Serge Dagher: The in­dus­try needs reg­u­la­tion

Serge Dagher, Rizk Group Gen­eral Man­ager gives his evaluation of the Le­banese mar­ket and clearly iden­ti­fies the black spots that are caus­ing a seem­ingly state of chaos within the ad in­dus­try.

ArabAd - - CONTENTS -

We at Rizk Group have been WKH ÀUVW DQG PD\EH WKH only ones not to fall into the trap of break­ing the agency to a num­ber of smaller to­tally in­de­pen­dent spe­cial­ized en­ti­ties

How would you de­scribe the gen­eral at­mos­phere of busi­ness in Le­banon com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year?

Well, it is clear that the coun­try is go­ing through tough times on all eco­nomic lev­els. And that is due to a va­ri­ety of rea­sons: The whole re­gion is go­ing through tough times, started with the big­gest mark­ers like KSA (par­tic­i­pat­ing in a re­gional war, drop in price of oil, po­lit­i­cal tur­moil…). Lo­cally, the lack of se­ri­ous plan­ning by lo­cal gov­ern­ment, the un­matched level of cor­rup­tion in the coun­try, the un­cer­tainty fac­ing the eco­nomic sec­tors (banks, real es­tate, the Lira…) are all con­tribut­ing to an un­rest mak­ing clients like peo­ple re­sis­tant to in­vest­ment and spend­ing.

What about the state of the ad in­dus­try in the coun­try to­day?

Speak­ing of the in­dus­try it­self, both me­dia and agen­cies are suf­fer­ing, and des­per­ate to meet fi­nan­cial obli­ga­tions, as the word “rate” and “sys­tem” have be­come vir­tual. What is re­ally the cost of any­thing to­day (TV or ra­dio spot or a out­door panel)? What is a good deal and is there re­ally a good deal--when me­dia rates could vary be­tween $1000, $100 or even $1 for the same spot de­pend­ing on how des­per­ate the me­dia is at that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment. As for agen­cies, start-ups, bou­tiques, man/ agency… what do they re­ally stand for? What is the value of the ad­vice and the qual­ity of the ser­vice they are giv­ing and how do they charge for it? Is it bet­ter for clients to book through an MBU or would they get a bet­ter deal if they go di­rectly to the me­dia?

What’s the one thing you’d like to see reg­u­lated within the in­dus­try?

The in­dus­try has to reg­u­late it­self very quickly (fixed rates, no di­rect book­ing, spec­i­fi­ca­tions of an agency…) oth­er­wise we would be all con­tribut­ing to the death of our in­dus­try.

Ev­ery­one seems to agree that the days of the clas­sic ad-agency busi­ness are gone. What’s your take?

We at Rizk Group have been the first and maybe the only ones not to fall into the trap of break­ing the agency to a num­ber of smaller to­tally in­de­pen­dent spe­cial­ized en­ti­ties.

Sep­a­rat­ing the brand agency from the me­dia-buy­ing unit means a lack of co­or­di­na­tion and a me­dia plan that does not fit the cre­ative work. It also means dou­ble the cost to ser­vice the same clients with the same bud­gets. When all agen­cies now have their own MBUS, they are mostly prac­ti­cally book­ing for their own brand agen­cies.

Sep­a­rat­ing brand agency from dig­i­tal agen­cies means to­tally dif­fer­ent cre­ative and po­si­tion­ing plat­forms and brand con­fu­sion.

Sep­a­rat­ing PR from me­dia buy­ing means PR agen­cies have no lever­age over the me­dia and are un­able to en­sure cov­er­age for their clients.

In short, what are the pri­or­i­ties or main key ar­eas of fo­cus your agency has set for it­self ?

We at Rizk Group and in­stead of frag­ment­ing our­selves into to­tally in­de­pen­dent units, have kept it all un­der the same roof for ul­ti­mate ef­fi­ciency, how­ever, re­cruited spe­cial­ized tal­ents in dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines, com­ing to­gether to of­fer our clients the best in ev­ery dis­ci­pline in to­tal co­her­ence and fu­sion.

There is a new wave of mar­keters who have a very dif­fer­ent take on ad­ver­tis­ing than tra­di­tional mar­keters and pre­fer do­ing things in-house. Other mar­keters pre­fer us­ing smaller agen­cies and ven­dors on a short-term or/and project-by-project ba­sis. In par­al­lel, more and more small en­ti­ties and start-ups are crop­ping up. How this is af­fect­ing the busi­ness?

I can see that hap­pen­ing all around us how­ever, we as an agency are not re­ally af­fected by it and I am sure that this won’t last long as the re­sults will prove to be medi­ocre.

In-house has a va­ri­ety of lim­i­ta­tions. That means a small team with lim­ited ex­pe­ri­ence. You will end up lack­ing an ex­ter­nal view on your busi­ness, a lim­ited and repet­i­tive pat­tern in cre­ative, a team with poor ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­po­sure to fit the in house for­mat bud­get.

Work­ing with ven­dors on a project-by-project ba­sis will mean an in­con­stant brand vi­sion and in­ter­pre­ta­tion, hence would never build a real brand, a real plat­form that lasts for years and builds eq­uity over time. While many think these meth­ods are good means to save, it ends be to be an ab­so­lute waste.

Serge Dagher Gen­eral Man­ager - Rizk Group

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