Memac Ogilvy welcomes new Managing Director 

Memac Ogilvy has appointed Philippe Berthelot to the role of Managing Director. With a wealth of experience in delivering award-winning creative campaigns globally, Philippe most recently worked with brands such as Pepsi, Lays, Google and France 24. In his new role, Philippe will lead the agency’s operations and focus on delivering modern marketing solutions to help increase awareness of its brands.

“I’ve always been an experience junkie, always needed a challenge, and always needed to grow in my career – that’s what’s led me across the world from the creative to the account side,” says Philippe Berthelot, Managing Director, Memac Ogilvy UAE. “The truth is, consumers have changed as well. They seem to care less about brands today. That’s why our goal is to create purposeful work that makes brands matter in peoples’ lives. It’s as simple as that.”

Create Media Group welcomes new Head of Social Media 

Digital communications agency, Create Media Group has appointed Mohamed El Daly to the role of Head of Social Media. With a wealth of experience, Mohamed has worked with brands such as L’Oreal, Dubai Tourism, Microsoft, Google and Coca-Cola where he devised social strategies, oversaw content creation and developed digital campaigns. In his new role, he will be responsible for the social media department of the agency and focus on the development of fresh and innovative solutions.

“I’m thrilled to be joining such a vibrant team full of talent and energy,” says Mohamed. “I look forward to working closely with Create Media’s teams to ensure that we keep innovating, creating, and delivering the best class of social media services.”

Tom Otton, Managing Director, Create Media Group continues, “We’re very happy to welcome Mohamed to the team, his experience is unparalleled & he’s going to add a real strategic focus to all that we do as we grow the business.”

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller makes new appointment

Dubai-based PR agency, ASDA’A Burson Marsteller (BM) has appointed Erica Alkhfaji to the role of Head of Finance Practice. Erica previously worked with FTI Consulting as Managing Director and most recently with EKP Consulting as Executive Director, where she worked with brands such as PwC, writing trade-related research reports and digital content, and Google to conceptualise and implement innovative projects. In her new role, she will manage specialist PR services including investor relations and communications surrounding transactions, IPOs, and regulatory filings as well as drive new business growth and manage relationships with blue-chip clients in the financial sector.

“With global players increasingly looking at the Middle East for growth, local firms looking at market listings and governments throughout the Gulf seeking to privatise large enterprises, the outlook for the already vibrant finance sector is extremely healthy,” says Erica. “I’m excited to be working with the team here in the Middle East in building on ASDA’A Burson Marsteller’s excellent reputation for providing world-class financial PR.”

Publicis Communications partners with Google

Publicis Communications Middle East and Africa, part of Publicis Group has signed a strategic partnership with Google across the region. The agreement will focus on a joint business plan to help Publicis Communications’ creative agencies including Leo Burnett, Publicis, Saatchi & Saatchi and Arc develop as well as apply a digital-first approach and integrated thinking for effective and engaging campaigns. The collaboration also follows the launch of Google All-Stars Academy 2.0, to act as a capability-building program for agencies and their teams across Google platforms.

“Joining forces with Google enables us to further bolster our user-first approach through superior access to data and technology,” says Raja Trad, Chief Executive Officer, Publicis Communications MEA. “This will empower our clients to win in the digital space through cutting edge, award-winning campaigns that deliver engaging and effective business results.”

Grow granted Google Partner Badge

Dubai based digital agency, Grow has been awarded the Google Partner Badge for its excellence in Google search advertising, display advertising, mobile advertising and Google analytics. The certification recognised Grow’s ability to demonstrate growth and the maximum ROI for its clients after going through the Google AdWords product certification exam. The Google Partner Badge certification will now see Grow work alongside Google and enjoy exclusive access to regular trainings, Google events, new business opportunities and support for campaigns as well as become a part of the beta test for Google’s new software.

“Receiving the Google Partnership Badge is in line with our objective for being industry leaders,”says James Pardoe, CEO, Grow. “This marks a major milestone for Grow and highlights where we stand in the Digital field.”

Google appoints new MENA Managing Director

Google has appointed Lino Cattaruzi to the role of Managing Director for its operations across the Middle East and North Africa. With experience in the technology industry, Lino previously worked with Google as Director for Sales Strategy and most recently as Country Director, Argentina and later Mexico. In his new role, he will lead the efforts to enable local business partners grow and engage with consumers online, as well as help the wider digital community through programs and initiatives across the MENA region.

“After eight years of experience within the international Google offices, I am excited to start a new challenge within the company and look forward to working with some very talented Googlers here in the Dubai office,” says Lino. “I find the MENA region to be truly fascinating and believe there is a lot more to be done in unlocking its digital potentials.”

New advertising industry association launches

New advertising industry association, Advertising Business Group (ABG) has launched to promote ethical and responsible advertising in the Middle East. Established as a self-regulatory body which includes Omnicom Media Group, Google, Choueiri Group and Facebook, ABG will also work with bodies in the region, such as the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and the International Advertising Association to encourage self-regulation among advertisers, agencies and publishers as well as provide consumers with the ability to challenge false or harmful advertising.

“Ethical advertising builds consumer trust in companies and brands, improving sales and strengthening the market share, while helping maintain a level playing field that is important for fair competition,” says Sanjiv Kakkar, Executive Vice-President, Unilever MENA, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus and Chairperson, ABG. “Irresponsible marketing on the other hand damages consumer confidence and provides little or no sustained return on advertising investment. Responsible advertising benefits everyone – consumers, society and advertisers. This belief in responsible advertising and its benefits for consumers and the society has spurred the GCCs advertisers, agencies and media to establish the ABG.”

Al Arabiya welcomes Sara Hamdan

Online news station, has welcomed Sara Hamdan to the role of weekly Columnist. With over 12 years of experience in journalism, Sara is currently working on a part-time project with Google as well as her blog and previously worked for The New York Times. In her new role, she will be writing one column per week that will be published every Sunday on topics of fashion, food, travel and lifestyle on the Al Arabiya English platform.

In The Hot Seat – Sara Hamdan

Sara Hamdan, Founder of the newly-launched, talks to TMN about her experience in media within the UAE and what has inspired her new travel and style blog…

Name: Sara Hamdan                           

From: US   

Current Job Title: Founder of I am also working part time on a content project at Google and contributing to the New York Times. 

When did you first arrive in Dubai?
I arrived in 2005 – pre-Atlantis, Burj Khalifa and Mall of the Emirates!

Where did you work prior?
I’ve been writing for the New York Times based in Dubai since 2010. I was Deputy Editor of VIVA magazine, a monthly columnist at Stylist Arabia and editor of Dubai Magazine (the official quarterly title of Dubai Tourism Board). I am currently working on a part time content project at Google alongside running

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
I thought it was young and superficial, but then so was I ten years ago! Dubai in particular has become a great media hub and I feel so blessed to have worked with some of the best titles in the city – from CNN and Rolling Stone tothe New York Times and VIVA.

Has your opinion changed much?
There’s nowhere else in the MENA region that offers the kind of media activity that you can find here. The best international and local media outlets have a presence here today as well.

Is blogging your full time job or a part time passion?
Currently it’s a part time passion, but at the rate it’s growing, ask me again at the end of the year and we’ll see!

Tell us about your blog… is a luxury hotel review site with a section on what to pack. You can directly click and buy the items displayed. I curate some of the outfits from online stores like net-a-porter and also get input from some amazing fashion consultants. I will also feature friends who are inspirational – hotels reviewed by them and a section on how to get their look. The Instagram account @holidaysinheels has managed to pick up 1,000 followers in just one month and already has a sponsor – the retailer Bmore Bugatti that houses Tom Ford, Roberto Cavalli and dozens of other brands in the region, so I’m really excited to see where we go next!

What’s the most rewarding part of blogging? is my way of continuing to write about luxury hotels and fashion – and I get to directly connect with readers. It also means that I get to relive my best holidays by writing about them. 

Which international Bloggers inspire you?
I really like and – both make for unpretentious and fun reading. 

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a blog?
Don’t overthink it, just begin and ask for help where you need it. When I decided to start, I contacted my very talented friend Tarik Kaddoumi, who built the website for me so it looked just how I had hoped.

What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
There is such a diverse range of titles. I’m quite partial to VIVA because I used to work there and the Editor, Anita Quade, is such an inspiration to me!

How do you find PRs in the region?
Helpful and determined! I’ve had amazing experiences with agencies such as Think Liquorice, TishTash and Toh PR, who have great relationships with brands and know how to pitch the right stories at the right time. The Think Liquorice team – Zahirah Variawa and Felicity Stokes – beautifully handled the launch of my blog at the Fashion Weekend event in Souk Madinat Jumeirah along with talented celebrity stylist Kelly Lundberg.

What’s your pet PR peeve?
Getting totally irrelevant, mass emails.

Do you accept press material from PRs?
Yes, it’s a great way to brainstorm new story ideas as well as discover new hotels and products. I particularly like those shining a light on regional designers and hotel chains.

How would you rather be contacted at work
Email please! 

Describe yourself in five words…
Creative, ambitious, bookworm, beach-lover and chocoholic.

How do you see online journalism/blogging changing in the UAE in the coming years?
The internet is a big place and as this blogging/online journalism space becomes more popular, quality content should continue to stand out. 

What would be the next step for you as a blogger (would you look to launching a publication, collaborating with any brands/media etc.)?
It’s only been 8 weeks and I’ve already got a celebrity stylist who will collaborate on the #WhatToPack outfits and an amazing sponsor in BMore Bugatti – it’s crazy! I’d love to have a regular column in a lifestyle publication, like the monthly column I used to write at Stylist Arabia and I would love to work with brands that are interested in the same target audience: for example, a promo code for online shopping or a car-booking app. Stay tuned!

Edelman welcomes new Head of Digital

Ema Linaker, former Regional Director – Digital, Leo Burnett MENA, has joined Edelman as Head of Digital. With over 20 years of experience, Ema has worked across companies in the UK as well as the UAE, including Google, Intent HQ and Social@Ogilvy. In her new role, she will be responsible for heading up Edelman’s digital team assisting clients achieve authenticity online through content and creative strategy as well as experiential marketing and social business.