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

“Project Akshar (Alphabets)” case study

Effie Mena Awards

“Project Akshar (Alphabets)” case study

The 2015 edition of the Effie MENA Awards saw 23 campaigns walk away with the Gold trophy. We caught up with the winning agencies and the judges to learn what made the campaign tick, what didn’t and everything else that went on in the jury room. However, this time we turned the tables around and let the agency guys take over our jobs and play journalists for a day as they asked the judges everything they wanted to about their campaigns.

In this article, jury member Dany Khairallah, marketing director, Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, and Tahaab Rais, regional head of planning, FP7 MENA, discuss SmartLife’s “Project Akshar (Alphabets)”

Effie Awards won:

2 Golds: Best Use of CSR – NGO and Single Media Company.

2 Silvers: Best Use of Social Media and Brand Experience.

“Project Akshar (Alphabets)” by FP7/DXB was an important step in teaching Dubai’s laborers the English language in a simple and innovative way that integrated the teaching process with their daily lives. As Khairellah says, “They did an amazing job of using a single media [channel] to create an environment of teaching a language in their daily routine, which is very difficult.” And yet, it did not win the coveted Grand Prix – an award that was won by the same NGO’s campaign, “SAPNA – How 17,793 Nails Shaped the Future for Generations to Come”. “From our group, it was up for the Grand Prix,” admits Khairellah, but she adds that some of the entries seem outstanding until you see the other contenders – which was the case with this particular campaign. “Akshar did a really wonderful job, but, of course, there’s always someone who might do a little better.”

Interestingly, the campaign also won a Silver in the social media category – “even though it was quite an analog campaign in a digital world,” says Rais. For the jury, what ticked all the right boxes was the fact that the social media content was genuine and authentic enough to inspire organic reach and engagement. “When you force social media, it could backfire. And in some categories, we’ve seen content being created just for the viral effect. The most interesting thing is creating relevant content that’s genuine and not forced. People are much more educated, so it’s more difficult to impress them and they can see right through [fake content],” Khairellah advises agencies and brands that aspire to create better social media campaigns. From Rais’ perspective, it was important to enter the campaign in the Brand Experience category – although it seems unusual – because “SmartLife stands for education and enhancing people’s lives and brand experience as a category is about bringing the brand to life in unconventional [ways]. And this campaign brought the brand proposition to life.”


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