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

“In the Boardroom” chooses creative approach for branded content


“In the Boardroom” chooses creative approach for branded content


Independent agency, Madison Advertising, launched a web show in October titled In the Boardroom. The show is broadcast exclusively on the business vertical of Communicate’s publisher Mediaquest’s digital media platform, Dotmena – the platform hosts business websites such as AMEinfo and Kippreport.

Presented by Dubai One’s Omar Butti (for Arabic) and Tom Urquhart (for English), the episodes aim to highlight the strengths and values of business organizations in the region, while linking them to brands. The Jaguar XJL is sponsoring the first season. 

Tarek Ghannam, managing director of Madison Advertising, explains that the idea behind the web series lies in the fact that brands claim to have values, but often shy away from protecting them properly. He says that CEOs are the ones in charge of upholding their brand/organization’s values, therefore they are the perfect candidates to feature in order to “bring back brand values”. He says: “Advertising ‘My car is bigger than yours’ or ‘My car is more expensive’ is an outdated dialogue, but one that will continue to exist nonetheless. What we created is a format that allows brands to use advertising, PR, branding, social media and digital all together.”

Each episode of In the Boardroom features a CEO from the GCC region, in the back of a Jaguar XJL, highlighting the values of his/her organization. Each season will comprise 15 three-minute episodes. So far, 15 professionals have signed up for the first season.

A typical episode starts with a candidate walking towards the Jaguar XJL, while a freeze frame pops up to highlight his/her profile. Then, in the back of the car, a two-minute interview by Butti or Urquhart underlines how the business leaders instill values into their organization and make sure their employees are upholding them. Unsurprisingly, the values of the candidates should match those of Jaguar. “For example, one of Jaguar’s advantages is innovative technology, which is also a quality of one of our candidates. So, we have him explain how he maintains that quality in his organization,” says Ghannam.

Jaguar associated itself fully with this new marketing approach, says Hannah Naji, marketing director for Jaguar Land Rover MENA. “As customer preferences evolve, so does the way in which we communicate the essence of our brand. Using this unique branded content, we have aligned the Jaguar brand with innovators, experts and leaders across various disciplines, from technology and finance to design and communication. Each one truly encapsulates the Jaguar brand personality through their work and attitude,” he explains.

However, “season two can be carried with the same brand [Jaguar] or with different brands as well,” Ghannam tells Communicate. “We already have a new brand on board for season two.” In fact, Ghannam sees other options beside a car brand for the upcoming season; as he puts it, “anything with a seat can work”.

“We are now in talks with a private jet company to use their planes for future interviews, because this is where CEOs mostly close deals – in cars, planes and other unconventional places,” he explains

With the exponential growth of online videos in the MENA region, it is no surprise that this new concept was developed for cyberspace. “We know that [online] video will be bigger than TV in the future,” says Ghannam. He adds that another of the show’s important aspects is that it’s very cost-effective; the moment it becomes expensive, it would no longer be a good marketing tool. “Online shows cannot scream high costs, otherwise they will be no different than TV campaigns,” he explains, adding that a local production house was hired for the filming, while Madison Advertising is responsible for the script.

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