Why Ad­ver­tis­ing Agen­cies In Doha Should Stop Play­ing It Safe

ArabAd - - COVER STORY -

The Qatari com­mu­ni­ca­tion's land­scape seems to be ripe for the pick­ing, yet few, if any are will­ing to take that first step. Samer Ab­boud, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Ogilvy & Mather Doha, is in­vent­ing ad­men to move be­yond the call of duty.

Doha is an ex­cit­ing place to be for those who work in the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try. There’s a lot of op­por­tu­nity that comes with work­ing in an emerg­ing mar­ket, help­ing clients de­velop and grow their brands. Un­for­tu­nately, as the mar­ket stands to­day, I don’t think ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies are making full use of this po­ten­tial. Based on the ads you see on road­side bill­boards, TV, on­line and print, Qatar ap­pears to be a decade be­hind other cap­i­tal cities.

Be­fore you take of­fense, let me ex­plain: I firmly be­lieve the ad­ver­tis­ing com­mu­nity in Qatar has the tal­ent to pro­duce world-class cre­ative work. So why then, do many of the ad cam­paigns you see in Doha fall short of what they could be?

In my opin­ion, it’s a mat­ter of trust. Trust in our clients, trust in the mar­ket, trust in our­selves. I sus­pect that ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies here in Doha have a ten­dency to self-cen­sor based on the per­ceived norms of the mar­ket. Should you pro­pose ideas that your client might ul­ti­mately re­ject be­cause they’re un­con­ven­tional, or should you play it safe with some­thing fa­mil­iar? Too of­ten, agen­cies pitch ideas they think their clients want in­stead of what might be most ef­fec­tive. The re­sults are weak, in­ef­fec­tual cam­paigns that don’t do any­thing to fur­ther your clients’ goals.

What’s worse is that this self­cen­sor­ship isn’t nec­es­sary. Af­ter all, Qatar is a sea-level coun­try that is cur­rently build­ing an un­der­ground metro (no small feat). And it’s the process of build­ing a bevy of air-con­di­tioned sta­di­ums to host one of the world’s largest sport­ing events dur­ing the hottest part of the year. The peo­ple of Qatar possess imag­i­na­tion and dar­ing. We should be push­ing bound­aries right along­side our clients.

Con­sider this a chal­lenge. It’s time for ad­ver­tis­ing agen­cies in Doha to: 1. Seek out clients who have the re­sources and am­bi­tion to do more and do greater with their brands. As they do, more will fol­low. 2. Pitch the ideas that you think will best serve your clients’ needs, not just what they’re com­fort­able with do­ing. 3. Link your cam­paigns to met­rics so that you can as­sess the true im­pact of your work. A cam­paign built on nice im­ages and big ad buys isn’t suf­fi­cient; the work must be backed by mea­sur­able changes in sales, con­ver­sa­tion, or be­hav­iour. 4. Em­brace risk. The best cre­ative work es­pouses a point of view - it may even be po­lar­is­ing. Not ev­ery­one will agree with your po­si­tion, and that’s okay. All the bet­ter to spur con­ver­sa­tion.

I firmly be­lieve the ad­ver­tis­ing com­mu­nity in Qatar has the tal­ent to pro­duce world-class cre­ative work.

We al­ready ap­proach our work this way, and we hope that our peers in the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try will see this as a wake-up call and fol­low suit. Doha is un­der­go­ing a pe­riod of rapid growth and change; it’s only right that our ad­ver­tis­ing cam­paigns change, too. With a lit­tle grit and imag­i­na­tion, we can be­gin de­liv­er­ing the best-in-class work that our clients de­serve.

Samer Ab­boud

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