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

HopscotchME officially comes to life in Beirut


HopscotchME officially comes to life in Beirut

Hopscotchme, a group of ad veterans gets back together to jump into the Lebanese advertising fray once more, with serious ambitions. CEO Omar Nasreddine tells us more.

HopscotchME team

Today, out of their offices in Karantina, Nasreddine, Philippe Skaff and Ghassan Khairallah officially announced the launch. The new joint-stock company is a full partnership between Nasreddine’s and Khairallah’s own Beirut-based agency Triptikum and Paris-based international independent communication consultancy group Hopscotch – Europe’s third largest, with a foot print in more than 60 countries globally according to its CEO. Skaff curated the joint venture and is chairman, while Khairallah is chief creative officer.

It’s all about relationships

As a “non-conventional integrated total communications solutions group specializing in next-generation advertising”, Hopscotchme goes big from the start. It offers a full array of services, from Brand building MARCOMs to Brand entertainment, Events &experience marketing, Social &online, Content creation & animation, Advertising & PR, Digital integration and Management consultancy.

“Our target audience will be any client, organization or brand that needs to elevate [itself] to a higher level in how it meaningfully engages with its audience to build a unique sustainable relationship,” says Nasreddine. He goes on to explain that “by the same way clients choose their agencies, we will also want to choose our clients, the key criteria being the potential of building a sustainable partnership together.”

Relationships, with clients and with the audience, are indeed at the core of the Hopscotch Groupe’s strategy globally. “The agency believes that the value of a brand, a company or an organization is strongly impacted by its relational capital –that is to say the quality of the relationships that it establishes with its audience. That is why Hopscotch prides itself on our proprietary approach of ‘Relationships Built by Design’,” explains Nasreddine. 

Next gen ad

It’s fair to wonder how a new agency can expect to fare well on a market that is already overcrowded and shows little prospect for growth. But this sorry state of play is actually what motivated the Hopscotchme’s team. “This is a time when clients and businesses are uncertain. They avoid investing in growth, afraid of the economic downturn across the board.No one had guts enough to dare and invest in these times. We love this business.We are disappointed to see how the industry is diminishing and sad to see that communication is no longer defining a high cultural standard of our societies. And because we believe we can contribute to changing this and redefining a new industry, we decided to [create Hopscotchme],” says Nasreddine.

Although neither of the shareholders are exactly part of the youngest generations (with all due respect, each of them has been in business for more than 20 years), their focus – and unique selling point – is next generation advertising. And they strongly believe in the commercial value of such a mindset. “Next-generation advertising is not just a set of words, it’s a business model, a thinking process leading to a specific creative output, which generates revenue for the brand, increases the number of audience acquisitions, builds a conversation and drives high viral potential leading to brand loyalty. Adding to this model the fact that we have crossed over from the traditional brand building industry will give us a highly competitive edge in applying the new thinking to today’s brands,” says Nasreddine.

Hot start

Triptikum and Hopscotch Groupe first started discussing a partnership back in November/December 2017, and things happened quite quickly.

Today, the team is formed of 13 “creative thinkers”. “Regardless from which department, we are all creative,” says Nasreddine. With Beirut as its headquarter, Hopscotchme plans to launch very soon an operation in Doha, Qatar, and is qualifying an Abu Dhabi set-up. “Currently our capacity and focus are to cater to the Middle East and Africa region.Our aim is to establish a network,” he adds.

The new agency will also have a special relationship with Multiple International, Philippe Skaff’s tailor-made shows and urban creation projects company established in 2011. On top of sharing a creative hub in Karantina, “we have a complementary relationship that goes beyond the fact that we have worked together for more than 15 years in a past life and a past industry; we can also complement [one another] in our scopes of work. We create brand entertainment and communication and Multiple creates high-end tailored non-brand entertainment, competing with the largest global names counted on one hand only. Our combined firepower covers all possible scopes, from the smallest to the widest and by far the largest,” says Nasreddine.

With this considerable firepower, the new agency hopes to redefine the communication market in Lebanon and beyond in the region. This market needs restructuring, according to Nasreddine and his partners. For now, it operates with the following two models: on one hand, traditional multinational ad agencies that “have not been, in general, entirely successful at crossing over into the new world of communication – and I don’t just mean on a digital level, with rate cards still on an unjustifiable high rate,” says Nasreddine. On the other hand, creative boutique hot-shops, “many of which have a high level of creative talent but low capacity and small regional footprints with good value rate cards, but only talk new media,” he adds.

Hopscotchme aims for the something in the middle, “with high agility to shift between the two models, with a tool box that has traditional, disruptive as well as new tools for the market to work with and integrate. This is done much faster because we operate with a start-up and entrepreneurial mentality and the speed, agility and value of small shops.”

Is this right-in-the-middle approach a format that will succeed in a region slow to adopt innovative business models? Time will, as usual, tell. Meanwhile, disruption is all but guaranteed; after all, Skaff, Nasreddine and Khairallah have a long history of making waves and spurring change…

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