The MENA Cristal Awards is back to celebrate its tenth anniversary with two big changes this year: relocating from Lebanon to Dubai and adding a knowledge component to the festival through two days of panels and expert talks under the “ID Cristal Congress”, culminating in the awards night on February 11, 2015. Representing innovation and digital (ID), the conference – or congress – focused on two topics: content and entertainment; and innovation and technology. The first day saw speakers such as Moneer Barakat, film director and Guido Mercati, chief innovation offer at Filmmaker MEA, talk about branded content and branded entertainment; and how, increasingly, branded content isn’t a content specialist’s job anymore, but that of an entertainer. Sunil John, CEO of PR firm Asda’a Burson-Marsteller, touched upon digital trends, millennials and “feminonics”: the skill of communicating with the female consumer. Other speakers included Yousef Tuqan Tuqan, chief innovation officer at Leo Burnett MENA, Anouk Pappers, brand anthropologist and co-founder at CoolBrands and Maarten Schäfer, story architect and co-founder at CoolBrands.
Day two of the event saw Sébastien Marteau, CEO and founder at Iconiction present case studies from the US and Europe pertaining to proximity marketing, while the digital conversation continued with Vizeum’s global president, Thomas Le Thierry d’Ennequin’s talk on the “digital revolution” and Shoaib Ahmed, MEA operations manager at Buzzeff’s talk on reinventing video advertising. This time around, digital got a little technical with talks on programmatic by Frédéric Bellier, managing director at RadiumOne and Ali Nehme, managing director of digital at Vivaki MENA.
Managing Director for Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Criteo, Dirk Henke’s talk on the topic “No one buys on mobile” provided an interesting perspective on mobile and m-commerce, while Alfonso De Gaetano, agency and branding lead for MENA at Google; Michel Malkoun, COO at DMS; Toby Ruddock, head of Media Beyond Advertising at MediaCom MENA; and Karim Khalifa, co-founder and CEO at Digital Republic, gathered to discuss the future of digital video. Hussein Freijeh, managing director at Yahoo MEA – UAE discussed the target group everyone loves to speak about – millennials – and how to create, tailor and enrich content for them. The rest of the day saw several experts opine on everything that should, could and probably isn’t yet innovative enough – from mobile and e-payments to entrepreneurship and virtual reality.
The ID Cristal Congress ended with the awards night held at The Sofitel, Downtown Dubai. This year, Mindshare MENA won a total of 16 awards, as well as the title of “Media Network of the Year”, which was awarded to Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) last year.
Interestingly, four of the 16 awards were on the back of the agency’s Tunisia team for its work on Sancella Tunisie’s “NANA Coach” campaign and Tunisie Telecom’s “Keep Our Beaches Clean” campaign. SMG and OMD, both came in second with a total of seven awards. Of the seven awards, SMG won five Cristals, as well as the title of “Media Agency of the Year” for its Dubai operations, for the second year in a row. OMD Dubai bagged the Media Grand Cristal as well as a Cristal for Henkel Arabia – Persil Abaya Shampoo’s “Persil Abaya Oud Launch” campaign. Impact BBDO brought home three awards, including the Advertisers Grand Cristal by its Lebanon operation for Flower Town’s “The Power of Love” campaign. TBWA\RAAD also won three awards, along with Mindshare MENA, for automotive brand Nissan, including one Cristal for Infiniti’s “It’s Time for Infiniti” campaign. MediaCom trailed behind with two Cristals, but interestingly, both were awarded to Etihad Airways’ “Etihad Mapped Out” campaign under Transport/Tourism, as well as Best Use of Digital category. Egypt-based independent agency, Digital Republic, picked up two Emeralds for Unilever’s Axe’s “Evolution of Hooking Up” campaign, under the Best of Use of Digital and Best Use of Social Media categories. Buzzman Middle East, GMASCO Marketing Communications, DDB Dubai, Grey MENA and Resolution MENA, each won one award.