I often hear many myths about emerging markets. Like
#consumers are only in for aspirational campaigns, or that people don’t care about sustainability. Or that it’s all about that bigger flat screen or a running water toilet!
I was invited to speak at
Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity, the most influential #creative festival in the #middleeastand North Africa region; through the conversations on and off stage I discovered a different narrative. Some of the awarded work really challenged societal norms and created a new way forward for brands and advertising in the region.
Let me just share a couple of the initiatives and campaigns I found inspiring that won the highest accolade: The Grand Prix. These are campaigns that cover everything from the livelihood of
#migrant workers, to #freedom of speech.
In a country where migrant workers face harsh working conditions, it’s moving to see work portraying their lives. I couldn’t have wished for a more honest portrayal or showcase of some of the even less fortunate migrants’ living conditions, as many are cramped into small rooms where multiple people live stacked together.
The Hidden Room, Home Box by
The Hidden Room, Home Box by Leo Burnett Dubai
This next campaign has won multiple awards in other award shows, depicting one newspaper’s move to support elections in a resource-scarce #Lebanon . It’s creative, and lives up to the role of a newspaper that supports #free and #fair #elections . The Elections Edition, A Nahar Newspaper by IMPACT BBDO Dubai
The Elections Edition, A Nahar Newspaper by Impact BBDO Dubai
Over the years, I’ve judged my fair share of reading campaigns (like efforts from McDonald’s to swop toys with books), but this is an insightful and simple piece of work putting all of our social media usage into perspective. Admittedly, I would have much more time to read if I skipped #socialmedia use.
Time To Read, Kinokuniya UAE by Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai
Time To Read, Kinokuniya by Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai
This next campaign is not one of my favourites. Yes, it breaks a taboo in a country that needs the conversation, #saudiarabia , but I think the whole idea about a #Periodwear collection becomes too much of a stunt and less of a real solution. Kudos for being bold; next year make real change. The Not Hot Periodwear Collection, Always by Leo Burnett Lebanon
The Not Hot Periodwear Collection, Always by Leo Burnett Lebanon
Another favorite topic in advertising awards: self-check against #breastcancer . I sometimes would love to see other topics covered in awards like #climatechange or #poverty , but this campaign does bring a fresh insight and powerful idea to the table. It’s turning an e-commerce site into an #educational showcase. Well done. Self-Check Out, K-Lynn by Leo Burnett Dubai
Self-Check Out, K-Lynn by Leo Burnett Dubai
An unusual partnership between Adidas and a local Pakistani restaurant adds a melting pot of flavor and street cred to the Adidas brand. The Ravi Superstar, Adidas by Havas Middle East
The Ravi Superstar, Adidas by Havas Middle East
The Glass Lion recognises work that implicitly or explicitly addresses issues of gender inequality or prejudice – an important award to have especially in this region. A clever piece of work taking a culturally important event and opening it to be represented by women. Al Aziya, Emirates NBD by Leo Burnett Dubai
Al Aziya, Emirates NBD by Leo Burnett Dubai
Hunger around the world is real – and the war in #Ukraine , the financial uncertainty, and the aftermath of #COVID haven’t made this a less urgent topic. It’s great to see focus on the topic and playing on a crazy Dubai addiction to flashy and expensive car number plates turned into supporting a good cause. I like these works playing on #cultural insights. Empty Plates, UAE Government Media Office by Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai
Empty Plates, UAE Government Media Office by Saatchi & Saatchi Dubai
I actually did have a chance to visit one of the initiatives in the awards – the unusual collaboration between adidas and a global melting pot of a local restaurant. The #Pakistani restaurant, Ravi, is visited by people from all over the world from regulars, immigrant workers, to tourists alike. And yes, I did pop by to a good mix of rotis, curries and mixed grill with some friends.
Any change begins with acting differently. As the old saying goes, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different outcome
As a brand, one can chose to mirror, what’s happening in society and keep pushing a materialistic, aspirational narrative, or one can dare to take the high road and find one’s own path forward. Isn’t that what a truly stick-out position in the market is about? Isn’t that what truly creative brands do?
#COP28 , the climate summit, is being hosted this year in Dubai, let’s see if people or brands will be leading the urgent change needed.