Firdaus Shariff has a lot of plans in the works.
Communicate spoke with Firdaus Shariff, Vice-President of Marketing, Communications and Digital Customer Experience, MEA at Schneider Electric, who was appointed as the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA)'s first ever Regional Vice-President for the Middle East. We learned about what she has stored with WFA for the region.
Being the first regional vice-president for WFA in MENA comes with the opportunity to set the foundation/blueprint. How would you go about the process?
The WFA has a deeply rooted history in representing the common interests of marketers globally, and is really the voice of marketers. Part of my remit is to drive awareness of more effective and sustainable marketing communications among regional brands.
The WFA represents 90% of all the world’s marketing communications spend, which is approximately US$900 billion annually. What I’m eager to do is ensure that the WFA has a stronger share of voice in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This matters both for me and the WFA given the growth of the region’s brands and the number of regional brands which are going global.
What are your goals with WFA for the MENA region?
There’s so much good marketing work being done in the MENA region, both by global and regional brands. What I am focused on is ensuring that there’s more visibility as to what is happening here in the region when it comes not only to good old-fashioned marketing and advertising, but also in light of purpose-driven and ethical communications helping shape brands today, as well as addressing topics such as diversity and inclusion in our industry. I also want to ensure that we can share more global best practices within the region, so that the region’s marketers can benefit from these learnings.
Could you tell us more about WFA's plans in the region?
We’re going to be undertaking a number of initiatives. The first, as I’ve highlighted above, would be to raise awareness of the WFA and its benefits for MENA’s marketers. The second is to share knowledge and resources for the benefit of professionals based here and vice-versa for global marketers to leverage from the incredible work taking place locally in the region. And last but not least, we want to see how we can support on big issues here. One example is what the WFA is doing with the Dubai-based Advertising Business Group (ABG), on finding cross-industry consensus on key global principles for cross-media measurement and effectiveness of campaigns.
What do you believe are the most pressing challenges that need to be addressed in the field of marketing today?
There’s so many big issues. Digital is top of mind, with analytics, measurement and data-driven decision-makes a close second. There’s also the issue of regulations. And there’s ethical issues such as truthful claims, sustainability, and accurate representation. I’ll facilitate the conversations, and we’ll delve into the big and the small topics alike. Whatever we do, we’re aiming to make a difference for every marketer.