Media plans ‘need more creativity’

The Middle East’s media planners must be more creative in order to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development and consumer expectations.

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By  Steve Wrelton Published  April 16, 2006

The Middle East’s media planners must be more creative in order to keep up with the rapid pace of technological development and consumer expectations. The message comes as media agency MindShare became the latest firm to train planners on how to think more creatively and produce more inventive work. Last week Campaign reported how another agency, Starcom, had introduced planners to its new training programme called Notion, which aims to teach creativity. Kevin Rapose, managing director at Initiative in Dubai, said that training programmes were an essential tool in raising the creative bar in the region, as was greater involvement of Arab nationals in the media. “Clients are increasingly demanding the ‘wow’ factor in their media plans — some are getting it and some are not,” he said. “The fact is that brands lose out if they do not stand out and media agencies who do not innovate will die. In every project we always have to be asking ‘is this all we can do?’” He added: “Having more nationals will also help because they can help to identify consumer contacts and better activate media plans.” Dany Naaman, general manager of MPG Middle East, said that while creativity was hampered by a lack of accurate data and a market that was still young, the future of the industry was at stake if media agencies failed to innovate. He said: “The whole business will be affected if we do not improve. “Clients will get less and campaigns will be less effective — they are already — and the only way forward is to come up with new ideas. “There’s a lot to be done. We need to have more research and more consumer insights. You need to address your target in more effective ways so that you know what the points of contact are, what the lifestyles are and where to find them.” Walid Kanafani, general manager at Mediaedge:cia in Kuwait, said that while creativity was important, it was often low down the list of priorities due to cost and because of the conservative nature of the Middle East market. “The issue is that agencies and clients are not being proactive — they go with all the normal things and want the messages to come in very simple formats,” he said. “Things are also very cluttered — there’s no room for creativity, especially in newspapers. It is also more expensive to do more creative things. We need to have more brainstorming between ad agencies and media companies — then we can come up with something that is really good.” Planners from MindShare and Media Insight offices across the Middle East have undergone training developed by independent consultants ICTN to help them improve creativity by under- standing the psychology behind it. Samir Ayoub, CEO at MindShare MENA, said: “At MindShare MENA we believe that creativity is a core skill required from all our planners. Like any skill, it needs to be constantly developed, and our internal training programme helps the team to do just this. “We are operating in a market that is evolving at a rapid pace. The way in which consumers are viewing media is changing, and the channels themselves are undergoing a revolution too. “That is why we must ensure our creativity continues to grow and evolve with it.” “Creativity is less about clever use of traditional media and more about effective channel planning. With regular training and focus on this area we intend to be ahead of the game each and every time,” he added. Tarek Daouk, managing director at Starcom in Dubai, said that the challenge for the region was to keep abreast of developments in technology, while also getting closer to younger, more media-savvy consumers. He said: “If we do not meet consumers’ expectations by empowering our people, then the impact on the business will be seen. We need to make sure that in any encounter a consumer has with a brand, it is emotionally engaging, rationally convincing and serves a certain business objective – either building a brand or building sales.”

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