MSL Group opens office in Turkey

Dubai-based communications and engagement company, MSL Group Middle East, part of Publicis Groupe, has expanded into Turkey. Being its 107th office worldwide, the new office will be a part of a strong integrated offering in Turkey that will feature the capabilities and expertise from Publicis Istanbul, Publicis Healthcare, Leo Burnett, Starcom and Zenith. The new office will see the appointment of Mehin Öner as CEO, making Istanbul the 34th branch in the MSL network led by a woman.

“The move links the PR capabilities in Turkey to MSL’s global practice and sectors as well as best-in-class strategic counsel, creative services and best practices that MSL provides around the world,” says Mehin Öner, CEO, MSL Group, Turkey. “By working as part of the MSL global network, and closely with our local Publicis sister agencies, we offer our clients a distinct strategic, data-driven and holistic solution that meets their broadest communication and business needs.”

Guillaume Herbette, Global CEO, MSL Group, continues, “The addition of Istanbul is strategically important to our global network as it is situated at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East and Asia, all where the MSL network is exceptionally strong.  We have been eager to move into the Turkey market for some time now. Clients across our global network will benefit from our presence in Turkey where we now have a solid on-the-ground team with a deep understanding of the local marketplace and strong relationships, community ties and social connections.”


Publicis Communications partners with Google

Publicis Communications Middle East and Africa, part of Publicis Group has signed a strategic partnership with Google across the region. The agreement will focus on a joint business plan to help Publicis Communications’ creative agencies including Leo Burnett, Publicis, Saatchi & Saatchi and Arc develop as well as apply a digital-first approach and integrated thinking for effective and engaging campaigns. The collaboration also follows the launch of Google All-Stars Academy 2.0, to act as a capability-building program for agencies and their teams across Google platforms.

“Joining forces with Google enables us to further bolster our user-first approach through superior access to data and technology,” says Raja Trad, Chief Executive Officer, Publicis Communications MEA. “This will empower our clients to win in the digital space through cutting edge, award-winning campaigns that deliver engaging and effective business results.”

Winners of IAA Ticket to Cannes Lions revealed

Winners of this year’s IAA Ticket to Cannes Lions competition were announced last night at IAA UAE Chapter’s Dubai office. The competition aims to recognise young professionals in the advertising industry and saw Omar Tom from Leo Burnett, Elie Raad from AMS and Levent Donertas from TBWA/RAAD named as this year’s winners. Selected on the basis of originality, creativity and personal investment, Omar, Elie and Levent will move on to represent the region at the Cannes Lions International Festival for Creativity to be held from June 17 – 24, as well as be enrolled in the Young Lions Academies.

“The IAA Ticket to Cannes Lions not only makes young advertisers mine their own creativity and originality to further their careers, but also gives them a chance to learn from the best minds in the industry and apply that learning in the local market,” says Hani Ghorayeb, President, IAA UAE Chapter. “The three winners stood out because of their creative approach and their ability to elicit an emotional connection with their campaign. We wish them an exciting, enjoyable and fruitful week in Cannes.”

Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai wins Young Lions Print Competition

Motivate and Motivate Val Morgan has announced this year’s winners of the UAE Young Lions Print Competition held on May 1 at In5 Media Innovation Centre. This year’s competition saw 17 participating teams and named Sarah Guessoum and Anika Marya from Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai as gold winners, while Leo Burnett came in second and TBWA/RAAD came in third. Sarah and Anika will move on to represent the region at the International Young Lions Print Competition to be held in Cannes, France from June 17 – 24, 2017 following their win.

“Firstly, I want to thank Motivate and Motivate Val Morgan for the incredible opportunity given to the young talent in the region,” says, Komal Bedi Sohal, Chief Creative Officer, Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai. “We at Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai are very excited and proud of our young talent, Anika and Sarah, for winning the UAE Young Lions Print Competition. We are confident they will do the region proud and wish them all our best.”

FP7 appoints new Account Manager

FP7 Dubai welcomes Sagar Patel to the role of Account Manager. Previously Senior Regional Communication Executive at Leo Burnett, Dubai, Sagar will now handle the advertising account for Majid Al Futtaim Leisure and Entertainment.

“FP7 is a new blank book, and I’m the author – I’m here to make a difference,” says Sagar.  “I look forward to developing an adored sense of love amongst the millions out there for the entertainment and leisure industry.”

Dubai Lynx award winners announced

Dubai Lynx, the International Festival of Creativity has announced winners for this year’s awards ceremony that took place on March 8, 2017. With over 2,500 entries across 17 categories, the awards celebrate excellence in creative communications in the MENA region.

Pierre Choueiri, Chairman and CEO, Choueiri Group was honoured with the ‘Dubai Lynx Advertising Person of the Year Award’ and Coca-Cola Middle East was awarded the ‘Dubai Lynx Advertiser of the Year’. Winners of the Grand Prix awards included:

  • Memac Ogilvy & Mather Dubai for ‘Branded Content & Entertainment’ as well as the ‘Innovation’ award
  • Walter Thompson Beirut for ‘Creative Effectiveness’
  • Grey MENA Dubai for ‘Design’
  • The Classic Partnership Advertising Dubai for ‘Direct’
  • Blue Barracuda Dubai for ‘Film’
  • Walter Thompson Dubai for ‘Film Craft’ and ‘Radio’
  • Leo Burnett Beirut for ‘Grand Prix for Good’
  • Leo Burnett Dubai for ‘Interactive’
  • Walter Thompson Riyadh for ‘Media’
  • FP7/TUN Tunis for ‘Mobile’
  • TWA\RAAD for ‘Promo & Activation’
  • Y&R Dubai for ‘Outdoor’, ‘Print & Publishing’ as well as ‘Print & Outdoor Craft’
  • BBDO Worldwide for ‘Network of the Year’
  • Impact BBDO, Dubai for ‘Agency of the Year’
  • OMD, Dubai for ‘Media Agency of the Year’
  • Good People, Lebanon for ‘Lynx Palm Award’
  • Carine Howayek and Anirudh Shiva from J.Walter Thompson and Garen Yabremian from HSBC for ‘Young Lynx Integrated Campaign’
  • Marc Baakliny and Toni Tannous from J. Walter Thompson Riyadh for ‘Young Lynx Print Competition’
  • Yar Berjawi and Sasha El Jurdi from FP7/DXB for ‘Young Lynx PR Competition’
  • Amir Daou, Roshni D’Souza, Waqas Maqsood and Heena Makhijani from SOCIALEYEZ Dubai for ‘Twitter Live Young Lynx Competition’
  • Hanin Hassan from American University in Dubai for ‘Masar Student Creative Award for Print’
  • Asma Al-Aloosi from American University in Dubai for ‘STC Integrated Student Award’
  • American University in Dubai for ‘University of the Year’

“The Dubai Lynx awards exists to celebrate and champion creativity, while reflecting the ever-shifting branded communications landscape,” says Terry Savage, Chairman, Dubai Lynx. “This year saw submissions from 22 countries, including a first from Sudan and an increase in some more of the traditional categories such as ‘Print and Outdoor’. The evening brought to a close the three-day festival, which was attended by over 2,300 creative communications professionals this year and the work that was awarded really demonstrates the essence of creativity in the region.”


Publicis consolidates regional LeoComm offices

Publicis Communications has consolidated its six-office LeoComm PR network in the Middle East under the brand of MSLGroup, its strategic communications and engagement firm. Leocomm offices in the UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will now become MSLGROUP in the Middle East, while remaining part of the Publicis Communications MEA portfolio of agencies, which also includes; Leo Burnett, Publicis Worldwide, Flip Media, Arc and Saatchi & Saatchi. MSLGROUP’s Communications and Network Consulting (CNC) Network also has offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, servicing mostly corporate and public affairs clients, which will remain a separate unit inside of MSLGROUP.
“We are thrilled to grow our network in the Middle East,” says Guillaume Herbette, CEO MSLGROUP. “LeoComm PR brings to the table specialised communications expertise, vast knowledge of the Middle East and an in-depth understanding of regional market trends. Together, we look forward to providing our global and regional clients with a full scope of integrated public relations services.”
Raja Trad, CEO, Publicis Communications Middle East and Africa, adds “In recent years, LeoComm PR has built a strong legacy of growth, one rooted in a powerful ‘think global, act local’ communications strategy. Today the agency’s new identity will help further crystallise this approach and cement its mission to deliver fully-integrated, all-encompassing public relations services.”

Nicolas Roux joins LinkedIn MENA

LinkedIn MENA has appointed Nicolas Roux as its first ever Head of Agencies for MENA’S LinkedIn Marketing Solutions. With 20 years of experience in digital marketing, business development as well as brand & content strategy, Nicolas most recently worked at MediaCom MENA, Kalm Beauty Network, Leo Burnett and Chalhoub Group. In his new role, he will be responsible for strategic partnerships and executive level engagements with key media holding companies as well as the agencies within them. Nicolas will also lead, advice and execute LinkedIn’s go-to-market strategy for media, creative, social and PR agencies with the objective of driving partner and agency alignment across the organisation within the MENA region.

“The MENA media market is on the brink of the next evolutionary leap forward, with traditional lines being redrawn between brands, publishers and agencies,” says Nicolas. “I am excited to join LinkedIn at such a significant time in its own journey, and look forward to working with our agency partners to create economic opportunities for professionals across the region.”

In The Hot Seat – Hussein M. Dajani

Hussein M. Dajani, Chief Operating Officer at Hug Digital tells Team TMN about the challenges he faces working in the digital industry in the Middle East and the rewards of effective management…


Name: Hussein M. Dajani                   

Age: 36                                          

From: Beirut, Lebanon               

Current Job Title: Chief Operating Officer – Hug Digital

When did you first arrive in Dubai?
My journey in Dubai started in 2004, when I was a Senior Account Executive with Leo Burnett, working on the Dubai Holding group of companies. Leo Burnett gave me an amazing opportunity to interact with and understand the people behind Dubai’s amazing success.

Where did you work prior?
I have over 15 years of experience with multinational agencies such as JWT, Leo Burnett, and TBWA. I’ve also worked on the client side for Virgin Mobile as well as Red Bull, across the Middle East and Africa region.

What were your first impressions of the media industry in the Middle East?
I was still young and easily impressed when I moved here. Back then, outdoor billboards were considered an innovation and moving from Saudi to Dubai felt like jumping 20 years into the future in a time machine. I remember when 7Days newspaper came out and its size was innovative by comparison to the other big, bulky newspapers on offer. That was the golden era for the media industry over here. 

Has your opinion changed much?
Yes, very much so and for various reasons. One being, I have changed but also, consumers’ behaviors have changed, media consumption has changed. Yet the media industry didn’t evolve with these changes and so now it is starting to pay the price.

Tell us about your current role
When I first joined Hug Digital, I was in charge of uplifting the agency’s social offerings across the region. Six months down the line, I was promoted to Chief Operating Officer of the agency, where I now report directly to the Chairman and CEO. I’m responsible for maintaining relationships with clients, expanding the agency to new markets and elevating offerings from digital, innovation, research, social, and content. It’s like wearing many hats at the same time.

What challenges do you face?
The biggest challenge I face is finding the right talents, recruiting them and retaining them. The new generation is so different from my generation when we started working. They don’t have the “mojo” for work and they aren’t ready, nor do they want to go the extra mile.

Another challenge faced by the whole region – financial, political and economical instability. When Saudi suffers, the whole region does, and so far Saudi is witnessing the biggest hit as a result of overall negative market sentiments.

A third challenge I face is convincing clients to go digital, regardless.

Lastly, staying updated with the latest trends, innovations and breakthrough’s happening in digital, which is one fast-paced industry, is a challenge. But you’re either ahead of the game or you’re a follower. 

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
Seeing staff happy at work and witnessing the agency grow. Managing the reputation of an agency isn’t an easy task, but it is definitely rewarding when you hear positive news, even from strangers. That’s when you know that you are doing the right thing.

On March 25, 2016 we celebrated the sixth anniversary of Hug Digital. We are now in four markets (Dubai, Cairo, Jeddah, and Trivandrum), employ 13 different nationalities and have a local, regional and multinational roster of clients. It is really rewarding to be part of something small that is growing by the day. 

Work calls via landline, mobile or both?
What’s a landline? Work calls are either on mobile, Skype, Gtalk or Whatsapp.

Describe yourself in five words…
I can do so in two: Happily Dissatisfied.

What can’t you live without?
My wife, my mobiles, water and my Apple TV.

If you could have one work wish granted, what would it be?
More transparency, ethics and honesty in the industry. I would like the communication industry to return to its glory days. 

What is your favourite form of media?
Digital all the way. Unfortunately, TV to me has just become decor, radio is for passing time when in the car and not on the phone and print, oh dear, CO2. I honestly can’t remember the last time I held a newspaper or a magazine.

BPG Bates welcomes Abraham Varughese

Regional advertising, events, activation and design agency BPG Bates, part of the BPG Group, has appointed Abraham Varughese as Executive Creative Director. Abraham has over 18 years of experience in marketing and advertising, and most recently worked as Creative Director at Leo Burnett in Dubai.

In his new role, Abraham will work across all of BPG Bates’ accounts, heading the Creative Department. He will also form a part of the agency’s leadership team.

“I am looking forward to the challenge of defining the creative product of BPG Bates and hope to take advantage of the agency’s historical strengths, agile structure and integrated model especially in digital and media,” says Abraham. “Ultimately my goal is to make good work an organic outcome of well-thought-out everyday assignments.”

Nick Clements, CEO, BPG Bates, adds “We are delighted to have Abraham on board. His track record is a testament to his ability and we will benefit greatly from his talent and experience; he is a great addition to the team.”