Elie Saab guest edits Architectural Digest

The September/October Fashion Issue of Architectural Digest Middle East, part of the APP Group, will be guest-edited by Lebanese couturier Elie Saab, in celebration of a growing connection between interior design, architecture and fashion. The fashion designer has opened the doors to his Paris and Beirut homes and atelier headquarters for photo shoots and was also closely involved in the making of the issue, which will be available from September 4, 2016.

“I have always had a passion for architecture and believe that if I had not orientated my career towards the proportions of the silhouette, it would have been towards the proportions of our environment,” says Elie. “For me, architecture and fashion draw upon a similar creative source or, at the very least, have many common objectives. I would like to thank Architectural Digest Middle East for inviting me to contribute to this edition and to share my passion with a publication that I have always resonated with in terms of style and substance. I am delighted to support it and its efforts to promote the many talented architects in the region who add beauty to our everyday lives.”

Senior Executives promoted at PHD

PHD, a division of Omnicom Media Group MENA, has promoted both its UAE Managing Director and General Manager in Dubai. Elda Choucair, previously Managing Director at PHD UAE, will now take on the role of CEO, PHD MENA which will involve her replicating her performance across new, as well as existing, offices in the region and, on top of this adding to her UAE responsibilities.

Luca Allam, previously General Manager for PHD Dubai, will now take on the role of Managing Director, PHD UAE. In this role, he will utilise his eleven years of experience in media in order to oversee the agency’s offices in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“In Elda’s and Luca’s hands, PHD has gone from strength to strength,” says Elie Khouri, CEO, Omnicom Media Group, MENA. “The talent they’ve attracted and nurtured, the vision that has guided them and the energy they’ve deployed has made PHD the success story it is today. I have no doubt that they will find in their new role even more opportunities to stimulate further growth.”


In The Hot Seat – Grace Asmar

We catch up with Grace Asmar, Director of Practices and Offerings at Cicero & Bernay Public Relations, who talks about the media industry in the Middle East and how she hopes it will evolve in the future…

Name: Grace Asmar

Age: Mark Twain once said “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”                

From: Lebanese French a.k.a. Canada        

Current Job Title: Director – Practices & Offerings, Cicero & Bernay Public Relations

When did you first arrive in Dubai?
I first landed in Dubai back in 1989. My family and career then took me on a journey through many cities across the Middle East and Canada for almost 10 years. I came back to Dubai last year.

Where did you work prior?
I started my career as a TV producer here in Dubai. I then joined a multinational public relations agency, where I worked in different markets which included; Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Canada and Jordan.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
Like all first timers, I looked at it as a growing industry in a young market. Even as a seasoned professional, I landed in this media industry with an understanding that the local media would be a completely new experience for me.

Has your opinion changed much?
Completely. There are several reasons behind this but first and foremost, the local media was a pleasant surprise. Publications are far richer and far more mature than I had thought. The ever-expanding industry working alongside the local media has provided the PR sector with the freedom to push creative boundaries and actually implement out of the box ideas. That being said, the industry is still advancing and it’s always going to be exciting to look back and evaluate the progress it’s made in less than a decade.

Tell us about your current role…
As my title says, I am the Director of the Agency’s Practices – internal, growth oriented and proprietary – and its Offerings – client communication, strategy counsel and day-to-day management.

What challenges do you face?
Like all specialists in their respective professions, PR practitioners want to know the “next big thing.” The industry is evolving so quickly, it’s now about hyper-personalised content, real-time crisis management, the role of traditional journalism and highly effective, measurable PR. The challenge is to keep up with the fundamental game changes that the PR profession is going through at this time more than ever.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I feel rewarded when I leave my office with the knowledge that someone, somewhere is leaving happy because of what my team and I have accomplished.

What do you think is the secret to successful leadership?
Emotional intelligence.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in media in the UAE?
Be ready to put in the hours, be ready to stand by your ethics and welcome to the most interesting profession!

What do you think of the quality of media publications in the region?
I think that we have some of the most diversified media bouquets in the world. I really cannot think of another region where you enter a bookstore or switch on the television and find a choice of 50-60 languages, with content ranging from news to pet TV shows and everything in between.

In your opinion, what makes a PR campaign successful?
When FACTS do the talking.

How would you rather be contacted at work?
Anything but email, I have 182 unread emails even as I answer your questions!

Five things you can’t live without?
My kids, my husband, my everyday challenges, my coffee and my heels

If you weren’t in your current role, what would you be doing?
Probably running a bed and breakfast in a quiet town somewhere in the Mediterranean. Although I fear I would become the town’s media ambassador before I know it.

How do you see media changing in the UAE in the coming years?
I truly believe that the media will become stronger, with opinions more defined. I hope and await the day when one reporter from the UAE will win a Pulitzer prize and do us all proud.

If you could have one work wish granted, what would it be?
If I could somehow import the French language of diplomacy, the Canadian Indian summer colors and the Lebanese survival know-how to my office, I would never leave the workplace.

What is your favourite form of media (i.e; TV, radio, print)?
I think print will never die. Especially as they publish Netflix schedules now!
But seriously, jokes apart, what I love about the printed paper is the amount of diligence, preparation and crafting that it takes for anything to make print ‘news’. And that’s after someone or something has done enough to be deemed ‘newsworthy’.

OMD makes changes to management structure

Omnicom Media Group MENA, holding group of OMD, PHD and Resolution in the Middle East, has made a number of promotions and changes to it’s management structure in the region. Nadim Samara has been promoted from Managing Director to the newly-created position of CEO, OMD, UAE. With over 15 years of experience with OMD, Nadim has international experience with the firm and will now manage it’s UAE operation, as well as ensure that the regional headquarters continue to develop its product offering and maintain its cutting edge in the areas of talent, innovation, analytics, data and performance.

Wissam Najjar will also now relocate to Dubai in order to take on the newly-created role of Regional Managing Director for the Lower Gulf, Levant and Emerging Markets. Previously Managing Director of OMD Levant, Wissam has worked across the OMD network and will now assume the additional responsibilities of OMD’s operations in Kuwait and Qatar, as well as its expansion into new markets in the MENA region. Former Director of Investments at OMD Lebanon, Rachid El Khazen has been promoted to the role of General Manager to take over from Najjar.

“The OMD network is bursting with talent so it is hugely gratifying to see Nadim’s, Wissam’s and Rachid’s accomplishments being rewarded with promotions and new assignments,” says Elie Khouri, CEO of Omnicom Media Group MENA. “While our market and industry are in the midst of a transformation, we see this as an opportunity to grow further. We have always focused on innovating and being future-ready. This is yet another expression of this aspect from our personality.”

Five Minute Focus – Wall

Team TMN talks to Mansoor Bhatti and Faisal Shah, Co-Founders of Things By People, to find out about their creative agency as well as their revolutionary new interactive magazine, Wall (@tbpwall)…

Tell us a bit about Things By People and Wall magazine?
Things by People is a full-service creative fashion agency. We partnered up to start the agency in order to bring and curate locally based and international artists from the fashion industry to the UAE as a way to improve the overall quality of creative work here. We do this by keeping our artists’ desire to create at the core of the business.

Wall magazine is the first Instagram-designed moving image magazine in the world, which we developed in order to promote our artists’ work.

Tell us about the concept behind Wall
Wall was designed to showcase the work of Things By People, as well as the artists we represent. It was designed to break the ordinary thinking when it comes to browsing photography on Instagram.

What made you decide to launch the magazine?
Just like everything else we have done, we wanted to make a difference through our Instagram page. We were bored of the existing format, so we challenged ourselves to create something new. We thought, why don’t we make our Instagram more fun?

The concept all stemmed from observing how Instagram works. The social media platform itself is simply a wall of photos, so we took our observations and came up with the idea to turn our wall of photos into an interactive magazine, and so @tbpwall came to be.

What made you choose Instagram as the platform on which to launch Wall?
Instagram is used heavily within the fashion industry – much more than other platforms, such as Facebook. As most of Things By People’s creative work is visual – photos and videos – there is no other place that can express our vision in a better way.

What does Wall offer, content-wise, that is different from other online platforms?
A new experience, as Wall is quick to use and creates an immediate impression. It’s also highly interactive and a lot more fun to view than traditional content in print or online publications.

Who is your target audience?
Anyone interested in fashion or art. Or people who simply want to discover something new!

Will you be working with a dedicated editorial team, or are there opportunities for freelancers?
We are always up for collaborations with different artists or freelancers. However, we only represent artists on an exclusive basis.

How can PRs and brands get involved in the magazine?
Branded Wall issues are up for grabs. Wall is new but it has a growing following from the core fashion industry, and new campaigns, advertorials or even product launches (related to beauty or fashion) can be featured in the magazine. However, to maintain the high quality of Wall, we do insist on curating its content.

How do you see Things By People / Wall evolving in the future?
We keep a tight eye on technology and its benefits. In the immediate future, we will be looking into creating versions for Snapchat and other platforms…

Discovery Network extends agreement with du

Discovery Networks has selected du as its preferred partner for official playout and distribution services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This extends the existing partnership between the network and the UAE-based mobile communications and technology provider and means that du will now offer its expertise to manage the transmission of Discovery Network’s latest channels, including; DKids HD, DLife HD and DMAX HD.

“We are incredibly pleased to extend our partnership with du as our preferred playout service provider for DKids, DLife and DMAX,” says Amanda Turnbull, VP and Country Manager, Discovery Networks, MENA. “du has been our trusted partner for several years, having broadcast Fatafeat since 2006. Thanks to their unparalleled expertise, we can now expand our regional presence even further, with a portfolio of truly localised channels, curated for and to be enjoyed by our MENA audiences.”

Hany Fahmy Aly, Executive Vice President, Enterprise Business, du, adds “We are excited to continue being a trusted partner of Discovery in their regional expansion plans. This demonstrates our position as a top provider of broadcast services in the region and we are committed to continue providing Discovery with world-class and award-winning facilities, manned by best-in-class talent from du.”

Under the influence

Farah Souhail, Marketing Manager at Meltwater, talks about how to make influencer marketing work more effectively….

Influencers are people that drive knowledge and opinion, they also have an ‘influence’ over their followers, hence their title. Influencers on social media pop up more and more every day and brands across the GCC as well as the wider MENA region have teamed up with many of them in an attempt to deliver their messages more effectively. However, identifying the right influencers and measuring Return On Investment (ROI) remains an area of struggle for many brands, both regionally and globally.

From a marketer’s perspective, there are a number of ways in which you can master influencer marketing; setting targets and understanding your influencer’s brand rank highly among these. Here are ten of the things that I believe marketers can do to master influencer marketing and ensure that they not only choose the best influencer for their brand, but utilise their skills and knowledge in the optimum way.

Define your goals

Define the objective(s) of your influencer outreach program. Are you looking to:

  • increase brand awareness?
  • generate leads/boost sales?
  • position yourself as a thought leader?
  • reach a new audience?
  • remain relevant among your target audience?

Defining your short term and long term goals will help you select the right influencer, design your campaign’s content, as well as the methods to track and measure the success of your influencer marketing strategy.

Remember – Influencers are brands too!
It is essential for marketers to understand that influencers – those who are on top of their game – are brands too! Influencers have a loud voice, a substantial audience and create high quality content which can inspire people to communicate and engage with them. They understand their follower base, what they are interested in and how to impact with them. Approach your influencer as a partner and brief him/her about your campaign objectives, timing and message delivery to ensure optimal alignment and control.

Authenticity and consistency should be key
As a marketer you have a story (narrative) that you want to communicate with your audience. Influencers are people who can narrate your story. Today’s media is in the control of the consumers and people online are not interested in the brand as much as in the people that they engage with. To attract your influencer’s audience and to achieve the desired behavioural response, your influencer’s content needs to be authentic, consistent and able to create an emotional connection. Immerse your story into the lifestyle of your engager and think of ways to create a meaningful content that has a lasting impact.

Ensure that you team up with the right influencer for the right campaign
Selecting the right influencer is an art that today’s marketers need to master. Don’t just look at numbers when considering an influencer. Go for people that are not only likeable and trustworthy but have a social proof, are able to drive engagement with their followers and are an authority in their field.

While influencer marketing often involves social media engagers, there are other types and categories for you to choose from including:

  • family and friends
  • industry experts
  • bloggers/vloggers and product reviewers
  • journalists and media professionals
  • celebrities

Your message, branding guidelines, tone of voice and campaign goals should be your compass when selecting the right influencer and remember, sometimes the less-obvious influencers can be a better fit for your brand and campaign objectives than those with the highest followings.

Don’t go for quick wins
To be liked and trusted by your influencer’s followers you need to connect your brand with the influencer’s lifestyle and overall brand image. Teaming up with your competitor’s influencer or randomly appearing on the timeline of your influencer’s followers via a tweet or a post will not have much of an impact in todays short memory span. Forge long term relationships with your influencer and help them to think strategically too, in order to help build consistency and trust. Think of ways to launch creative, memorable campaigns that help you engage more effectively with the audience to reap the desired ROI.

It is also important to see things from the perspective of your brand/influencer. As influencer marketing is a lot more personal and targeted than some forms of marketing, this point of view is invaluable when it comes to planning your campaign. A few things to take into consideration from this perspective would be:

Try to identify the right influencer for the right product and the right platform
Brands should not just look at numbers when selecting an influencer. There are other, more important factors that should determine who is the right influencer for your brand. Things to consider include:

  • influencer’s hobbies, interests and lifestyle
  • influencers that believe in your product or service
  • the platform(s) the influencer is active on

An influencer with a massive following on Facebook may not be the right engager if the majority of your audience happens to be on Twitter. Similarly, an influencer who pursues an active lifestyle and is known for his passion for outdoor adventures and technology may not be the right person for promoting a male moisturising product. Such an influencer may very well use a moisturiser in his daily life, yet his brand (lifestyle) and the content he creates may not be the right fit for your product.

Reciprocity should be key
As a marketer you need to help influencers give back to their followers. Think of ways you can add value to the influencer’s audience. Find out about your influencer’s hobbies and interests and those of their followers. Employ these insights to create ‘bespoke’ influencer content that resonates with their audience. Influencer content types that allow for reciprocity include:

  • special offers and discounts
  • access to exclusive events and positive experiences

– these could; include; movie premieres or product launches –

  • competitions and prizes

Work with influencers to create engaging, memorable content
Appearing randomly on an influencer’s timeline will not benefit anyone. Consumers are smart and can see immediately whether a post is organic or is pushed for commercial reasons. Approach your influencer as a partner with whom you can brainstorm and bounce ideas on how you can best deliver your message. Remember, your influencer understands their audience, what inspires them and how to engage with them effectively.

Always allow for creative freedom
Good influencers understand branding and are good at creating engaging content. Tell your influencer about your campaign, message and delivery guidelines and he/she will know how to deliver your message in the right way – the way that resonates with their followers. A highly polished image that doesn’t reflect the influencer’s lifestyle and personality will quickly be seen as an advertorial.

Make sure you define your campaign ROI
Brands are advised to define what they are aiming to achieve from an influencer outreach program before hiring an influencer. Many techniques have been used in influencer marketing to help brands measure their ROI, such as page views, demand generation and lead conversation that result in an increase in sale and impact revenue.

Define your campaign goals and matrix; then communicate that with your influencer so that everyone is aligned. Keep these points in mind and ensure that your influencer marketing campaign stays on-brand.