Bruce Clay ME appoints new Managing Director

Dubai-based digital marketing agency, Bruce Clay Middle East (BCME), has promoted Neal Patel to the role of Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa. Having joined the agency in 2016 as Head of Digital, Neal has over ten years of experience in the digital sector and has worked across clients within digital spaces, focusing on acquisition, retention and conversion for multiple verticals and territories. In his new role, he will lead the growth of the team and maintain the services provided to the existing clients, including Johnson & Johnson, LG Electronics and Apparel Group.

“I am really excited about taking up the role of Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa at BCME,” says Neal. “We have huge plans for 2018, but will always ensure we remain true to our core value of keeping the client at the centre of everything we do.”

In The Hot Seat – Nicole Suter

Team TMN sits with Nicole Suter, Managing Director of Djembe Communications, offers her thoughts on the role of digital media and the PR industry in the Middle East…

Name: Nicole Suter

Nationality: Swiss

Age: 38

Current job title: Managing Director, Djembe Communications

When did you first arrive in Dubai?


Where did you work prior?

I previously worked at the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in Switzerland and in the UAE, I worked as Account Manager at Golin Harris, Communications Manager at Legatum, Account Director at Weber Shandwick and most recently held the role of Regional Director EMEA at Djembe Communications.

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

That it is an interesting, multi-facetted industry where someone like me who started out fresh could learn a lot.

Has your opinion changed much?

No, not at all. I think with the Middle East and particularly Dubai, becoming an international hub, it is more important than ever for organisations, both local and international ones, to focus on their reputation and communications. Which is why I think this industry remains very interesting and challenging.

Tell us about your current role

I am leading an international team across offices in the Middle East, Africa, Europe and North America. My role is very diverse in that I strategically advise clients, drive our growth by generating new business leads and ensure we as a consultancy offer our clients best in class capabilities and expertise. It is very exciting for me to interact with a team of drummers with local expertise in UAE, Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria, Ghana, Morocco, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the USA.

What challenges do you face?

The challenges of entering and setting up a business in the Middle East or any region for that matter, are manifold and range from understanding the culture, approach to business and becoming familiar with procedures, processes and key stakeholders. It was imperative for us to understand the market and adapt our market entry strategy accordingly to ensure we have a successful start to our operations in the Middle East.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Witnessing every day how such a diverse team of people can deliver great work.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Through email, phone, our website or social media channels. Our channels of communication vary and are always open.

Has user-generated content taken over brand promotion and marketing campaigns in the Middle East?

Megabrands and smaller companies alike are harnessing the power of user-generated content by mobilising their audiences in social sharing, both on and offline. I would not say it has taken over yet but it has definitely added great value and created another reference point for consumers today.

Has the Middle East’s diverse audience posed as a challenge or advantage in PR today?

I think it is a challenge in that we as communicators need to make sure we address this diversity, so it is a positive challenge and an advantage at the same time for brands to speak to various stakeholder groups.

What role has digital media played in redefining the relationship between PR professionals, journalists and bloggers?

Digital media has become very important and a source of information, news and opinions that is readily available and spreads globally within a very short period of time. Smartphone penetration is incredible. It has brought a new dynamic to the communications industry and key actors. We have seen that African companies are increasingly adopting social media as a tool for business growth and, supported by increasingly reliable broadband infrastructure, it is becoming a core part of the innovation eco-system. That eco-system also includes a nascent app and web development industry. Collectively we are seeing the growth of an exciting new digital age in Africa that is proving to be attractive to the region’s young population and creative minds.

How would you describe yourself at work?

Focused, driven, organised but also in need of a laugh once in a while

What inspires you?

I can’t name one thing, it is often the unexpected – a different opinion or view for instance, that inspires me to think or act differently.

What’s your most overused saying?

‘We need a plan’ and ‘Let’s get the job done’.

What’s the most exciting thing that has happened to you in your career?

There are many but overall, I would say the exciting places my work has taken me to over the years.

Five things you can’t live without?

Definitely, my two sons, the rest is materialistic and shouldn’t be so essential.

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

Shortening travel times to a few minutes.

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

I would have loved to have been a criminologist or profiler.

What’s your favorite form of media?

As communicators, we have to consider all channels, always. I access news on my tablet as I’m always on the go and depend largely on social media for latest news. I also depend on TV while at the airport waiting to board.

How do you see the PR industry changing in the Middle East in the coming years?

Clients have embraced digital and we have fewer clients giving us traditional briefs. Digital and social media continue to prove essential channels for brands looking to engage with their highly connected audiences. We have also noticed that clients are looking at consultancies to advise them on campaign PR as opposed to regular one-time activity or solutions. In terms of professionalism I think we can always do more. Evaluation is still to come of age, but again the inclusion of social and digital elements, including paid media, into many mandates is starting to finally force through the changes we needed to all see in this area too. We have also seen that the importance and impact of online influencers have grown and will keep growing, however there will be more emphasis placed on ROI, measurement and earned equity. With the Middle East and Dubai continuing to become a regional and international hub, the industry will also become more sophisticated and adapt international best practices even more.

Omobono makes new appointment

Dubai-based creative and technology agency, Omobono has appointed Helen Rankin to the role of Senior Digital Strategist. With 20 years of experience in digital transformation and marketing, Helen previously worked with LG Electronics Middle East and Africa (MEA) as Regional Digital Marketing Manager, and most recently with M&C Saatchi as Chief Growth Officer. In her new role, she will be responsible for leveraging digital innovation and behavioural design to create effective strategic solutions for Omobono’s portfolio of clients.

“In the Middle East, quality writing for thought leadership and just-in-time marketing to achieve digital transformation are in high demand, especially in Saudi Arabia and the UAE where the national agenda is driving government agencies and enterprises to act with speed and confidence,” says Helen. “My goal is to support our clients to meet their strategic objectives and I’m delighted to be working with such a diverse and challenging portfolio.”

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.”

Nation Media Group appoints The MediaVantage

Dubai-based media company, The MediaVantage has been appointed as the exclusive sales representative for Nation Media Group in the Middle East. Founded in 1959, Nation Media Group is an independent media house in East and Central Africa with operations in print, broadcast and digital media. The MediaVantage will now have the rights to sell advertising and commercial opportunities across all titles owned by Nation Media Group to clients and media agencies in the Middle East.

“The Middle East continues to be an attractive market for African investors as well as visitors and we feel that now is the time to appoint the right media representative to manage our commercial interests,” says Joe Muganda, CEO, Nation Media Group. “The MediaVantage is clearly the market leader and we are delighted to have selected Manoj Khimji and Imane Eddinari along with their team to partner with us and represent Nation Media Group.”

Manoj Khimji, Managing Director, The MediaVantage, adds “We are delighted to add all titles owned by the group to our current roster of leading African media. We look forward to offering complete media solutions from the African continent to clients and agencies in the Middle East. Joe has the right vision and ambition to match our capabilities and offer innovative opportunities to advertisers in the region. Together we look forward to a strong and profitable partnership.”

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller wins at International Business Awards

ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller has been awarded Public Relations Agency of the Year in the Middle East and Africa at the International Business Awards. The eighth Annual Arab Youth Survey 2016 also won PR Campaign of the Year and both awards are to be presented at the International Business Awards ceremony in Italy on October 21, 2016. The awards recognised the agency for its work in the Arab Youth Survey in the categories of; Reputation/Brand Management, Public Services and Global issues. ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller also received a ‘Grand Stevie’ award for the first time, for their record of 23 trophy wins and three medals at the International Business Awards.

“This is a tremendous result for us and it is wonderful to see our ground-breaking work on behalf of our clients recognised on the international stage,” says Sunil John, Founder and CEO, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller. “This unprecedented win is a testament to the hard work and creative energy of our teams across all of our Practices.”