Coffee with Impact Proximity Director, Dimitri Metaxas
DC: Campaign MEs kick to the digital world (offering no awards). Pompous or
DM: Two Words: Damage & Limitation
Why do I say that? Well to be honest there were many factors at fault here. On the one hand, Campaign ME completely mishandled the digital awards category from the start and weren’t clear on the entry guidelines. Does digital campaign mean websites? Or websites and ad creative? And what about Search? Because all of these (and more) are components for an online campaign. Furthermore they had traditional marketers with zero experience in online judging work they didn’t understand. I pretty much had this confirmed by Campaign ME themselves.
On the other hand, Campaign ME were justified in their assertion that the overall output in the region is still lacking. That doesn’t mean to say that some agencies aren’t doing great online work but the industry as a whole is in such an infancy that the volume of that work just doesn’t yet exist. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that past online work from this region has won on the international stage, true we haven’t quite cracked the big two - New York and Cannes but we have been finalists on many occasions. These same entries didn’t make the Campaign ME finalists…So need I say more?
In the end, I think Campaign ME didn’t have much choice. When I saw the finalists I was surprised. We had handled many of these creatives ourselves (as a media buyer) and technically they were preschool. It’s hard to explain this here but take my word for it, any seasoned digital marketer would have spotted the issues instantly, never mind the basic design faults at play.
Did we have a chat with Campaign ME about the resulting finalists? In short yes. Did we push them to not award this category on the night? No, that was their decision.
DC: So what would you consider great online work in the region?
Great work from abroad?
DM: I will always include Emirates for some great regional work. This brand easily pioneered online in the region and most people in our industry would acknowledge that. We recently ran an extremely successful viral campaign with them and the results were outstanding. That doesn’t mean that Emirates online work is consistently great, but it is consistent and on brand.
The Al Arabiya online rebranding campaign is another example of phenomenal results if not ground breaking creative. We generated 790,000 clicks in the space of a month and ended up bringing their website down in the process (not bad for a portal). We also streamed their now quite famous TVC (produced by BBDO Beirut) through the online ads 353,000 times which was also a great statistic, keeping in mind that users had to initiate the stream. So in the days of ad avoidance we had consumers actively seeking the ads and sharing them with their friends. I have had these ads sent to me by people in Asia and the United States further proving the power of online when things come together.
Also, check out the Snickers Middle East website: http://www.me.snickers.com/ - I like this site.
DC: A bulk of agency's are run by a more 'traditional generation' in the
region, do you feel this is hindering the development of online advertising
considering most lack digital know how?
DM: Most definitely. I could write an essay here but suffice to say we need more experienced industry professionals here to help us grow. The business is booming but this is also the case globally, so how do you attract talent? Basically we decided to hire them young and hungry to train and mold.
The lack of digital know how is easily the biggest challenge. I have been working in the region for nearly 5 years and I’m still educating marketers from scratch. But I don’t want to sound pessimistic, we as an industry have come a long way in this short time and I think people should be proud of that.
DC: Rarely do you find an account handler working in what is dubbed an
'integrated agency' versed in digital solutions. Why do you feel it
is the case? Do you think we are doing anything to change this?
DM: Personally I think integration doesn’t necessarily mean having an account handler working digital as well as ATL projects for instance. I believe there is still a need for specialization as you see it in the other more developed digital markets. When I think integrated, I have strange visions of a round table seating 8 specialists who are working together on a campaign brief from the outset, even if they represent different agencies.
When media agencies first formed they were "specialists" and quickly became "generalists". The same is already happening to the digital agency with specialists now concentrating on sub-services such as a "Viral or Search Engine Optimisation".
If you mean that the account handlers need to be versed in digital but not manage it, then I would agree that is lacking. But then if you go back to my previous answer who is going to verse them in the first place? It’s a slow but steady education process which is happening and this is how we are changing this.
DC: Digital advertising for dummies book? Digital advertising for not so dumb dummies book?
DM: Haha..Check out any of my presentations and I’m sure we can translate these to a book format. Actually there are a few good books out there that cover this topic specifically. I can’t remember the names but I have a client who has one and keeps trying to test me with it, I’m thinking of pursuing the sharia council for a region wide ban.
DC: Dimitri pleasure to have you on the blog. Many thanks.