New content strategies, novel ways of driving footfall, real stories and a focus on the next generation of parents are among the marketing trends that are proving successful in the MENA region according to a new WARC report.

The 2019 MENA Strategy Report is based on an analysis of the results of this year’s WARC Prize for MENA Strategy, a search for the best strategic marketing ideas that have delivered results.

Lucy Aitken, Managing Editor, Case Studies, WARC, reports that “entries demonstrated a more robust style of strategic thinking across the region that generated some impressive returns”.

The four themes highlighted in WARC’s MENA Strategy Report 2019 are:

1. Strong strategies rely on real stories

Grand Prix winner Uber used actual journeys to champion its customers and humanise its service. Byblos Bank from Lebanon showed how older Lebanese people have achieved their dreams in the country, reframing it as a place to prosper. And telco STC delved into Saudi’s past to show that women had always formed part of its story.

“People care about people, not brands,” points out Ali Cheikhali, Creative Strategist, Google ZOO, and member of the judging panel. “But if your brand puts people’s stories front and centre, they might just care about your brand a little more.”

2. New strategies to target parents

Millennials are entering a new life phase as they become parents and a number of winning case studies appealed to this group via a range of different techniques. One example is the real-estate company Palm Hills Developments which attracted young buyers to its new city of Badya in Egypt.

“Millennial parents want brands to keep it real and relevant,” says Aakriti Goel, Strategic Planning Director, Middle East & Africa, Cheil MEA. “As brands create strategies to target parents, they must consider that these mums and dads look – and behave – differently from the parents of previous generations.”

3. Content strategies diversify across MENA

Brands have realised that they can reach people without an intermediary, leading to more varied content strategies across the region. Orange Tunisia’s The Hashtagging Grandpa generated its own set of memes, for example, and Nescafé Dolce Gusto’s Coffee Corners encouraged people to create their own style of coffee corner in their home.

Jury member Asma Shabab, Digital Business Strategy and Experience Consultant, IBM iX, notes: “Today, the conversation is not about intrusion anymore, but whether your content takes them away from what they are currently consuming.”

4. Driving footfall through strategic ideas

The retail sector faces significant challenges across the MENA region with many businesses successfully identifying and implementing original ways to drive footfall both in-store and online.

Car dealership Al Tayer Motors got its staff to create an art project from old car parts to showcase its dedication to service, and The Big Shutdown from Saudi telco STC diverted traffic away from its network of stores and towards its suite of self-service apps. The initiative was so successful, it is now being considered as an annual event.

A sample of WARC’s MENA Strategy Report 2019 can be downloaded here. The full report is available to WARC subscribers and includes chapter analysis of the four themes with views and opinions from the judges, as well as lessons and summaries – objectives, insights, strategies, results and takeaways – of the winning case studies, and what these mean for brands, media owners and agencies.

A free-to-attend event on the insights and lessons from the WARC Prize for MENA Strategy will be held on 5 November at Hall & Partners in Dubai. 

Sourced from WARC