Edelman DABO makes new appointment

Edelman DABO has appointed Kathleen Burbridge to the role of Senior Account Manager. With a wealth of experience in PR, Kathleen previously worked with Edelman DABO as Account Manager and most recently at Seven Media as Account Director. In her new role, she will focus on handling BMW Middle East and the importers for both BMW and MINI across the region.

“I’m excited to be back at Edelman DABO to not only work on BMW Group Middle East, but several other clients and to continue to grow my skillset in a changing communications landscape through the training and resources that Edelman provides,” says Kathleen.


New Middle East Communications Manager at Estée Lauder

Estée Lauder Middle East has appointed Hannah Raven-Wright to the role of Middle East Communications Manager. Hannah most recently worked with Edelman DABO as Senior Account Manager, where she worked across a range of consumer PR accounts including Majid Al Futtaim Holding, MINI Middle East and BMW Middle East. In her new role, she will manage the PR, communications and influencer campaigns for three of Estée Lauder Middle East’s brands; Bobbi Brown, Clinique and Aveda from strategy through to execution.

“I am thrilled to have joined the Estée Lauder Companies,” says Hannah. “It is extremely exciting to be looking after three brands I have been a consumer of for many years.”

VICE Arabia launches operations

Global media brand, VICE Arabia has launched operations across the region. Headquartered in the UAE, provides a mix of locally and internationally produced video programming, as well as editorial and social content targeted at the region’s youth population.

Islam Alrayyes takes on the role of Editor-in-Chief and brings a wealth of experience in the Middle East media industry, having previously worked as Editor-in-chief at Sport360 and Head of Digital Content at, part of Abu Dhabi Media. In his new role, he will lead the team of writers, editors, directors and producers to launch its digital operations across the region.

VICE Arabia’s Managing Director, Jason Leavy will handle broader operations and comes with over 20 years of media, communications, publishing and marketing experience. Jason most recently worked with Edelman DABO as Managing Director and will now work alongside the editorial, content and commercial teams. He will be responsible for VICE Arabia’s creative and strategic development across all mediums as a part of the brand’s expansion plan across the region.

Reporting to Jason Leavy is Firas Breais – Head of Sales, Ciaran Bonass – Creative Director and Anas Al Hakim – Senior Creative.

Also joining the new team from its UK office is Aws Al-Jezairy who holds the role of Managing Editor, having helped launch VICE News in the UK. Emma Hill is Head of Production, Badar Salem and Wael Mamdouh are Online Editors, Ameer Daou is Social Editor and Majd Abi Ali is Audience Development Manager.

“VICE Arabia will bring together pan-Arab youth and stand out as the platform for them to tell their own stories and talk about what matters to them,” says Islam Alrayyes, Editor-in-Chief, VICE Arabia. “In a region woven in a rich cultural fabric and with increasingly prominent new voices and talent – from innovators to artists – VICE will showcase the work of those making an impact.”


In The Hot Seat – Natalie Johnson

The Y Project’s Founder, Natalie Johnson tells TMN about her role and what she thinks about the PR and marketing industry in the Middle East…

Name: Natalie Johnson

Nationality: British

Age: 28

Current job title: Founder, The Y Project

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

In September 2013, which feels like a lifetime ago.

Where did you work prior?

I worked in three different agencies in the UK – one very traditional, one an integrated advertising agency and one solely digital. When I first moved to Dubai, I was with DABO & CO (now Edelman DABO) for just under two years before taking up roles in marketing for CrossFit and fitness company, InnerFight, and most recently working with hospitality company, Bull & Roo.

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

It was very different to the UK! I had been working in a digital agency before I made the move and when I arrived here, traditional print media was still king.

Has your opinion changed much?

Absolutely – we’ve seen a total shift change as the region continues to play catch up with progressive markets elsewhere in the world. Brands and agencies alike are becoming much savvier about digital and its role within the marketing mix – and we’re seeing some fantastic video-led content as well as some stand-out social-first campaigns.

Tell us about your current role…

I founded The Y Project with a mandate to work on projects that I found truly exciting – both so I was completely fulfilled, but also so my clients would get the absolute best out of me and the talent I choose to work alongside. Fast-forward almost one year and The Y Project has remained true to this ethos – with a key focus on developing creative online-first campaigns that ensure cut-through.

What challenges do you face?

As a start-up, the biggest challenge is fulfilling every single role of the business – from the creative and strategic to finance, HR and business development. I’ve called upon some amazing people to help assist and have learnt so much about sourcing talent, business forecasting and Excel formulas, as well as what I absolutely suck at. Rule number one: know what you don’t know and never be afraid to ask for help!

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Realising true business objectives for clients – a creative campaign is a wonderful thing, but it’s meaningless unless it drives bottom line.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Email, WhatsApp, Instagram and I’m quite partial to the good old-fashioned telephone call as well!

How has clients’ expectations in today’s digital community influenced PR and marketing in the UAE?

The penetration of social media, growth of influencers and closure of magazines and newspapers in the region has meant that clients and agencies alike are now placing a core focus on digital. Only a few years ago, most agencies had small, separate digital teams, whereas now many have developed unified integrated content and communications teams – with a focus on delivering holistic strategic campaigns that drive business objectives both on and offline.

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

It has ensured a more tailored approach to communications as well as one that is mutually beneficial. However, this only applies to those PRs considering how they can best help and assist journalists and bloggers create the most stand-out content i.e. those that ask questions such as: Can we provide them with a specifically shot video purely for the purposes of their publication? How can we bolster this with a social-led edit? Should we shoot something in portrait to supply them with content for Snapchat or Instagram Stories? And of course not forgetting, how can this best be represented in their offline publication? etc.

How has content marketing influenced consumer behavior today compared to traditional marketing?

Content marketing can be much more readily targeted to relevant consumer groups and in markedly more cases, individual consumers. As a result, consumers feel much more aligned with, as well as an emotional connection to, brands taking advantage of this fact i.e. even something as simple as targeted language rather than dual-language posts on Facebook ensures that Arabic speaking audiences see Arabic language posts. 

How has social media in the region evolved to become an integrated part of the PR industry?

Despite great leaps forward, there is still some way to go. Some agencies still adopt the separate ‘PR’ and ‘social media’ teams model – why isn’t it yet integrated across the board?

Describe yourself in five words…

Not afraid to break the rules.

What inspires you?

People with big goals and a strategy in place to achieve them.

What’s your most overused saying?

‘Many thanks’ – it’s an affliction.

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

There have been so many amazingly exciting things – too many to mention, but I think it’s probably my first successful pitch under The Y Project – that was pretty special.

Five things you can’t live without?

Phone, laptop, charging devices for said phone and laptop, orange juice (obsessed), dog (equally obsessed).

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

For my entire Inbox to be readable on a single screen…

When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional Ice Skater. I skated from the age of five until I was 16, training five times a week and competing across the UK.

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

Right now, podcasts. TED (of course) but also the likes of S Town and Undisclosed. My first experience of working on one was the ‘InnerFight Podcast’ when I was handling the gym’s marketing – and I’m looking forward to incorporating the medium in relevant future projects.

What advice would you offer to someone looking to start a career in PR and marketing in the UAE?

Embrace it and soak up the opportunity to work with some of the best brands in the world, as well as learn from some of the top global communications talent who have come armed with a wealth of knowledge from their home markets. And don’t be afraid to colour outside of the lines to continue to push the market forward.

House of Comms welcomes new Associate Director

Dubai-based integrated communications agency, House of Comms has appointed David Brady to the role of Associate Director. With 16 years of experience in brand PR, David previously worked with freuds in the UK as Senior Account Director and Consumer Team Head before moving to the UAE, and most recently working with Edelman DABO as Associate Director. In his new role, he will join the senior management team and focus on developing strategies for the agency’s expansion across the region. He will also provide senior counsel for the agency’s portfolio of clients including Spinneys, Costa, MMI and DTCM.

“I am a big believer in culture and creativity,” says David. “House of Comms places a huge amount of value on these aspects of agency life too, so joining their senior team was an absolute no-brainer for me. With an enviable client roster and a clear mindset for integrated campaigns, I can’t think of a hotter shop to be with right now.”

markettiers officially appoints Rachel Lewis

Having worked with markettiers since June 2017 as freelance Senior Account Executive, Rachel Lewis has now officially been appointed to the role of Senior Account Executive. Rachel previously worked with Edelman DABO, where she was an integral member of the consumer team across technology, entertainment and arts, and culture sectors. In her new role, she will work on key projects with both PR agencies and directly with clients on broadcast-driven campaigns and consumer activations, across industry sectors. She will also support the team with creative consultancy across content creation, managing the production and delivery of this content and undertaking targeted media relations that ensure campaigns deliver for both clients, brands and media owners.

“I’m delighted to be joining the region’s dedicated broadcast specialist,” says Rachel. “markettiers MENA have been delivering some of the most exceptional digital and video-led campaigns in the region since their inception in 2014. As a firm believer in putting content at the heart of campaigns, I’m excited to bring my knowledge and passion in both PR and video production to help create more memorable campaigns for clients.”

Yi-Hwa Hanna joins Edelman Dabo

Edelman Dabo has appointed Yi-Hwa Hanna to the role of Senior Content Manager. Bringing with her a wealth of experience in journalism, Yi-Hwa previously worked with ITP Media Group, as Deputy Editor for Good Housekeeping Middle East and most recently as Editor-in-Chief of Women’s Health Middle East. In her new role, she will be working with the brand teams on content management, strategy and creation.

“Content strategy and management is a relatively new discipline, and is one that continues to evolve as content creation and the way we communicate continues to do so in the changing media landscape,” says Yi-Hwa. “It’s an exciting role to be in and a great way to utilise a diverse skill set in creating impactful, lasting, and effective perceptions whether that’s in the scope of branding, communications marketing, or indeed, even the broader publishing industry. I’m thrilled to be entering the next phase of my media career not only in this great position, but also with such an innovative, thought-leading, progressive and creative company like Edelman Dabo, where both the company itself and the staff are among the most well-reputed in the industry.”

New appointment at LinkedIn

Following the recent launch of its new features, Matched Audiences and Lead Gen Forms, LinkedIn has appointed Ziad Rahhal to the role of Head of Marketing Solutions, MENA. Ziad joins the professional network with over ten years of experience in the sales and marketing industry, having previously worked with Nimbuzz B.V as Managing Director, MENA, where he oversaw the launch of several digital advertising solutions across the region. In his new role, he will develop strategies for the growth of LinkedIn’s new products, which will enhance audience targeting, as well as oversee the progress of their existing features across the MENA region.

“With the recent announcement of the 500 million milestone globally, it really couldn’t be a better time to join LinkedIn and I am excited to be a part of the team,” says Ziad. “In the complex world of B2B buying, we are looking to help brands not only engage with professionals, but drive and convert leads – and it’s exciting to join a platform leading in this field.”

Major leadership changes at Edelman DABO

Communications and marketing firm, Edelman DABO has undergone major leadership changes in the region following mass layoffs earlier this year. Camilla and Lucy d’Abo, founders of Dabo & Co, which in 2015 was acquired by Edelman and rebranded as Edelman DABO, will step down from their current roles and leave the agency. After seven years of working with the brand, Managing Director, Jason Leavy will also depart Edelman DABO to pursue new opportunities in the PR and publishing industry.

The new management transition will see Jason Galucci, previously CEO at Lexis UK take on the role of Managing Director, Brand at Edelman UAE. In his new role, he will oversee the combined Edelman DABO team and its operations across the country.

Alex Apthorpe will also be joining the agency’s new management team to take on the role of Director of Brand Experience and Creative for Edelman DABO. Previously Senior Vice President and Joint Managing Director for Jack Morton Worldwide – Middle East, in his new role, Alex will oversee the experiential team reporting to Galucci.

New launch at House of Comms

Dubai-based integrated communications agency, House of Comms has launched new creative division, experiential. The new division will focus on helping clients build their brands using non-traditional, high-impact and event management solutions. The launch of the new division will also see the appointment of Laura McCartney as Head of experiential, bringing with her over seven years of experience and having previously worked with Edelman Dabo as Account Director. In her new role she will work across House of Comms’ portfolio of clients and oversee the experiential operations as well as the development of creative strategies for the new division.

“The most successful campaigns I’ve worked on previously have been those where integration was at the heart of the project, allowing for the best possible results for clients,” says Laura. “House of Comms was a natural fit for me personally, where I can build on my experience with some amazing clients but also take on more truly integrated communications campaigns. I’m hugely excited!”