Portfolio Night phenomenon makes Middle East debut

May 31, 2009

Portfolio Night, the world’s largest simultaneous creative portfolio review, is coming to the region for the first time courtesy of Memac Ogilvy. The network is leading the initiative which is now in its seventh year globally, though the event itself will see senior creative directors from a host of regional agencies make themselves available in one location for face-to-face comment and advice.

PortfolioThe event takes place around the world on Thursday June 11 and is open to all students and young creatives who have a portfolio and want to get a foot in the door of the industry or further their careers.

It is free to participate, but places are limited and given on a first come first served basis. Aspirant young creatives wishing to take part must register and book a ticket by visiting the Portfolio Night website and clicking on the location relevant to them.

Portfolio Night will take place from 4pm on June 11 at three locations in the MENA region: Dubai, Beirut and Tunis. Amongst the supporters of the Dubai event are the founding members of the recently formed Creative Club, which includes creative leaders from the Lowe, Y&R and FP7 networks.

Participants will be able to rotate between the various mentors available and all advertising disciplines, including interactive and direct marketing, will be represented.

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Dubai Lynx reveals new rules for 2010

May 27, 2009

Dubai Lynx has released new tightened entry criteria for its show following the scam scandal that saw all FP7 Doha’s Lynx awards rescinded after this year’s competition.

The new rules state that in 2010 the full physical address of each client will be required on entry forms, and further still: “All completed entries will trigger an automated email to the client, asking them to confirm by return email that they are the brand owner, and that they give consent for the entry/campaign to be entered. If, after repeated attempts to contact the client, this cannot be ascertained, the entry will not be presented to the jury.”

Changes will also demand clarification on the media used for campaigns. “In future, there will be a requirement for the names of the publication/channel or media that was used, the country it was run in, and the number of insertions or airings.” This will have particular relevance for its Outdoor category, which in future splits submissions into Outdoor, Ambient and Poster.

More fundamentally, to prevent agencies from doubling-up entries to accrue points for Agency of the Year, the points system has been re-assessed. “Print entries that are also submitted into Poster (without revision of the creative) will only be eligible for the higher awarded marks in relation to Agency Of The Year. For instance, if a piece wins gold in Press and silver in Poster, the agency will carry only the 7 points for the Gold when Agency Of The Year is calculated, rather than 12 (7 for the Gold and 5 for Silver) as previously.”

Full details of these and other changes can be obtained from Dubai Lynx.


Fallon unveils inaugural work for ADCB

May 25, 2009

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Minneapolis-based agency Fallon’s first campaign for Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank is being rolled out across the UAE.

The much-anticipated work – in both Arabic and English – comprises print, online, out-of-home, in-branch, and brand engagement and will run throughout 2009.

Utilising the tagline ‘Long Live Ambition’, the corporate campaign aims to align the bank with the ambition of the UAE.

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The campaign’s launch print ad features a red flag planted in the UAE desert, with an accompanying manifesto celebrating the power of human ambition. The flag and its design are recurring graphic elements throughout the campaign.

2“Conventional wisdom suggests a brand in a recessionary economy should keep its head down,” said the bank’s head of marketing services, senior vice-president, Martin Scott. “However, conventional wisdom often leads to missed opportunities, as it has been proven that companies who maintain advertising budgets during a recession significantly outperform their competition in the following years. But there is opportunity beyond the numbers, as in a pessimistic environment, an optimistic voice asserts leadership and earns respect at a time when people are looking for a voice of hope and inspiration that resonates positively with their values.”

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank is Fallon’s first Middle East client.


Mid-East adland held back by ‘intellectual laziness’

May 25, 2009

“What really makes a campaign from the Middle East?” asks Farid Chehab, Leo Burnett’s chairman for the Middle East and North Africa and chief creative officer for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, in the latest edition of Campaign.

farid“Most of the work could come from anywhere. It’s ridiculous. Look at the work that won in Cannes recently for India, Thailand and for all these other regions. They won because they had something original to offer with local flavour. The day our agencies can go to Cannes with strong insights based on local flavours, local behaviour and fresh ideas that are executed in a way that juries can see an expression that is different from what has been seen before – a new expression in art, in visuals – then we have a good chance to win.”

Why hasn’t this ‘new expression’ already been found and developed? Well, says Chehab: “Because our economy has always been built on oil, so it was not built from within. It was not built by the efforts of people – to work, to create. When you look at the West, they invented the communication business, cinemas etc, and this work is self-education. But when you look at the Middle East, we were granted wealth without being educated. We don’t have the creative urge to improve our welfare because it just came to us.”

For Chehab, the environment in Europe helps you, whereas the environment in the Middle East doesn’t. “What you need to do is carry on building a set of benchmarks around you to just keep on self-educating yourself. And that’s not easy. You need to have the drive, the passion to self educate. You need to have curiosity. I always tell my people, ‘be curious’, because the environment doesn’t help you. Why doesn’t the environment help you? Because of intellectual laziness that is due to the fact that we’ve never had to fight.”

Read the full interview in the latest issue of Campaign.


Attracting nutters via social media

May 25, 2009

It’s been a few months now since I decided to increase my interaction with social media, so I thought I’d share some highlights with you.

First up, and my favourite, is a response to my first YouTube comment made under the pseudonym TheMightyRouge: “TheMightyMakeup?” comes the reply. “What a pretty, pretty name. Are you a full tranny, or just into make-up?”

I haven’t been too active on Twitter – only 29 updates so far – but I’ve discovered a few fascinating things. For instance, it turns out that a certain individual would rather staple his genitals to his fridge than spend 40 dirhams on a drink.

As for Facebook, well I thought it would be good to join more groups, only to stumble across the ‘We hate gingers’ collective. When I pointed out that their group amounted to discrimination, I received this message: “F*** off you ginger t**t.”

Illuminating stuff this social media.


Traditional media leads awards hopes in New York

May 24, 2009

The finalist nominations for this year’s New York Festivals Advertising Awards have been released, revealing the region’s ongoing love affair with traditional media. The UAE and Lebanon have accrued a healthy number of nominations in print, TV, outdoor and radio, but failed to make a dent in the digital and integrated categories.

The TBWA\RAAD network has the largest number of shortlisted works, with seven finalists from its Dubai office and one from the neighbouring office in Abu Dhabi.

Dial Park TBWA RAAD TBWA\RAAD’s nominated work is in the print and outdoor categories and covers work for Nissan, Persil, Dial Hand Sanitizer (shown), Pattex Wood Glue, Bayt.com and City of Hope. The Dubai office also achieved a radio nomination with work for Arabian Automobiles.

Dubai’s Team Y&R also has a strong showing in print and outdoor with its recent Clio award winning work for Harvey Nichols making the cut yet again. Awards hopes are also pinned on the agency’s other finalists, with work for the Eye Bank Association of India, Xerox and Landrover making the grade.

The region’s two nominations in the TV and cinema categories chime with the winning selection from this year’s Dubai Lynx. Leo Burnett Beirut’s ‘Stop the Suffering’ work for Pert Plus and Lowe MENA’s ‘Chewing Gum’ spot for MTV, were awarded gold at the regional awards show and have also made the cut in New York.

Other regional finalists cover a ‘Best Use of Posters’ nomination for Grey Worldwide Lebanon’s work for Pantene; Leo Burnett Dubai’s print and outdoor work for GMC and Fujifilm; print work by Percept Gulf for Firstnet TV; Impact Plus’s work for Dubai Healthcare City and a radio nomination for Impact BBDO Abu Dhabi for client Crowne Plaza.

The New York Festivals show is judged entirely online by a panel of 250 industry professionals from across the world. Nirmal Diwadkar, regional executive creative director, TBWA\RAAD and Bechara Mouzannar, regional executive creative director, Leo Burnett, were among them. Medalists will be announced in June.


$1.5 million Nakheel debt contributes to collapse of Australian agency

May 24, 2009

A $1.5 million debt by Dubai developer Nakheel is believed to have contributed to the collapse of Sydney-based design and branding agency The One Centre.

The 10-year-old agency, which was regarded as one of Australia’s finest and had only recently opened an office in Dubai last December, went into administration last month.

OneCentreNow, according to a report in The Sydney Morning Herald, the agency’s fate appears all but sealed as the administrators admitted a sale was “unlikely as the advertising recession tightens”. The financial year had seen The One Centre’s revenues collapsed from $9.6 million to $5.5 million.

In the SMH article, Julian Lee stated that: “The failure by one client, Dubai’s biggest developer, the royal family-backed Nakheel, to pay the agency $1.5 million in fees, escalated the debt. The administrators’ lawyers are looking at what, if any, action can be taken against Nakheel.”

The Dubai office had been managed by Jodie Metax, formerly a joint managing partner in Sydney, with support from account director Mark Higgs and client services director Andy Gould. The office had primarily been opened due to its work with Nakheel, which included the positioning and branding of Palm Mall on Palm Jumeirah – a project it had won in a competitive worldwide pitch, beating London and New York-based agencies.

The One Centre was also working for clients in Abu Dhabi and had plans to open an office there this year. In December, the agency’s founder, John Ford, said: “Abu Dhabi is now the richest city in the world. However there are very few branding companies there, which provides the perfect opportunity to establish a substantial world client base.”

The agency’s clients had included Audi, McDonald’s and Coca-Cola.