MENA Effie Award winners announced

Winners of the MENA Effie Awards has been announced following the conclusion of its ninth edition of the awards on November 15, 2017. Held at the Armani/Pavilion, Armani Hotel Dubai, the awards focused on establishing a gold standard of creative marketing brilliance across the region. The event saw major wins for FP7/CAI winning the Grand Prix, while other winners include PHD Dubai for Most Effective Media Office of the Year and FP7/DXB for Most Effective Agency Network of the Year.

“2017 saw tighter budgets, increasing pressure to deliver revenue and growing competition in the industry, but despite this high-pressure environment, marketing professionals have upped the ante with new levels of innovation, creativity and resourcefulness,” says Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO, Mediaquest. “This is what we look for in our award-winners, who have all successfully faced the challenges by finding ever more strategic and targeted ways to reach audiences and deliver a solid return on investment.”

Panel of judges announced for Effies 2017

The MENA Effie Awards has announced its panel of judges for the 2017 edition. With the ceremony set to hold on November 15 2017, the panel of judges have been selected from across 147 sectors to judge the most effective marketing efforts in the region. The list of judges will include, Fahd Osman, Marketplace Leader at IBM MENA, Hani Alaita, Regional Marketing Manager at Danone Middle East, Abdallah Touqan, Director PR, Communications and Events at Dubizzle and OLX MENA. The full jury list is available on the MENA Effie Awards website.

“Our judges are absolutely crucial to the success of the Effies, because it is only by working with the finest minds in the marketing world that we are able to identify the best work that has been achieved in our sector this year,” says Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO, Mediaquest. “Entries are open and the deadlines are fast approaching, so we urge all companies to seize this opportunity to display their innovative, effective approaches to everything, ranging from sector-specific marketing to branded content and media ideas.”

Five Minute Focus – MENA Effie Awards 2017

With the MENA Effie Awards coming up, Team TMN sits down with Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO at Mediaquest, to find out what to expect from the upcoming event…

When is the MENA Effie Awards 2017 and where will it be held?

The MENA Effie Awards will take place on November 15, 2017 at The Pavilion, Armani Hotel, Dubai.

Tell us about the concept behind the Awards…

Effie Worldwide stands for effectiveness in marketing communications, spotlighting marketing ideas that work and encouraging thoughtful dialogue about the drivers of marketing effectiveness. The Effie network works with some of the top research and media organisations worldwide to bring its audience relevant and first-class insights into effective marketing strategy.

Launched in 1968, the Effie Awards program honours the most effective advertising efforts and is known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the industry. The Effie Awards celebrates effectiveness worldwide, by continually raising the bar through the Global Effies and the Positive Change Effies, as well as regional programs in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East / North Africa, North America, Latin America and more than 40 national Effie programs.

As a Co-CEO at Mediaquest Corp., why did you feel the need to launch the Effie Awards in the region?

The region is transforming and we needed to acknowledge and celebrate the people and companies that are helping in this transformation. Hence, in 2009, we joined forces with the world-renowned Effie Worldwide to become the GEMAS Effie MENA Awards, which are now called MENA Effie Awards.

Today, the Effie Awards are known by advertisers and agencies globally as the pre-eminent award in the industry that recognises any and all forms of marketing communication that contribute to a brand’s success.

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

The one factor that makes the MENA Effie Awards stand out as an award program is our transparency and credibility of the awards, which is something that is of utmost importance to us and we need to ensure it is well respected.

We work with some of the top research and media organisations worldwide to bring the audience relevant and first-class insights into effective marketing strategy.

Can you give us some details about the nomination process?

Simply log on to our website, for full details on how to submit your entry.

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

The most fundamental question judges ask of an Effie submission is, ‘How persuasively have the authors made their case?’ – followed closely by ‘What were they trying to achieve and how ambitious were they in the first place?’

Entrants need to review and understand the criteria on which the questions are based in order to be able to answer the fundamental questions judges ask. There are some common mistakes that entrants make, such as the following, which need to be avoided.

  • Results/data not referenced
  • Case study needs
  • Agency name or logos published on the entry form or on the creative materials
  • Including results or competitive work/logos on the creative reel
  • Failing to follow the formatting requirements
  • Missing translation

Judges read so many cases at one go, so they are looking for a case to be coherent and also to ensure that entrants have managed to state their objectives, ideas and key performance indicators (KPIs) clearly for them to be able to judge. Most importantly, for the results, judges look for direct correlations between real objectives and results and to check that they are properly sourced.

The more precise and relevant the documentation, the stronger the case, and the higher chances entrants have to win.

Who will be judging the entries for the MENA Effie Awards?

Being an Effie judge is one of the toughest jobs because as a judge you are not only raising the bar for the industry by the winners you select, but you are at the same time sending a message to the industry on different levels about marketing effectiveness. Due to this very reason, the judges who are on the panel are marketing veterans from the industry, chief marketing officers, vice presidents, marketing directors/managers, corporate communications and brand managers. The MENA Effie Awards are also focused on enhancing learning in our industry and what better way to do that than to have the industry as part of the jury panel?

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

The categories are decided based on the judges’ feedback and depending on how the market is transforming. Based on that, the categories are divided into three segments, Product and Services categories – these categories speak to the overall industry, while Specialty categories are designed to address a specific business situation or challenge and then you have Shopper Marketing, which is for integrated campaigns that were specifically designed to engage a target shopper.

What has been your advertising strategy in the region?

The event targets the marketing and advertising industry in the MENA region. It was extremely complicated to find a cost-effective way to reach this sector, so we relied on many different approaches, such as direct marketing and advertisement in print media, as well as regular above-the-line advertisements, digital advertisements and social media campaigns.

What is the reaction you expect, following the event?

The Effie Effectiveness Index identifies and ranks the marketing communications industry’s most effective agencies, advertisers and brands by analysing finalist, and winner data from Effie Worldwide competitions. The greatest result following the MENA Effie Awards would be how the MENA region brands and agencies stand out and make their names along with the global players and for more great work coming out of the region.

FP7, an agency from the MENA region, has been making its name in the global index for two years in a row and doing better than its global offices.

Can anyone attend the awards ceremony?

The event is open to the marketing and advertising industry across the region, as well as agencies who work along with the clients on their marketing campaigns.

What does the future hold for the MENA Effie Awards in the region?

As an awards program, the MENA Effie Awards have already made its mark in the industry as the Oscars for the marketing industry.

What we now aim for is MENA Effie to become a network for the marketing industry through programs, insights, videos and white papers on effective marketing and other key educational and learning tools focusing on sharing insights on the principles of effective advertising and marketing communications.

Effies 2017 open for entries

The MENA Effie Awards (Effies), hosted and organised by MediaQuest, is now accepting entries for its ninth edition, set to take place on November 15, 2017. Aiming to recognise effective and innovative marketing in the region, the programme will honour brands across 29 industry-specific award categories, including a newly launched addition for the 2017 ceremony, ‘Renaissance’. Winners of the MENA Effie Awards 2017 will become part of the ranking process for next year’s Effie Effectiveness Index, a comprehensive global ranking of marketing effectiveness. The first deadline for entries is September 7, 2017, followed by the second deadline on September 14, 2017 and the final deadline on September 28,2017.

“We are delighted to be opening the call for entries for the ninth edition of the MENA Effies, which has become one of the most prestigious award programmes in the region’s marketing calendar,” says Alexandre Hawari, Co-CEO, MediaQuest. “The programme has been designed to encompass the entire marketing world and gives companies a real opportunity to display their innovative and effective approaches to everything ranging from sector-specific marketing to branded content and media ideas. The entries have been of an increasingly high calibre year-on-year and we are confident that 2017 will be no exception.”

Festival of Media MENA reveals award winners

Winners of the Festival of Media MENA Awards 2017, in partnership with Mediaquest, has been announced following the conclusion of the third edition of its conference on April 26, 2017. Held at the Jumeirah Zabeel Saray hotel, the awards focused on the evolution of the media industry to celebrate the best in media thinking and communications across the region. The event saw major wins for Starcoms winning Agency Network of the Year, OMD UAE for Agency of the Year and MEC MENA for Campaign of the Year, while other winners also include Garage 366 for Best Use of Mobile, Magna Egypt for Best Engagement Strategy and MediaVest | Spark for Best Social Media Strategy. The winners were judged by a panel divided into two groups and chaired by Asad Rehman, Director of Media at Unilever MENA and Nick Graham, Director of Global Digital Marketing and Media at Huawei for the event.

“It is a privilege and a great responsibility to be asked to chair an awards ceremony that is as prestigious as the Festival of Media MENA,” says Asad Rehman, Director of Media, Unilever MENA. “Too often we are in the office with our heads down, but judging gives us the opportunity to open the windows and see what else is happening in the region.”

In The Hot Seat – Sara Naja

Team TMN catch up with Sara Naja, Associate Director at Mediaquest, who talks about her new role and what she thinks of the media and events industry in the Middle East…

Name: Sara Naja

Age: My soul is ancient, my spirit lingers in teenage, but on paper, I am 33 years old.

From: Lebanon, land of the Cedars and home of natural-born leaders.

Current job title: Associate Director

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

I physically landed in Dubai on February 27, 2006, but my mind didn’t make it until 3 years after that!

Where did you work prior?

This may sound odd − my previous employers were Ernst & Young and KPMG.

 What were your first impressions of the media and events industry in the Middle East?

Before I set foot through the gates of the media and the ‘real’ world of events, I used to think the first was a bunch of TV channels and the latter was about buying tickets for a rendezvous with the likes of Coldplay and Madonna in an oversized venue.

Has your opinion changed much?

The more I was mentored and exposed to the industry, the more I could see it from corporate eyes and understand the business. In brief, media is the sum of the channels through which brands communicate with end users and events are a more focused conversation between the two.

Seven years into my career, media is still trying to accomplish the same thing it always was, but the ways to accomplish this are evolving rapidly.

Events are a more laser-targeted approach to reaching a consumer pool and I have seen many brands increase their events’ budgets year on year – and some even open ‘experiential marketing’ departments, that mainly handle event partnerships. I can say it is a growing business. People want to hear what a speaker has to say, be there to witness which work won what award and see their favourite band perform on stage. Most of all, they want to mingle with their peers and grow their network of connections.

Tell us about your current role…

My role begins with making sure that the team and myself are motivated and happy. We are passionate about the work we do and this is why we create wonders. Tasks are divided between different team members, based on their areas of strength and expertise, and I oversee and guide them to make sure the work is being done in the most efficient and effective way for all aspects of an event (logistics, sales, content, awards and sponsorships). I look after partner relationships, set marketing strategies, as well as budgets and projections. I am also involved with recommending speakers and judges to the production and awards teams. I engage with the latest technologies and bring whatever is relevant to the events for a unique user experience.

What challenges do you face?

Today, the biggest challenge is to make sure the event is relevant to its target audience, as we need to constantly stimulate the need for the attendees to be there. Many factors come into play for that, whether it is the agenda, the speakers, the venue, the activations and, most importantly, the learning and networking opportunities. Budgets are also a challenge, especially this year. Partners are cautious about their spending, so we need to make sure to give them a good return on their investment through innovative ways to participate.

What is the most rewarding part about your job?

There is nothing like the feeling of triumph when an event is successful and completed. The most rewarding part of my job is when the team realises that their hard work has paid off and everyone, including me, can’t help but smile and sometimes cry because we have been holding in and hanging on till the last minute, and then we finally let go and the rush is so grand we can just climb Burj Khalifa and scream “We did it!” at the top of our lungs before going in for a group hug! What I love the most about my job is teamwork. We take decisions as a team and always move forward as one unit.

What made you pursue this career path?

This career path was not something I planned. I landed here by chance and, until I worked on my first event, I still had no idea what I ‘wanted to do when I grew up’. I felt that I was talented at a many things (arts, finance, music, literature, even carpentry) but never thought I would find a career where I would get my hands dirty and use all of my skills. Then I met the events industry and I think I am here to stay. It is a place where you use your mind, your hands and all of your skills, and I feel like I may have just found my place in the world.

Is event planning for a media house any different as compared to other industries?

I have never planned events anywhere other than at Mediaquest – except those desert-camping trips with some 30 of my friends every now and then. I can say the basics are the same. Every event needs a venue, funding, attendees, organisation and preparation, no matter what kind of event it is or within which industry.

As an Associate Director at Mediaquest Corp., do you work on events on an international scale – if so, could you please elaborate on a few?

Our events at Mediaquest are regional at the moment. One of them, Top CEO, has been strategically moved to KSA. We do however aspire to make our events an international meeting point and there is a plan to make this happen in the near future − all I can say is… Stay tuned!

In your opinion, why does the Middle East media need industry-specific events? How will industry professionals benefit from such events?

Events are here to accomplish two main objectives: educate or celebrate (or both). Media anywhere, including in the Middle East, has now been diversified into more channels than ever before. While this underlines the need for an integrated approach, it also means that each channel has its strengths, weaknesses and technicalities, requiring more specialised understanding. All aspects of media cannot be covered in one event. The industry has grown so much that we need specific events that tackle different aspects of media − we also need to make sure each specific topic is given the time it demands to maximise the learning experience of delegates.

Moreover, the rapid evolution of technology means the industry has to keep up to remain relevant to its consumers. Also, it’s undeniable that in a few aspects, we lag behind more advanced western markets. Both of these factors mean that there is a need for education and the industry here is hungry for knowledge in the form of case studies, best practices, etc., regionally and globally. This is why conferences are absolutely necessary.

On the other hand, it’s also important to celebrate and recognise the work coming out of the region − not just from the UAE, but also Egypt, KSA, Lebanon, etc. This is why I believe both conferences and awards are necessary to the industry.

If there’s one thing you could change about the industry, what would that be and why?

Hmm, let’s see. Do I want to shrink some egos…commercially driven mindsets…procurement-based decisions… Nope! If there is one thing only that I could change about the industry, it would be making trainings and employee betterment part of every employer’s duties towards their people. There are some characteristics of the industry that I have learned to accept and work around. However, pushing individuals forward and enhancing their talent is something I fear this industry misses within many of its corporations. It is a must if we want to see the Middle East some day overtake the west.

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

Easy! I would be backpacking through the world on endless journeys, tasting every kind of food, jumping on every adventure that comes my way and making the world my playground.

*sigh* If only that paid well!

What are the five things you cant live without?

Everything I can’t live without is attached to me:

  • My brain to think and learn
  • My hands to touch and feel
  • My eyes to see the beauty in the world, specifically my mother’s smile
  • My nose to smell the earth after the first raindrops and the delicious foods of the world
  • My legs to take me everywhere I want to go

How would you describe yourself at work?

My style or management is to lead by example. I am very organised and methodological. I pay attention to detail. I am very resourceful and solution-oriented. Super enthusiastic at everything I do, I make sure fun is always part of the equation. I am always motivated, passionate and spreading hugs and good vibes! I hope my team sees this and corroborates! Team, your views on the matter?

What is your favourite social media platform?

It has to be Instagram, because I follow these DIY accounts – which I love!

If you could have one work wish granted, what would it be?

I wish to always feel love towards what I do because, as Confucius said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

Rotana welcomes Senior Marketing Officer

The Dubai offices of Rotana Media Group has appointed Diane Nassereldine to the role of Senior Marketing Officer. Headquartered in Saudi Arabia, the entertainment group comprises of Rotana Studios, Rotana MagazineRotana TV and Rotana Records as well as seven music stations under Rotana Radio. Previously Senior Digital Business Developer at Mediaquest Corp., Diane will now be responsible for the development of marketing strategies as well as boost Rotana Artists through relevant media exposure.

“Rotana is the leader in Arabic music content and I will make sure that everyone knows it,” says Diane.

Entries for Festival of Media now open

Festival of Media MENA is now accepting entries for its 2017 awards ceremony. The third edition of the festival launches a series of new award categories including Best Use of Traditional Media, Best Use of an Influencer, Best Use of Real-time Marketing, Best Branded Content Creation, Best use of Gamification, Best Insight Award, Best Local Execution of a Brand, The Creative Use of Data Award and Best Not-For-Profit Campaign. Following the entry deadline on February 2, 2017, the shortlisted nominees will be announced on March 15, 2017.

In collaboration with C Squared and Mediaquest, the festival will take place on April 26, 2017. Festival of Media MENA invites media agency networks and innovative media owners as well as marketers of the region to attend a one-day industry-centric conference and an awards ceremony to celebrate their work and achievements. The conference provides a platform for the attendees to discuss media trends and technologies as well as network with industry professionals to promote their initiatives to prospective clients and agencies.

Communicate launches first book

Communicate, a Middle Eastern magazine for the communication industry, has had its first book published. The first in a special collection series from the title and its publisher Mediaquest, the book is titled De-Commiditising the Ad Industry: How Ad Agencies Can Re-Invent Themselves and Enjoy Exponential Growth, and is penned by Ahmad Abu Zannad, Regional Strategy Director, Leo Burnett MENA. It will examine current challenges facing the communications sector, and seek to find solutions to ensure a bright future and will be distributed with Communicate’s October issue.

“Although there have been several assessments of the current status of the advertising industry, there hasn’t been a comprehensive overview that forensically analyses where agencies are today,” says Nathalie Bontems, Publisher, Mediaquest. “Ahmad Abu Zannad’s new book changes all that with its in-depth critique, its detailed assessment of the areas of concern and its structures reasoning for the way forward.”