1 In September, the GCC section of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) published for the first time a study revealing the investment of digital ad spend in the region. The study found that the total digital ad spend in the MENA region in 2020 was $ 3.64 billion. Other findings include that the growth of social and video in the MENA region has led the region to overtake other more “mature” markets, even though the MENA region is still seen as an emerging digital advertising market. The IAB GCC study is one of the first to attempt to size program spending.
2 In February, Edmond Moutran, the founder of Memac Ogilvy, passed away. Moutran, born in 1944, joined Bahrain-based Intermarkets in 1973. In 1984 he left to set up his own agency, Middle East Marketing And Communications (Memac). In 1986, Memac affiliated with Ogilvy & Mather and in 1998 rebranded as Memac Ogilvy when the WPP-owned network took a minority stake. In 2014, Ogilvy took a controlling stake, but Moutran remained involved, not stepping down as CEO until 2017 to become executive chairman.
3 In July, Saudi Research & Media Group (SRMG) – which owns more than 30 major media outlets, including Asharq Al-Awsat, Asharq News and Arab News, and has a combined monthly reach of 165 million – announced a transformation strategy focused on platform expansion, international partnerships and strategic investments in five key verticals. In August, she announced the acquisition of a controlling 51% stake in the Arabic-language podcast platform Thmanyah, and in October, she launched a publishing arm, Raff Publishing.
4 In October, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook resumed their services after being down for more than six hours during a major outage. Reuters reported that Facebook blamed a flawed configuration change for the outage that prevented the company’s 3.5 billion users from accessing its social media and messaging services.
5 In November, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg introduced Meta, which brings together all of the company’s apps and technologies under a new corporate brand. Meta’s goal will be “to bring the Metaverse to life and help people connect, find communities and grow businesses,” the newly renamed company said in a statement.
6 In February, news broke that after 2024 Saudi Arabia would no longer allow its public sector to contract with foreign companies whose regional headquarters are not located in the kingdom.
seven In January, Publicis Groupe discussed a possible sale or transaction with a private equity investor. In March, the Publicis Groupe share price rose following further speculation on mergers and acquisitions, this time involving Vivendi, owner of Havas. Publicis Groupe shares rose 3% to around 52 euros, following a report that the group of advertising agencies had had discussions with Vivendi. In October, Publicis Groupe overtook Omnicom and WPP to become the world’s most valued agency group, having outperformed its two biggest rivals since the start of the pandemic. Publicis Groupe’s market value was over $ 16.3 billion. This compares to Omnicom, previously the largest agency group, with $ 15.1 billion and WPP with $ 15.4 billion.
8 In January, the Cannes Lions announced their plans to host the International Festival of Creativity of the Year at an in-person event in June. However, in April, amid lingering concerns about the safety of international travel and large-scale events during the coronavirus pandemic, Lions announced that Cannes Lions 2021 would be fully digital, under the name Cannes Lions Live.
9 In June, Cannes Lions announced all the winners of the 2021 awards. The MENA region collected gold, silver and bronze in different categories. The United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt received awards. MEMAC Ogilvy, Dubai won gold with Buy With Your Time for Ikea Live. Leo Burnett Beirut won gold for Baklava Got Legs for #Safetyforsafekeeper in Entertainment and Impact BBDO Dubai won gold with The New National Anthem Edition for A Nahar Journal on Brand Experience and Activation.
ten In November, at the annual Loeries Awards, held in Cape Town, South Africa, and celebrating the best work from Africa and the Middle East, the MENA region did well. Havas Middle East’s Liquid Billboard for Adidas won the Out-Of-Home Grand Prix, and the UAE media office’s work with MullenLowe and TBWA RAAD also won a number of awards. Other award-winning agencies in the Middle East and North Africa region included FP7 McCann and Serviceplan Middle East.
11 In June, the first global census of the diversity and inclusion of the advertising and marketing industry was launched. The World Federation of Advertisers organized the census, which was supported by VoxComm and EACA, representing agencies, Countryside, Kantar, Cannes Lions, Advertising Week and The Effies. The first results identified the main challenges regarding family status,
age and gender as well as ethnicity and disability. He found clear gaps in the lived experience when these groups were compared to the industry average, both in individual markets and globally.
12 In February, UAE-based communications heavyweights Margaret Flanagan and Lisa King announced the launch of their new agency, Tales & Heads. With a combination of 40 years of industry experience with global agencies in London and Dubai, the duo formed Tales & Heads to focus on strategic, knowledge-driven campaigns rooted in great ideas and working across all platforms.
13 In May, following the launch of Taa Marbouta – a unique mentoring program for women – PRCA MENA and Global Women in PR MENA called on men in the public relations and communications sector to adopt Taa Marbouta’s tenure. The four-point mandate describes the commitment of men to play their role in achieving program goals by addressing the career progression challenges women face in public relations.
14 In November, a consultancy dedicated solely to workplace culture was launched in the United Arab Emirates, founded by local entrepreneur sisters Lucy and Camilla d’Abo, as well as employee engagement expert John Hague. The new company, Together, “aims to inspire brands to make culture their superpower and transform organizations by bringing together leaders and employees to achieve an aligned, efficient and engaged workforce while meeting growing demands. of the future of work ”.
15 In September, we released the Countryside MENA Power List, a supplement where we offered heads – and only heads – of network agencies and holding companies, as well as major owners and media representatives, the opportunity to write an essay next to their profile . Everyone on the list was a man. This is a list of 17 talented men who wield power and influence in the brand communication industry, and no one has suggested that any of these men individually should be replaced by a woman, but seeing a list of only men at the top of the industry drew attention to the lack of balance.
16 In August, Abu Dhabi-based independent music company PopArabia announced the launch of ESMAA, a United Arab Emirates-based music rights management entity, to facilitate music licensing in the Gulf region. . ESMAA is working extensively with global rights holders and regional companies to provide Gulf markets with the ability to license music nationally for the first time.
17 In March, Motivate Media Group, Middle East Campaigneditor, has launched a new branch, Motivate Create. Through partnerships and internally, Motivate Create will offer video, photography, animation, streaming, and studio and equipment rental services throughout the region. Motivate Create provides its clients with social, print, video and digital content and tools to cover broad industry sectors.
18 In October, Multiply Group, a diversified company and a subsidiary of Abu Dhabi-listed International Holdings Company (IHC), acquired full ownership of United Arab Emirates marketing and communications company Viola Communications, while it continues to develop rapidly and expand its service offering in the marketing sector. .
19 In November CountrysideMarcomms 360’s flagship conference took place in person, following a Covid-induced online event last year. An exciting team of speakers shared their predictions at Five Palm Jumeirah, Dubai.
20 In October, Expo Dubai 2020 finally opened its doors to the public after a year of delay due to Covid. Actor Chris Hemsworth invited visitors to an advertisement for Emirates, and brands such as Canon, Pepsi and Mastercard have all leveraged their partnerships with the world’s biggest show.