GroupM makes leadership appointments

Global media investment management group, GroupM has made some leadership appointments following the launch of its online media platform, [m]PLATFORM across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Alex Stil, former Chief Commercial Officer Worldwide at GroupM Connect, has been promoted to the role of President of [m]PLATFORM, where he will lead the agency’s digital practice across EMEA. Former Chief Operating Officer at GroupM Connect, Sebastiaan Moesman will take on the role of Vice President of [m]PLATFORM where he will work alongside Alex, to oversee the agency’s [m]PLATFORM across the EMEA region.

The French twist

When Team TMN were invited to experience the new Apero menu that promises authentic French delicacies at Couqley Bistro and Restaurant, we couldn’t wait to see if the dining experience lived up to its reputation.

What: The new Apero menu, Couqley Bistro and Restaurant

Where: Laguna Tower, Mövenpick, Jumeirah Lake Towers

When: Couqley Bistro and Restaurant is open from 12pm until 12am, with the Apero menu served from 4pm to 8pm daily.

The Promise: “Couqley is a French bistro that oozes charm and traditional Parisian flare! With recipes inspired by Chef Alex Couquelet’s grandfather, guests are guaranteed the most authentic and unique French dining experience that Dubai has to offer.”

Did it deliver: The entrance was narrow yet intriguing in a way that left us curious of what to expect when we stepped into the main dining area of the bistro and as we had hoped, we were not disappointed. Stepping inside, the interior was a reminiscent of the 1950’s artisan workshops of Paris with mosaic stone floors and a cozy indoor terrace seating as well as a bar and dining space. The walls had that old brick texture to it with bulky framed pictures, adding that French subtlety to the atmosphere, giving us the feeling of being in a completely different time and place.

As we decided to go for the terrace seating area, we were greeted by our lovely waiter for the evening who then introduced himself and handed us the much-awaited menu to get the evening started. First, we ordered a bottle of white wine to sip on while we browsed through the menu. We then proceeded with the starters, the Poelee De Champignons was first on the list. The delicacy was a beautiful medley of sautéed wild mushrooms and crumbly puff pastry served with light creamy sauce which took our breath away. The thought that mushrooms can have that bursting flavour with a French twist to it, was astonishing. Next up was the Tartare De Thon, which took an adventurous turn, the combination of marinated raw tuna tartare with sesame seeds, scallions, fresh herbs toppled with leek tempura crisps was another unexpected taste that we couldn’t get over. The taste of raw tuna was completely different with the flavours of the scallions and fresh herbs to add to it, leaving our taste buds in a mix of an exciting and unique aftertaste of that French dining experience.

Switching it up a notch, we decided to try out the signature selection of ‘Boeuf’ from the menu. The Mini Burger Trio was the perfect option for us. Tasting the mini classic American-style burgers filled with cheddar cheese and served with pommes frites simply sealed the evening for us. The simplicity of the meal might sound like any other restaurant, but this was completely different. From the juicy burgers to the tender potato fries, we could taste the unique flavours that gave the marinated beef a distinct taste from the regular burgers that we knew to one with a Parisian flare.

Verdict: Its reputation, we will say, precedes it. The selection from the Apero menu was as exciting and authentic as promised. The feeling of being lost in a different era that had a strong French touch to it is the only way we could explain it. The food was mind blowing to the fact that nothing was, as it seemed. The flavours were different and unique making every bite better than the previous. And the wine at 19AED per glass and 89AED per bottle was the perfect price to pay for that dining experience. However, although the menu had loads of options to choose from, we did find it very restricted for vegetarians and vegans with limited options to choose from. Although the menu might be a little restricted, we do recommend the place for a celebratory dinner, romantic night out or a night with friends, to get a taste of what it is like to dine Paris – Dubai style.

Arab News win MENAA Award

Saudi Arabian daily newspaper, Arab News has been honored for its recent transformation and achievements at the fourth annual MENAA Awards, that took place on December 15, 2016 at the Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai. The event recognised Arab News for its progress in the last three months and also awarded the Editor-in-Chief, Faisal J. Abbas, with the Best Business Leaders Award for his leadership skills and work in contributing towards the newspaper’s performance that has created buzz in the media industry, gaining international credit for many recent stories.

“This recognition is dedicated to our Arab News team worldwide, however, the biggest prize we will always continue to aspire for daily is our readers’ continued trust,” says Faisal J. Abbas, Editor-in-Chief, Arab News.

Online, offline and somewhere in the middle

Hannah MacDonald, Founder, CitiSpi offers her thoughts on the marketing industry in the Middle East and how bridging the gap between offline and online platforms can serve as marketing strategies today…

Dubai’s food, leisure and entertainment scene is exploding with choices and so many options to select from. This has created a competitive landscape that has become fierce with operators working hard to capture the attention of would-be customers to gain their patronage.

“Now more than ever, operators are relying heavily on an integrated marketing platform that combines online and offline marketing and communication strategies – strategies that are built on the fundamental requirements to first know your target audience, so be clear on what you want to tell them and finally, recognise the best way to get that message across.”

Interestingly, while food, leisure and entertainment operators are selling offline experiences, being able to capture the attention of customers in an online environment has become an imperative part of their business strategy. Now more than ever, operators are relying heavily on an integrated marketing platform that combines online and offline marketing and communication strategies – strategies that are built on the fundamental requirement to first know your target audience, so be clear on what you want to tell them and finally, recognise the best way to get that message across.

By putting in the time and energy into getting your baseline right, you are putting yourself in good stead to bridge the gap between an offline and online experience. In fact, this is a trend we are not only witnessing, but also a part of – watching and experiencing the incredible rise in the use of platforms that combine online and offline experiences. It’s a trend I see continuing well into the future and one that I think will become more prominent. So, we are constantly looking at ways to harness the power of communications and maximise reach by combining online discovery with offline socialising – bringing together like-minded people to get Dubai’s residents and visitors to socialise smarter.

I think all forward-thinking businesses in our sector are looking to find a happy medium and balance somewhere in the middle of online and offline environments where we are able to successfully cut through the marketing noise. If you take the food and beverage sector as an example, there are numerous companies pushing places to eat and various promotions in and around town. However, with so many choices, it’s hard to see what’s right in front of you. Add to the mix the ever-increasing fame of influencers, who are changing the marketing and communication paradigm and you end up with a lot of competitive clutter to cut through.

Because of the shift, we see an opportunity to embrace this change and to pursue collaboration opportunities that are meaningful and relevant – engaging influencers who your target audiences relate to and who you can help facilitate active social engagement. It is a great way to bridge the online and offline environment, to cut through the competition and bring people together. In doing this, we can make socialising smarter, accessible, exciting and affordable – by bringing people together and closing the gap between offline and online socialising, which is my vision at CitiSpi.

When you can do this well, authentically and consistently, consumer’s confidence in your brand grows exponentially. Marry this with a relentless effort to continually find out more about what your customers will respond best to when they’re somewhere in the middle, and you’ll find your happy medium.

Arab Social Media Influencers Club launches

The Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum launches the Arab Social Media Influencers Club across the Middle East. With the club’s headquarters to be located in Dubai and branches to open across the region, the club will serve as a platform for Arab social media influencers and youth to enhance their creativity and online reach as well as maximise their role and participation in the development, growth and promotion of their societies.

Connector shifts ownership

Dubai-based media professionals, Chris Nicolaides and Sam Patel have secured the ownership of Connector Advertising DMCC. Previously owned by Lynda Poncia, the media house publishes UAE’s lifestyle and leisure title, Connector as well as a monthly city guide, Discover Dubai. With the acquisition of Connector Advertising, Chris and Sam will leave their current positions as Commercial Director at Turrett Media and dmg events Middle East, Asia & Africa respectively.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed growing the Connector brand over the years,” says Lynda Poncia. “However it is now time for me to move on, and I look forward to seeing the company and the magazines continue the great relationship they have with the many readers and clients under the leadership of Chris and Sam. I am sure they will enjoy continued success and I wish them all the best for the future.”

Sept PR makes new appointment

Dubai-based lifestyle and communications agency, Sept PR has welcomed Dannii Gardiner to the role of Social Media Manager. With experience in PR and communications, Dannii previously worked for MediaWorks New Zealand where she managed international clients in both Radio and Television and most recently at Bull & Roo in the UAE where she worked across brands such as Tom & Serg and Muchachas. In her new role, she will focus on developing digital strategies to create engaging content that will be aligned with the clients’ PR objectives.

“Dannii brings with her a passion for quirky and out of the box campaigns and marketing knowledge in the region’s F&B sector  – ideal attributes which will support our current and forthcoming client campaigns,” says Caroline Holmberg, Managing Director, Sept PR.