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Communicate Levant | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

Communicate Levant | Advertising, marketing, public relations and media in the Arab world and beyond

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Global media agency Starcom Mediavest Group (SMG) just announced a corporate rebranding initiative. Alex Saber, chairman of Starcom Mediavest Group MENA and VivaKi MENA, explains the reasons behind the company’s latest global refurbishment and the effect it will have on its MENA operations.

Velocity marketing was a core reason behind the makeover, as Saber explains: “We have always been a purpose-driven organization and we will continue to be a human experience company.” Yet, he adds that in order for SMG to thrive in today’s marketplace, it needs to evolve within the world’s current context: “Our new dream is to architect connected human experiences to lead the velocity era of marketing. In other words, velocity marketing is how we will continue to build human experiences.” Elaborating on the concept, he adds that “data continues to become more centric to the marketing world than ever before and [the] time spent on mobile devices is growing, while analytics and technology are transforming advertising, making precision marketing – at scale – a reality.”

As an aesthetic representation of these changes, SMG’s new logo (pictured above) is a reflection of the agency’s dynamism and ability to move forward and adapt. The colors of the new logo represent the different brands of Starcom Mediavest Group. Saber explains, “Our role on behalf of our clients is multifaceted and this pluralism is represented through the interlinking of the lines on the star.”

Reflecting further upon the reasons why the SMG rebrand makes sense now, Saber says that industry members have developed an understanding that “digital, data and content do not live as siloed parts,” and, as such, “the new purpose of SMG reflects this next pivot – unleashing the power of integrating them all together; it’s more holistic and transformational.”

Five years ago, SMG’s global management announced it would aim to have 50 percent of the company’s business derive from digital, content, data and analytics. The year 2014 marked the achievement of this goal and a new one was then set: to have 50 percent of its business stem from addressable media and content. SMG’s regional objectives fall in line with these global ambitions. One priority has been to transition from analog to new media thinking via digital media investments, in addition to agile marketing and programmatic capabilities. Looking at these plans from a local level, Saber explains, “SMG’s global acquisitions speak volumes about our next direction. We plan to beef up our investments into start-ups and companies that would add value to the business and we are not slowing down.” Currently, the media trends in the region, specifically in the Gulf, are heading toward more and more integration of digital, data and content. Breaking this idea down further, Saber says, “The next wave of transformational growth will come from monetizing video and display on mobile.” He emphasizes this need by noting that mobile-first audiences are the future, as 60 to 70 percent of millennial behavior involves real-time online content consumption in a social context.

Few conversations about the regional media landscape – or any other industry – are complete without the mention of challenges faced by the Arab world. From Saber’s perspective, the GCC promises growing opportunities for the media industry; however, even the Gulf is not insulated from the region’s political instability. This uncertainty translates into pressure upon local media suppliers who, with their clients, are challenging traditional media thinking by optimizing paid, owned and earned media through technology, data and insights. He continues, “Major players like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are significantly expanding their operations in the region. This is a new era of accountability, transparency and measurability for the regional and global media industry.”

Looking toward the future, Saber hopes to see “more accountability in analog via the advent of TV measurement that will pave the way for real video-neutral planning,” which, he notes, is another trend that has not yet been fully realized in the regional marketplace. Regardless Starcom Mediavest Group MENA is moving forward without forgetting its roots. Saber concludes: “We live in a world that is being shaped by the forces of convergence and empowerment, but we still believe that experiences matter and that they enhance lives and build brands.”


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