Five Minute Focus – Dubai Lynx 2018

With Dubai Lynx coming up, Team TMN sits down with Thea Skelton Festival Director at Dubai Lynx, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

When is Dubai Lynx 2018 and where will it be held?

Dubai Lynx 2018 will take place at the Madinat Jumeirah Arena, Dubai from March 11-13 with the Dubai Lynx Awards Ceremony to be held on March 14.

Tell us about the concept behind Dubai Lynx…

Dubai Lynx is the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s annual event for the creative communications industry. The Festival brings people together to learn, network, be inspired and celebrate the brilliant creativity that comes from the region.

As a sister Festival to the globally renowned Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity, Dubai Lynx is part of an influential network and its premium global standards makes it well respected as one of the most credible awards and festival in the creative sphere within the region.

How will Dubai Lynx 2018 be different compared to the previous years? Tell us about the new aspects…

This year we have a new focus on healthcare, including a specific ‘Healthcare award’ andCreativity in Healthcare Communications Stage’. We are also expanding our startup offering with a dedicated ‘Startup Stage’, designed to unite start-ups, brand partners and agencies along with ‘The Business of Creativity Stage’, which will explore the business and management of creativity and offer advice and guidance on the practical aspects of business in the creative sector.

What are the challenges you face to make each year’s event different and meaningful?

The biggest challenge we face is raising the bar even higher each year. We bring a mixture of big name celebrities, industry legends, fresh faces and ideas to the stage along with experimental formats, and it’s really important for us to continue to do this and provide attendees with the best experience possible.

Can you tell us more about the awards/categories themselves?

The Dubai Lynx Awards celebrates the best creative work in MENA and have been doing so for the past 11 years. They’re all about recognising, nurturing and setting the standard for brilliant creative work in the region’s creative communications industry each year.

Do you have any feedback or tips for submissions, to help them stand out?

Feedback from our jury usually includes reminders to keep your submissions concise and provide clear examples of what the campaign achieved. If you’re considering entering but need some help, we have a team of experts who manage each award category from the very beginning of the process right through to coordinating the winners picking up their awards on stage. Their knowledge is encyclopedic and you can ask their advice or assistance at any time by emailing

Who will be judging the entries for the Dubai Lynx Awards and Competitions?

The juries at Dubai Lynx represent the full breadth of the creative, design and digital communities. With over 2,600 entries from across 22 countries last year the breadth of experience and the global remit of the jury members is essential in ensuring that the benchmarks are set to the highest standards possible. The full jury line up will be announced in the coming months.

Who will be speaking at the event?

All kinds of creatively-minded people come together at Dubai Lynx. Each year we see a selection of top brand leaders, award-winning creatives, start-up founders, innovators, broadcasters, directors, marketers, artists, musicians from across the region and across the broader global creative community.

The line-up for the Dubai Lynx Festival 2018 will be confirmed closer to the Festival but to get a flavour of the event, take a look at who spoke at last year’s event through the website.

What will be the key topics of discussion at the event?

There is no specific theme, but all sessions have creativity in some form at their heart. Themes vary each year based on what the industry puts forward to discuss, ranging from creativity that drives inclusivity and modern storytelling to using technology as an enabler of creative communications.

What has been your advertising strategy in the region?

Dubai Lynx is a joint venture between Cannes Lions, the International Festival of Creativity and Motivate, with the support of Choueiri Group, Dubai Media City (DMC) and in association with the UAE Chapter of the International Advertising Association (IAA). These are fantastic partners with exceptional teams who help us share the Dubai Lynx message.

Is Dubai Lynx open for anyone to attend? What is the registration process?

Of course, anyone can attend and we encourage those with a passion for creativity and innovation to come and be inspired. Each year, the Festival attracts thousands of delegates from across the region and further afield including, advertisers, brands, fintech, governments, healthcare providers, innovators, media agencies and owners, production companies, startups and technology companies.

Passes can be purchased by visiting the website.

What is the reaction you expect, following the event?

We exist to recognise and celebrate the best of MENA’s creativity. The Awards Ceremony is always an incredible event as it demonstrates the quality and variety of regional creativity, which is showcased by the Festival. The connections made at Dubai Lynx propel people, brands and businesses, which is what drives us to make it better each year.

What kind of changes are you hoping to promote and encourage with this event?

We introduced an ‘Innovation Award’ last year to support and strengthen the efforts of the MENA region in becoming a global innovation and technology hub. This has grown and developed at a phenomenal rate with some of our Startup Alley participants taking their companies globally. This year we’ve launched a ‘Healthcare Award’ in consultation with the local industry. There’s a thriving scene of specialist healthcare agencies across MENA who are producing some truly innovative and pioneering work in a challenging sector. We envision that this area will grow in the coming years and it will be exciting to see how Dubai Lynx can help life-changing creativity in the region to flourish.

Instinctif Partners welcomes Andrew Berridge

International communications consultancy, Instinctif Partners has appointed Andrew Berridge to the role of Consultant. With over ten years of experience in strategic communications, content management and new business generation, Andrew most recently worked with Auxilium as Account Manager. In his new role, he will work across Instinctif Partners’ portfolio of clients including Emirates NBD Asset Management and National Bank of Kuwait, to manage its English language content and media relations with the regional and international press. He will also be responsible for the client’s annual report content creation.

“I am excited to be joining this dynamic team of young professionals and look forward to achieving many great objectives together,” says Andrew. “Instinctif Partners has an excellent reputation in the region and I am delighted to be able to contribute towards its success going forward.”

New Managing Director appointed at Cicero & Bernay

Public relations consultancy, Cicero & Bernay (C&B) has promoted Tariq Al Sharabi to the role of Managing Director. Tariq most recently held the role of Director of Client Services, where he supported the agency’s expansion strategy and worked on delivering positive results for the clients. In his new role, he will continue to enhance the agency’s client services while adding value and further supporting their needs.

“I have been in the communications industry for over 15 years and for much of that time, C&B has been my home,” says Tariq.  “My main aim has been to unite our team and clients within a spirit of result-driven progress and proactivity, which has allowed us all to thrive in the competitive industry in which we work. It is a privilege to work alongside the C&B team and going forward we will continue to take C&B to the next level together.”

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller wins at the Gold Standard Awards

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller has been named ‘Middle East Consultancy of the Year’ at this year’s Gold Standard Awards. The award aims to celebrate corporate affairs and corporate communications professionals across public affairs, strategic communications and stakeholder agreement sectors in the Asia Pacific and Middle East region. The event also recognised ASDA’A in the category of ‘Social Media Communications’ for its use of digital channels to engage with stakeholders.

“The Gold Standards, which is the most prestigious awards of its type in Asia Pacific and the Middle East, recognises the best of the best and we are thrilled with our wins, which recognise the world-class standard of the work we do,” says Sunil John, Founder and CEO, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller. “Our team works tirelessly to produce work of the highest quality and such recognition only fuels our passion to deliver excellence.”


New joiner at House of Comms

Dubai-based integrated communications agency, House of Comms has appointed Shannon Hartley to the role of Junior Account Executive. As a recent graduate from Middlesex University, Shannon holds a bachelor’s degree in Marketing and in her new role she will work across House of Comms’ clients such as FIJI Water, ENOC and Omega Dubai Desert Classic.

“Joining a company like House of Comms, which has clients you dream of and colleagues you can call your family away from home, is everything I was looking for in an agency and more,” says Shannon. “I am so excited to be working with such a talented group of people and with a diverse client base that is not only growing my skills but enhancing my career progression.”

In The Hot Seat – Jon Marchant

Team TMN catch up with Jon Marchant, Managing Director at FP7/DXB who talks about his new role and what he thinks of the advertising industry in the Middle East…

Name: Jon Marchant

Age: 41

From: UK

Current Job Title: Managing Director, FP7/DXB

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

November 2017

Where did you work prior?

I previously worked in the UK with Big Communications and most recently with McCann Central, part of McCann Worldgroup before taking up my new role in the UAE.

What were your first impressions of the advertising industry in the Middle East?

I was pleasantly surprised by the number of clients I met who were striving to do brave, original and award-winning work.

Has your opinion changed much?

No, so far my first impressions have held true, which is great.

Tell us about your current role

I’m responsible for the leadership and development of FP7 DXB’s business. I have inherited an extremely talented bunch of people and am looking forward to doing some awesome things in 2018.

What challenges do you face?

Lots! But that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning — continuing to hire the very best talent in the region, working out what to do with all this data we have access to, battling against the tough economical climate and ensuring FP7 remains at the top of the perch when it comes to creative effectiveness. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The daily pride that comes from leading the most effective agency in MENA and knowing we are doing work that consistently gets results for our illustrious client portfolio.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

I’m not fussy! Call, email or pop in for a coffee.

Is traditional media still relevant for effective branding in the region today? Absolutely there’s still a role. But the challenge remains how to ensure we have the optimum blend of media to achieve our clients’ measurable business goals.

How has consumer behaviour in today’s digital community influenced the advertising industry?

It’s broadened our potential to do great things creatively! With a broader palette of digital platforms available and the ability more than ever to show genuine effectiveness for our efforts, — it’s an exciting time to be in this industry.

Have cultural differences in the region created limitations or an edge to digital content marketing?

I wouldn’t look at it as differences, but as diversity. There is possibly no other region as diverse and exhaustingly astonishing as the MENA region! And that diversity is challenging but ultimately, very rewarding as it fuels unexpected and untapped creativity as well as content. The latest fame-generating Coca-Cola work from Egypt (for FP7 Cairo’s Line-Up Song), is a perfect example of how diversity and tapping into local insights and nuances can lead to disruptive content marketing.

How has social media in the region evolved over the years to become an integrated part of the advertising and marketing industry?

MENA is one of the fastest growing and highest consuming regions in the world when it comes to social media. Creative expressions, freedom and the shared experiences have all fuelled this growth, along with of course the proliferation and penetration of smartphones. It’s no longer just a deliverable list in a brief, it is the hero content and the time now is to not just create content for social, but content that is social at heart.

If you could change something about the advertising industry in the UAE, what would it be?

For agencies, a renewed focus on creating work that matters and solves brands’ commercial problems, which is why we exist.

For clients and marketers, experiment and go for nervous. Keep a good ten percent of marketing and creative budgets aside for the unknowns – things brands don’t know about and things we as agencies don’t know about! That’s where some magical and transformational work will happen.

For all, stay more in touch with the constantly evolving world and create more work that’s data-driven, agile and relevant to everyday people.

How would you describe yourself at work?

Pragmatic, grounded results-orientated, brave. Honest and fair with colleagues. Passionate and professional with clients.

What inspires you?

Brave and bold clients. Clients that treat you as a genuine business partner and share their media data, consumer data and research with you, so we can deliver insight-led game-changing campaigns.

What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?

In the UK, I helped to grow McCann Central into the largest agency outside London and the largest McCann operation in Europe. We achieved 60% growth in three years. That was pretty special.

What’s your most overused saying?

If you want to go fast go alone, if you want to go far go together (used to emphasise the importance of collaboration and teamwork!)

Five things you can’t live without?

Family time, holidays, long runs, Apple Music and Google Maps!

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?

Global Talent Scout for Manchester United!

What is your favourite form of media?

Ambient. McCann proved with Fearless Girl that if you get it absolutely right, even with a very low investment, the results can be spectacular!

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in the advertising and marketing industry in the UAE?

Be enthusiastic. It’s not the easiest industry in the world. Work is dynamic, ever-changing and challenging, every day.

Be curious. We thrive on being aware of trends and on setting trends. So, it’s imperative to be open to the culture and the people we are living with as well as the communities we are operating in – spending time out in the real world, while in a job, helps wonders in being in touch with a constantly evolving world.

Be courageous. Firstly, strive to create brave ideas that will move people. Next, great ideas struggle for their survival every day. When you have a great idea, it is crucial to make sure there’s a logical case (that impacts both the brands and business) then go and sell it, until it is sold!

Jad Chababi promoted at J3

J3, part of UM MENA has promoted Jad Chababi to the role of General Manager of Africa, Middle East and Turkey (AMET). Having joined J3 in 2014, Jad most recently held the role of Regional Business Director, where he worked on the strategic and tactical development of the Johnson & Johnson brand across the region. In his new role, he will lead the rollout of the J3 partnership in the Middle East, Africa and Turkey to drive business across the region and help the creation of a solid organisational structure in all markets. He will also focus on upgrading the product offering across the region to ensure performance consistency while maintaining a strong position across the region.

“Jad Chababi has played a pivotal role in our partnership with Johnson & Johnson in the MENA region and we look forward to seeing this being successfully extended in newer markets,” says Joe Nicolas, Regional Managing Director, UM MENAT. “Due to his impeccable business acumen and senior marketing expertise, Jad has successfully provided significant value creation opportunities for Johnson & Johnson, positioning them as a market leader and enhancing our competitive position as an agency in this region.”