wily automotive marketer with brands such as Honda, Ford and BMW on the client side, before moving into the strategy arm of the Serviceplan Group on the agency side. Today, I continue to deceive myself into believing that I can be the greatest brand whisperer I set myself out to be. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? Let’s just say that, among House of Communications globally, Serviceplan Middle East is the only office with a sleek, even split of two women and two men sitting on the management board. Yes, I started with two women, not the other way around, because I am weary – and wary – of what everyone expects me to say, around the likes of, “Yeah, breaking the proverbial glass ceiling, and levelling out the elusive diversity card within the management ranks of advertising agencies has so far been the defining highlight of my career.” My high point really is that I am where I am now because I allowed myself to grow with and learn from the greatest minds in the industry, men and women alike. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? Does writing that piece on women empowerment in advertising for Campaign Middle East, back in February 2018, count? When I wrote about how the industry should learn to look beyond Mad Men charms to start recognising high-

heeled substance. Back then, I obviously had an axe to grind. Do I now regret having written that piece? No, not at all. If anything, that was my impetus to prove myself wrong. Boy, am I glad I wrote that one, because five years on, the melodies are far sweeter – danceable, even. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? When all else fails, show up in high heels. Confidence saves the day. What warning would you give them? Have reverence for your craft but come with a teachable heart and an open mind, to have iron sharpened by iron. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? Sorry, you can’t show up in stilettos.

‘‘ADVERTISING IS A BOY’S CLUB BUT DON’T LET THAT DETER YOU.’’ Tamara Habib Chief operating officer, Netizency I am the chief operating officer at Netizency, a digital marketing agency with offices in Dubai, Doha and Beirut. I’ve been at Netizency for six years now. Before that, I worked at Leo Burnett Dubai for 11 years. I started my career, more than 20 years ago, in Montréal with stints at Cossette, Canada’s largest agency at the time, and Rogers Publishing. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? I’ve recently taken the time to reflect on my career so far, and I can’t help but take pride in where we’re at with Netizency right now. When I joined the team six years ago, there were 15 employees, one major local client, and a few smaller projects. Fast-forward six years, and we’re a team of 40 in three offices, with an impressive client roster, and most importantly, a team culture that rivals some of the best companies out there. It’s an amazing feeling to have been, and still be, a part of that. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? I’m a perfectionist at heart, and when things don’t go the way I’d planned, it tends to rattle my confidence. I’ll point the finger at myself, wondering what

August 29, 2022

went wrong, what I could have done differently, and I’ve had many sleepless nights because of that. But I’ve learned, with a lot of coaching and support from amazing people within my professional and personal circle, that things can and will go wrong. And the way to bounce back is to reflect, learn, adjust and move on, and get eight hours of sleep. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? Remember to advertise the most important client of all: yourself. This was a lesson I learned the hard way, and being an introvert did not help. No one’s going to take the time to keep track of your wins and successes, so you need to document them and publicise them– with your team, your peers, top management, the industry and the world. That’s how you’ll get noticed and promoted. It’s not all it takes to be successful, of course, but in this day and age of social media, it’s important to share your work with people. It will also help you expand your network and create meaningful connections. Campaign magazine might even notice you and feature you in the next MENA Power List. What warning would you give them? Advertising is still very much a boy’s club in this part of the world. But don’t let that deter you or make you think that you don’t, or can’t, fit in. It may require you to step out of your comfort zone once in a while, you might have to bring your own seat to the table, and you might need to speak just a little louder to get your voice heard, but you’ll make it. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? There’s still a lot of work to be done to make sure women in advertising are given the right opportunities, tools and flexibility to succeed, and that requires a paradigm shift across the board. It means building a culture that promotes and facilitates female leadership and career growth. It means deliberately looking at a 50/50 balance between male and female employees at all levels. It means investing in women the way you would in men. It means breaking down the longstanding clichés that are attributed to women in the industry, unlearning our biases and reframing the rules of the industry so that they are agile, inclusive, and thoughtful.

‘‘MALE OR FEMALE, WE ARE ON THIS JOURNEY TOGETHER.” Heather Mc Donald Co-founder and managing director, Wild Pepper Studios I am the co-founder and managing director at Wild Pepper Studios, a female-owned communication and content company. I have worked in production and advertising for more than 20 years, including serving as the content division director at Filmmaster MEA, the head of production at JWT MENA and the general manager for a Dubai-based production company, and leadership roles at ad agencies in South Africa. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? I’ve been fortunate to have experienced excellent leadership in companies, where management has seen and recognised my potential early on and given me opportunities to grow. Now I do the same for my team members. It’s the best feeling in the world when you watch a team member flourish and thrive because you have given them the freedom to do so. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? My low point as a woman in advertising is when I had to navigate racism and sexism toward myself and my team members. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? Learn boundaries and self-care early in your career, and ensure your well-being is high on your priority list. We work in an industry with a high burnout rate. According to Forbes, approximately 83.3 per cent of marketing professionals experience burnout. You need to create a healthy work-life balance; it’s not a ‘nice to have’, it’s crucial. Find a life coach, therapist or mentor to help make sure you put yourself first. This is an exciting industry, but it can also suck you in and spit you out. A robust support system is so important. What warning would you give them? Many industry leaders are so caught up in chasing targets and clients, and drowning in pitches that it’s hard for them to balance looking after their team. You must manage your time well. Be clear about what you can and can’t do, don’t take on too much responsibility, and pace yourself. You might get pushback, but if you want to succeed,


and not fall into the 83.3 per cent trap, you need to manage upwards. Read books about successful leadership and surround yourself with support. If you find yourself in a toxic environment, move on. If you love what you do, you will find another company that values your contribution and takes care of you. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? Male or female, we are all on this journey together. I have amazing male and female mentors. I want to be sure that men in advertising know that there may be women on their team who are ideal for a role that they may first assume would be better suited for a male. I have left two companies because, as a single mother, I was not considered for roles that would be ‘too hard to handle’, so they were given to males. I moved on and performed the same role in my next two companies. If someone wants to move into a new or different role, give them the chance. However, this is advice I’d give to any leader, regardless of gender.

‘‘MY HIGH POINT WILL BE THE DAY I AM NO LONGER ASKED ABOUT MY SUCCESS AS A ‘WOMAN’.” Akansha Goel Founder and CEO, Socialize I started my career, as the youngest ever editor of Stuff magazine in Singapore, at the age of 20. A couple of years later, I moved to Dubai to head up marketing for a now-defunct loyalty marketing business. In 2010, I started Socialize and, today, continue to lead the business as its founder and CEO, while also playing an active role within the executive team of the network that acquired us, as regional lead and vice-president at We Are Social/ Plus Company. What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? My high point will be the day when I am no longer asked about my success as a ‘woman’ in advertising or a ‘female’ founder, a day when we no longer have to gender-qualify roles and achievements.


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What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? Granted it was a long time ago; I attended a client meeting with a junior team member, and the traditional, senior male officials in the room chose to ignore me and speak directly to my executive. That was a low point not because of what they did, but because I allowed it to continue. I was proud of how my team managed the situation, because of the seniority of the client, but I was ashamed of myself for not having taken a stand tactfully. Over the years, I have come to realise that as leaders, every action – or lack of action – perpetuates the biases within the industry. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? Own your ambition. Know who you are and, most importantly, know who you are not. Stick to your values, it’s the one thing that should remain constant and help drive decisions in the most uncertain times. Don’t underestimate networking. Get out there, make yourself known. Ask questions, listen to other people’s stories and be curious. Be a lifelong learner. Invest in upskilling yourself, online courses and self-learning. Strong technical knowledge has been my superpower. Seek mentors and look for mentorship within your organisation. That’s invaluable. What warning would you give them? Family, friends, health, hobbies, sleep, career progression, etc.… Come to terms with the fact that at any given time you can’t have them all. It’s not a sacrifice, it’s you actively choosing. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? Finding the right female representation on your leadership team is as hard for me as it is for you.

‘‘DON’T LET TOXIC NICENESS HARM YOUR EFFECTIVENESS.’’ Jennifer Fischer Chief innovation officer, TBWA\ RAAD I’ve worn many hats as a strategist, a storyteller, a consultant, a therapist and an orchestrator. And I’m lucky because I get paid to be curious, use my imagination and tell stories.

What has been your high point as a woman in advertising? The moments that stand out most are the ones that shaped my character, like the times when I had to go against someone more senior than me in the organisation over a decision that I felt was unethical. I might not have always been right, and I certainly didn’t always win, but I sleep better at night for it. And good sleep is definitely a high point. What has been your low point as a woman in advertising? A few years back, I was presenting a strategy to an influential local client, and at the end of it his question was unexpected. “Are you married?” he asked. “Yes, I am,” I answered, somewhat confused. “OK, but are you really happy in your marriage? Because if you are not sure, I have a son to marry.” He then pointed at his son who was seating across from me in the huge majlis. “Oh.” Awkward. Was it a low point? Maybe, but also definitely a funny one. What advice would you give to women starting out in the industry? The best type of self-confidence is believing in your ability to learn, not in your ability to know everything. The absence of doubts breeds arrogance, while curiosity and openness lead to learning and growth. What warning would you give them? Don’t let toxic niceness harm your effectiveness as a leader. Negative feedback can feel uncomfortable to give or receive. It might seem like a nice thing to do to avoid it, but it is not. It is disrespectful and even harmful. Not sharing honest feedback means that we deny people the opportunity to learn and grow, wasting both their time and energy. So, embrace those short seconds of discomfort. They are worth it. What message would you like to give to men in advertising? I’d give the same message to men and women. At the scale of the universe, everything we care about, from awards to titles, is completely insignificant. Humans, no matter how accomplished, are specks of dust in the universe. I find that thought very freeing. We don’t need to take ourselves too seriously. As we move through life, we get to do it with playfulness, kindness and joy, making it all worthwhile for us here on Earth.

‘‘HAVE THE GRIT AND COURAGE TO TAKE IT ALL THE WAY.” Vidya Manmohan Founder and CCO at V4Good I’m an art director who took to copywriting mid-way through her career and then pursued it till she founded her own agency in 2020. With more than 25 years of experience with WPP agencies, V4Good was set up with the purpose of working with like-minded women from around the world, so we could help each other grow. This was my high point as a woman in advertising, to be able to walk the talk, albeit, in a small way. I had a few things going against me other than just being a woman. At times, my ethnicity, colour and looks too were a hindrance. But I guess nothing can or should come in the way of good ideas and intention. My advice to anyone starting out in this industry would be to focus on making your work matter. Nothing else will hold ground. Today, you may have all the support, but tomorrow no one knows. So don’t get carried away by all the support, or division, or anything else that may arise along your journey. Just focus on what you can do. Secondly, don’t be hasty to judge an idea. Where a person comes from or what they look like should not be a filter to judge an idea. We all know that an idea can come from anywhere or anyone, but what’s important is to know how to make it happen. Have the grit, courage and commitment to take it all the way, and make it see the light of day. I personally don’t think we can mimic another person’s career path or life. We can all learn from each other and be aware and prepared. So I wouldn’t want to mislead anyone by saying don’t do this, or do this. All I would like to say is give what you love your 100 per cent and then move on to the next and the next thereafter. The results often take a while to come. Don’t be disheartened. I see that today’s young generation is much more tolerant and open-minded than us folks. Therefore, I have no messages of caution for them. Continue being the amazing human beings you are and put your hearts into what you do. The world is yours to make.


August 29, 2022

THE EVOLVING FACE OF COMMUNICATIONS It isn’t just about what you say, but how you say it, says Catch’s Injeel Moti


ommunication is the heartbeat of business. Connecting with key audiences and stakeholders has always been about reaching the right people in the right place at the right time. Now, in this era of multiple media and connector interfaces that are constantly changing, there is an inescapable need to stay on top of the latest communications technology and tactics The last couple of years has had a drastic impact on marketing trends and best practices. The consumer of today values authenticity, transparency, privacy and inclusivity now more than ever before. As consumer values and preferences shift and evolve so do marketing and communication trends.

AUTHENTIC INFLUENCER PARTNERSHIPS Influencer marketing will remain an integral part of any marketing plan. Although consumers are now leaning towards authenticity and follow influencers for different reasons, the common thread remains transparency and authenticity. Content creators and influencers who can translate genuine interest and affection to the product and successfully connect it to themselves are garnering a lot more engagement today. Changing app algorithms have contributed to this, as what is shown to users has been limited, leaving people wanting to connect more with influencers who promote a product or service in an organic manner. Influencer marketing is predicted to grow to $16.4bn by 2023. INCREASED USER-GENERATED CONTENT From TikTok trends to #OOTD (outfit of the day) posts, user-generated content (UGC) is the new word of mouth. This type of content is original and brand-specific, created by consumers rather than brands. Unboxing videos, home tours, makeup reviews, fashion transition reels and photo tags are all examples of how brands can take advantage of UGC. While anyone can create user-generated content, adding this tactic to your marketing strategy can take your brand’s authenticity to the next level. Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to trust UGC compared with content created by brands – proving that now is the time to prioritise authenticity in your marketing strategy. OLD IS GOLD While digital marketing will continue to dominate the scene, traditional marketing and advertising methods cannot be ignored, many of which are experiencing a successful resurgence in the region. Older media formats such as print, particularly broadsheets, and radio continue to remain a trusted voice for consumers and readers. The Middle East has seen the emergence of several new titles over the past year, as well the birth of digital channels for various media outlets. When it comes to creating brand perception, public relations remains the most effective tactic to date. But a press release alone no longer suffices; strong digital assets such as


videos and imagery accompanying the message are a must to ensure placement in target titles. ALREADY DOING VIDEO? NEXT YEAR, DO MORE We are bombarded with video content today, regardless of where we look. Popular social media apps are changing their formats to become video-dedicated platforms (thank you, Kylie Jenner, for saving Instagram). If you don’t have video in your plan already, it should be a top consideration for next year. If you’ve made the leap and incorporated video into your messaging, look for ways to step up your efforts – in quality, quantity and reach. A common misconception is that incorporating video requires a massive budget. In fact, taking a more DIY approach can be very effective, especially when compared with other tactics. Video doesn’t need to be overthought, especially if you’re putting it up on all-video platforms such as TikTok or Reels. You Tube, however, would require a different consideration. PERSONALISE TO LEAD Customers today are gravitating toward brands they feel listen to them, understand them and pay attention to their specific wants and needs. That’s where personalisation comes in. It’s a way for brands to contextualise the messages, offers and experiences they deliver. Amplifying your message to reach as many people as possible won’t work in 2023; instead try personalising your marketing campaigns to get higher engagement, spark conversation and attract new customers. There is a study done by TikTok based on categories of content. Emotional content is 72.6 per cent more likely to engage with an audience. Find a way to connect your business to consumers’ emotions by leveraging data. Data is the key to knowing them intimately enough to then begin trying to meet their needs, and even predict what they might want at a particular touchpoint. As we continue to evolve, so will consumer segments with various sentiments, demands, and drive. The next few years will demand businesses to forge an emotional connection with consumers. Because of the new consumer groups that will emerge, PR professionals need to leverage segmentation. This will help them understand the expectations and needs, emotional and otherwise, of various consumers groups. Consequently, their marketing and PR campaigns will need to be altered and planned for optimised results. By INJEEL MOTI, managing director, Catch Communications and Catch Academy

August 29, 2022



MCH Global’s Uli Stanke journeys down the rabbit hole of experiential’s next chapter, the metaverse


hen I first heard the term metaverse, I distinctly remember a familiar sceptical feeling. Over the years our industry has seen its fair share of ‘next big things’, with annual reports shouting about everything from artificial intelligence to life on Mars as the next big thing in marketing. With this slight hint of scepticism, I set off on a magical, Alice-esque journey to learn and understand as much as I could about our latest industry buzzword. I wanted to appreciate better what the true a-ha moment is when it comes to the metaverse. What is its magical draw, the thing that attracts younger audiences in droves? Why do people spend longer and more concentrated periods of time in these vast worlds, spread over a loosely (if at all) connected universe. For an increasingly grey-haired father heading towards 40, it was a struggle to appreciate even a superficial attraction to this new frontier.

‘‘A QUESTION MANY BRANDS MISS IS THE ‘WHY’. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, WHAT ARE YOUR OBJECTIVES, AND WHO ARE YOU TRYING TO TALK TO?” One thing became clear quite quickly: I needed to first understand Web 3 to better grasp the promise of the metaverse. Web 3 is the underpinning technology that will ultimately realise the full force of the metaverse as a principle, and Web 3 ownership protocols and community-focused cohorts will push brands to offer deeper and more meaningful experiences for their audiences, either in the real world or a virtual one.

Along this journey of discovery, I saw many brands rushing to execute ‘in the metaverse’ with experiences that fall into the trap of being a three-dimensional branding touchpoint. Granted, they are explorable and present visual experiences with an avatar, but for the most part they aren’t very exciting and are not something many users would revisit. How can brands design and deploy experiences in the metaverse that not only look good but also offer an impactful experience through interaction and content? How can they build a presence in this new world that offers true value and will stand the test of time? Nonfungible tokens (NFTs), ownership and the decentralised nature of the next generation of web experiences are key to unlocking the potential the metaverse presents. Many brands had historically adopted a ‘build it and they will come’ mentality for their marketing experiences. The emergence of decentralised autonomous organisations (DAOs) and community-powered value has flipped that to a ‘bring them and they will build it’ reality. An initial question that many brands miss is the ‘why’. Why are you doing this, what are your objectives, and who are you trying to talk to? Where will it live, how will you drive traffic there and what keeps people invested over the longer term? How will this complement other marketing efforts, and is it integrated into the bigger picture? As hardware and software develop, the level of immersion will improve. Spatial audio, haptic inputs and even seemingly simpler things such as believable eye contact will foster and support adoption. The intrinsic questions from users will still be the same: Why am I here, do I enjoy it and what reason do I have to invest in this? We were investigating if our metaverse should be public or private, centralised, or decentralised. Do we need high-fidelity graphics or scale of users? Always-on or one-and-done? With so many questions, it’s easy to feel lost in such a confusing landscape. As I continued through the maze of metaverse experiences it became clear there are many formats that constitute a

metaverse experience. The word metaverse itself feels like a misnomer, in that it suggests a singular place. The metaverse currently sits as a series of worlds within one – still unconnected – universe. As I explored more and more, across multiple worlds, I began to understand the draw and appeal of the metaverse. We concluded that the only way to understand or explain the benefits of a metaverse experience is to experience one. With that in mind we set out to create our very own metaverse. As an experiential agency, we wanted to focus on the part of the metaverse that we can actively comment on, the experience itself. With a pedigree in real world spatial design, journey mapping and content integration, we found that applying these skillsets to the design of a metaverse were surprisingly apt. Arcadia is MCH Global’s very own metaverse experience, designed with the aim of onboarding and showcasing the potential that this exciting new medium presents to our clients. We soon learned that the threedimensional freedom a metaverse presents is actually quite daunting when designing an experience. Once we surmounted that learning curve, we focused on the journey. We looked for different ways to engage our users once they arrived in Arcadia, from host-led presentation moments to audio experiences, environmental controls, interactive content and our own NFTs, linked to a real-world utility. We partnered with the team at, who focus on building and creating exciting metaverse spaces, to bring our vision for Arcadia to life. Arcadia will serve as a learning centre for clients, a collaborative platform for our global teams and a space that will continue to evolve, hopefully at the same pace as the agency itself. By ULI STANKE, head of experiential innovation, MCH Global


August 29, 2022

ACTION STATIONS Atteline’s Karim Geadah examines when a situation becomes a crisis, and explains how to approach it


s we work on various clients, our job as PR consultants is to protect our clients’ brand names. For any opportunities or issues, our job is to assist clients throughout the process and advise them on the best course of action. The first instinct of the public when hearing about a potential situation is to look into whether it is the company’s fault or just an unfortunate event. Then they will look at the degree of negative ramifications that it has caused for everyone involved, and how a company reacts to the situation. Regardless of how liable the company is, it is always imperative that it acknowledges that something did occur and provides feedback, especially when the media are involved. To avoid any potential escalation of the crisis, the company needs to be open about the situation, no matter how bad it makes it look. Most importantly, the company must own up to its mistakes if it made them. It is important to showcase empathy towards the victims involved and then look at different ways to resolve or start to make up for the issue that has just happened. If you do not address the situation, you lose all credibility and respectability to both the media and the public. Always keep the focus on the people and victims affected in the incident as a priority over the reputation of your own brand, while keeping that as a second priority as well. For example, if you are in the hospitality business and your client is a hotel where a customer got food poisoning at one of its restaurants, your first reactions should be to check on that person’s wellbeing, issue an apology and check if there is anything you can do to help improve his or her overall experience. The speed in overall communication and turnaround by the company is also key both internally with the customer and externally, if it occurred at a press event or one that included media or social media representatives. Journalists and influencers have a responsibility to write about their

same spokesperson, which includes face-toface interactions with the same media and public. It should be held on the same day of the incident if it occurs in the morning, or the following day if it is in the evening. People will always look at the mistakes a company makes, but what is more important is how the company reacts to them. This is what customers will base their brand sentiment on. At the end of the day, we are all human and no one is perfect. Just be sincere and genuine, as these are always well respected and admired characteristics, especially if you’re in the communications business. The key for any client is to always be honest, own up to any mistakes and apologise for them. Explain how a mistake might have happened and how you plan to try and make up for it. Lastly and most importantly, promise that you will do everything in your power to try and avoid a similar situation in the future. experiences, and the failure of a company to address problems will provide these stakeholders with further incentive to document what happened. Public outreach and correct steps are crucial to ensuring that you reach out to as many people in the most time-efficient way possible. Social media is always the first method of communication, and a post should be shared within 15 minutes of the incident on all platforms – including LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram. An official statement, announcing what has just happened and how the company plans to solve it, will then need to be drafted and shared with the media and public within the next one hour. If there is a more serious situation that is potentially life-threatening, then more extreme measures are required. A high-level spokesperson from the company, preferably the owner or CEO, should make themselves present to answer any questions from the media or general public. The next step in this situation is to hold a press conference by the

By KARIM GEADAH, account director, corporate practice, Atteline


August 29, 2022


e live in a well-connected, digital world, and here in the Middle East we enjoy a highly diversified culture that is home to literally hundreds of nationalities. The region, especially the UAE, represents a truly global society – a melting pot – that is continuously evolving and celebrates a culture of innovation and growth for its residents, citizens and expats alike. As an example, Dubai has one of the youngest demographics in comparison with other global cities; a huge concentration of millennials and Gen Z-ers who are not only very familiar with but also highly responsive to experiential marketing. Businesses large and small have caught onto this in recent years, as well as the increasing need for public relations. But experiential marketing is merely a component in brands’ 360-degree communications strategies, which must also comprise public relations, social media strategy and corporate communications, among other elements. In essence, no communications channel can afford to stand independently now, so companies like MG must employ this broad approach when planning and activating major brand and product campaigns. The results speak for themselves; having that all-encompassing communications approach in our strategy and planning creates a ripple effect that affects multiple areas such as consumers, content and public image. It builds and reinforces our brand. The main objective of an experiential campaign is to form a solid and emotional bond between the brand and the target audience. A well-thought-out one will reward the brand with customer loyalty and encourage new ones as it triggers the desire to purchase, by providing a memorable, personal and relatable experience. Through that, a brand will undoubtedly strengthen its presence in the market. Add public relations to the mix, with storytelling at the forefront, and you’ll package and showcase it all perfectly. Sure, you can create a memorable experience for your target audience, but as people enjoy different tastes, several questions must be asked, aside from the most important one, does it fit with your brand? Questions like: How do you want the campaign to be perceived? How many people will hear about this activity? What do you want the public to think? These questions have one answer in common, and it comes back to that 360-degree communication strategy again. A good strategy behind an experiential campaign can attract numerous media outlets, where it delivers critical messages to help shape perception while maximising reach. The emotional connection created by the experiential marketing activity is then communicated


effectively to relevant news outlets, whose audiences are also potential new customers. We’ve all heard it before: ‘Content is king.’ Bill Gates wasn’t wrong when he wrote that back in the 90s. Whether it is a press release, a video, images or all three, having it in front of the eyes of your audience is vastly important. Developing an unforgettable experience for customers will most likely have them themselves produce content and share it with a click of a button. But with a PR element of including the media in the


HAND-IN-HAND Fusing the powers of public relations and experiential marketing. By MG’s Lara Sous campaign, the storytelling and the content, watch the domino effect take place. Content needs to speak to the individual and not just to a wider audience. Authentic, relatable, factual and brand-related content developed in any communications plan will not only carry the brand’s messages, themes and pillars to the target audience and communicate it through practical means, but will also tell a story that resonates. So, be it on digital, social or traditional media, each platform interlinks with the other to deliver a solid, consistent message to the consumers in a manner that is as personalised as possible. Strong content of an experiential activity carried out through a marketing campaign, coupled with a robust public relations strategy and media relations checks all the boxes. Authentic and relatable content helps to portray a trustworthy image of your brand to your consumers. But it’s a case of

caveat emptor here, too; as consumers are increasingly experience-led, opinions about a campaign can go both ways. They will either like or not, and it’s a fact that you can’t please everyone, no matter how good the campaign is. This is where consistency across a brand at every level is so important. While it’s great to come up with ideas that are out of the box, they must be on-brand and true, supporting of your company’s products and services – upholding the image with integrity for your customers and the wider public. There are no doubts about the power of experiential marketing and public relations. But the strength of those two combined can be game-changing for a brand. With the future looking even more tech-savvy through the development of augmented and virtual realities, experiential marketing campaigns are here to stay. We are living in fascinating times and it’s exciting to see what we can produce next. By LARA SOUS, social media and public relations manager, MG


August 29, 2022


hile the industry regains its footing following the impact of 2020 across all sectors, marketers and PR professionals are eager to execute a healthy roster of activations and experiences to engage with consumers in a post-pandemic era. As outlined in the Havas Red Sky 2022 Predictions Report, we recognise that consumers across different demographics are looking for deeper and more authentic connections with brands. Delving into a specific segment, it’s critical to understand how, as a product of the times, today’s leading young market drivers – or, as we at Havas call them, ‘prosumers’ – are navigating a challenging post-pandemic

GETTING PERSONAL To appeal to ‘prosumers’ brands must ditch the me-first mentality, writes Red Havas’s Razan Karim

world and how businesses can adjust to that change while retaining credibility among that generation. With Covid-19 having robbed young people of vital opportunities to socialise, experiment and grow, there’s no doubt that the so-called ‘return to normal’ comes with an appetite for in-person experiences. While social media and the birth of new tech innovations have allowed consumers to connect with one another, and brands to innovate their consumer engagement, this doesn’t replace the more meaningful interactions that take place in real life. In our region, specifically, the pandemic occurred on the back of a huge cultural shift, particularly evident in Saudi Arabia. Now, with most events back in full swing, 93 per cent of KSA and 87 per cent of UAE prosumers say they aim to make up for lost time post the pandemic and live their lives to the fullest. At the same time, a desire to live a less consumerist lifestyle is on the rise, with 86 per cent of UAE and 79 per cent of KSA prosumers wanting their generation to build a world that is less consumption-obsessed. With those insights in mind, it’s critical to consider how to connect with an audience that is questioning old ways of working, living and expressing themselves. This in turn affects how we, as marketers, are able to navigate new territories, especially when it comes to brand events. So, what does this mean for brands that have the opportunity to fulfil an undeniable hunger for experience, and at the same time are presented with the challenge of breaking through the clutter to genuinely appeal to a significantly more mindful generation, ‘IRL’? To overcome this shift, brands need to further distinguish themselves by providing unique in-person experiences that do not prioritise the product, and to add value by creating more meaningful relationships with audiences through storytelling. Immersive and shareable moments will ultimately lead to longer-lasting impact, beyond the parameters of the experience itself. Last Ramadan, Bottega Veneta highlighted its diversity and inclusivity pillars with a minimalist and modern take on a majlis concept that brought together young artists of various disciplines to share their personal journeys in an intimate setting. Through poetry, music and film, they made a platform for genuine conversations around diaspora, identity, grief and faith – ultimately creating an emotional connection between artists and guests. Clearly thoughtful in execution, the event was completely absent of any in-yourface branding, but rather incorporated subtle nods to the brand’s DNA throughout a three-day experience. Co-collaboration is also becoming a critical factor in connecting with young prosumers, with 47 per cent of Gen Z audiences feeling they aren’t represented in most marketing and branding. Given the current social climate, this segment is less influenced today by traditional loyalty programmes and doesn’t respond to being

told what to do, where to spend time or what products to purchase. Instead, they look for hands-on collaboration and involvement with brands to ensure their voices are being heard, their identities accurately represented and their values shared. With this in mind, it is important for brands to take a collaboration-first approach, with the aim of supporting this audience’s need for creativity and freedom of expression. Adidas recently launched its new Adidas Originals flagship store at The Dubai Mall with an in-store celebration that gathered the city’s young creatives to experience its new retail concept. Breaking the mould of traditional in-store events that typically no longer appeal to media, influencers or consumers, the success of the launch laid on the collaborative concept behind the refurbished store itself. The retail concept ‘The Collection’ serves as a platform for collaboration with local artists and stylists, ultimately placing the city’s creative community at its heart. From the furniture to the imagery displayed on the walls and one-off sneaker displays, every design element is a result of co-creation with local talent, contributing depth and authenticity. The youth that came together

‘‘BRANDS NEED TO FURTHER DISTINGUISH THEMSELVES BY PROVIDING UNIQUE IN-PERSON EXPERIENCES.” to immerse themselves in the space were not only enticed by the brand, but also by the desire to celebrate and elevate their peers. As we enter a new, optimistic era for consumers and brands alike, we acknowledge that this new generation is a major driving force behind economic recovery in the Middle East. These consumers are craving more meaningful connections with brands, and they expect those to understand and respond to their individual needs. Gone are the days of mass marketing strategies and cookie cutter experiences when it comes to brand events. Brands that understand “less is more” and that genuine connection is key will succeed in speaking the language of a new generation. By RAZAN KARIM, senior communications director, Red Havas Middle East

August 29, 2022


xperiential events are taking over the marketing landscape. Brands are looking for new ways to stand out from the crowd in this continuously expanding and overcrowded environment. Brands are achieving this originality by out-of-thebox thinking, and experiential events are one way to accomplish this. By stepping away from the mainstream, they aim to create an intimate relationship between the brand and the consumer to prompt an emotional connection. Experiential marketing campaigns often involve events like pop-up stores or restaurants where groups of people come together, which elicits a sentimental response. These events take consumers on a journey from what they experience when arriving, through what they see during the registration, how they feel when they


customers. New customers get the chance to experience the brand, and brands get the opportunity to form an emotional connection, which may progress to a longer-term customer relationship. Brands like Red Bull with its ‘Stratos’ jump, M&M’s ‘Flavour Rooms’ and Coca-Cola’s ‘FIFA World Cup VR Experience’ are just some of the many big brands using experiential events to further their brand image. The landscape of the consumer-brand relationship is ever-changing, but one thing is for certain: experiential events are currently at the forefront of modern marketing and look like they will be for the foreseeable future. By MO HUSSEIN, head of events at Be Experiential

A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE Experiential events are the future of modern marketing, writes Be Experiential’s Mo Hussein

walk in, and what message they take away from the event. These journeys are designed to leave a lasting memory. Something you’ve seen or heard during the event might resonate with you much further down the line. The events are designed in such a way that they build a true relationship between the brand and the consumer, so they feel a certain affinity towards the brand, which in turn leads to boosted long-term sales. People understand experiences by nature. What you feel, see, touch, smell and hear. Experiential events provide brands the opportunity to be seen and heard. Whether it’s a launch event or a networking event, an experiential event will have different touch points throughout the space that almost subliminally deliver the brand’s message. Standard meet-and-greet or networking events are something of the past. Faces or conversations can be very forgettable if you haven’t built a true connection, but you are guaranteed to remember an interactive activation you have experienced. Brands naturally want to be seen and heard, so experiential events are the way to achieve this. Everyone is now trying to stay away from being corporate as it is no longer

what gets attention. Even the likes of Fortune 500 companies are adding experiential events to their calendar as a way of reaching their target audience. Traditional marketing may be effective to attract some people, but a physical connection will remain unbeaten. Recently, we have seen an increase in brands using custom applications, interactive games and connected experiences to help sell their brand to the public. People want experiences, to see other people, and to make real connections. These events feed off other people’s energies. For brands to reach their target audience, it’s simply not enough to do it through screens. Showcasing is done in different ways and many experiential events have proven to be extremely successful ways to do that. What is a better way to tell people that you have launched something new than telling them in person and getting them to experience what the product actually is? It is all about gaining that instant connection that will create a lasting memory. Experiential events are unique in their ability to provide personal interactions with existing and potential new




August 29, 2022

Absolute Communications Group

The Amanqi Consultancy

Founded: 2011 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Victor King, founder & CEO +971 564241999

Founded: 2019 Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Manal and Amani Waqi,

SPECIALISMS: Public relations; branding strategy; media relations; corporate communications & leadership communications

SPECIALISMS: Emerging jewellery and fashion brands; public relations; brand strategy; digital communications; bespoke events

KEY CLIENTS: BenQ, Global Indian International School, Fakhruddin Properties, Axiory Global & Hyke (Axiom Telecom)

Atteline Acorn Strategy Founded: 2010 Offices: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Melbourne, Perth, London Head of company: Kate Midttun SPECIALISMS: Marketing communications strategy; digital & content marketing; creative communications & design; marketing operations & consultancy; public relations KEY CLIENTS: Transco, Emirates Water and Electricity Company PJSC, Abu Dhabi Dig-ital Authority, Department of Energy, Dubai World Trade Centre, Dubai South, Dig-ital Academy, Rabdan Academy

AKQA Founded: 2010 Regional offices: UAE, KSA, Egypt Holding group: WPP Managing director MENA: Bassel Sawy SPECIALISMS: Brand activation/events; creative communication; data & media; technology/digital solutions; content production KEY CLIENTS: Americana Group, Louis Vuitton, Majid Al Futtaim, Mondelez, Al Futtaim Automotive, African + Eastern

Alisa PR

Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Dubai, with office in Manila Head of company: Sophie Simpson, managing director & founder SPECIALISMS: Be it launching a new brand or devising head-turning global collaborations, we spearhead intelligent, integrated campaigns that engage media relations, strategic partnerships, influencer engagement, media training, events, and activations. KEY CLIENTS: Careem, La Senza, Casio, Bateel, Rain

Aurora The Agency Founded: 2013 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Iona Al Suwaidi, agency director SPECIALISMS: Corporate and lifestyle communications; technology; healthcare; hospitality; start-ups; luxury and retail KEY CLIENTS: Atmosphere Hotels and Resorts (Maldives), The RoyalJet Group , INSEAD, Pangaea X, Moorfields Eye Hospitals UAE

Bernays Worldwide

Founded: 2017 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Alisa D’souza, founder & PR consultant

Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Bahrain, with offices in Saudi Arabia and UK CEO: Mohammed Al-Hammoud

SPECIALISMS: Public relations; digital marketing; advertising

SPECIALISMS: Institutional communication; real estate communication services; capital market & IPO news services; content creation; media buying

KEY CLIENTS: Herman Miller, Sumo Sushi & Bento, Digital Turbine, Telephony Communications Technologies, Meridian

KEY CLIENTS: L’azurde, Ajlan & Bros, Tamimi Markets, Amaar Real Estate, Sumou Real Estate

AllDetails Middle East Founded: 2004 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Isabel Tapp SPECIALISMS: Public relations; brand partnerships; events; influencer marketing; social media KEY CLIENTS: Velaa Private Island Maldives, The Oberoi Beach Resort Al Zorah, Batoka Lodges – Zambezi Sands, Bussola, Jumeirah Golf Estates, Canton de Vaud, Lake Geneva Region – Switzerland

Borouj Consulting Founded: 2006 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Randa Mazzawi SPECIALISMS: B2B; financial; media relations; media training; issues and crisis communication; issues and crisis training


August 29, 2022


Brazen MENA

Founded: 1980 Regional offices: Dubai and Kuwait Heads of company: Abdulla Majed Al Ghurair, chairman; Avishesha Bhojani, group CEO; +971 4 506 5555 (Dubai); +965 2 296 8371 (Kuwait)

Founded: 2015 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Louise Jacobson +971 (0) 4 240 8395

For more than 40 years, BPG has helped brands gain audiences, achieve influence, navigate crises and attain leadership status in a market constantly in flux. A WPP company, BPG has launched Dubai Internet City, Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises, and managed the Union Properties, Dubai Investments, Emaar Properties and Union Insurance IPOs. BPG has executed game-changing comms assignments including the Doha Asian Games, the IMF World Bank Conference and Dubai’s Expo2020 bid. An award-winning creative communications agency, BPG’s bold, data-driven strategies power a client portfolio comprising regional and global leaders, and dynamic start-ups. Operating from hubs in Dubai and Kuwait, with GCC-wide presence, BPG helps clients have contextually relevant and consistent conversations with customers across the full range of digital and human touch points. SPECIALISMS: Public relations, integrated marketing, influencer marketing, creative advertising, brand; strategy, media services, digital and performance marketing, social media, event activation, content management, CX

Our insights-driven strategic approach, combined with award winning creativity and our mantra to go the extra mile, makes us unique, and we are proud to be the first and only MENA agency to be crowned with PRCA MENA and MEPRA Small Agency of the Year award six times from 2018-2022. We continually innovate, evolve and deliver excellent results no matter what the challenge. We are solutions seekers and see ourselves as an extension of our clients’ teams. A positive, inclusive company culture is our top priority at Brazen MENA and our family-feel vibe is one of respect, honesty, open-mindedness and a huge sense of fun. Our ethos is built upon a foundation of hard work, talent and forward-thinking from a multi-cultural team. SPECIALISMS: Public relations; social media; influencer management; events; crisis comms; advertorials KEY CLIENTS: Dubai Tourism, The First Group, The First Collection, RELX International, InterContinental Hotels Group, Sunset Hospitality, MMI, Marriott International, Bio-Oil, Daimler AWARDS: Six times Small Agency of the Year 2018-2022

KEY CLIENTS: Adyen, Alshaya Group, Behbehani Motors Company (Porsche, Volkswagen, Skoda), Ciena, Cigna, DHL Global Forwarding, Geely Automobile International Corporation, Group AMANA, HMD Global, Innoventures Education, KPMG Lower Gulf, Kwai, Proofpoint, Rivoli, Sony Middle East & Africa

Founded: UAE 1994; Global 1971 Headquartered: Cyprus, with MENA hub in UAE Head of company: Christakis Christodoulou, CEO +971 4 3902960

A fully independent and integrated marketing and communications network spanning three continents, Action Global Communications provides hands-on local insights and expertise to help organisations in dozens of industry verticals advance their agendas in target markets. Delivering game-changing ideas and tactical executions that shape perceptions, build awareness and protect reputations, our teams create meaningful connections between companies and audiences by leveraging the full spectrum of modern

communications. Committed to driving our clients’ brand engagement and enabling sustainable business growth, Action UAE employs more than 40 people across its public relations, social and digital, production, finance and administration departments in dedicated Dubai and Abu Dhabi offices.


SPECIALISMS: Public relations; social media & digital marketing; video production KEY CLIENTS: Abu Dhabi Sports Council, Abu Dhabi Department of Education & Knowledge, Dubai Health Care Authority, Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, Dubai World Trade Centre, Hisense, Informa Markets, Intel, Messe Frankfurt Middle East, Sony PlayStation, UAE Jiu-Jitsu Federation, UAE Padel Association AWARDS: MEPRA Awards 2021: Best Social Impact Campaign in Response to Covid – Gold; MEPRA Awards 2021: Best Government Communications and Public Affairs Campaign; PR Week Global Awards: Best Campaign – Middle East; MEPRA Arabic Awards 2022: Best Social Impact Campaign - Gold

Euan Megson

Barry King

Managing Director

General Manager

Kate Dixon Director of Operations & Client Service



Founded: 2006 Headquartered: Dubai, UAE Affiliates offices: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, KSA, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Macedonia, Malaysia, Montenegro, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Spain, Sudan, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, USA and Yemen Head of company: Ahmad Itani +971 4 334 1140 +971 56 163 3162 Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy is an award-winning, fully integrated agency. It delivers bespoke traditional and new-media strategies and campaigns to some of the region’s most prominent brands through its expert multilingual team. Our ethos is to let the facts do the talking, from making a measurable impact on our clients’ businesses through research and insights to developing innovative ideas and result-oriented campaigns that deliver long-term, positive ROI. The foundation of all our work lies in attention to data extrapolation, targeting, arranging, interpreting, and leveraging.

Ahmad Itani Founder & CEO

Tariq Al Sharabi Managing Director

Specialisms: Contributor relations; thought leadership; online reputation management; newage media; corporate reputation management; content development; strategic planning and counsel influencer marketing; CSR; crisis comms. Awards: PRCA MENA Awards - Large Consultancy of the Year 2022 (Highly Commended); International Stevie Awards; 2 Guinness World Records; PRCA Digital Awards; MENA Digital Awards; MEPRA Awards.


TARIQ AL SHARABI Managing Director of Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy

WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHALLENGES FACING THE INDUSTRY AT THE MOMENT, AND HOW ARE YOU ADDRESSING THEM? One of the most pronounced challenges facing the communication sector is the scarcity of talent. This is made even more perplexing given the nature of the industry, which covers a wide spectrum of fields, including digital, traditional, branding and social media. To tackle this hurdle, our prerogative is to work with and train individuals who think outside the box and are able to seamlessly operate across sectors through dynamic imagination, no matter their industry experience.

WHAT ARE CLIENTS ASKING FOR THAT’S NEW? Clients know what’s out there and are continuously expecting the most advanced tactics and strategies. Our job is to keep ourselves in the know to deliver and surpass their demands. From 360-degree digital strategies spanning all platforms to explorations in the metaverse, all of which get updated in real time, the onus is on internal teams to maintain the hustle and make clients feel like whatever processes being suggested are second-nature.

HOW ARE DATA AND TECHNOLOGY AFFECTING YOUR BUSINESS? Previously, the industry operated on assumptions,

but now, we have the ability to hone in on the exact behaviours and thought processes of our customers, giving us the opportunity to create highly-curated content. This grants us surgical insight into the market and consumer trends, which, as a result, helps us model our communication strategies.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE CLIENTS TO MAKE THE MOST OF THEIR PR/EVENTS SPEND? Media and PR spend need not always be strategically allocated, especially in an oversaturated market that frequently rewards the first at the scene. Larger spends and events are still required for visibility, but, increasingly, a different approach is being adopted that prioritises shortterm impact in pursuit of long-term gains. Ultimately, a balance must always be maintained, no matter the prevalent trends.

WHAT OPPORTUNITIES OR INNOVATIONS ARE YOU MOST EXCITED TO SEE IN THE NEXT YEAR? Further exploration in the metaverse and AI. If the past two years have been any indication, the future is continuously rooting itself in digital innovation, and the possibilities being envisioned are offering practitioners tools that would have been deemed products of science fiction no more than 10 years ago.



August 29, 2022

Brave Founded: 2014 Headquartered: Dubai, United Arab Emirates Head of company: Florence Janin +971 4 551 9212

Bridge of Minds Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Beirut, with office in Dubai CEO: Marina Araigy +961 1 567 764 +961 1 568 764

Edelman Middle East Founded: 1952 Regional headquarters: Abu Dhabi Head of company: Omar Qirem, CEO, Middle East +971 2 234 4718 (Abu Dhabi); +971 4 568 2540 (Dubai); +966 11 261 1540 (Riyadh) Edelman is a global communications firm that partners with businesses and organisations to evolve, promote and protect their brands and reputations. With 6,000 people in more than 60 offices, Edelman delivers communications strategies that give clients the confidence to lead, act with certainty and earn the lasting trust of their stakeholders. We develop powerful ideas and tell magnetic stories that move at the speed of news, make an immediate impact, transform culture and spark movements.

SPECIALISMS: Branding; communications; creative; digital design; Google Ads; marketing; public relations; web development

Bright Company Founded: 2020 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Kiera Doherty

SPECIALISMS: Communications; research; digital; creative; strategy AWARDS: MEPRA 2021: Best Use of Video (Bronze). PRCA MENA Regional Awards 2022: Best PR Campaign – Influencer Relations (Highly Commended); Best PR Campaign – Crisis Communications (Highly Commended); Regional PR Campaign of the Year (Winner); Event / Launch of the Year (Highly Commended)

SPECIALISMS: Social media; digital; results-driven PR; strategy; content marketing KEY CLIENTS: SMEs, B2B, government, events, consumer

regional experience, we have a passion for technology and innovation and have extensive experience in marketing technology clients and solutions. Active DMC offers businesses in-depth regional marketing in the Middle East and North Africa. We extend this service offering around the globe through our partner network and affiliates.

Founded: 2003 Headquartered: Dubai Joint managing directors and co-founders: Sawsan Ghanem & Louay Al-Samarrai +971 4 433 5226 An integrated marketing and communications agency that makes it its mission to stay at the cutting edge of marketing through innovation, creativity and delivery of a wide range of relevant services to its clients. We develop, strengthen and drive our clients’ communications campaigns while ensuring they are consistently delivering on their business and communication objectives. With more than 25 years of

SPECIALISMS: Public relations, influencer relations, social & digital marketing, lead generation, video production, content consultation, community management, event management, webinar, podcasts KEY CLIENTS: Genesys, ColorTokens, Keysight, Group-IB, Endava, Michigan Ross Executive Education, AMD, Genetec, The 4 Winds Entertainment, OutSystems, Heidrick & Struggles, Eaton, Aspentech, HyperX, Commscope, JP Morgan Private Bank, Callsign, NETSCOUT, Zoom, Okadoc, Netskope AWARDS: Best PR Company – Arabian Residential Property Awards 2009; Arab Entrepreneur of the Year – Stars of Business Awards 2011; Best SME Support Partner and Best SME Technology & Online – SME Stars of Business


Sawsan Ghanem

Louay Al-Samarrai

Joint Managing Director & Co-Founder

Joint Managing Director & Co-Founder

Mechelle Manuel

Tarek Hakim

Traffic & Content Manager

Communications Consultant

Varun Joshi

Anisha Sharma

Acting Account Director

Acting Account Director


August 29, 2022

CoCo Communications Consultants

Eleven PR

Founded: 2017 Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Caroline Holmberg, Hannah McCabe ,

Founded: 2020 Headquartered: Dubai Holding group: Omnicom Head of company: Dan Leach, general manager

SPECIALISMS: F&B; entertainment; lifestyle; wellness & health; tech & corporate

SPECIALISMS: Consumer PR; corporate PR; crisis & issues management; government relations; social media KEY CLIENTS: Abu Dhabi Investment Office, Kempinski, Catrice, Essence, Womanity Foundation, Project Management Institute

Cosmopole Consultancy Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Abu Dhabi Managing director: Claire Micheletti SPECIALISMS: Public relations; digital marketing; social media; strategic planning; branding

EGG Founded: 2000 (in MEA since 2016) Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Angelique Eriksen (CEO), Naoile El Azzouzi (country director), Tom Nauw (commercial director) SPECIALISMS: Activation; content creation & production; creative strategy; events management; strategic planning

FleishmanHillard Middle East Founded: 1946 Headquartered: Dubai Holding group: Omnicom Group Head of company: Lucy O’Brien, general manager & partner +971 4 330 4010 SPECIALISMS: Corporate and brand communications; healthcare communications management; reputation management; employee engagement and internal communications; crisis communications; stakeholder mapping; strategy development; regional campaign coordination

advisory counsel; creative and impactful advocacy programs; and purposeful and effective communications.

Founded: 2005 Regional offices: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Bahrain, Amman +971 4 361 3333 +971 55 9548673 APCO Worldwide is an advisory and advocacy communications consultancy helping leading public and private sector organisations to be catalysts for progress by navigating the challenges of today, acting with agility, anticipating social risk and building organisational reputations, relationships and solutions to succeed. APCO is proudly an independent and majority womenowned business. Most importantly, we are a trusted partner to our clients, who hire us to help them anticipate, plan, execute and secure their futures through our robust global expertise and astute

SPECIALISMS: Integrated 360-degree communications; build, operate, transfer model; advisory; building advisory boards; media relations; creative services; stakeholder engagement; training and workshops; digital and social media; crisis communications


Mamoon Sbeih

Imad Lahd

President, MENA

Managing Director, Dubai

KEY CLIENTS: G42 Healthcare, UAE Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Planning and Economy KSA, Cigna Insurance, The Edge Group, Emirates Diplomatic Academy, SAGE AWARDS: 2022 Top 5 Best EMEA Networks to Work For – EMEA Network, PROVOKE; Best Agency in The Middle East, 2019, PR WEEK; Best Crisis Communication/ Issue Management Strategy, 2019, MEPRA; Best Integrated Campaign, 2020, MEPRA; Best Use of Limited Budget, 2020, MEPRA; Best Healthcare Campaign, 2020, MEPRA; Best Launch Event, 2020, MEPRA; Best Healthcare Campaign, 2020, MEPRA; Best B2B Campaign, 2021, MEPRA; Best Use of Reporting and Measurement in A Campaign, 2019, PRCA DIGITAL AWARDS

Mohammad Kamal

Faten Al Masri

Global Creative Lead/ Managing Director, Amman

Chief Client Officer, MENA

Samer El Hachem

Muhannad Al Badri

Chief Operating Officer, MENA

Managing Director, Abu Dhabi




August 29, 2022


Founded: 2000 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Sunil John, president MENA of BCW, and founder of ASDA’A BCW +9714 4507 600 ASDA’A BCW is the region’s leading PR consultancy, providing integrated communications services. The agency has a network of 18 offices, including seven wholly owned and 11 affiliates in 16 countries across the MENA region. Through its wholly owned subsidiaries, Proof Communications (a digital, social and design agency) and OnePoint5 (a specialist environment, social and governance advisory), ASDA’A BCW delivers integrated and creative PR, digital and design solutions. SPECIALISMS: Consumer; healthcare; corporate; enterprise & technology; financial; public affairs; digital,


SUNIL JOHN President MENA of BCW and founder of ASDA’A BCW

social and design services by Proof Communications; specialist ESG advisory through OnePoint5 KEY CLIENTS: National champion companies and leading global brands such as: Air Arabia, Anghami, DIFC, Dar Al Arkan, e& (Etisalat), EmiratesNBD, ENOC, GMG, GE, Jumeirah, Nakheel, Nestle, Petromin, Raytheon, selfologi, SHUAA, STARZPLAY, VISA, Snap, and 3M; government entities including Dubai Chamber, UAE Ministry of Culture & Youth, Emirates Health Services, Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism, Ras Al Khaimah Media Office, Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority, The Red Sea Development Company, and Sports Boulevard Foundation – Riyadh AWARDS: Most awarded Agency at the 2022 Arabic Communications MEPRA Awards, winning eight honours; Seven recognitions at the PRCA MENA Regional Awards 2022 including Gold for Best Integrated Campaign; 2022 IN2 SABRE Gold winner for Thought Leadership in PR and Certificate of Excellence

across all channels, and activating performance marketing to move specific audiences.


Although channels evolve and approaches change, at the heart of the PR industry is its ability to deliver compelling stories on behalf of our clients. Our primary remit is to ‘move people’ – influence and shape their attitudes – and this can be achieved only through the power of storytelling. The power of storytelling will always remain strong, and can be repurposed for various media platforms – be it traditional media, social media, podcasts, etc.



Data and digital analytics have transformed the PR industry, pivoting it to what we call an ‘earned-plus’ model. Earned-plus is the new integrated approach to impactful communications, and it is multi-layered. It brings the strategic value generated from data analytics, delivering platform-agnostic campaigns that influence customer behaviour

As I observed earlier, old communications playbooks are irrelevant today. We must constantly reinvent, reset and refresh ourselves to stay relevant. The biggest challenge for the PR sector is to bring in a new zeal for innovation. For that, it is important to draw on young creative talent from various sectors to deliver impactful campaigns.

WHERE DO YOU SEE INNOVATION HAPPENING IN PR? Beyond measurement tools, digital amplification and creating multiple forms of content, real innovation is in how we must strategise for our clients – enabling them to reach multiple stakeholders in multiple geographies, and highlighting their corporate purpose. In our region,

Sunil John

Sameh Hamtini

President, MENA, BCW Founder, ASDA’A BCW

Executive Vice President, Regional Operations

Stephen Worsley

Mary Smiddy

Senior Vice President, Growth & Innovation

Senior Vice President, Healthcare Practice

Kelly Home

Nedal Al Asaad

Senior Vice President, Corporate Practice

Senior Vice President, Public Affairs Practice

we see the real need to enhance environmental, social and governance (ESG) communications, especially with Egypt and the UAE hosting the COP summits this year and next, and the regional governments working towards net zero emissions. An exclusive survey that we commissioned covering over 200 decision-makers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, revealed that nearly two-thirds (60 per cent) of businesses do not have an ESG framework. Even more importantly, among those who said they had an ESG policy, more than half (52 per cent) said they did not fully understand it. We launched our specialist ESG advisory, OnePoint5, to meet this growing demand for ESG communications. Today, the gap between awareness of the acute need to advance sustainable development and action on the ground by much of the business community needs closing. OnePoint5 can help clients address this so-called ‘say-do’ gap by combining the skills of experienced communicators with the technical abilities of sustainability specialists. The world is already off track in limiting global warming. Corporate conduct is being scrutinised more intensely than ever before. The time to act is now. Only PR agencies that can innovate and align themselves with the strategic priorities of our clients proactively can deliver real value.


Challenge the agency, give them the creative freedom to push the boundaries, explore new ways to tell stories. That era has changed.


August 29, 2022

Four Communications Group

The Idea Agency

Founded: 2001 in London; 2004 in MENA Regional offices: Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Riyadh Head of company: Ray Eglington, group managing director +971 2 447 2774 +971 4 362 5129

Founded: 1996 Regional offices: Dubai / Beirut Ownership: Aviamost Advertising Managing partner: Rita Boustany SPECIALISMS: Hospitality; tourism; retail; services; food & beverage

SPECIALISMS: Integrated campaigns; social analytics & engagement; brand strategy; public relations; marketing; media planning & buying; creative & design; digital marketing; media training.


Hanover Middle East

Founded: 1979 (Dubai office founded in 2013) Regional headquarters: Dubai, with office in Riyadh Head of company: Patrick Reid (general manager, Dubai)

Founded: Hanover Group founded in 2008; Middle East office launched in 2017 Heads of company: Jonty Summers, managing director, Middle East Offices: London, Brussels, Dublin, Dubai, Abu Dhabi Holding Group Hanover, part of Avenir Global +971 4 433 6122 SPECIALISMS: Corporate communications; crisis and issues management; financial communications and special situations; healthcare communications

SPECIALISMS: Consulting; destinations; content; live experiences

Impact Porter Novelli Founded: 2000 Regional headquarters: Dubai, UAE Ownership: BBDO Worldwide, an Omnicom holding company Head of company: Fouad Bou Mansour +971 4 330 4030 SPECIALISMS: Corporate communications; brand communications; technology; reputation management

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Founded: 1927 Regional offices: Abu Dhabi, Cairo, Doha, Dubai, Manama, Riyadh Holding group: WPP Head of company: Bashar AlKadhi, CEO, EMEAx (Continental Europe, Nordics, Middle East, Turkey, India, Africa) SPECIALISMS: Content & publishing; data & analytics; issues & crisis; behavioural science; The Studio (creative)

In2 Consulting Founded: 2010 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Anne Bleeker anne@in2consulting SPECIALISMS: Business communication strategy; internal communication; positioning & messaging; content strategy and copywriting; communication training & capacity building KEY CLIENTS: B2B, hospitality, technology, events, government

Hive PR Middle East Founded: 2010 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Neil Tyrer +971 50 653 2854 SPECIALISMS: Press relations; marketing; branding; events; automotive KEY CLIENTS: INEOS Automotive, INEOS Grenadier

Index Media Founded: 2002 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Sara Al Madani, CEO SPECIALISMS: PR; marketing; production services; translation; creative design KEY CLIENTS: AEEDC Dubai, DIHAD Dubai, DIHAD Sustainable Humanitarian Foundation, DUPHAT Dubai, DERMA Dubai

House of Comms Founded: 2012 Regional offices: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia Co-founders and managing partners: Abby Wilks, Kaja Evans and Jamie Wilks +971 4 275 4900 SPECIALISMS: Automotive; government; F&B and hospitality; retail; tech

Insight Discovery Founded: 2007 Offices: UAE and UK CEO and co-founder: Nigel Sillitoe SPECIALISMS: Strategic communications; market intelligence; event optimisation (moderating and managing virtual events) KEY CLIENTS: State Street Global Advisors, Amundi, Invest AD, UBP, RL360




August 29, 2022

Inspiratus Group Founded: 2012 Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Cairo, Toronto, London and Washington DC +971 4 392 6610 SPECIALISMS: Strategic communications; PR; media relations; media training; crisis communications

ISD Founded: 2005 Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in India, UK, USA, Vietnam, Malaysia, Australia and Mauritius Founder: Suresh Dinakaran SPECIALISMS: Brand strategy; creative services; media; AI & digital marketing; PR & ORM/events

King & Co PR

Instinctif Partners MENA Founded: 2013 Offices: Dubai (regional HQ), with offices across Europe, Africa and Middle East Head of company: Samantha Bartel, CEO & Managing Partner, Instinctif Partners MENA +971 4 369 9353 Instinctif Partners is an EMEA business communications consultancy, working in partnership with our clients to help them understand and navigate change. In our complex and changing world, advice with integrity matters. We provide an integrated offering that brings together deep expertise in communications, capital markets, content & design, digital, insights, public affairs and sustainability. We help our clients build understanding and trust between communities to inspire positive, impactful change SPECIALISMS: Public relations management; annual reporting; capital market and investor relations; corporate communications and public policy; financial communications; digital communications; advertising KEY CLIENTS: Tanmiah, ENBD REIT, Shaker Group, Dr. Sulaiman Al Habib Medical Services Group , Fawaz Alhokair, East Pipes, Jupiter Asset Management, World Gold Council, Saudi Real Estate Refinance Company, Alwaleed Philanthropies, Alhokair, Givaudan, Saudi Esports

Founded: 2022 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Cheryl King SPECIALISMS: Strategy & consultancy; media relations; content creation; video production; media training

AWARDS: The Sabres Awards; PRWeek Top 150; PRCA Digital Awards 2022; National Business Awards UK; European Business Awards; PR Week Global Awards; PR Week best Place to work; Corporate & Financial Awards 2021; MEIRA 2021; MEPRA 2019

KEY CLIENTS: MENA FinTech Association

Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Injeel Moti

Catch Communications is an award-winning communications agency offering tailored, focused solutions in line with emergent trends, to give businesses in the region a quick, impactful and effective turnaround of results.


Injeel Moti Managing Director

Based in the commercial centre of the Middle East, Dubai, Catch can best be described as your media-savvy partner that connects businesses with customers through highimpact, creative and value-added communication solutions, safeguarding the success of their objectives whilst establishing clients as market leaders. Founded by communication professionals who live and breathe new-age marketing at its best, we work with our clients to implement refined communication tactics from seamlessly blended tried and tested traditional PR methods to digital and experiential solutions.

Joudat Waleed Communications Manager

SPECIALISMS: Strategic consultancy; public relations; digital & social marketing; influencer marketing; brand partnerships; events & experiences KEY CLIENTS: Al Ghurair Retail, REVOLVE, Landmark Group, Royal Group, Wellx, India Gate, Palem AWARDS: Best Campaign – Results on a Budget | PRCA MENA, 2022

Samreen Kazi Seinor Comms Executive


August 29, 2022

Jack Morton MENAT

Jargon PR

Founded: Globally in 1939 and operating regionally since 2011 Regional headquarters: Dubai with offices in Qatar and KSA Holding group: Regionally held under the Middle East Communications Network and globally part of the Interpublic Group of Companies Head of company: Rebecca Amey, managing director, MENAT

Founded: 2009 Headquartered: Hampshire, United Kingdom Head of company: Simon Corbett

SPECIALISMS: Brand acts & experience; exhibits & tradeshows; employee experience; conference & forums; strategic & experiential design KEY CLIENTS: adidas, Siemens, Mastercard, Ericsson, Ali & Sons


SPECIALISMS: International and regional media relations; content creation; social media campaigns; crisis communications; press office management KEY CLIENTS: Agilitas IT Solutions, Reprise Digital (Performance Marketing), SML, TP-Link

Katch International Founded: 2011 Offices: Dubai, London Head of company: Georgina Woollams

Kekst CNC

SPECIALISMS: PR; social media management; branding; digital marketing; creative design

Founded: 2006 (Dubai office) Headquartered: Munich and New York; regional offices in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh Holding group: Publicis Groupe Regional Head: Ben Curson, partner at Kekst CNC Dubai

KEY CLIENTS: Live Nation, Atlantis the Palm and Atlantis the Royal, EMAAR, Marriott, Al Tayer

SPECIALISMS: Corporate communications; financial communications; crisis and issues management; internal communications; digital communications, analytics and social media KEY CLIENTS: NEOM, LinkedIn

KeenePR Founded: 2019 Head of company: Ellie Keene SPECIALISMS: Public relations; PR strategy; influencer engagement; events KEY CLIENTS: Hilton The Palm, Media One Hotel, Impossible Foods, CE LA VI, Infini Concepts Group

Founded: 2009 Headquartered: Dubai Ownership: TGW Live Head of company: Mohammed Tayem, founder & CEO +971 4 338 8834

Entourage is one of the leading regional live communications agencies, steeped in Middle Eastern culture, and renowned for creating powerful human-to-human connections and brand experiences since 2009. We create synergies between multiple marketing elements, from creative to advertising, from events to experiential, from PR to digital marketing and social media marketing to weave stories that build resonance and forge long-lasting relationships between brands and audiences built on performance. We are at the forefront of innovation, leading the change of the industry with agility and scalability at the crux of what we do and what we offer to our partners. SPECIALISMS: Event management; PR & social media; content strategy development; creative and advertising; performance marketing


Mohammed Tayem

Mohammad Idries

CEO & Founder


Ziad Faour

Ali Hamade

Head of Strategy

Event Manager

Manoshi Banerjee

Nicholas Pereira

PR Manager

Creative Director

KEY CLIENTS: Google, YouTube, G20, Aramco, Egypt Tourism Authority, Amazon, Pakistan Pavilion – Expo 2020 Dubai AWARDS: Ranked at #19 in the SME100 among the top 100 companies in Dubai in 2015 – hosted by Dubai Economic Department; EFFIE Awards MENA in 2012, 2013, and 2014; Dubai Lynx 2011 & 2014; MEPRA awards 2014; Middle East Event Awards 2012, 2013 & 2014; Guinness Book of World Records



August 29, 2022

WHERE IT’S AT Gambit unveils quirky new HQ

Gambit Communications has unveiled its new 3,000 sq. ft. headquarters at The Binary by Omniyat in Business Bay, Dubai, as the agency embarks on a new phase of expansion. The unconventional office features multiple zones aimed at creating an inclusive and enjoyable work environment for the team, with just 30 per cent of the space used for desks, and the rest used for leisure and relaxation areas. The new Gambit HQ features a theatre area with a 75-inch screen, foosball table, arcade with classic games such as Street Fighter, reclining loungers, record player, green walls, executive office, trophy wall, café area, coffee bar, and a breakfast bar featuring a popcorn machine and free snacks. In addition, the agency has replaced the traditional meeting room format of a central table and office chairs and instead opted for a Majlis, with comfortable white couches circling the entire perimeter of the room and the centre left empty, inspired by the region’s culture and allowing for easy conversation and hosting. The independent PR, social media and influencer marketing agency currently holds three agency of the year titles simultaneously, as the PRCA Medium Agency of the Year, MEPRA Small Agency of the Year, and MEPRA Homegrown Agency of the Year.


August 29, 2022

Founded: 2019 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Jamal Al Mawed, founder and managing director +971 4 578 6446 Gambit Communications is a multiple-award-winning independent public relations, social media management and influencer marketing agency that aims to bring together the brightest young talent in the Middle East. The word gambit comes from chess, the ultimate game of planning and strategy, and is defined as a set of actions you carry out in order to gain an advantage in a situation or game, or a remark made to start a conversation with someone. We take our inspiration from this because the best comms agencies are the ones that know how to give your brand an advantage over the competition, and the best type of press is that which starts conversations. SPECIALISMS: Public relations (thought leadership, media relations, crisis communications, media training, CSR strategies, event management, editorial services, strategic planning); social media (content planning, campaign management, monitoring & analysis, page management); influencer engagement (content development, creative executions, visual communication, brand ambassador management) KEY CLIENTS: TikTok, Porsche, Mandarin Oriental, Acer, Amazon Payment Services, Toyota, Lexus, The Ritz-Carlton, BBC, Sharjah Sustainable City, Help AG, Swissquote, Veolia AWARDS: 28 wins and 91 shortlisted campaigns in the past two years including Gold MEPRA for Best Campaign in UAE 2021. Current holders of three agency of the year Golds at the same time (PRCA Medium Agency of the Year, MEPRA Small Agency of the Year, MEPRA Homegrown Agency of the Year).


Jamal Al Mawed, founder and managing director of Gambit Communications, is a multiple-award-winning Emirati/ British/Palestinian hybrid with a celebrated agency background and previous senior director roles on the client-side at RollsRoyce Motor Cars and the Dubai Properties Group. An industry thought leader, Al Mawed has also been selected in prestigious lists such as The Holmes Report’s EMEA ‘Innovator 25’, The Huffington Post’s ‘Ten to Watch’ series, and the PR Week Power Book for four consecutive years.


Kathleen Burbridge, senior account director, brings a decade of experience in roles at international communications agencies in Toronto, Chicago and Dubai. She specialises in automotive, luxury, and consumer communications.

Tony Sidgwick, account director, heads up the corporate, government, B2B and tech practices at Gambit Communications. He is also a content development specialist with more than 15 years’ experience in the region on both client and media side, including senior editorial roles at multiple GCC lifestyle publications.

Mirna Tamimi, senior account manager, is a Riyadh-raised automotive comms expert with experience on a suite of iconic automotive brands including Porsche, Ferrari, Pagani, Maserati, Jeep, Dodge, Alfa Romeo and Fiat. She has been nominated for ‘Rising Star of the Year’ at the PRCA 2021 Awards and selected in Campaign Middle East’s ‘Faces to Watch’ 2020 list.

Dalia Baddar, senior account manager, leads on social media at Gambit. A nominee for the PRCA Digital Professional of the Year 2020 and member of Campaign Middle East’s ‘Faces to Watch 2020’ list, Dalia is a creative force with experience on brands such as Samsung, Ferrari and Pinar.




August 29, 2022

Leidar MENA

M&C Saatchi Public Relations UAE

Founded: 2017 Headquartered: Geneva; regional HQ in Dubai Head of company: Rolf Olsen, founder & CEO,

Founded: 2017 Offices: Dubai and Abu Dhabi, with its global HQ in London, with eight offices worldwide, as well as a network of international partners across Asia-Pacific and Benelux. Ownership: M&C Saatchi Head of company: Amy Brill, head of PR UAE; Molly Aldridge, global CEO +971 4 446 3209

SPECIALISMS: Communications strategy; content development; ESG & sustainability strategy development & communications; positioning & messaging; crisis management & media training KEY CLIENTS: IRENA, Microsoft, Metropolitan Premium Properties, DC Aviation Al Futtaim (DCAF)


SPECIALISMS: Public relations; experiential; social media; corporate/B2B; design; consumer/B2C; editorial; content creation; media relations

Founded: October 2007 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: David Balfour SPECIALISMS: Strategic consultancy; experiential; creative services; digital experiences; original IPs KEY CLIENTS: Algorand, Sony Playstation, TikTok, PUMA, Mashreq

Manara Global Founded: 2019 Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Teri O’Donnell and Robin Gordon-Farleigh

Matrix Public Relations Founded: 1999 CEO: Hilmarie Hutchison +971 4 343 0888 SPECIALISMS: PR; social media; influencer marketing; digital marketing; crisis management; media training; content marketing; reputation management; website and app development

SPECIALISMS: Reputation management; purpose; strategic communications; leadership communications; creative campaigning


Founded: 2002 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Loretta Ahmed, founder & CEO +971 4 390 1630 We are an integrated communications consultancy that applies a creative and insightled approach to reputation management and marketing communications. We live by our values – we are agile, inventive and committed - and we strive to bring about real change, for our clients and by the role we play in the communities we serve. We are proud to be an independent agency with a 30+ year presence in the UAE and with long-standing partners in the region and across the world. We are a vibrant team and offer a very personal service to each client with more than half of our client base having partnered with us for more than five years. Relationships really matter to us, and we are vested in ours.

Loretta Ahmed

Vicky El-Kassir

Founder and CEO


James Mitchel

Raaziqa Hassen

Head of Digital and Planning

Account Director

SPECIALISMS: Brand storytelling; corporate reputation management; thought leadership; media training; crisis management; sustainability communications KEY CLIENTS: CNN, Virgin Mobile, Volkswagen Middle East, Kearney, Hala, Crimson Education, Kaplan Middle East, Metito, 3S Money, Deel, Taqeef

Ahmad Marei Senior Consultant – Arabic Media & Content


August 29, 2022

Market Buzz International

Motivate Events

Founded: 2001 Headquartered: Fujairah Head of company: Mita Srinivasan

Founded: 1979 Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Anthony Milne, chief commercial officer; Stuart Norbury, events manager +971 4 427 3000

SPECIALISMS: B2B; startups; small businesses; technology; non-profits KEY CLIENTS: Jacky’s Business Solutions, The Assembly, Opontia, SME10x, TiE Du-bai

Markettiers Founded: 2015 (Dubai) Headquartered: London, with office in Dubai Parent company: Markettiers4DC CEO: Howard Kosky SPECIALISMS: Broadcast PR; video production; audio documentaries; podcasts; international broadcast PR; media training KEY CLIENTS: H+K, MullenLowe, Cisco, Webershandwick, Masdar

Media Address Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Saudi Arabia, with offices in Bahrain and UK CEO: Majed Al-Jabarti. SPECIALISMS: Institutional communication; real estate communication services; capital market & IPO news services; content creation; media buying KEY CLIENTS: L’azurde, Tamimi Markets, Amaar Real Estate, Innovest Properties, Rekaz Real Estate

SPECIALISMS: Motivate Media Group has a thriving events division, with numerous high-profile events staged throughout the year. From glamorous award ceremonies, to all-day music festivals, a dedicated marketing and events team ensures that all events are a valuable extension of our clients’ brands.

Pencell PR & Events Founded: 1999 Offices: Dubai (HQ), Beirut, Cairo, Jeddah, Riyadh Digital Solutions +971 4 445 8383 SPECIALISMS: PR strategy; event management; experiential solutions; creating digital conversations; brand ambassadorship KEY CLIENTS: BBAC, Bosch, Siemens, Hersheys, Hasbro, Novartis, IFFCO, Christian Bonja Jewelry, Piaget, Langnese, Brigitte Ermel High Jewellery, Tabasco, Unisynk


Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Dubai, UAE Head of company: Ties Hendriks, global managing director +971 4 323 5040 MCH Global is a full-service experiential agency, connecting the dots across strategy, concept, design and implementation to deliver unforgettable brand experiences. Sitting at the intersection of the cultural conversation while being driven by innovation, we find new ways for brands to create a lasting impact that resonates with their audience, all through the power of experiential marketing. The MCH Global brand pushes the envelope through creative courage, authentic storytelling and impeccable

execution, across the EMEA region. With core teams in Dubai and Zurich and extended operations spanning from Qatar and KSA to Amsterdam and Munich, we are just getting started. SPECIALISMS: Strategy; market research; customer journey mapping, creative design; concept and idea development; experiential formats from brand activations to roadshows; stunts and festivals; content production; virtual events; Web3 and metaverse curation; project management; onsite management and production KEY CLIENTS: Google, Porsche, Expo 2020, Pepsi, Cisco, Enoc, BMW Group, UBS, Twitter, Julius Baer, Audi, Nike, Lucid, Emaar, Lexus, Go Daddy, Lamborghini, Renault, Dubai Watch Week, HBO Max, Volkswagen, Breitling, Nissan, Samsung, FIFA.

Ties Hendriks

Saheba Sodhi

Global Managing Director

Head of Strategy

Uli Stanke

Anita Knezic

Head of Experiential Innovation

Creative Director

Paula Mangueira

Lara Bittencourt

Head of Studio

Head of Operations




August 29, 2022

MEMO Communications

Performance Communications Middle East

Founded: 2022 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Melinda Mesiano SPECIALISMS: Strategic communications consultancy; crisis communications and scenario planning; B2B and B2C PR and communications; event planning and management; PR fundamentals and team development training

Founded: 2009 Offices: Dubai Heads of company: Ian Drinkwater (MD), Amanda Fox-Pryke (deputy MD), amanda@performancecomms. com SPECIALISMS: PR; digital; content creation; events; social media management KEY CLIENTS LIST: Bentley Motors, Audi, Bell Flight, Continental, MG Motor, Hockwood Games

MSL Group ME Founded: 2001 Holding company: Publicis Groupe CEO: Ajit Ramaswami SPECIALISMS: Corporate communications; crisis management; strategic media relations; consumer & influencer management; public affairs KEY CLIENTS: Samsung, Procter & Gamble, du, VFS

Plus 1 Communications Founded: 2013 (London); 2015 (Dubai); 2015 (Mumbai) Offices: London (HQ), Dubai, Mumbai, Windsor Heads of company: Ricky Ghai (chairman), Anna Hope (managing director, Middle East)

PEPO Event Management Founded: 2015 Head of company: Madhu Kuttat

SPECIALISMS: PR; content creation; creative design; social media

SPECIALISMS: Corporate & themed events; meetings & conferences; organising exhibitions; artist management

KEY CLIENTS: Bloom Education, Cognita, Waterfront Market, Sole DXB, Dubai Active/Dubai Muscle

KEY CLIENTS: King’s College Hospital London, American Hospital, Dubai London Hospital, Sharjah Ladies Club, Air Arabia, Unilever, IKEA Middle East


Founded: 1984 Regional offices: Dubai, Doha, Riyadh, Jeddah, Manama, Kuwait City, Beirut, Cairo, Tunis, Amman, Baghdad (Affiliates: Morocco, Oman) Holding group: WPP Heads of company: David Fox, CEO; Ashraf Shakah, Regional Director PR Memac Ogilvy launched in Bahrain back in 1984. Today, it’s part of the world’s most successful creative network. Memac Ogilvy is a five-business modern marketing partner for social, cultural, and economic growth throughout MENA. With fully-fledged offices in 10 markets, it offers PR, consulting, advertising, experience, and health & wellness solutions for a range of ambitious

public and private sector partners. With more than 100 PR practitioners across the region, Memac Ogilvy utilises its connected culture of people, expertise, and creativity to drive disproportionate impact for its clients, supporting public and private sector entities at the forefront of the region’s transformation. SPECIALISMS: Brand, consumer, and corporate strategic communications; integrated creative content and storytelling; digital and data-driven consumer and B2B influence; brand resilience and protection; behavioural communications and citizen engagement.

David Fox

Chief Executive Officer MENA

Ashraf Shakah

Ghassan Maraqa

Chief Financial Officer, Chief Operations Officer

Joe Lipscombe

Regional Director, Public Relations

Regional Director, Content and Strategy, Public Relations

Sarah Edwards

Saad Abu Touq

KEY CLIENTS: Royal Commission for Riyadh City, Qatar Foundation, Arab Bank, Majid Al Futtaim, Qatar Tourism, beIN Media Group, STC, GEMS Education, Jaguar Land Rover. AWARDS: Cannes 2022 Network of the Year and most awarded creative network on the planet 2022.

Business Director, Public Relations

Business Director, Public Relations


August 29, 2022

Pop Communications

Prism Marketing Management

Founded: August 2017 Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Sarah Curtis & Zainab Imichi Alhassan Alli

Founded: 2007 Offices: Dubai, India, Canada Head of company: Lovetto Nazareth +971 4 332 0808 +971 55 850 0095

SPECIALISMS: Public relations; influencer marketing; social media management; events; performance marketing KEY CLIENTS: ACCUMED, Santechture, Wingstop, Hey Marly, Watermelon Market

Prism is a 360-degree digital marketing agency in Dubai, and public relations agency in the UAE. We are specialists in digital marketing and creating digital experiences for our partners and the brands they work with. Rated as one of the top three digital marketing agencies in the region, Prism is a leading e-commerce consulting and advisory firm in the Middle East, having more than 40 e-commerce clients from the region. We are award-winning specialists in turning prospects into customers and customers into friends.

Prestidge Group Founded: 2017 Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in New York, London and Riyadh (in collaboration with Shades House) Head of company: Briar Prestidge +971 54 464 6422 SPECIALISMS: Personal brand conceptualisation and management; public relations; social media management; ghostwriting; content creation; speaker relations; podcast and video production

SPECIALISMS: PR & advertising; lead generation (PPC display and programmatic campaigns); digital marketing (SEO, social media, content marketing blogging, content creation); brand and graphic design (integrated branding exercises); website/mobile app design; social media management and content production

Q Communications Founded: 2010 Offices: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Manchester Heads of company: Elsa Roodt, Katie Harvey SPECIALISMS: Public relations; social media management; content creation, including videography and photography; influencer marketing; digital marketing KEY CLIENTS: Rotana Hotel Group, Aldar, Soneva, Tourism Ireland, Repton Family of Schools


Regional headquarters: Dubai +971 4 332 3308 Together we create change that matters. We are a global, award-winning public relations agency that helps companies create change that matters. Change that earns attention and showcases the power of collaboration. Three values permeate our work: We discover powerful human truths that bind us. We create with bravery and integrity. We collaborate obsessively and inclusively. In doing so, we make the best work of our lives, together with powerful earned-first, culturally relevant creative.

Mazen Jawad

Yiannis Vafeas

CEO Horizon Holdings

Vice President, Golin MENA

SPECIALISMS: Content creation & production; corporate & brand storytelling; corporate reputation; crisis & issues management; DE&I counsel; digital strategy; employee engagement; executive visibility; media relations; media training; influencer marketing; public affairs; research, data & analytics; social media; social purpose KEY CLIENTS: INVESTOPIA/UAE Ministry of Economy, OSN, LEGO, Alserkal, Al Ahli Bank, The Access Bank UK, COLLINSON, SADAFCO, IFFCO, HUAWEI, SAS, Kaspersky, AVAYA, Logitech, Juniper, ANKER Innovations, Kyndryl, Finastra,, SEARA, Al Ghandi Auto Group, Thakher Makkah, Saudi Design Festival, Inter Emirates Motors AWARDS: PR Week Global Agency of the Year 2019, 2020, 2021

Yasmin Adem

Joshua Mathias

Group Director, Golin MENA

Director of Technology and Digital, Golin MENA




August 29, 2022


Founded: 2001 Head of company: Dany Naaman, CEO Headquartered: Dubai +971 4 455 6702 (Carlos Nadal, new business) (Tanya Kassab, marketing and press) Established in 2001 with its regional HQ in Dubai, Red Havas Middle East provides clients a fully integrated public relations offering, including social, digital PR and influencer relations. While it has long been known as the region’s premier luxury, fashion, beauty and lifestyle agency, Red Havas expanded its portfolio to include a diverse set of clients that range from insurance, government, finance, tech and retail to oil and gas, environmental, FMCG, F&B and hospitality brands.

Dana Tahir

Rishi Talwalker

General Manager

Communications Director Strategy & Growth

Mathilde Montel

Razan Karim

Sr. Communications Director Corporate

Sr. Communications Director Fashion, Lifestyle & Hospitality

SERVICES: PR; social & digital content; corporate communications incl. ESG, strategy, leadership profiling, crisis management; experiential; influencer marketing AWARDS: PR Agency of the Year 2021 & 1x Gold Lisbon International Advertising Festival; 9x MEPRA 2021; 2x Grand Prix The One Show Asia 202; 1x Gold London International Awards 2021; 1x Gold Clio Sports 2021; #2 Agency of the Year, #2 Network of the Year & 2x Bronze Dubai Lynx 2022; Silver as Network of the Year MEA Campaign Agency of the Year 2022; Finalist/Merit The One Show 2022


Communications director strategy & growth, Red Havas Middle East



WHAT IS PR’S NICHE IN THE WIDER BRAND COMMUNICATIONS ECOSYSTEM? It is an exciting time to be in the agency business, for sure. From being discipline-

Rusty Beukes Creative Director

resourced as a much leaner function in comparison to its more traditional marketing counterparts. The budgets assigned to PR don’t reflect the complexity of the matters it is tasked with solving, which consequently affects resourcing and outcomes. This is a more long-term, systemic issue that the PR industry, marketers and business leaders need to work together to solve.


Technology has had a profound impact on everything. The most significant impact it has had on PR is transforming its key elements: content, audience experience and measurement, through the automation of content creation; digitisation of audience engagement; accessibility to data and insight tools; and on the measurement of success. AI and machine learning have reduced the turnaround time for comprehensively researched first drafts of written content, and apps can now deliver slick video content. Social media platforms have brought brands closer and made them more accountable to their audience. Measurement across platforms is easier, more consistent and can track audience sentiment in real time.

Nermeen Salama Communications Director Beauty & Wellbeing

focused in the early days, marketers have now become more audience-focused. At Red Havas, we believe in merged-media experiences. Brands need to communicate consistently across all touchpoints, and that’s why a strong foundation in the fundamental tenets of communications – messaging, tonality and credibility – are key.


PR has evolved but its hybrid avatar isn’t well understood. The function goes far beyond one specialised area, such as media relations. Its role in organisations runs across departments and areas of impact. It can build bridges between companies and all their audiences. However, it is still

I think innovation is everywhere in PR and communications today. There is virtually no area in the discipline that hasn’t been touched by digitisation. But also, it is the discipline that is on the frontline of the evolution in culture, often having to navigate several nuances to ensure that an organisation’s message and business strategy are relevant in a world that is changing faster than ever before. To that end, I think the innovations in content creation and the real-time measurement of audience sentiment (and company reputation) are the ones that I value the most.


Include your communications team in the process. Invest in hiring the right talent and empower them to shape critical business policies which can affect reputation. These are essential to transforming organisations into responsive, customer-centric entities in the age of digitisation. And give the process the patience and persistence required to truly build something meaningful.


August 29, 2022

Qraft Qommunications

Raee Public Relations

Founded: 2019 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Nina Shibly Chamilian

Founded: 2003 Headquartered: Dubai

SPECIALISMS: Media relations; influencer marketing; PR stunts; events; ad campaigns

47 +971 4 450 6870

SPECIALISMS: Strategic PR consultancy; media relations; reputation management; blogger engagements; crisis management; media training; corporate social responsibility.

KEY CLIENTS: Ferrero Gulf, L’Oreal Group, Swarovski, Danone Group, Johnson & Johnson Consumer Health

Quill Communications

Redhill Communications

Founded: 2010 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Maan Abou Dargham, owner +971 4 439 0490

Founded: 2014 (Abu Dhabi 2020) Regional headquarters: Abu Dhabi Global HQ: Singapore Holding Group: Redhill World Heads of company: Jacob Joseph Puthenparambil, CEO, Anit Kurian, managing director, MEA

SPECIALISMS: Public relations; social media management; event management; digital advertising; creative design

SPECIALISMS: Public relations; corporate communications; marketing communications; creative & design; integrated campaigns

Founded: 2007 Headquartered: Dubai Regional Offices: Riyadh, Jeddah, Doha Head of company: Steven Hetzer +971 4 552 0565


sweetwater is an integrated agency creating moments across the advertising, live and hype spaces. Disruption is our primary tool to make impact in the market; and we bring it everywhere we go. We’ll go anywhere and do anything to make your brand heard, from leading strategy to making digital activations and content, to implementing on-ground, and everything in between. We’re a one-stop partner to lead your creativity and execution in the right direction, and to do both to a standard that puts you above.

Steven Hetzer

Tom Gray

CEO & Founder


SERVICES: Experiential marketing & brand experiences; live events; creative design & brand development; conferences & exhibitions; social media/digital & content marketing; retail engagement; PR & culture marketing; sponsorship activation; media research & strategy KEY CLIENTS: adidas Group, Mashreq Bank, Google, Pernod Ricard Group, Omniyat, Netflix AWARDS WON: Dubai Lynx, MEEA (Middle East Event Awards), Top 20 integrated campaigns of the year 2021

Usman Saleemi Head of Creative



August 29, 2022

to being a proud contributor to Abu Dhabi’s growth and the UAE economy.

Founded: 2001 Headquartered: Abu Dhabi Parent company: Multiply Group CEO: Ammar Sharaf +971 2 644 9444 Viola Communications is a wellestablished and fast-growing UAEbased investment group specialising in providing fully integrated marketing and communications solutions to national and regional firms with our head office in Abu Dhabi and other offices in Dubai and Cairo. As a long-standing Abu Dhabi-based group and a leader in the marketing communications sector in the region, Viola Communications is committed

SPECIALISMS: Integrated marketing and communications; event conceptualisation; event design; event production; event management; media relations and strategic communications; crisis management; creative content creation; internal and corporate communications; government relations



Ola El Sissy

Fady Jan

Chief Commercial Officer

Chief Creative Officer

Tala Abu Taha

Michail Panagiotakis

PR Director

Events Director

KEY CLIENTS: DCD, MOPA, AD Global Market, Emirates Foundation, Q Holding, Dubai Holding Asset Management, IHC, Masdar City, ADDA, ITC, Red Crescent, EAD, National Archives, ADQ, ADSSE G42, AD Municipality AWARDS: 2018 Middle East Events Awards – Best consumer exhibition over 10,000sqm; 2018 Gold Winner – Middle East & North Africa Shopping Centre and Retailer awards; 2019 WOW Award winners – 1 gold award and 3 bronze awards; 2019 A’ Design Award & Competition – 2 Iron Award winners – A’ Design Awards in Event and Happening Design Category; 2020 Middle East Events Awards – Best Social Event Abu Dhabi Science Festival & Innovator 2019

Reham El Ezaby

Shereen Kabil

Client Services Director

Senior Events Account Manager


VIOLA COMMUNICATIONS CREATES A DYNAMIC PARTNERSHIP TO LAUNCH REEM HILLS LUXURY VILLA DEVELOPMENT Viola’s Events and PR divisions combined their skills to create a unique experience for invitees to the specialised launch of Reem Hills, the luxury gated community on Reem Island billed as the destination of choice for high net worth homebuyers in the capital. The event brief was to emulate the unique masterplan design of the Reem Hills’ layout resembling a winding ribbon of hillside homes nestling between the city and the sea. Viola was inspired to create an event that technologically reflected the uniqueness and flexibility of such an unusual development that was suitable for a target audience of VVIPs, VIPs and C-suite senior management. For this event, the overall concept was ‘touchless’, in that while restrictions were beginning to ease in a post-Covid world, certain precautions were still important in order to prevent a return of pandemic circumstances. Viola created a touchless ring sensor that not only allowed the event to proceed, but also generated an impact among audience

members. Achieving non-tactile functions gave a real-world twist to the reveal and launch of Reem Hills, highlighting its futuristic qualities. At the same time, giant video screens surrounding the audience depicted imagery that featured design elements of the development, and was in turn synchronised with choreographed dancers, creating a dynamic piece of entertainment that was constantly interacting with the screens’ displays. Viola PR added extra support to the event by creating PR content that included pre-event support, VIP invitations, launch release, post-event and follow-up content for interviews and feature articles, supported by a burst of social media posts. This also involved creating the narrative and key messages development, securing media outlets to cover the event eliciting more than 32 news articles of coverage in both English and Arabic with a reach of around 2.8 million, and providing onground support during the event.



August 29, 2022

Red Peg Middle East

S Factor Agency

Founded: 2018 Regional offices: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Beirut Ownership: Subsidiary of W Group, a company owned by W Ventures Holding Managing Director: Ghada El-Kari +971 4 390 2293 +971 55 508 5381

Founded: 2019 Head of company: Sharon Fernandes

We are the creators of extraordinary experiences that delight inspire, and instantly make an impact. Fiercely independent from the US since 1995, we are a full-service award-winning experiential marketing agency, specialised in the design and execution of brand-engagement experiences, establishing meaningful and relevant relationships between brands and their audiences through measurable ROI and KPIs. We ensure that fleeting moments become long-lasting memories, which resonate with our clients and their audiences. RedPeg Middle East covers the MENA region through its headquarters in Dubai with offices in Abu Dhabi and Beirut, along with its strategic partner RedPeg Marketing in Washington DC. SPECIALISMS: Experiential marketing; event management; content creation; creative concept; strategic planning and brand strategy; scenic production; sponsorship management; retail and in-store planning; PR & social media management; website & app development; consumer research and ROI measurement; talent & influencer management; photo/video shooting; venue management; brand engagement

SPECIALISMS: Media relations; content development; digital; product launches and events; brand-building KEY CLIENTS: Indigo Living, Nexthink, Levtech, Futures Abroad

Shadani Consulting Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Dubai, with affiliate agencies in Saudi Arabia Head of company: Zaib Shadani, founder & managing director; +971 50 911 6138 SPECIALISMS: PR outreach and strategic planning; events (including press conferences, product launches, etc.); content creation and copywriting; media interviews, features and in-depth profiling; crisis communication; reputation management; influencer activations and engagement; training through The Comms Room sister company; video production

Revelation Consultancy Founded: 2016 Headquartered: Dubai, with affiliates in the GCC and MENA, partnering a global agency covering all international geographies Head of company: Urvashi Kadam. +971 50 357 0206 SPECIALISMS: Reputation management; PR strategy and outreach; crisis management; CSR; influencer marketing

Revolve Communications

Shakespeare Communications Founded: 2014 Headquartered: Dubai Founder: Ananda Shakespeare SPECIALISMS: Public relations; media relations; strategy; content and branding; sustainability; innovation; vegan FMCG; hospitality and travel

Social Shop by Aurora

Founded: 2022 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Ryadh Kaddour, founder & CEO

Founded: 2015 Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Annie Meikle, Iona Al Suwaidi

SPECIALISMS: PR; social media management; production; branding; events

SPECIALISMS: B2B/corporate social media management and content creation; thought leadership; executive positioning; digital PR

KEY CLIENTS: Juana Skin, Skin Story, Amazigh Restaurant, Bymystique, YazJewels, Fyne Jewellery

The Romans Founded: 2015 Headquartered: London, with regional office in Dubai Heads of company: Joe Mackay-Sinclair, CEO & founder; Alexandra Dewar, partner & head of Dubai office SPECIALISMS: Creative PR; innovative, impactful storytelling; earned media campaigns; diversity & inclusion KEY CLIENTS: Etihad, Snap Inc., Costa,Unilever, WWE

KEY CLIENTS: Oracle Cerner Middle East and Africa, The RoyalJet Group, Pangaea X, Moorfields Eye Hospitals UAE, Fujifilm Healthcare

Sociate Communications Founded: 2015 Headquartered: Dubai, with a branch in the UK Head of company: Rosa Bullock SPECIALISMS: PR; blogger/influencer activations; social media management and advertising; content creation (photography and videography); copywriting and arabic support


August 29, 2022

Spread Communications

Story Public Relations

Founded: 2014 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Shamim Kassibawi +971 4 551 7285

Founded: 2018 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Laetitia Tregoning, owner +971 56 724 2154

SPECIALISMS: Corporate PR; healthcare PR; B2B PR; personality profiling

SPECIALISMS: Extraordinary individuals; design & culture; luxury hospitality (senior advisory, thought leadership, CEO communications, brand development, strategic partnerships)

Tales & Heads Founded: 2021 Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Margaret Flanagan, Lisa King SPECIALISMS: Strategic communications consultancy and creative storytelling KEY CLIENTS: Chalhoub Group, Jumeirah Group, NBCUniversal, Stellantis, Viatris

TishTash Founded: 2012 Headquartered: Dubai, with offices in Riyadh and UK Head of company: Natasha Hatherall, founder and CEO SPECIALISMS: Traditional PR; influencer engagement; events; digital marketing; social media marketing KEY CLIENTS: Watsons, Asics, The Body Shop, Bath & Body Works, Kibsons

Tell It Founded: 2013 Offices: Dubai, Beirut Head of company: Dalia Ghawi SPECIALISMS: Digital marketing; PR; events; content development; integrated marketing communication.

Spiro Founded: 2022 (GES Collective founded in 1939) Ownership: Viad Corp Global president: Jeff Stelmach Spiro ME Offices: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Riyadh +971 4 885 9336 Spiro is the brand experience agency for the NEW NOW™. Part of the GES Collective, Spiro came from the legacy of GES’ marketing experts and meets the changing needs of brand marketers. The world and consumer behaviour have changed – and so must the way we design experiences. Today’s events, whether in-person, digital, hybrid or omnichannel, offer people many ways to interact. It’s ARL™ – All Real Life. We build brand experiences that seamlessly connect, foster long-lasting communities, and engage people regardless of the time, place, space, or medium where our clients’ customers participate. Whenever and wherever your ‘there’ is, Spiro is, too. SPECIALISMS: Experience design; martech; content creation; event production; product launches; pop-ups, conferences and events; roadshows and tours; environments and permanent installations; brand and platform strategy; measurement; brand experiences; digital, hybrid/ virtual; marketing AWARDS: AEO, Hermes, Event Production Awards, MESE, EN, Event Marketer It List, Event Marketer Ex-Awards, World Exhibition Stand Awards

Toh PR Founded: 2011 Headquartered: Dubai Holding group: PRCO Head of company: Sophie Toh +971 4 382 8900 SPECIALISMS: Consumer brand building; collaborations and partnerships; media and influencer relations; event management; photography and digital content generation

TRACCS Founded: 1998 Headquartered: Riyadh; network offices in Jeddah, Dubai, Kuwait, Muscat, Manama, Doha, Cairo, Beirut, and Amman; affiliate offices in Casablanca, Istanbul, Tunis, and Algiers Head of company: Mohamed Al Ayed, president & CEO SPECIALISMS: Strategic advisory; media engagement; content development; crisis management; CSR; digital; Enrich (communications training); internal communications KEY CLIENTS: Public Investment Fund (PIF) of Saudi Arabia, Toyota Motor Corporation, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, Saudi Arabian Airlines, DHL, National Bank of Bahrain, Amouage, Boursa Kuwait, Leonardo, Sipchem and UNICEF

Via Media Dubai Founded: Internationally 1997, UAE 2017 Heads of company: Medina Beganovic, Vesna Beganovic SPECIALISMS: Experiential; creative; digital; strategy




August 29, 2022

W7 Worldwide

White Label Media

Co-founders: Abdullah Inayat, Abdulrahman Inayat +966 12 661 4579 +966 56 720 1039

Founded: 2013 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Shraddha Barot Amariei

W7Worldwide is an award-winning independent marketing communications consultancy that has established itself as a prominent agency in Saudi Arabia. Our understanding of the local market combined with our global reach and knowledge gives us the edge and unique ability to bridge our clients with their audiences. Communicating effectively with audiences has become essential for the survival of brands the world over and we utilise our local insight of the market as an innovative solution to this concern. We have extensive national and international experience in the technology, healthcare, government, corporate, consumer, and entertainment sectors and their various subdivisions. SPECIALISMS: Corporate communications and reputation management; crisis management; stakeholder mapping & engagement; media outreach & media relations; research & data analytics; executive positioning; public affairs; brand solutions

SPECIALISMS: PR & marketing; launches & events; brand development & strategy; influencer marketing; digital marketing KEY CLIENTS: Bombay Bungalow, Ibn AL Bahr, Blue (Blackspoon), China Bistro, Art of Dum, India Bistro (Foodlink), Caya, Gia , Social House (AAENT), Saddle, NICOLI and Rolldxb

Yugen PR and Events Founded: 2007 Headquartered: Dubai Heads of company: Josh Yugen, Ian Borromeo SPECIALISMS: Luxury PR; social media; digital marketing; events; celebrity/ influencer management KEY CLIENTS: Amato Couture, Smile Train, Miss Universe, UNHCR’S Aiming Higher with XPEDITION Talks, Arabia’s Next Top Model

Watermelon Communications Founded: 2001 Head of company: Madhu Kuttat SPECIALISMS: Press release distribution MENA; crisis communication & management; performance marketing; media relations; content creation and production KEY CLIENTS: Hitachi Energy, ZOHO, Aster DM Healthcare, Hotpack Global, TCL Electronics, Conares, Fashinza

Yardstick Marketing Management Founded: 2012 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Anishkaa Gehani +971 4 351 8584 SPECIALISMS: Public relations; influencer marketing; advertising; media buying and planning; social media; digital marketing KEY CLIENTS: Cambridge, Abicalçados, Jabra, Aster Group, QNA International, Al Rostamani Communications

Weber Shandwick MENAT Founded: 1983 CEO: Ziad Hasbani SPECIALISMS: Corporate reputation; banking and financial services; consumer marketing; government communications; integrated communications

Z7 Communications Founded: 2007 Headquartered: Dubai Head of company: Zeina El Dana, founder & CEO SPECIALISMS: Brand communications; talent and influencer engagement; events & experimental; digital & social strategy; content creation KEY CLIENTS: Brunello Cucinelli, COTY Prestige, Kering Eyewear, SLS Dubai, Infiniti Middle East

White Water Public Relations Founded: 2008 Headquartered: Dubai, with affiliates across the globe Head of company: Prem Ramachandran +971 50 453 7253 SPECIALISMS: Communication strategy for expos; strategic communications; media training; CEO positioning; social media communications; launch campaigns; event conceptualisation

Zia Creative Network Founded: 2009 Head of agency: Waseem Yakdi, CEO & co-founder Offices: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Halifax SPECIALISMS: Advertising and marketing; video and audio production; 2D and 3D animation; creative photography; PR & events KEY CLIENTS: DP World, Dubai Police, DWTC, Abu Dhabi Pension, Ministry of Interior

August 29, 2022


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

TARIQ AL SHARABI Managing Director of Cicero & Bernay Communication Consultancy

HOW MANY ANTS DOES IT TAKE TO TOPPLE AN ELEPHANT? None, if the elephant gets tired and just falls over.

When a company penetrates pop culture enough to enjoy the gifts of a meme, it has one of two paths: either getting stronger by consolidating and gradually expanding its service or crippling under pressure to deliver and increasing prices to justify the deluge of offering that is more miss than hit. Guess which path Netflix took. Over the past decade, Netflix has done much to cement its reign over streaming platforms, presenting customers with an entertainment proposition that far surpassed its asking price and reaching almost every corner of the Earth. Things may have looked like they could not go wrong, but as the adage goes, no king rules forever. Distributors and media companies that once were happy to have their content enjoy the reach that Netflix offered them took down some notes. They started subscription services of their own or demanded more from Netflix to keep their top-rated shows and movies on the service. To counter these measures, Netflix started doubling down on original content that would never leave the service, but with a massive caveat: quality was not the criterion. The goal was to populate the service with as much content as possible, and if the occasional gem sprouts (Squid Game), then all the merrier. Ultimately, the service still has a major advantage over the competition with its global presence and localised content, but if I am not watching anything on offer, shouldn’t I just let my Netflix subscription chill?





Heroism rewarded

The Scrolling Dead

What’s the best way to promote your service offering? Associate yourself with a global event of exponential proportions. With the FIFA World Cup around the corner, and much of the world unfamiliar with the hosting nation’s mother tongue, Ling, a Thai language learning app, is offering full access to its premium Arabic course with a new unit specially designed for football fans.

Doing good is its own reward, and with digital media being in everyone’s hands, wholesome moments of goodwill are easier to capture and celebrate. Earlier this month, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan posted a video of a Talabat rider clearing the road of hazardous bricks to help prevent accidents. The result was a further consolidation of the role of social media in bringing people together.

TikTok is no stranger to questionable viral content, but when videos started popping up on the service claiming the existence of zombies, you’d think the world would laugh it off and move on. Think again. The internet is getting populated with users sharing their fears and concerns over the story. People need to spend less time on social media and more time researching.


August 29, 2022





Google delays death of cookies Ramsey Naja is regional executive creative director at DDB Middle East. @geminisnake

like to think of myself as a good, loving parent. And, like all good, loving parents, I value the time I spend with my children. However, as the lockdown – and the long summer school holidays – taught us, there is such a thing as excessive presence, not to mention relentless, uninterrupted need for attention, love and tiresome treasure hunts. Loving parent or not, there comes a time when the urge to shout “bugger off and leave me alone” becomes too hard to resist. Which brings us neatly to advertising. For some strange reason, nobody in advertising seems to have learned much from parenting – or from being irritatingly demanding children – because, had we done so, the concept of “always on” would have never seen the light of day. The blurb describing “always on” invariably raves about “the need to engage with meaningful content at all times”, “consistent availability”, and let’s not forget the marketing equivalent of the holy grail: “optimisation!” Distil this through a vested interest alembic and what you get is, basically, FOMO – which, incidentally, happens to be the most irritating thing for parents to deal with. “Always on”, in other words, is not a strategy. If it were, it would be a strategy created by fear, which is arguably the worst kind of strategy since Napoleon thought that winning on two fronts would be an exciting KPI. At best, “always on” is a desire, a plea for attention and unlimited wifi. At worst, it is the opposite of “ffs turn it off !” – which is exactly what consumers are saying, faced as they are with an endless stream of calls to action, product news and – how can I put it? – consistentlyoptimisedmeaningfulcontentavailableatalltimes. Take a step back and look at the big picture and the extent of the damage becomes painfully clear: advertising used to have the power to set the cultural agenda. That’s frankly because it was occasional, limited, constrained – and expensive. Quality was not a by-product; it was a commercial imperative. But now that the media it rides upon is cheap – worse, cheapened – and, sadly, “always on”, it has become quantity. Quantity as in excess. Quantity as in garbage dump. Quantity as in never-mind-what-we say-as-long-aswe-don’t-stop-talking. In any normal situation, it would be a recipe for social oblivion. In real-life marketing, it is suicide. In 2019, a critical report by a research company in the US warned that ad agencies faced an “existential need for change”. But the change it called for ran exactly opposite to the kind of change the industry had been barking about. Instead of investing in quality time, the industry went for 24/7. Instead of learning from the past, we agonised about being relevant around the clock. And instead of being good parents, we acted like spoilt brats.

Motivate Media Group Head Office: 34th Floor, Media One Tower, Dubai Media City, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +971 4 427 3000, Fax: +971 4 428 2266, 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: +97126573401, Email: SAUDI ARABIA: Office 452, Regus Offices, 4th Floor, Al Hamad Tower, King Fahad Road, Al Olaya, PO.Box 12381, Riyadh 6764, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Tel: +966 11 834 3595 / +966 11 834 3596 Fax: +966 11 8343501 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 Web Reporter Ishwari Khatu DESIGN Art Director Clarkwin Cruz 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 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.

Google has once again announced that it will delay ending third-party cookies in advertising, pushing back the deadline to 2024. The tech giant explained its decision in a blog post, saying it received feedback that the industry has asked for a longer time to test Google’s new Privacy Sandbox technologies. “By Q3 2023, we expect the Privacy Sandbox APIs [application programming interfaces] to be launched and generally available in Chrome. As developers adopt these APIs, we now intend to begin phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome in the second half of 2024,” said Anthony Chavez, vice-president of Privacy Sandbox. Demand-side platform The Trade Desk reemphasised that Google’s timetable for cookie deprecation is likely to slide because Google understands the value exchange of the internet and cannot afford to disrupt that without a viable alternative in place. “Brands and advertisers should continue their momentum on their first-party data strategy. Secondly, today, advertisers are under pressure to prove the ROI of every advertising dollar,” said Mitch Waters, senior vice-president for Southeast Asia, India, Australia and New Zealand at The Trade Desk. “As an industry, we are developing new approaches to identity that help advertisers manage reach, frequency, data and privacy across all advertising channels – in ways that will represent a significant upgrade for the internet. This delay will give stakeholders across the industry more time to scale privacyconscious approaches to addressability that provide long-lasting benefits. Joshua Wilson, commercial director for Japan and Asia Pacific at Crimtan, noted that over the past few years Google has gone from FloC to Topics to Privacy Sandbox, so it is no surprise that the industry “is not prepared”. When Apple removed third party cookies, the impact on brands, especially those where the majority of their audience were on Safari, was significant. Since then, the industry has evolved and there is less reliance on third party cookies now.

August 29, 2022


Magic words


o you feel magic in the air? I do. Because I’ve fallen down one of those rabbit holes that men of a certain age disappear into from time to time. For some it’s Harley Davidsons. For others it’s model trains. Some men become experts on obscure military history or smoking meat. I seem to have taken a mid-life interest in conjuring. So far I can’t do much more than fail to find the card you first thought of, but I’ve been reading up on my new hobby. If you’re interested in how to explain the inexplicable, a little obsessive and have a taste for esoteric knowledge I’d recommend delving into the massive canon of magic books, even if – like me – you don’t know your in-jog from your double lift. I’ve been finding out about everything from 1900s card-sharking tricks to punch a coin through a glass bottle (my doctor says most of the scarring will heal in time). I also read a book on mental magic and mentalism called, appropriately, Tricks of the Mind, by UK magician Derren Brown. It covers everything from how to remember shopping lists to a diatribe against pseudo-psychics who fleece people by pretending to connect them to late relatives ‘on the other side’. He also talks about hypnotism. Brown doesn’t believe that hypnosis induces a truly altered state, but that it simply plays on our willingness to succumb to suggestion. A lot of the time people who are hypnotised really want to be hypnotised. At other times it doesn’t work. Which is why mesmerists sometimes have to ask their subjects for help, particularly if they have an audience. Brown tells the story of one stage hypnotist who wasn’t having much luck sending people under during one of his shows. So he asked the most flamboyant of his audience members who had been asked to participate to “play along and I’ll give you £50 after the show”. The man agreed and spent the next half hour forgetting his name, eating an onion he thought was an apple and believing he was invisible. The audience loved it and the show was a success. At the end of his act, the hypnotist sent the man back to his seat, clicked

his fingers and told him to sleep. The man obliged. Then the hypnotist said: “In a moment you will awake, and all the effects of this evening’s hypnosis will be gone. But you will believe that I owe you £50. No matter how much I or your friends tell you I don’t, you won’t believe them. And… wakey wakey.” Hypnosis and card tricks and other forms of magic are all about the impression they leave. Just like Editor marketing, not least PR and events. The end is often more important than the means. And a little smoke and @maustyn mirrors is OK – if (and it’s a big if) the audience wants to believe. This issue has a particular focus on PR and events, and there’s a directory of more than 100 companies offering a lot of communications and marketing services. Too often, PR agencies are perceived merely as vehicles to send out press releases to media and freebies to influencers. Too often, events companies are asked to host a standard conference, a buffet and some light entertainment. There’s plenty of call for these services, and a lot of the time they are exactly what is needed. But it’s worth asking what your audience wants, and perhaps putting on a little more of a show. There’s more than one way to communicate, and the companies within these pages know an awful lot of tricks – look at the specialisms and services they all offer. Next time you brief your agency, ask about what else your partner might be able to pull out of their hat.


Don’t tell clients to be brave I



Dave Trott is the author of The Power of Ignorance, Creative Blindness and How to Cure It, Creative Mischief, Predatory Thinking and One Plus One Equals Three

n 1854, the British and French were fighting the Russians in the Crimean War. The Light Brigade was led by Lord Cardigan. They were lined up in formation, waiting impatiently for orders. At the other end of the valley, over a mile away, were 50 Russian cannons. On a hill above, Lord Raglan was in overall command. He could see some Russian troops towing away a few guns they’d just captured. He wanted the Light Brigade to go and stop them towing the guns away. He wrote the order and handed it to Captain Nolan to deliver to Lord Cardigan. The message said: “Lord Raglan wishes the cavalry to advance rapidly to the front, follow the enemy, and try to prevent the enemy carrying away the guns. Troop horse artillery may accompany. French cavalry is on your left. Immediate.” But in the valley, Lord Cardigan couldn’t see the Russians towing the guns away. When he asked Captain Nolan “What guns?”, Nolan just gestured down the valley. All Lord Cardigan could see was the 50 cannons at the end of the valley. And so far as he was concerned, he’d just been ordered to attack these, which he did. The charge was incredibly brave

– 600 of the finest cavalry, with nothing but swords and lances, charged straight into the mouths of 50 cannons and were slaughtered. A French general observing the charge commented: “C’est magnifique, mais ce n’est pas la guerre. C’est de la folie.” (“It is magnificent, but it is not war. It is madness.”) It was brave, but it was a massacre; it had no chance of succeeding. It was brave just for the sake of being brave. This is my problem when agencies show a client “brave” work, when agencies ask a client to be “brave”. It sounds like being brave for the sake of being brave, not because it’s the smart thing to do. The highest award for bravery is the Victoria Cross. It’s awarded for “The most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice.” So the general understanding of “bravery” is being scared stiff but doing it anyway. What possible incentive is it to tell a client to run the ad even though they’re scared stiff? What does bravery have to do with anything in our business? What we should be doing is: smart, clever, audacious, unexpected, creative – all these words are concerned with business

advantage. Bravery has nothing to do with business advantage; quite the reverse. The Victoria Cross associates bravery with self-sacrifice: that’s exactly the opposite of what we should be recommending. First, a client needs to make sure they don’t jeopardise what they’ve got, and then they can concentrate on growing it. No responsible client would gamble everything on a “brave” risk, a self-sacrifice. And yet agencies consistently complain that clients aren’t buying “brave” work. This is mainly because Cannes, and other award schemes, applaud “brave” work. Work that wins the highest awards is held up as being “brave”. This is because the people on the jury confuse creativity with art, novelty, gimmicks etc. Therefore, people in ad agencies assume they should aim for “brave” work, rather than effective work. That’s why I think “brave” is a silly word. If I was a client, I’d be suspicious of anyone asking me to buy work because it was brave. I don’t think there’s any point in being brave for brave’s sake. I think the point is to get a result, and for that you require clever thinking – “brave” is irrelevant.


August 29, 2022

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HungerStation…“Clever spot and certainly evokes nostalgia.” (HD)

Yas Island…“Yas Island’s nod to the 90s is a generation-gap-bridger.” (MR)

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Home Box...“Nothing beats CSR campaigns, especially when directly relevant to our lives.” (HD)

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Honda...“It was pretty and automotive, but not emotive.” (MR)

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Beeah Group... “It seemed like someone trying hard to get included in as many award categories as possible.” (MR)

August 29, 2022




Partner at Deloitte Digital Middle East

Creative director at Fuse

HUNGER STATION: A WORLD NO ONE WANTS TO GO BACK TO (1) Clever spot and certainly evokes nostalgia. One thing I would be careful about is, whether the brand would be perceived to be mocking the blue collars serving us day in and day out, who are underprivileged in English and wisdom. I would have liked it more if the brand HungerStation was revealed only at the end, versus from the beginning. One situation I always suffered from is, after going through the painful hassle and time of choosing my order, the service person would tell me “Sorry, we don’t deliver to your area”. The other thing missing in this commercial is, what makes HungerStation so special versus Talabat, UberEats, etc. In my opinion, The USP was missing.

HUNGERSTATION: A WORLD NO ONE WANTS TO GO BACK TO (1) HungerStation’s light-humoured, memory-evoking, situation-heavy and colourful campaign delivered the message fast, hot, fresh and clear to all concerned. I cherish memories such as the human-phone menu reference and still share them with family and friends. But I think that using one character and their offspring to depict the passage of time would have allowed them to portray fewer situations and focus on the message more.

YAS ISLAND: YAS YAS BABY (2) Loved the video. Definitely relevant to me as the Vanilla Ice generation. I would have loved to, though, see how this concept was rolled out in an integrated manner, digitally, on the website and on the Yas Island premises. More important, did this video generate beyond edutainment, as in, did it yield the aspired ROI? HOMEBOX: THE HIDDEN ROOM (3) Nothing beats CSR campaigns, especially when directly relevant to our lives. I would love to see how many responses this campaign drove and how many human experiences have been evoked. HONDA: HR-V LAUNCH (4) Spare me the input, please. I’m not sure what I just watched. OEMs still have a long way to go to understand how to communicate new product launches. BEEAH GROUP: RACE FOR LIFE (5) A very clever piece of communication, yet my question is: How did this video create awareness amongst tourists and non-Emirati campers who don’t usually watch the camel races in person, on TV or online?

YAS ISLAND: YAS YAS BABY (2) Yas Island’s nod to the 90s is a generation-gap-bridger. Fun is fun regardless of age. Production values, art direction, wardrobe, dance and music, energy and characterisation captured the soul of the 90s, and framed the Yas Island attractions colourfully and vibrantly. The attractions needed to be titled so people could relate to the specific entertainment they enjoy on Yas Island. HOME BOX: THE HIDDEN ROOM (3) I love the insight. Home Box uncovered something we live with but are oblivious to, The Hidden Room. The approach was sensitive and functional, the story relevant to all targets. But, I wanted to have the decision-makers’ view, the homeowners’ view. Including their opinion on this awareness campaign, which would give it more credibility. HONDA: HR-V LAUNCH (4) Honda’s haute couture-inspired campaign featured pristine city settings, stunning wardrobe and insightful videography to argue an association between the lines of the new Honda HR-V with haute couture. It was pretty and automotive, but not emotive. Automotive is dynamically expressive, and a little more show of emotional interaction between car function and fashion design would have moved me towards buying vvinto the concept. BEEAH GROUP: RACE FOR LIFE (5) Although Beeah Group and Dubai Camel Racing’s intentions were good, the campaign tackling the dangerous effects of plastic pollution on camels was not. No tangible solutions or clear vision were communicated to tackle the issue. The setting was off; using the camel race to talk about the dangers of plastic pollution on camels’ wellbeing seemed hypocritical. The production values, style, storyline and sequencing were poor and confused. It seemed like someone trying hard to get included in as many award categories as possible. Maybe the budget allocated for this campaign could have been used better to clear plastic from designated desert areas.


Title: A World No One Wants To Go Back To Agency: Wunderman Thompson Riyadh

Yas Island

Title: Yas Yas Baby Agency: Momentum Dubai Production house: Dejavu Media buying: Initiative MENA PR agency: Four Communications

Home Box

Title: The Hidden Room Creative Agency: Leo Burnett Dubai Production house: Liwa Content Driven


Title: HRV Launch Creative agency: Dentsu Creative lead: Bassem Ainu Production house: AKA Media Producer: Nadya Tereshina Directors: Tejal Patni, Zubin Mistry Wardrobe: Michael Cinco

Beeah Group

Title: Race for Life Creative agency: Leo Burnett Dubai


August 29, 2022

The Spin The Spin loves a painfully bad dad-joke pun. So we have to take our hats off to the PR agency that sent a release titled: “Reasons to travel to Israel – ISRAEL IS- REALLY FUN!” Ouch. We weren’t sure that this Dubai Restaurant should really be “transporting you back to colonial India”. While we have no reason to question the tastiness of the food, the whole brutal servitude thing is probably not something anyone wants to revisit. It’s one thing to carry on doing a bit of voice-over work after retirement, but according to this UK headline, Bernard Cribbins continued even after he had retired from life. New York-based science writer Benjamin Ryan probably wishes he’d proofread his post on Twitter before he tweeted about the recent monkeypox outbreak. To his credit, when he realised his mistake he didn’t delete and deny but owned his error by tweeting: “I would once again like to apologize for inadvertently causing the entire global #monkeypox outbreak by typing too fast and leaving out a crucial consonant.”

Appointments Financial institution Mashreq has announced the appointment MUNA AL GHURAIR as its new group head of marketing and corporate communications. She brings more than 20 years of experience in communications, marketing, sales and business development with an outstanding track record with leading payments and financial institutions in the region. Saudi-based creative agency Phi has announced the promotion of RIEBAL HMAYDAN as its chief executive officer. In his previous role, he held position as the managing director of the agency.

He has more than two decades of experience in various agencies and media companies such as Ogilvy & Mather, Leo Burnett, Rotana Media Group, Creative Closets and more. Anghami has announced the appointment of RAMY AL-KADHI as the head of Anghami Studios. Moving on from his previous role as sales manager at Anghami, Al-Kadhi will head Anghami’s new music-oriented arm, Anghami Studios. In his new role, he will head the studio to leverage Anghami’s wealth of data, connection with talent and technology to create content for brands MullenLowe MENA has announced the appointment of OLIVER ROBINSON as executive

creative director. Robinson has worked for many digital agencies over the last 24 years including, D’ARCY, JWT London, BMP DDB Needham, and Campaign’s Digital Agency of Decade Dare Digital before moving to Dubai. In the region, he previously spent seven years at FP7 McCann, MullenLowe’s MCN sister agency, in the roles of senior creative director and executive creative director. Red Havas Middle East has appointed editor and creative consultant RUSTY BEUKES as its creative director. Beukes has built a strong reputation in

the region as acting editor-inchief of GQ Middle East and launch creative director of YUNG. The new role aims to expand Red Havas’ creative communications offering with a targeted focus on fashion, lifestyle and beauty. Independent agency YouExperience has announced the appointment of SACHIN BRIAN MENDONCA as its chief creative strategist. Mendonca has more than 15 years of experience working across disciplines including traditional advertising, shopper marketing, social and experiential. He has held previous roles with VMLY&R Commerce MENA and Leo Burnett MEA as strategy lead and strategy director respectively.

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