The Middle East and North Africa is chronically under regarded by the marketing world at large. With WARC’s second MENA strategy report, we have taken a deeper look at the region’s best campaigns. Here are four trends you need to know.

Disruption is driving growth

Sectors ripe for disruption have experienced breakthrough thinking from winners of the 2018 WARC prize for MENA Strategy. Two stood out in particular, showing that changing the conversation can be a powerful strategic statement:
  • Nissan’s Grand-Prix winning Camelpower, developed with TBWA\RAAD, developed a new metric to demonstrate its new products’ suitability to the desert.
  • Elsewhere, leading food brand Sadia (with Impact BBDO Dubai) encouraged customers across the region to cook less during Ramadan in order to reduce waste. It managed to do so while maintaining its market-leading position.
“Digging deep to find the real problem leads to more innovative work for brands, work that can radically change the conversation around a particular subject,” said jury member Remie Abdo, Director of Strategic Planning, TBWA\RAAD Dubai.

New thinking around gender equality

This year’s entries illuminated the way in which brands and agencies are contributing to a developing conversation around gender equality in the region. But effective gender-equality focused campaigns, as Mona Elsayed, Regional Planning Director, J. Walter Thompson Gulf and member of the jury noted in a piece for WARC, must speak to men as well as women.

Campaigns like Nissan's #SheDrives and Puck's Cook with Her, illustrate the way in which gender equality requires men to take an active role and not sit passively by.

The challenge now is to push the boat further. Says Elsayed, “Gender equality has made great strides in MENA’s marketing, but there is scope to be even more progressive.”

Powerful local insights drive powerful growth

“The ability to tap into and question, challenge or harness our own societies’ assumptions and then use that to act as a bridge into the hearts and minds of consumers is not new. However, the extent to which global brands are going local to gain market share is new in this region,” observed Laura Chaibi, Head of Market Intelligence and Syndicate Digital Data, MBC, and member of the judging panel. Two campaigns, both from Lebanon, illustrate this trend:
  • Connect's Slow Trends was a campaign from a challenger brand with a tiny media budget, which took on a duopoly in the country that had faced little threat from faster providers. Creative and strategy both turned on the perils of slow internet.
  • Byblos Bank, with There’s no home like home, leveraged the insight that there are five times more Lebanese people living abroad than in Lebanon; with over 50% wanting to move back home one day, the bank had an opportunity to speak to a niche but important market.
Influencers can transform a business

Specifically, the use of ‘everyday’ influencers has conferred on brands an ability to speak to the audience in a tone and register with which they will identify.

“Many successful campaigns in this year’s Prize had in mind ‘a greater good’ and leveraged influencers to help communicate that message,” commented juror Matt Butterworth, Regional Managing Director (MENA), MullenLowe.

In particular, Egypt’s EGBank spoke to the country’s large under-30 population, explaining its services by telling the story of Oufa, a young man struggling for independence.

Other brands spoke to that most important audience: mothers. STC’s Meet the HouseWiFis used light-hearted TV spots in which mothers shared tips on keeping the family at home, using STC’s home internet offer.

A sample of the MENA Strategy Report 2018 is available here.

The report is available to WARC subscribers on in full and includes chapter analysis with views and opinions from the judges, analysis of campaign trends, as well as access to the winning case studies.

Sourced from WARC