How do you see business growing in the Middle East region?
The MENA region is very interesting for us, because it is one of the few areas in EMEA that is growing fast. This growth is very exciting, because if you look at traditional Western Europe markets, apart from the UK, they are sliding down.
When we look at the Middle East region, the market is booming – traditional media is very strong, while digital media is also growing fast. What you see in other countries is that digital is growing, but all of the other media is slowing down.
Here, print still has a very strong grip on the masses, but, at the same time, digital is becoming more and more relevant. So, we have the possibility to mix media.
How do you evaluate growth in the Middle East region, in terms of billings and ad revenues?
This year, the Middle East region is expected to grow more in digital, than the entire world. Still, we know that even though billings are growing in double digits, digital still needs a lot of time to develop. I’m sure we will see more advancement in the near future, especially in social media.
The Middle East region represents approximately five percent of our EMEA market, where we have 22 offices. Only Russia, Turkey and the Middle East region are growing in a significant way. Other markets are either stable, or slowing down.
BPG was rated the fastest-growing network in 2012. What is fueling your growth, particularly in this region?
Maxus is quite new as a network. We were born in 2008, which is considered very young, when compared with most global networks. This says something about our energy.
The fact that we’re more nimble, agile and truly collaborative is what drives our growth. Another element that is truly important to us is that we call ourselves a global network with local agencies. Yes, we share values and have a common DNA, but, at the same time, we have a strong local culture in every office.
What I see, increasingly, is that clients value your ability to serve them in the best possible way in each market. We share tools and methodologies; relationship media is our methodology. “Genius” is our relationship media tool – we share all of the planning exercises we do around the world via that tool.
In relationship media, we apply the difference between one country and another. Then we make sure that our strategy works, which requires collaboration with other creative agencies that the client is working with.
Doing everything by yourself has probably been the strategy of big networks in media for the past 15 years. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it’s not our strategy.
We were born after the others and things, right now, are faster and more connected. If you think you can be the best in every area, then you have lost the chance to be the best in even one area. It’s more important for us to adapt quicker than others and try to connect with other agencies that our clients want to work with.
Most luxury clients don’t like to deal with different agencies. How do you approach them?
We look for someone in our network that can be the brand strategist or consultant. We have to simplify the work of our client, so, if they prefer to deal with few people, they tend to have a single consultant. We have big clients, such as Fiat and Maserati, and our strategy has worked well with them.
How does the relationship aspect show in how you plan your campaigns?
I know the term ‘big data’ is very popular, but when it comes to information you can really use, then there is ‘little data’. We analyze and transform that into ‘smart data’, which you can then re-apply during the planning cycle.
Today, the work of the planner is changing because he/she is becoming more of an analyst, who looks at dashboards and numbers. Once you can understand the behavior of people that you are trying to talk with, then you will be able to build a good relationship.
The Gulf region is seen as a place to make quick money without investing much. How is this changing?
We can see stability and an increasing interest in investment, not only in money, but also in ideas. I see a lot of companies moving from Western countries into Dubai to start their businesses here.
As Maxus, we have a very strong interest in the Middle East region. We also want to help Western countries understand the Middle East better.