Ramzi Raad: A wake up call

ArabAd - - CONTENTS -

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

Dur­ing the first nine months of 2017, the Le­banese ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket wit­nessed a dra­matic change of course. At the end of June, Le­banon was the only Arab mar­ket that showed growth in com­par­i­son to the same pe­riod in 2016. Not only that but it was com­par­a­tively im­pres­sive, as it at­tained an 8.71 % growth, while all the other mar­kets of our re­gion were con­tin­u­ing their re­gres­sion. Keep­ing in mind that the Le­banese mar­ket had reached $ 1,245,758,531- dur­ing the first three quar­ters of last year; and now it has dropped by $ 43,242, 535; so this huge neg­a­tive vari­ance, rep­re­sents a 27% drop; and is the steep­est amongst all other Arab mar­kets, who con­tin­ued the di­min­ish­ing trend they had wit­nessed from the be­gin­ning of 2017.

The two largest re­gional ad­ver­tis­ing mar­kets -UAE and KSA- dropped only by -17%, dur­ing the cur­rent quar­ter in com­par­i­son to Le­banon’s -27%. We should all re­mem­ber that to­wards the sec­ond half of the nineties - with the rise of in­vest­ment via satel­lite TVS - Le­banon was bid­ding for the num­ber one rank ahead of the ma­jor GCC mar­kets.

In 2003, Le­banon ad in­vest­ment reached the level of $233 mil­lion thus putting it in the 5th po­si­tion.

Do you still be­lieve Le­banon’s ad mar­ket is ro­bust and has great po­ten­tial to de­liver?

While all of us should never stop wish­ing the best for our busi­ness and for Le­banon, the above com­par­isons must be seen as a warn­ing for us ad­ver­tis­ing peo­ple to stop kid­ding our­selves - and the gen­eral pub­lic - by con­tin­u­ing to claim that the Le­banese ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket con­tin­ues to be ro­bust, and has po­ten­tial to de­liver. We’ve cer­tainly lost the race this year, and we ur­gently need to plan our 2018 counter mea­sures. What’s the one thing you’d like to see reg­u­lated within the in­dus­try?

While reg­u­la­tion is rarely wel­comed, how­ever, in our elit­ist pro­fes­sion we should man­i­fest a higher level of ma­tu­rity, to in­vite the in­tro­duc­tion of sys­tems - and even laws - to stop all forms of dis­count­ing. Be it in me­dia rates or cre­ative and strate­gic plan­ning fees. The Le­banese mar­ket - since the turn of the cen­tury - has de­vel­oped the rep­u­ta­tion of be­com­ing the most ir­ra­tionally dis­counted mar­ket, and this has mas­sa­cred its cred­i­bil­ity amongst our global agency part­ners and clients, alike.

In par­al­lel, we need to in­tro­duce a code of ethics - not in­flu­enced by the many aborted ear­lier at­tempts - and this needs to im­pose a uni­ver­sally re­spected point of view on con­tents - not only in re­la­tion to ad­ver­tis­ing ma­te­rial; but also ap­pli­ca­ble to TV pro­gram­ming. Our sta­tions are be­com­ing ex­tremely vul­gar, and this will cer­tainly not in­crease ad spend. Most multi­na­tional ad­ver­tis­ers have their own stan­dards of the en­vi­ron­ments where their brands are al­lowed to ap­pear.

Ev­ery­one seems to agree that the days of the clas­sic ad-agency busi­ness are gone. What’s your take? Are you do­ing any­thing to broaden your ca­pa­bil­i­ties be­yond the core cre­ative or/and me­dia buy­ing ser­vices?

We Le­banese tend to con­sider our­selves - at par, if not more ad­vanced - than the de­scen­dants of the ma­ture, multi gen­er­a­tion civ­i­liza­tions. This leads us to short­cut the nor­mal time pat­terns - and get to the fi­nal stages in the evolv­ing global trends and new prod­uct us­ages that can be bet­ter and safer en­joyed when al­lowed to ma­ture at a nor­mal pace. While there has been a rush around our mar­ket to re-en­gi­neer our agen­cies and broaden our of­fer­ings, we for­get about clients very of­ten. Rather than con­tinue to de­velop the clas­si­cal ser­vices that they seem to un­der­stand and need, we start shov­ing down their throats new forms of de­vel­op­ing their busi­ness that they can­not di­gest. Let us make sure that we are not for­get­ting the ba­sics in our race to claim that we are the first in this re­gion, to have es­tab­lished the agency of the fu­ture.

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. How this is af­fect­ing the busi­ness?

The Le­banese ad­ver­tis­ing mar­ket is shrink­ing in size, and many of the clas­si­cal big brands of the coun­try are dy­ing due to this trend that has changed our pi­o­neer­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tion mar­ket - in MENA - and made it a grow­ing chest of ‘trial and er­ror cot­tage in­dus­tries. I am loudly alert­ing to this fa­tal epi­demic, not be­cause I am a be­liever that big is bet­ter, but be­cause of the in­creas­ing num­ber of poorly ex­e­cuted cam­paigns that are aired on our TV chan­nels ev­ery day and the ad­ver­tis­ers money that is be­ing thrown down the drain while some none ex­pe­ri­enced clients are ap­plaud­ing their in-house cre­ativ­ity.

We’ve cer­tainly lost the race this year, and we ur­gently need to plan our 2018 counter mea­sures.

Ramzi Raad, Group Chair­man, TBWA/RAAD is is­su­ing warn­ings re­gard­ing the state of Le­banon’s ad busi­ness. Here is why…

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Bahrain

© PressReader. All rights reserved.