Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Booze in charge?

A few nights ago I met an old acquaintance at a pub in Dubai, someone who used to work at a prestigious real estate company's account around 4 years ago. He was piss-drunk, and was on the way out and said to me 'see ya mate, gotta get back to office now and work on the creative for XYZ's ad next week.

Go break a leg, FP!

Where's the good copy?

As I mentioned yesterday in my post about copywriters, there's a surprising lack of good copy wherein I've noticed the good ones are far and in between.

Why, I was wondering to myself. And then I came upon a likely answer: when I was writing copy for some of my previous clients as an inhouse consultant, 9 times out of 10, the copy would be changed to suit the tastes of the chairman or the business development manager. The marketing manager, while initially agreeing with me and liking the copy, would take a back seat to save his or her back side (please don't read into it, I really do mean 'job') and let the senior management take over.

How many times have you seen an advert in the paper with what starts out with a great line, then ends up being a really corny cliched sell-line which sounds like the CEO saying "Buy my stuff, its better than anyone else's"? Too many times, I hear you say. Any surprises, then, at the lack I spoke of earlier.

Another reason could be sheer stupidity. Why not, given that this week's campaign has a story on BBC's regional agency copying into arabic CNN's well known 'Be the first to know' strapline. How in the bloody world could the creative mind behind that in Mint think he could get away with it. In fact, the very fact that it happened says he thought he really COULD get away with it and it wouldn't be a problem.

Scary. Regional? Very scary.

Monday, July 10, 2006

UAE Copywriters

All hail you lot!


Oh wait, let me clarify. I'm talking to the lot who get their copy right. No pun intended.

I am NOT talking to the guys who came up with the headline for Al Huzaifa Furnitures ad that said We go both ways!

Yes, it was indeed a queer day when you awoke to write that ad, wasn't it?

Back to you lot, especially the guys who handle the Etihad Airways' account. Good counter offensive on Virgin's offense against Emirates Airlines. After all, if a UAE airline won't stick up for the UAE airspace pride, who will?

Which begs one to ask: In all our media and marketing degrees being churned out by the sheer mass of universities here, why aren't we seeing more of this stuff? A reason could lay in what I'll speak about in my next post.

More on the DM Association for DXB

The Media and Marketing Show is taking place in December this year. Domus Group, if you're reading this (as you should be) go out and drag SOMEONE from the Ministry of Information or Dubai Media City management or Timbuktu to your show and make them see the state of DM and why we need an association.

The real estate industry in Dubai has quite a few associations already, with more in the pipeline from what I hear.

Or maybe I should take a leaf out of the book where residents are now making their own associations to make up for the lack of any residential association.

Yes, maybe some friends and I should just go ahead and register our own DM association at Media City. Or to tickle a few feathers, do this at the new media free zone in Fujairah, whose name a fail to recall. And to just plain rip those feathers out, call the association the Middle East DM association.

Someone will sue me you say? Let them. I dare say they'd mis-spell my name on the writ and I'd get acquitted on mistaken identity! (After appeals, that is).

Where is the DMA?

Time and time again the following happen to me:

1. People ask me reasons why Dubai has no Direct Marketing Association
2. A potential Direct Marketing Association of Dubai comes up in conversations with friends or colleagues at lunchtime
3. A potential Direct Marketing Association of Dubai gives me nightmares if I somehow imagine it being run by the Emirates Post.
4. I keep looking for news of an association to help lift the standards of DM in Dubai and enable the other 99% of DM companies to be Cannes Gold winners.

Am I already turning senile or is there a faint light at the end of the tunnel because of these occurances?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Association - Marketing, Direct Marketing, whatever

One of my biggest worries these past 2 years, and what was majorly touched upon by Ian Dewar, Andy Owen and others, is the very conspicuous absence of a Marketing and/ or Direct Marketing Association here in Dubai. I'm not even going to bother talking about the region because that's waters that shouldn't be disturbed right now. Certain advertising mafiosi may get rubbed the wrong way and we could end up with quite a debacle of an association. A good (or bad) example is the real estate industry here. How many associations, bodies and groups are there anyway!

Dubai desperately needs a Marketing Association run by marketing people who will cater to the marketing industry for the betterment of marketing in Dubai.

There! I've said it. Let no one read anything between the lines and be very sure about the fact that nowhere have I mentioned advertising. That's another blog point which will see the light of pixel at another time and date.

After my first stint in a marketing department in Dubai, I applied for jobs in places for the position of a marketing executive. Needless to say, all I ever got in replies were positions in sales. In more than 10 occasions the people interviewing me were clueless as to the difference between the two industries and what irked me most was that in some cases they were CEOs.

With all the hoohah being thrown about by the Government of Dubai on wanted to hire people who hold the right qualifications or experience, I don't see anything being done about this. Last year there was a man who asked me for an appointment to present me the printing solutions his company has to offer. When I met him, his business card said Head of Marketing. When the meeting was over, he confirmed my suspicion that he was hired as a sales executive with the title given by the Chairman to help him secure meetings!

Sheikh Mohammed, Association! Please!

The good and the bad...get better and worse!

Some of the highlights of the DM 2006 conference were the times when examples of good and bad marketing were offered by some of the speakers.

Andy showed us the brilliant Mercedes advert and how sometimes just a few words can turn an ad from good into great. What struck me most was his notion of how 10-12 words are good, 4 are good, 2 are great and just one word splendid!

Remember Nike's 'Just Do It'? Or Nissan's 'Shift_'

Among the bad ones was a creative by Huzaifa furniture. I mean, how in the world can you have a rhino with a tusk upright, face the back of a woman in the desert, and have the tag line say "You can't beat the feeling!" ???

Need more be said?

...still more...

What with the World Cup at its final moments, its been 4 whole days since I added more about the Conference or my usual rantings about the marketing scene here...but watching Rooney do what he did - and what he shouldn't have done - was worth it.

Am watching Brazil play Portugal right now, and so far its been a right smasher of a game. Both are on defense AND offense. Both know its do or die, especially France.

Which brings me to my reason for this entry: What the local advertising geniuses in this country and region are up to. Campaign magazine and Communicate both had articles in their Spin and Dish entries regarding the ART network's agency's handling of the World Cup account. How in the world can even the thickest creative guy there get the flags wrong for England, Iran and Mexico. What possible excuse?

We're here winning Lions and Gold at the Cannes awards, with the world thinking 'hey, Dubai's marketing times have arrived' while here at home the community is actually kicking itself everytime they pass by a silly hoarding on Sheikh Zayed Road that costs half a million dirhams to buy and wastes more than that in worthless deliverables.

Yes, I'm talking about the property business. Whether or not Emaar or Nakheel can justify the quality of the homes (or houses, I should say, seeing that there is yet some love to be discovered there for the place) I don't know, but the others players should be far more accountable.

An example is the kind of marketing that it goes to: giving away free Audis? Damac's promotion was to give away a free Audi to anyone buying an apartment in one of its offerings. I bet I would certainly feel 'unique' and 'elite' when I walk into the Damac parking lot to find 300 Audi's parked side by side. What a riot if the remote unlocked more than one car! German technology would definitely be a test there!

On the positive side, hurrah to Grosvenor House. While they may have broken a rule or two in their advertising campaign (black on white) I must say most of their creatives made me want to get in a cab right there and go get a room for myself. And their opening the Buddha Bar only speeds up their rapidly growing market share. The fact that they're not just noticing the gap but actually filling it is what takes them a notch higher in my book of Dubai's successes.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Cont'd: What happened at DM 06

(Ok ok so I couldn't help coming back and sharing the stuff that happened today. Will write some of it and continue the rest tomorrow)

Marketing is all about making profits.

Make no mistake about that. Some argue that its all about creativity. Or being clever. Or something else. No one ever says its about sales. The thing is, its all of the above, but beyond them as well.

Marketing's sole purpose of existence is to make whichever organisation or entity that employs it a profitable entity. If that entity is a consumer-driven one, it seeks to make money and its marketing department is given a budget solely to make money. If the entity is a socio-politial or religious entity, its marketing people are their to make human-profit. Money is a side effect there which is readily welcome. As it should be. Everyone needs it to survive.

That, folks, was the message of the DM 2006 Conference. Direct Marketing in the region - particularly Dubai - is an element that is just not being used in the right frame of reference. And if some smart company is in fact succeeding in doing that, then it is one of the few who do.

Wunderman, that great creative agency whose work I simply adore and rave about, (not particularly because its a place where many of my friends work but that is a plus point), scored a lovely goal this past week by winning the direct marketing gold award in Cannes, the first agency in the region to do so. And we were lucky enough to hear from them at the Conference, as they shared their knowledge and insight.

Sadly, as I pointed out earlier, none of the agencies in Dubai were present to witness it. Which could explain why they're terrible at it.

DHL, OgilvyOne, Airmiles, Emirates Bank, Xerox, the Direct Marketing Association and the Chartered Institute of Marketing were all presenting as well, along with many others. 100 people were there and it was on the opening day that Charles Prescott made the statement that SHOULD make ALL agencies and the Government of Dubai stand up and take note: the UAE's Direct Marketing industry - if it does its DM properly - can effect US$ 13 billion annually.

Anyone listening?

What happened - DM 2006

Just got back from the Conference workshop on copywriting.

It was led by Andy Owen of Andy Owen and Associates and I must say it was great hearing the man live. I've been a subscriber of his newsletters for around 4 years and love his work. However, its quite different when you learn from gurus in person. Just like listening to a musician live as opposed to just buying their CD.

I'll post some of the gems he shared on this blog tomorrow, right now I'll post something he quoted Jerry Reitman as saying:

"Consumers are individuals as unique as snowflakes!"

I hope some Direct Marketers in Dubai understand what that means...


Direct Marketing 2006

This past week has been quite a ride when it comes to Marketing, especially in Dubai!

The best minds - arguably - in marketing around the world had come here to lead sessions during the Direct Marketing 2006 Conference organised by IIR Middle East.

From a marketers' point of view, it was an event a long time coming. Some may argue that last year's event was good enough, but this was a follow-on event with great topics, experienced speakers and market-required workshops.

What marred the entire event was the absolute lack of any direct marketing company attending save one! What is wrong with Dubai? Are the advertising, branding, identity and marketing agencies all gone wankers? Or are they just arrogant?

After working in marketing for 8 years in Dubai, I feel its the latter.

Some of the people I spoke to a couple of weeks prior to the event had a total disregard for any direct marketing event, let alone this one. Their attitude was one of 'we don't need a conference we're doing great ourselves. We don't need someone to tell us what to do!' and even worse: 'Direct Marketing still has a long way to go here, its too early to spend money on such things'!

What is Dubai to do? Sheikh Mohammed, help!

Monday, June 26, 2006

Marketing Gurus all started with a blog...

...its just that they didn't call them blogs back then...just notes!

This is my marketing notes page. If you like it, come back for more. If you make a million bucks from my ideas, I want 10%. If you don't like it, what are you still doing here?