RAPP ME welcomes new Managing Director 

RAPP ME has appointed Mimi Nicklin to the role of Managing Director. With a wealth of experience in strategic and creative communications, Mimi previously worked across brands in South Africa including Coca-Cola, Kimberley Clarke, Samsung and Unilever and most recently worked with WPP Team GSK in Singapore where she held the role of Vice President. In her new role, she will focus on new strategic insights and creativity and strive for mass impact while leveraging data to drive delivery.

“In a time when the whole world is saying the same thing and many agencies offer a very similar offering I think it’s the quality of the talent that creates loyalty to our agency brands,” says Mimi. “My number one focus is on our people, our environment, our culture and our brand, ensuring that the team at RAPP are the most fulfilled and valued in our industry.”

Think Liquorice makes new appointment

Think Liquorice has welcomed Raaziqa Hassen to the role of Senior Brand Manager. With experience in the PR industry, Raaziqa previously worked with Press Room in South Africa as Senior PR Account Manager, where she worked across international brands such as H&M, Red Bull and Billabong. In her new role, she will lead the team on accounts and projects, working closely with clients through a strategic and creative approach.

“I’m excited to welcome another member to the team,” says Zahirah Variawa, Managing Director, Think Liquorice. “Raaziqa brings great experience to Think Liquorice, that I know our clients and future clients will benefit from.”

In the Hot Seat – Jared Carneson

Jared Carneson, Regional Director and Head of Social and Innovation at FleishmanHillard talks to TMN about his new role and the communications industry in the Middle East…

Name: Jared Carneson

Age: 31

From: Johannesburg, South Africa

Current job title: Regional Director and Head of Social and Innovation Middle East

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

I am fresh off the plane having only arrived this April 2017

Where did you work prior?

I previously worked in South Africa with Gillian Gamsy International from 2009 – 2011, and with The Sunflower Fund from 2011 – 2012. I later joined FleishmanHillard South Africa as Senior Account Manager and moved on to take several positions including Account Director, Digital Lead, Associate Director, Head of Creative Strategy, and most recently Director of Global Social Innovation Lead.

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

I am still forming those impressions. Digital has however made the world incredibly small so the Middle East much like everywhere else is continuously navigating an environment under the influence of change. Communications today are vastly different from what communications will be tomorrow, regardless of where you are.

Tell us about your current role…

My role locally, is focused on building out and bolstering the FleishmanHillard Middle East, social and innovation offering on our founding pillars of social art, social science, social amplification and innovation. While on a global level, my role focuses on unlocking what is next through experimentation labs and thought leadership.

What challenges do you face?

Every challenge is an opportunity to create something new. I think the biggest opportunity lies in the readiness of clients to adopt new ways of working or to step into an environment that may be new or different from what they are used to.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

The relationships you build with people behind some of the biggest brands, companies and entities has always been the most rewarding part of the job, it’s the partnerships that are created from those relationships, that allow us to work together to deliver some of the best work of our lives.

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Email almost anytime.

Has the role of communications professionals changed in today’s digital community?

Tremendously, but at the same time not at all. The role of a communication professional remains the same in that we are there to tell client’s stories – digital has just changed the way and the where of how we tell those stories.

How has consumer behaviour in today’s digital community influenced PR today?

It has increased the importance of transparent, always on, and always prepared reputation management for brands. It has shifted a one-way conversation to two-way conversation. Consumers are no longer audiences they are communities and with that, it no longer matters what you say about your brand or company, it is what they say that counts.

Is user-generated content taking over brand promotion and marketing campaigns in the Middle East?

The term user generated content (USG)is so broad. We are all publishers, so in some ways, thanks to the advent of social, USG has taken over the world. When it comes to users publishing brand related content, there is a lot of merit and value to that, but with paid super influencers endorsing a brand or product, we are seeing the content move to a place where it is less authentic, more sales lead and less subtle, which may lead to the complete disillusion of the value we see in organic USG.

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

It has become increasingly visual in how brands tell stories, but it’s also humanised them. How brands and companies use social has changed, I think a lot of brands have realised that they don’t own their presence in that space, they are merely members of a community.

What role does social media play in building a brand’s reputation today?

Today, social is central to managing building and protecting a brand’s reputation. Issues today are not measured in hours and minutes, but by tweets.

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

Maybe lecturing.

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

Digital! It’s fast and thanks to perceptive media, I get what I want, when I want it, none of the noise.

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

Storytelling is an innate human characteristic, we are born with the need to tell and listen to stories – that will never change. The delivery mechanism for those stories will continuously evolve and with it, PR will continue to adapt to the changes new channels bring. I think we can look forward to an increasingly visual and automated world in the next few years.

FleishmanHillard ME makes new appointment

Communications firm, FleishmanHillard Middle East has appointed Jared Carneson to the role of Regional Digital Director. Jared joined FleishmanHillard South Africa in 2012, where he worked as Senior Account Manager and most recently held the position of Global Social Innovative Lead, where he worked on building the digital and creative business units for the agency and with clients such as Barclays Africa, Dulux and Microsoft. In his new role, he will work on facilitating FleishmanHillard’s labs and intelligence streams across the agency’s portfolio of clients. He will also oversee and work on embedding digital as a part of the agency’s regional growth and expansion plan to increase their offerings to clients.

In The Hot Seat – Mitch Williams

Mitch Williams, Social Media Director at Serviceplan Middle East tells TMN about his current role and what he thinks about the media industry in the region…

Name: Mitch Williams

Age: 29

From: Johannesburg, South Africa

Current job title: Social Media Director, Serviceplan Middle East (SPME)

When did you first arrive in Dubai?

May 2013

Where did you work prior?

In South Africa, I worked with The Creative Counsel, Investec, The Platinum Group, Media 24 and Wunderman South Africa before moving to Dubai in 2013. In Dubai, prior to my current job I worked with Wunderman MENA as Social Media Brand Manager and most recently with Create Media Group as Social Media Director.

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

Back in 2013 I remember realising how the media within the region was still heavily geared towards traditional channels and there were only a few agencies working with brands to effectively elevate their online presence and approach to new media.

Has your opinion changed much?

Yes, the media industry has completely changed and is now extremely competitive across not only traditional media, but heavily so on the new media side through digitisation.

Tell us about your current role…

I currently head up the social media division within the agency and I’m responsible for not only managing my team, but also working across the agency to deliver creative and innovative ways of using social media as a key tool in all campaigns for clients. My role also entails managing the growth of my division within SPME and leading on all strategies required by clients.

What challenges do you face?

Platforms are always changing and so are the different types of content that people consume. I don’t see it as an inherent challenge, it’s quite exciting actually as it ensures that you keep up to date more often on what’s happening in the world of social.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends on social media?

Through alerts, it’s one thing having a list of websites that you refer to on a daily basis for information, but as we know you might actually make the time to read or even open them. That’s why I have set up alerts through social networks whereby I am notified as soon as a key platform updates something and there is an article to read I’m notified in real time. So yes, I have a ton of notifications on my mobile phone, but it’s part of the job to make sure I am on top of all news.

What’s the most rewarding part of your job?

Working with my team, in any role where you are so pressured to deliver in shorter than usual timelines it’s the people around you that make the difference. On the other side of that is obviously being able to conceptualise a campaign for a client and watch it go live!

How would you rather be contacted at work?

Since I am always in a meeting, a text message or email.

How has digital media in the region evolved over the years?

Digital has gone crazy within the region as there are no restrictions in terms of access to digital media and also there are a wealth of talented individuals based here who are constantly driving people and brands to do more online. The region has shifted most of their efforts into digital media and also drives and challenges people to adapt and adopt new digital behaviors faster than most can keep up with.

Has user-generated content shaped social media campaigns in the UAE’s marketing industry?

User-generated content (UGC) has greatly affected the success of social media campaigns within the region largely due to the fact that the region has a multitude of highly influential people on social media who have made a career out of generating unique content tailored to specific audiences. Brands that effectively work with people who have built out their own niche and audience have an opportunity to create unique content to share on their corporate pages. It also comes down to accessibility and mobile technology which is allowing for everyday people to create, curate and collaborate in creating content defined by a brand’s objective.

How do you measure marketing success in the UAE’s digital community?

The easiest way is obviously to track and measure all key metrics against set Key Performance Indicator’s (KPI) which are defined for campaigns, but the true measure of success is in the implementation of cross channel campaigns which creates an infinite loop between initial interaction of a consumer and them coming back to the brand through various media.

What role does social media play in building a brand’s reputation today?

Social media has become a key part in driving authenticity online as previously brands used to try and push messages to people without trying to consider how people interact and communicate. Brands are now more focused on building an emotional connection with people, which leads to a more human interaction and being relevant to them when they need something.

How has digital advertising influenced consumer behavior compared to traditional advertising?

It’s disruptive and intelligent at the same time. With traditional media, we had no implicit way of ensuring each consumer interacted with the brand or even saw our messages. But now with digital advertising we can build a digital footprint of your activities and use that to understand what interests you and then tailor key messages to you that would catch your attention. Human behavior has also changed where we now are always online and connected to the rest of the world through our mobiles giving advertisers direct access to you when they have something to share, they no longer have to wait for you to show up or buy the magazine they can target you through the many apps and websites you interact with daily.

Describe yourself in five words…

Hyperactive, passionate, determined, considerate and easy-going.

What’s your most overused saying?

So many buzz words.

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

Good question, I’ve always been inspired by design and architecture so probably would be involved in something related to those fields.

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

Obviously social and digital media.

What’s your most used social media platform?

For work all of the platforms, personally I enjoy Instagram, but will always have a soft spot for Twitter.

Five Minute Focus – Anwar Roma (Lights of Rome)

Team TMN chat with Matt Slater, Co-founder of Seven Media and Executive Producer of The Lights of Rome, to talk about the premier of Ali Khaled’s new documentary: Anwar Roma (Lights of Rome)…

What was it that stood out about this story that compelled you to make this documentary?

The 1990 World Cup resonated with many people from my generation, that are almost 40 years old now, as it was probably the first World Cup we watched as young kids. When the UAE qualified for the World Cup in 1989, it was one of the most important sporting moments in the country’s history and yet, there are very few people that know about it.

What makes this story so unique?

The UAE was only 19 years old when it qualified and at that time, was the smallest nation ever to qualify for the World Cup. It is a real underdog story and even though we all know the outcome, when watching the old footage in the film you still find yourself rooting for the UAE.

The film is also unique as it doesn’t only focus on football, but gives an insight into what the UAE was like at that time – which I know expats and international viewers will find fascinating.

Tell us how the collaboration with Image Nation came about?

Seven Media has been the retained PR agency for Image Nation for the past three years and has always enjoyed a close relationship with them. When the Director, Ali and I came up with the idea, we felt that it fits Image Nation’s mandate perfectly. Its documentary department strives to make films that are of importance to the Emirati culture and history which made them jump at the chance to create this film.

What were your most challenging moments while producing the film?

The archive footage was the hardest to source. The games were barely covered in the local press, so finding footage from the qualifying games was particularly hard for our team. Hana Makki, the film’s Producer from Image Nation, spent over a year and half sourcing the archive footage alone.

What was the reaction at the World Premiere at DOC NYC, New York?

We received an incredible reaction at DOC NYC – something we were slightly apprehensive about – being that it was an Arabic documentary, about the UAE and football! But it was very well received. We had audience members tell us how much they loved learning more about the UAE and its history – which is one of the reasons we made this film in the first place.

How do you think UAE nationals and residents will react to the film?

The story will definitely resonate with UAE nationals. This was an incredible moment in UAE history and something that should be celebrated. We also hope the day of the release, which is December 1, 2016 in time for UAE’s National day, will ignite patriotism around the film.

For expat residents who have recently moved here, the archive footage of the UAE from the 70s and 80s is fascinating. The film is not only entertaining, but you might learn a thing or two about the Emirates that you didn’t know before.

This is also a film about football at the end of the day and sport is one of those things that unite people around the world when you oversee language and cultural barriers and so we hope this film will reflect that.

How long did the creation of the documentary take, from conceptualisation to the very first premier?

Ali and I had our first chat about the idea just after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Image Nation then started production around two years ago and our team was still in the editing room the day before the premiere! Since the film is largely made up of archive footage, that’s what took the bulk of the work.

Do you plan on premiering the film in any other countries in the region?

There are no plans yet for regional screenings, following the film’s New York premiere and UAE release. There are a host of film festivals dedicated to sporting films which The Lights of Rome would be perfect for and so we hope it will be screened around the world. The film is a great opportunity to showcase not only this great moment in sporting history, but the UAE’s rich culture and history as well.

Where will the premier take place in the UAE and where will it be showing?

The premiere will be at Yas Mall, Abu Dhabi on December 1, 2016 and will hit selected theatres across the UAE including, Nation Towers, World Trade Center Mall, Dubai Mall, Derrfields Mall, Dalma Mall, Cineplex Grand Hyatt and City Centre Fujairah.