Emirates’ SVP of advertising resigns position

November 30, 2009

Emirates Airline’s senior vice president of advertising has left the company in the midst of the carrier’s global advertising review.

Steve Wheeler, who joined Emirates in 1995 and had been in his latest position since 2006, had been heavily involved in the review of Emirates’ $260 million advertising business, which kicked off on 31 May.

In a statement, an Emirates spokesperson said: “We can confirm Steve Wheeler recently resigned his position within the company.”

It is understood that the resignation is part of a restructuring of Emirates Group’s corporate communications department.

Key holding groups Publicis, Omnicom, WPP, Interpublic and Chime Communications were invited to pitch for the airline’s integrated advertising account, but Interpublic are already out of the running.

Emirates currently uses various agencies around the world on a market-by-market basis and it is looking to consolidate its advertising into one network. The winning agency will take responsibility for advertising across more than 80 global markets.

It is unknown when the winning agency will officially land the account.

Night of a 1000 Drawings to get its Dubai debut

November 17, 2009

The global doodling phenomenon Night of a 1000 Drawings is coming to Dubai for the first time, aided by Flip Media, TBWA\RAAD and Tonic Communications.

The agencies are working in tandem with the creative collective LEGION DXB for the art exhibition and one night event, to be held on November 24th from 7.00pm, at Art Sawa Gallery in the Al Quoz area of Dubai.

The event will see 1000 A5-sized original drawings by established artists and members of the public, auctioned off to benefit the charity Gulf for Good. Proceeds will then be distributed to the Palestinian Children’s Relief Fund towards medical equipment.

The evening will also feature live drawing ‘Doodle Showdowns’ and sets by UAE bands Juliana Down, Sandwash and The Recipe.

Senior members of each agency have contributed to the available artworks, with Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, CEO of Flip Media, commenting: Flip Media is proud to be associated with Night of a 1000 Drawings Dubai. It’s a wonderful initiative by our creative industry to give something back to our community.”

The hugely succesful doodling evenings that have contributed to artworks, were held at a variety of venues including art spaces The Jam Jar and The Fridge.

Facebook, libel and the Egyptian media mogul

November 16, 2009

Re-enacting the parable of David and Goliath was the last thing on Tamer Azab’s mind when he sat down at his laptop this August to set up a Facebook group. Though unfortunately for the young Egyptian web designer, he was about to unwittingly place himself at the centre of a media maelstrom from which he’s only just about to be extricated.

The formidable giant in Azab’s story is Tarek Nour, a stalwart of Egypt’s media scene. Through Tarek Nour Holdings he owns the nation’s largest homegrown advertising agency, Tarek Nour Communications, which also encompasses a number of TV channels. It was a series of ads launching a new addition to the Nour TV stable, Al Kahera Wal Nas, that caught Azab’s eye. The promotional ads for the channel were witty, succint and, as Azab noticed, strangely familiar. A YouTube search confirmed his suspicions; all the ads for the channel were blatantly plagiarised from pre-existing international work.

A shocked Azab opened a Facebook group, ‘Stolen Promos’, lamenting local creative standards and posted links to both sets of commercials, provoking a huge response of suitably outraged comments.

TarkNourInitially, Tarek Nour Communications claimed the work was intended as a ‘spot the difference’ competition and Azab received a formal legal request to remove some of the more inflammatory comments, which he immediately adhered to. But there was more to come. On 25 October, 22-year-old Azab was arrested at his home and accused of defaming Tarek Nour himself. He was interred for several days at Cairo’s Omraneyya police station.

The resulting media storm saw the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information denounce Azab’s arrest within an official statement. “Instead of investigating the incident of infringement of intellectual property disclosed by the press and internet activist, the police terrorised the activist in favour of powerful businessmen.Whether this prejudiced measure was taken voluntarily by the police or upon request from Tarek Nour, the law has been totally wasted and manipulated by the very guards of law.”

A lawsuit Nour filed against Azab was later changed from defamation and libel to “disturbing others” after a police investigation found no evidence of the prior accusations. It is understood that the situation is about to reach an out-of-court conclusion.

Questions concerning Egyptian law enforcement aside, it’s a prime example of the potential pitfalls associated with the social media space. Unsuspecting users can put themselves in the legal line of fire as Mark Hill, of UAE-based media law specialists The Rights Lawyers, explains: “Though they differ from country to country, one of the basic principles that you’re going to find in defamation is that it requires a publication. That just basically means that it’s been said or published to a third party, so that’s where the concept of publication comes from. So obviously if you’re bandying it round on the internet in one form or another, whether it’s going out on a messaging forum or a Facebook context or Twitter, that is automatically going to cross that first hurdle of publication,” says Hill.

“People tend not to think of the chat messaging context with the same degree of gravity as they might were they going into a paper publication. Obviously a newspaper or a magazine will think very carefully about what it is publishing. Publications tend to have clearance mechanisms, they have protocols in place, they are very aware that the printed word carries these inherent risks.” That said, there is a defence factor, he adds: “If the statements being made are true, no matter what the statements are, provided they are true, then there is no defamation.”

International law dictates defamation is a personal slur, which can only occur towards individuals. Organisations that comprise more than 10 people cannot be defamed.

If, as in the case of Tamer Azab and Tarek Nour, the complainant is perceived as the far more powerful party, the resulting PR fallout could turn out to be more damaging than the original alleged slight, says Tara Rogers, managing partner, Mojo PR. “Panic leads to over-reaction and, given the viral nature of the internet, can lead to a bigger problem than the one originally identified,” says Rogers. “As in life, companies need to choose their battles. Some are worth recognising and responding to with consideration and focus, others need to be monitored and noted… and ignored.”

Zenithmedia drives off with BMW media account

November 16, 2009

BMW Group Middle East has handed its media buying and planning business to ZenithMedia following a competitive pitch.

Zenith will take over media buying responsibilities as of 1 January and will work closely with BMW’s regional office and importers across 14 Middle East markets.

bmwThe German car manufacturer had previously worked with Interone Resonance, which re-pitched for the business, but decided to go with Zenithmedia after a review of its regional media requirements. The pitch also included Magna and Media Insight.

Mohamed Fawzi, marketing manager for BMW Group Middle East, said: “One of our corporate agency partner policies is to look into the market every three years to ensure that we are working with the best possible consultants to represent our BMW Group brands: BMW and MINI. We involved our marketing and financial partners at our head office in Germany who worked closely with us throughout the pitch to ensure that we followed our professional global processes.

“It was a three-month process that involved several stages and comprehensive criteria on which each agency was judged. All agencies put great effort into understanding our business requirements and presented us with some strong media solutions. It was a difficult decision, but a holistic one that incorporated every relevant element. It is imperative for us to select a partner who not only understands both our BMW and MINI brands, but also the different tonality and brand messages we communicate to our BMW and MINI customers, and the different communication platforms we employ.”

Al Jazeera to buy six ART sports channels

November 15, 2009

Al Jazeera is to buy six sports channels from Arab Radio & Television (ART), according to Rapid TV News.

A memorandum of understanding has been signed between the two networks, although the exact terms of the deal are unknown, and the move is expected to make Al Jazeera the exclusive regional rights holder of next year’s Fifa World Cup in South Africa.
Al Jazeera already has eight sports channels but the deal will leave ART with only one sports channel, El Ahly.

Al Jazeera’s sports division holds the exclusive regional rights to broadcast games from Italian Serie A, Spain’s La Liga and the UEFA Champions League. The Qatar-based broadcaster also has the rights to screen Champions League matches until 2012 after winning the rights last year.

The move by Al Jazeera and ART follows the merger of rival pay-TV broadcasters Showtime and Orbit earlier this year. It also follows close on the heels of Abu Dhabi Media Company bagging the rights to the English Premier League from 2010.

Regional creatives are spreading the rubbish virus

November 5, 2009

By Andrew Durkan, creative director, The Tribe

“You’ll remember this notion from a few years ago: If you sleep with someone, you’re sleeping with everyone they’ve ever slept with, and everyone that they’ve ever slept with, and so on. In the end you walk away with whatever germs may have been lurking about.

I feel like that every time I walk into a meeting with a client. It’s a contaminated environment. And for once, this is not a moan about clients. It’s about every other creative director who has shared space with this client. Because, with a few exceptions, they’ve spread the rubbish virus.

Let me start at roughly the beginning. About 20 years ago, in Soho, Sydney and Sandton, a group of talentless soaks had run out of chances and burned too many bridges. Their future careers looked bleak. But what if there was a place where mediocrity would go unrecognised, even be rewarded? And so they came. With accents talking the talk, a bit of rock and roll swagger, and stories of when they shot with Ridley.

And for close on two decades, they collectively produced a pile of unmitigated rubbish. Work that was bad for the consumer, bad for brands, bad for agencies, bad for the region and – the part that I’m particularly concerned about – bad for every single person who succeeded them.

Here’s what happens when an agency presents work to a client: they talk a big number two about ‘thinking outside the box’; they talk everything up as a ‘big idea’; and they do so with expertly honed confidence. They say everything a client wants to hear about their advertising and the clients lap it up. They’re the experts after all. And so the seeds of mediocrity are sown again and again.

Here’s a reality check. The ‘Best Job in the World’ campaign was a big idea. There were perhaps two others in the world last year. They’re very, very rare and they don’t come cheap. But the whole notion of a big idea has been cheapened by every single one that pretends to be, but is barely an ad.

In my darkest moments, I question myself as honestly as possible about whether, if I were the client, I’d buy the piece of work that I’m presenting. And I always get to thinking: ‘No.’ Not because of the work, but because I suddenly think that being constantly deceived by people in advertising must make it very difficult to recognise the moment when you’re actually exposed to even a reasonably good idea, never mind a great one.

As a postscript, the above rant only has relevance to the approximately five creative directors in the Middle East who actually know what they’re doing. Who are they, you ask? Consider this: if there are 1,000 agencies in the region, that would mean that there’s a half per cent chance that any given piece of business is being handled by someone who has the skill and talent to do it justice. I know who they are. So do they. The problem is that everyone else is pretending they’re one of them.

I’ll get my coat.”

Lebanon’s Murr TV re-launches hit talent show Studio El Fan

November 4, 2009

Lebanon’s Murr TV is re-launching popular talent show Studio El Fan on Sunday as part of a bid to reassert itself in the marketplace after an absence of seven years.

Murr TV, also known as MTV Lebanon, went live in April this year after years in the wilderness thanks to its closure by force in September 2002 for political reasons.

ElisaBut now it is hoping to announce its return with a splash and chip away at LBC’s dominant position with the help of Studio El Fan, which was originally aired on Télé Liban during the 70s and 80s before moving to LBC in the 90s. The show is widely credited with launching the careers of stars such as Diana Haddad, Nawal Al Zoghbi, Wael Kfoury, Elissa (pictured), composer Jean-Marie Riachi and designer Zuhair Murad.

The show will consist of 32 episodes, with categories including song, poetry, dance and modeling.

Tesco gets Tony Blair on board to aid Middle East plans

November 3, 2009

British supermarket Tesco has held talks with former prime minister and current Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair to help smooth its expansion into the region, reported Brand Republic yesterday.

According to reports in a UK newspaper, Blair was offered a fee in the region of 6 million AED to act as a “figurehead” for the brand, which  is the world’s third largest retailer.

It is believed Tesco hoped Blair would be able to use his diplomatic clout to aid its plans in the region. However, the paper said talks broke down over an “unknown reason” unconnected with money.

Blair’s talks with Tesco has led to questions over whether it is appropriate for a peace envoy to represent a supermarket’s interest in the region. Blair gives economic and political advice through his company Tony Blair Associates.

Tesco is behind Wal-Mart and French supermarket Carrefour in the race for world supermarket share. Limited opportunities to expand in its saturated UK base and has seen it look overseas in recent years.

The most notable opening for Tesco has been its Fresh & Easy chain on the west coast of the US. However its international chain spreads over Thailand, the Czech Republic, South Korea and Poland.

In response to the Blair story Tesco said: “We wouldn’t comment on which advisers we may or may not talk to, or speculation about potential markets for Tesco.”

Tony Blair Associates denied Blair had any commercial relationship with Tesco.

Do lingerie, nudity and the burqa mix?

November 2, 2009

Lingerie, nudity and a burqa. Now there’s a combination you don’t hear of too often.

But that’s exactly what German online lingerie store Liaison Dangereuse has opted for in its latest TVC, which is the work of Berlin-based agency Glow.

liaisonsThe commercial shows a woman getting out of the shower, applying her make-up, walking to her dresser and putting on her underwear. So far so Western, but then the final scene shows her placing a burqa over her head and moving to the window, with the tagline reading: “Sexiness for everyone. Everywhere.”

Created for a European audience, the ad has triggered debate online, with Muslimah Media Watch stating that “it seems pretty hard to argue that this ad is something positive or empowering, if it would probably be rather offensive and disrespectful to most of those who would presumably be the ones it attempts to empower”.

Although opinion is split on Adsoftheworld, Muslimah Media Watch also states that the ad is simply playing on men’s “fascination about Muslim women’s bodies, and the curiosity about what’s ‘behind the veil’”.

Take a look for yourselves. Caution: contains nudity.

WPP Group suffers 8.7% organic revenue drop

November 1, 2009

WPP Group, which encompasses Ogilvy Advertising, Y&R, Mediaedge:cia, Wunderman, Grey and many more, has suffered an organic revenue fall of 8.7% but has declared that “less worse” economic conditions mean there has been “no Armageddon” for the industry.

Like-for-like gross margin, which WPP said was a better measure of competitive performance, fell by 8.3% — a smaller decline than in previous quarters.

Overall revenues, taking into account acquisitions and currency fluctuations, rose by 16.7% to around $3.3 billion.

In a trading statement, the company said: “There is little doubt that consumer and corporate confidence has recovered somewhat from the panic levels of the fourth quarter of 2008 and first quarter of 2009.

“Confidence, however, remains fragile amongst consumers, because of the shadow of high unemployment levels and amongst corporates, because Armageddon and Apocalypse were barely avoided in September 2008.”

WPP said that UK revenues for the third quarter had fallen again when compared to the second quarter, reflecting the fact that while France, Germany and the US are now officially out of recession, the UK  is not.

In the US, the fall in revenues stood at 6.1%, compared with 9.4% in the first quarter. Other areas to see improvement were Western Europe and Asia Pacific.