MENA: Campaigns for Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Unilever’s OMO, and Pepsico are among the 20 papers shortlisted for the first WARC Prize for MENA Strategy, which rewards the most effective creative work from a fast changing region.

Work from Egypt leads the charge, with seven campaigns selected for the shortlist. Elsewhere, the United Arab Emirates contributed five campaigns. The rest hail from across North Africa and the Middle East with two pan regional campaigns.

The full shortlist can be viewed on the Prize website, where WARC subscribers can read the papers in full.

Aside from big global brands, local brands account for over half of the shortlist. Effectiveness resulted in more nuanced outcomes than just sales. The Egyptian Autism Society had a socially enhanced campaign to further understanding of the condition, driving more diagnosis and forcing government action.

Meanwhile, a campaign from the Saudi Arabian Telecom Company showed the effectiveness of branded content to showcase its broadband capability, becoming the market leader in less than a year.

Multinationals are well represented, with innovative campaigns that explored important cultural pressure points. Unilever’s OMO detergent brand sparked a conversation about modern children’s sedentary lifestyle with a live stream intended to show parents that outdoor play is fundamental to health and wellbeing.

The shortlist, selected by the 15-strong judging panel made up of marketers and strategists from across the region, reflects some of the larger trends in marketing from around the world alongside key trends in the Middle East.

In remarks reported by WARC earlier this year, chair of the judging panel, Asad Rehman, Director, Media North Africa & Middle East for Unilever, noted the extent to which digital media has disrupted modern marketing– a phenomenon clear in the shortlist.

Equally, he noted that the brand’s relationship to consumers was changing from consumers to “content creators and influencers, defining this new landscape.” Yet, key to great marketing, he maintained, was the big idea, stemming from good insight.

“Landing universal truths across geographies isn't simple. But cutting through that complexity is what makes big brands big.”

The winners will be announced later this year, with special awards given for research excellence, best channel thinking, and for local competitor campaigns.

Data sourced from WARC