M&C Saatchi UAE welcomes new Head of Social Media 

Global communications agency, M&C Saatchi UAE has appointed Mitch Williams to the role of Head of Social Media. With over five years of experience in social media branding, Mitch previously worked with Create Media Group where he held the role of Social Media Director and most recently worked with Serviceplan Middle East where he also held the role of Social Media Director. In his new role, he will set up and drive the digital and social media offering for the agency across all parallels of digital but initially focusing on content strategy development and creation.

“I have always been inspired by the great work done by M&C Saatchi both locally and globally, and now I have the opportunity to not only work within the agency but help build their digital offering,” says Mitch.

In The Hot Seat – Mitch Williams

Mitch Williams, Social Media Director at Serviceplan Middle East tells TMN about his current role and what he thinks about the media industry in the region…

Name: Mitch Williams

Age: 29

From: Johannesburg, South Africa

Current job title: Social Media Director, Serviceplan Middle East (SPME)

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

May 2013

Where did you work prior?

In South Africa, I worked with The Creative Counsel, Investec, The Platinum Group, Media 24 and Wunderman South Africa before moving to Dubai in 2013. In Dubai, prior to my current job I worked with Wunderman MENA as Social Media Brand Manager and most recently with Create Media Group as Social Media Director.

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

Back in 2013 I remember realising how the media within the region was still heavily geared towards traditional channels and there were only a few agencies working with brands to effectively elevate their online presence and approach to new media.

Has your opinion changed much?

Yes, the media industry has completely changed and is now extremely competitive across not only traditional media, but heavily so on the new media side through digitisation.

Tell us about your current role…

I currently head up the social media division within the agency and I’m responsible for not only managing my team, but also working across the agency to deliver creative and innovative ways of using social media as a key tool in all campaigns for clients. My role also entails managing the growth of my division within SPME and leading on all strategies required by clients.

What challenges do you face?

Platforms are always changing and so are the different types of content that people consume. I don’t see it as an inherent challenge, it’s quite exciting actually as it ensures that you keep up to date more often on what’s happening in the world of social.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends on social media?

Through alerts, it’s one thing having a list of websites that you refer to on a daily basis for information, but as we know you might actually make the time to read or even open them. That’s why I have set up alerts through social networks whereby I am notified as soon as a key platform updates something and there is an article to read I’m notified in real time. So yes, I have a ton of notifications on my mobile phone, but it’s part of the job to make sure I am on top of all news.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Working with my team, in any role where you are so pressured to deliver in shorter than usual timelines it’s the people around you that make the difference. On the other side of that is obviously being able to conceptualise a campaign for a client and watch it go live!

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Since I am always in a meeting, a text message or email.

How has digital media in the region evolved over the years?

Digital has gone crazy within the region as there are no restrictions in terms of access to digital media and also there are a wealth of talented individuals based here who are constantly driving people and brands to do more online. The region has shifted most of their efforts into digital media and also drives and challenges people to adapt and adopt new digital behaviors faster than most can keep up with.

Has user-generated content shaped social media campaigns in the UAE’s marketing industry?

User-generated content (UGC) has greatly affected the success of social media campaigns within the region largely due to the fact that the region has a multitude of highly influential people on social media who have made a career out of generating unique content tailored to specific audiences. Brands that effectively work with people who have built out their own niche and audience have an opportunity to create unique content to share on their corporate pages. It also comes down to accessibility and mobile technology which is allowing for everyday people to create, curate and collaborate in creating content defined by a brand’s objective.

How do you measure marketing success in the UAE’s digital community?

The easiest way is obviously to track and measure all key metrics against set Key Performance Indicator’s (KPI) which are defined for campaigns, but the true measure of success is in the implementation of cross channel campaigns which creates an infinite loop between initial interaction of a consumer and them coming back to the brand through various media.

What role does social media play in building a brand’s reputation today?

Social media has become a key part in driving authenticity online as previously brands used to try and push messages to people without trying to consider how people interact and communicate. Brands are now more focused on building an emotional connection with people, which leads to a more human interaction and being relevant to them when they need something.

How has digital advertising influenced consumer behavior compared to traditional advertising?

It’s disruptive and intelligent at the same time. With traditional media, we had no implicit way of ensuring each consumer interacted with the brand or even saw our messages. But now with digital advertising we can build a digital footprint of your activities and use that to understand what interests you and then tailor key messages to you that would catch your attention. Human behavior has also changed where we now are always online and connected to the rest of the world through our mobiles giving advertisers direct access to you when they have something to share, they no longer have to wait for you to show up or buy the magazine they can target you through the many apps and websites you interact with daily.

Describe yourself in five words…

Hyperactive, passionate, determined, considerate and easy-going.

What’s your most overused saying?

So many buzz words.

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

Good question, I’ve always been inspired by design and architecture so probably would be involved in something related to those fields.

What is your favourite form of media (i.e.; TV, radio, print)?

Obviously social and digital media.

What’s your most used social media platform?

For work all of the platforms, personally I enjoy Instagram, but will always have a soft spot for Twitter.

Mitch Williams joins Serviceplan Middle East

Dubai-based integrated communications agency, Serviceplan Middle East has appointed Mitch Williams to the role of Social Media Director. With experience in the media industry, Mitch previously worked with Wunderman MENA as Social Media Brand Manager and most recently with Create Media Group as Social Media Director where he managed the social media division and drove the overall direction of the clients. In his new role, he will head the agency’s social media division and lead the strategic direction of the company offering while growing and managing the social media team.

“I am super excited to be joining Serviceplan Middle East team and having the opportunity to work with them on building the social media team,” says Mitch.

Serviceplan Middle East launches Mediaplus Espresso

Serviceplan Middle East’s media arm Mediaplus has acquired local agency Espresso, to form Mediaplus Espresso. The newly-formed mid-sized agency will work on new ways of connecting brands and consumers through platform strategy, data analytics and precision targeting, with the aim to enable the delivery of successful campaigns for brands. Mediaplus Espresso will be headed up by Azhar Siddiqui who will take the role of Managing Partner, having 15 years of regional experience managing the media buying portfolios of several, large, global and local accounts including; McDonalds, Mastercard and Unilever.

“Espresso sprang from our desire to break away from the ‘network’ culture and to draw clients’ attention back to the added value of strategy and planning,” says Azhar. “Partnering with Mediaplus is an ideal move, since we become part of a wider group, enabling us to compete more effectively with global networks, while retaining our independence and working with like-minded entrepreneurs from within the Serviceplan Group.”

Serviceplan ME to hold Competence Circle event

Serviceplan Middle East, an integrated corporate communications agency, is set to hold its inaugural Competence Circle event in the region. Established by the Serviceplan Group in Germany, the aim of the Competence Circle is to create a platform for marketing, sales and PR professionals – B2B and B2C – to benefit from discussions around the industry’s most relevant and emerging topics.

The Serviceplan Middle East Competence Circle will take place on October 29, 2014, from 1pm – 5.30pm, and will be held at the Arjaan Rotana in Media City, Dubai.

Speakers for the inaugural event include – Eleni Kitra, Agency Partner MEAP, Facebook; Alfonso de Gaetano, Agency and Branding Leader MENA for Google and Florian Gmeinwieser, Managing Director of Plan.Net Mobile.

The Serviceplan Middle East Competence Circle will focus on the revolution of social media in the Middle Eastern region since the Arab spring, and will address the following questions – What does this revolution mean for brands and their marketing decision makers? What can brands expect from social media channels? What is the outlook? Where do the channels see the biggest potential for brand building? How does this region differ from the rest of the world?

“I’m really looking forward to welcoming our notable speakers to the first ever Serviceplan Middle East Competence Circle,” says Rami Hmadeh, Managing Partner, Serviceplan Middle East. “It’s the Serviceplan Group’s most successful platform for gathering industry experts to tackle imminent trends and equips marketers and brand managers with new insights to build best brands. Hundreds of such professionals have benefited from these circles in Europe, and we would like to do the same and give back to the media professionals in Dubai who steer both big and emerging brands in the region.”

Serviceplan ME appoints Client Services Director

Hassan Khatoun has joined Serviceplan Middle East as Client Services Director. Hassan brings a wealth of experience to the position after serving as Head of Client Servicing at SocialEyez, and has served clients including Samsung, Sony, Estée Lauder and HSBC. In his new position, Hassan will focus on elevating Serviceplan Middle East’s account management process. He will also work closely with the agency’s top clients, including the BMW Group, Continental Tires and Huawei Devices, to develop integrated advertising campaigns that suit their needs and meet their overall objectives.

“Hassan has a deep knowledge of client servicing and satisfaction management, which makes him an ideal role model for members of our client servicing team,” says Rami Hmadeh, Managing Partner, Serviceplan Middle East. “I am confident that Hassan will use his strong experience and skills to position Serviceplan as one of the leading agencies in the region.”

Jan-Philipp Jahn promoted at Serviceplan ME

Serviceplan Middle East, Germany’s independent communications agency, has appointed Jan-Philipp Jahn as General Manager. Jan-Phillip has been a part of the Serviceplan team for over eight years, during which he has been directly in charge of managing and developing campaigns for companies in both German and the region, such as the BMW Group, Continental Tires, Tetra and Kia. Jan-Philipp worked for the Serviceplan Hamburg office for five years, prior to joining the Dubai office in 2011 as Client Service Director. In his new role, Jan-Philipp will oversee the day-to-day operations of the agency, and will play a key role in expanding Serviceplan Middle East’s presence across the region.

“It is a pleasure to see the Serviceplan Middle East team growing,” says Rami Hmadeh, Managing Partner, Serviceplan Middle East. “Jan-Philipp has been with the company for many years, and has undoubtedly demonstrated great talent and professionalism that has earned him his new title.”