BY Samer Abboud – Managing Director, Memac Ogilvy Qatar
Doha is an exciting place to be for those who work in the advertising industry. There’s a lot of opportunity that comes with working in an emerging market, helping clients develop and grow their brands. Unfortunately, as the market stands today, I don’t think advertising agencies are making full use of this potential. Based on the ads you see on roadside billboards, TV, online and in print, Qatar appears to be a decade behind other capital cities.
Before you take offense, let me explain: I firmly believe that the advertising community in Qatar has the talent to produce world-class creative work. So why, then, do many of the ad campaigns you see in Doha fall short of what they could be?
In my opinion, it’s a matter of trust. Trust in our clients, trust in the market, trust in ourselves. I suspect that advertising agencies here in Doha have a tendency to self-censor based on the perceived norms of the market. Should you propose ideas that your client might ultimately reject because they’re unconventional, or should you play it safe with something familiar? Too often, agencies pitch ideas they think their clients want instead of what might be most effective. The results are weak, ineffectual campaigns that don’t do anything to further your clients’ goals.
What’s worse is that this self-censorship isn’t necessary. After all, Qatar is a sea-level country that is currently building an underground metro (no small feat). And it’s the process of building a bevy of air-conditioned stadiums to host one of the world’s largest sporting events during the hottest part of the year. The people of Qatar possess imagination and daring. We should be pushing boundaries right alongside our clients.
Consider this a challenge. It’s time for advertising agencies in Doha to:
1. Seek out clients who have the resources and ambition to do more and do greater with their brands. As they do, more will follow.
2. Pitch the ideas that you think will best serve your clients’ needs, not just what they’re comfortable with doing.
3. Link your campaigns to metrics so that you can assess the true impact of your work. A campaign built on nice images and big ad buys isn’t sufficient; the work must be backed by measurable changes in sales, conversation, or behavior.
We already approach our work this way, and we hope that our peers in the advertising industry will see this as a wake-up call and follow suit. Doha is undergoing a period of rapid growth and change; it’s only right that our advertising campaigns change, too. With a little grit and imagination, we can begin delivering the best-in-class work that our clients deserve.
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