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25 April 2024

Middle East ad agencies 'to be least affected'

The Middle East market will continue to produce remarkable figures, said Ramzi Raad. (KHAMEIS AL HAFEITY)

By Dima Hamadeh

Global wins combined with the economic crisis is a major opportunity for TBWA\Raad to prove that Middle East advertising and communications agencies can achieve world-class level of service, said a top executive.

Ramzi Raad, the Chairman and CEO of TBWA\Raad\Middle East, offered a positive perspective of the advertising landscape in the UAE and the region.

Speaking to Emirates Business, he revealed that during the presentation of their business plan to TBWA worldwide, the global agency said it regarded the Middle East as one of the few regions that is not going to be hit to the same extent as other places.

This, Raad explained, is not only because the advertising market in the Middle East has seen remarkable and continuous growth over the past few years, but also because the market has started from a low base and still has a lot of potential to reach its height.

He noted that market growth in the UAE has been phenomenal during 2008, referring to the 40 per cent growth rate achieved by the UAE, according the annual advertising report released by Pan Arab Research Centre. "While other markets will witness no growth or a negative growth, our region will continue to produce remarkable figures," said Raad.

"One of our automotive clients, Nissan, has discussed plans of increasing its business in the Middle East. Currently, selling only in the United States and the Middle East due to the crisis, they are seeking to focus on the region to boost their sales.

"There are opportunities, and we see those opportunities. We have made major wins during 2008, and have been hiring more staff to cater to the new accounts, despite the rumours about layoffs and making people redundant."

"The future will witness a shift to this part of the world along with India and China to overcome recession in other parts of the world. This will place increased pressure on us to formulate better campaigns, utilise better talent and make better results."

"We do have real estate clients, but we have ensured that none of our clients represent more than 15 per cent of the company's turnover," he said.

"With our major realty clients, we have stepped in as the crisis was unfolding, and therefore, had the opportunity to provide them with suggestions to amend strategies and help them remain active. The end result was no critical cancellations."

TBWA Worldwide was recently named the global agency of the year 2008 by Advertising Age magazine and AdWeek. Additionally, Advertising Age has named TBWA CEO Tom Carroll as its "Executive of the Year."

"This dual recognition is proof that TBWA's unique 'disruption' formula has been delivering new insights into multiple client businesses and producing truly original advertising creatives," said Raad.

"As a regional branch, we have been sharing major input with TBWA worldwide. Part of the submissions for the awards is to provide a list of the account wins around the world."

Major account wins for TBWA\Raad included Qatar Foundation, Visa, and Nedjma, Algeria's local telecommunication company. After winning the global Pepsi account from BBDO, its lifelong agency, TBWA\Raad also picked up its first assignment from PepsiCo, late last year.

According to Raad, TBWA\Raad's plan is to be named the international agency of the year. "Our sister company in South Africa, TBWA\Hunt\Lascaris has retained this position for two consecutive year. This means we have a lot of potential to achieve this goal", he said.