Ali Cheikhali, Creative Strategy Lead at Google Creative Works and judge for the WARC Awards for MENA Strategy, outlines his key themes from the best campaigns of 2022.

This year’s WARC Awards for MENA Strategy may have had fewer winning campaigns, but that doesn’t mean the takeaways are any less valuable. In fact, the reduced pool of winners has made it easier to focus on the standout themes and tactics behind the winning work. From creative revamps of old media to innovative solutions born from strategy and real-world problems, this year’s awards provided a roadmap for brands and agencies looking to make their mark in the industry through three key themes:

New takes on old media: A bold and creative revisit

Old media, new magic! That was one of the biggest themes from the WARC Awards for MENA Strategy this year. Brands and agencies proved that with new thinking, yesterday’s media can become today’s game-changers. From packaging to Google Maps, they transformed traditional channels into powerful tools for connection and engagement. Barakat disrupted the norm, educating consumers on healthy choices through creative packaging. stc brought Google Maps to life, using it as an educational channel to steer customers towards digitization. Castrol celebrated mechanics in a whole new way, blending the physical and digital to create a memorable experience. The secret to unlocking the full potential of old media? Make new thinking an intrinsic part of your creative strategy and ideas. Get ready to create campaigns that are impactful, unforgettable and bold!

Breaking barriers with bold and brave solutions: The power of strategy meets real-world problems

Innovation doesn’t always have to come from technology. This year’s WARC Awards for MENA Strategy showed us the magic that happens when brands take a new bold and courageous approach to solving old real-world problems. From Morocco to Saudi Arabia and beyond, the winning campaigns demonstrated the power of creative strategy. Take the M.A.L.I. campaign for example; it sparked a conversation and ended virginity tests with its buzz-generating approach rooted in the development of a new bedroom product. Or stc’s daring use of a camel and camera to showcase their 5G network in uncharted territories of Saudi Arabia, proving that the sky’s the limit for brands willing to challenge the norm. By embracing this formula of strategy meets real-world problems, brands can ignite true innovation and create campaigns that are not only effective, but also unforgettable!

Revisiting nostalgia: Harnessing the power of yesterday to drive today’s success

Nostalgia is a powerful tool in advertising, and this year’s WARC Awards for MENA Strategy is a testament to its universality. From Oman to Egypt to Saudi Arabia, brands leveraged nostalgia to create a winning formula, tapping into the emotional connection consumers have with their heritage and local culture.

Take Jibnet Abu Al Walad, for example. The brand leveraged the popularity of the Omani sandwich to increase top-of-mind awareness and consideration. HungerStation also used nostalgia to tap into the memories of a time when ordering food wasn’t as simple as it is today. Meanwhile, Palm Hills Development in Egypt transported their target audience to a different place and simpler time, one each one of us would be happy to be in.

The message is clear: tapping into consumers’ emotional connections with their past can drive impactful results and lead to business success. By embracing the power of nostalgia, brands can create a deeper connection with their audiences and leave a lasting impression.

This year’s WARC Awards for MENA Strategy proved that timeless themes still reign supreme in the world of advertising. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the winning campaigns showed the power of applying fresh perspectives and innovative techniques to old media channels, and the impact of intersecting strategy with real-world problems to drive innovation. By embracing these timeless themes, brands and agencies can continue to create work that stands out, connects with consumers and delivers results.