FP7 punishes Doha office over Lynx scam scandal

April 23, 2009

Several creative staff are parting company with FP7 Doha and the office is handing back all of its Dubai Lynx awards, it was announced today in the wake of the scam ads scandal.

Parent group Fortune Promoseven has issued a statement following the conclusion of its internal investigation into the affair.

The action has been welcomed by the organisers of last month’s Dubai Lynx, who are overhauling their entry regulations in light of the recent issues.

The names of the staff leaving FP7 Doha have not been disclosed – and nor whether they have resigned or been fired. However, it appears likely that creative director Fadi Yaish will be among those moving on.

Fortune Promoseven’s full statement is as follows:

“Fortune Promoseven had committed to thoroughly investigate FP7 Doha’s entries into Dubai Lynx 2009. This internal investigation has now been concluded.

“It seems our strict policies and procedures for awards entries were circumvented. This is clearly unacceptable to our company.

“As a strong demonstration of the seriousness with which we view such behaviour, it has been decided that FP7 Doha will hand back all of its awards from the Dubai Lynx festival, and FP7 Doha has also been instructed not to submit any entries to Cannes Lions 2009.

“Corrective actions are being taken and several staff responsible will part ways with the company. In addition, FP7 Doha is strengthening its policies and procedures to ensure compliance for all future awards entries.”

Philip Thomas, CEO of Lynx organisers Cannes Lions, said: “Promoseven’s decision to have FP7 Doha return all awards – including bona-fide winners – shows real intent.

“Dubai Lynx is about lifting creativity for clients in the region and this action sends a signal to the market that this is what the focus of Lynx will be in the future.

“We will announce changes to the 2010 entry critera shortly.”

The outcome of a separate investigation by Lynx organisers into entries from other agencies is yet to be published.

See earlier posts for the background to this story.

UAE ad spend falls 14 per cent in first quarter

April 22, 2009

The UAE has seen the biggest fall in ad spend in the Middle East region, according to first-quarter figures revealed today by the Pan-Arab Research Centre.

Ad spend in the emirates dropped by 14 per cent from $416 million to $356 million, said PARC. It is the first time the UAE has suffered a decline, after several years of successive growth.

It comes as no big surprise that the sharpest cuts were in the real estate sector, which fell 60 per cent, and the financial services sector, which fell  46 per cent.

Other countries that witnessed cutbacks were Egypt and Bahrain, with 10 per cent and 9 per cent drops respectively.

However, the region as a whole  saw an 11 per cent rise, buoyed by significant increases in Lebanon and Qatar.

Across the region as a whole, the biggest advertiser was Saudi Telecom, whose spending rose from $21 million to $24.6 million. Completing the top five were Etisalat, Head & Shoulders, Toyota and Dabur.
Some of the biggest rises on last year were in the telecoms sector, with Du, Vodafone, Q-tel and Mobily all spending significantly more than last year.

Awards on a budget? Yes you Cannes!

April 20, 2009

cannes1Oh, how times have changed. Where once Cannes Lions held the promise of endless cocktails, flamboyant parties and untold glamour, the ad world is being enticed with the prospect of discount flights, bargain bus fares, free wi-fi and the chance to have a local supermarket deliver basic supplies to the door of your self-catering apartment.

Money is so tight in adland that the organisers of festival have resorted to sending out  missives advising potential attendees how to do Cannes without splashing a boat load of cash.

One piece of advice is: “Get a discounted flight with British Airways.” It’s a good idea, particularly with a special promotional discount available to Cannes Lions delegates. Not great for those in the Middle East, however, who would face an epic journey via Heathrow.

Two more tips are to “get a local SIM card and avoid roaming charges” and “share a serviced apartment and self-cater – supermarkets such as Monoprix and Casino  have a home delivery service”.

It’s all very laudable and at least proves that Cannes organisers are reacting to the financial issues which will deter many from attending. But it’s not quite the week of yacht trips, pool parties, luxury living and fine dining that most people in the industry have become accustomed to.

In the end, it’s a sign of the times, with some observers in the UK’s Campaign magazine openly questioning whether this traditionally flamboyant festival should be, well, canned.

It might be more about tinned beans than tiaras but one thing is for sure. Those long nights spent dancing on tables in the infamous ‘Gutter Bar’ will take on a whole new meaning. Gazing at the stars and all that.

National editor slams ‘drive-by journalism’

April 19, 2009

The editor of Abu Dhabi-based The National has hit out at a series of scornful articles about Dubai and the wider UAE which have recently appeared in the Western press.

Following scathing essays in UK broadsheets The Guardian and The Independent by Germaine Greer and Johann Hari, Martin Newland justifiably pointed out last week that “much of what has been written about Dubai and expats recently is complete rubbish and without context”. The former editor of The Daily Telegraph called it “drive-by journalism” – an apt description for the brief open-top bus tour upon which Greer based her assessment.

He said that while The National would not shy away from difficult issues, it would tackle them in a different way and within a different context.

There’s no doubt that Dubai has had a rough ride from the Western media in recent weeks but with more news organisations setting up offices in the UAE, can we expect all to take such a measured view as Newland suggests?

 Britain’s Sky News TV channel and The Daily Telegraph newspaper, and potentially the International Herald Tribune, have picked an interesting time to step up their presence in this part of the world. Is it too cynical to suggest crowds are gathering in hopes of witnessing the struggles of a country so recently emblematic of unparalleled ambition? Or are they genuinely interested in the region’s cultural and economic significance?

Where’s flydubai’s brand identity?

April 16, 2009

FD-GUFNEWS-B 10X33 BEIRUTThe much-anticipated launch of low-cost airline flydubai is imminent, with radio ads airing and print work being rolled out across the UAE.

The strategy appears to be tactical, with a focus on cost and putting bums on seats for the introduction of daily flights to Beirut and Amman on 1 June. But where’s the brand?

Last year we were promised that a “brand identity” would be created, but with less than two months until launch, there’s no sign of it. Are a logo and cheap seats enough to challenge the competition, or is a brand with personality needed in order to challenge the likes of Air Arabia and Jazeera Airways?

Y&R tops One Show shortlist

April 15, 2009

Now that the dust created by the Lynx is finally beginning to settle, attention is turning to The One Show in New York.

mtv11The region has nine pieces of work shortlisted in the first cut, all of which come from the UAE. There are a total of just under 1,000 pieces of work from around the world shortlisted.

Y&R Dubai leads the way for the Middle East in the shortlist, with four pieces of work making the first cut for clients Xerox and the Eye Bank Association of India.

Also shortlisted are Grey Dubai for its ‘Colours of life’ for Yellow Pages; JWT Dubai for client Nicola Finetti; Leo Burnett Dubai’s ‘Leftovers’ for the United Nations World Food Programme; Lowe MENA’s ‘Chewing gum’ for MTV; and Memac Ogilvy’s ‘One breasted mannequin for client ‘Bare Essentials’.

Flags(XEROX)_A2_3 AWFurther work has been shortlisted in One Show Design. The Classic Partnership picks up three shortlists, while JWT Dubai has two and TBWA\Raad, Leo Burnett Dubai and Grey Dubai have one apiece.

Memac Ogilvy is the only agency shortlisted in the One Show Interactive. The final judging for The One Show takes place on 1 and 2 May.

Horizon Draftfcb and VIP Films unite for Gaza pro-bono work

April 14, 2009

gazaHorizon Draftfcb and production company VIP Films have pooled their resources to create a pan-Arab TV commercial for the ‘Bring Gaza Back’ campaign.

Both companies have given their time and resources for free to make the TVC, which will go live on MBC and Showtime tomorrow and will run for six weeks.

The ‘Bring Gaza Back’ campaign was launched by Young Arab Leaders (YAL) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency earlier this year in order to raise money for the rehabilitation of traumatised children and the youth of Gaza following the recent conflict with Israel.

It is hoped that the commercial, which is complemented by print work, will drive awareness of the campaign and enable the rebuilding of schools and the long-term social and psychological rehabilitation of children in Gaza.

Eddy Azzam, managing director of Horizon Draftfcb, said: “The situation of Gaza’s children calls for collective action to help alleviate their sufferings. Our small contribution in this campaign is the least we could have done and we hope it will help raise region wide awareness of this issue that affects the lives of children in Palestine.”

The creative idea behind the TVC is based on the Arabic saying of ‘Education is enlightenment’.