“The brightest New York night is coming to Dubai” – the Effie MENA Awards are scheduled to commence on November 18. Hosted by Communicate’s parent company, Mediaquest, expectations are high that the night will be, once again, a lavish affair – if only thanks to its venue: for the second time, the awards will be held at The Pavilion of the Armani Hotel in Downtown Dubai, overlooking landmarks such as the Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa.
The Effies are awarded to agencies that display noteworthy efforts in marketing excellence through ideas “that click, bring home the results and meet organizational objectives.”
Now nearly five decades old, the New York-based Effies was launched in 1968 by the New York-chapter of the American Marketing Association (AMA) and originally showcased advertising efforts. At present, this specific celebration is one that recognizes great marketing ideas that achieve real results – or “ideas that work”. Currently, the Effie brand is attached to a total of 44 global competitions including our region’s very own Effie MENA Awards. His- torically, the MENA edition of the Effie Awards began as the Gulf Marketing Review (GMR) Effectiveness in Marketing Awards (GEMAS), which kicked off in 2004.
In 2008, the New York AMA passed the rights of the Effie brand to a non-profit organization, Effie Worldwide. This organization was established to promote the practice of effective marketing communications. Aside from the awards that are disseminated throughout the globe annually, Effies Worldwide aims to be an educational platform. For individuals and agencies with a professional stake in marketing, it offers case study databases, insights, white papers and the Effies Effectiveness Index – an annual ranking of the most effective agencies, marketers and brands based on finalist and winner data from global Effie competitions.
This year’s MENA edition has one new specialty category, “Media Idea”, which rewards effectiveness that has resulted directly from the core media concept. Today, the once distinct line between what was considered a media idea and a creative idea is becoming increasingly blurred. With this ambiguity and integration in mind, this specific award was born with the aim to recognize instances where the media idea packs enough punch to be the origin of the entire communications plan. Currently, the award website is open for entries, which can be submitted until September 20.
The judges are already gearing up for the event. Communicate had the opportunity to speak with a few of the judges for the first round. Clearly, being a part of the Middle East’s most prestigious professional marketing awards is both exciting and challenging for those in the industry and the judges are not exempt from this sentiment. With slight misgivings at not wanting to reveal too much to those still submitting entries, Wael Kaskas, marketing director at GSK Consumer Healthcare, provides some hints of what it takes to make an Effie-worthy marketing campaign. “Efficiency in advertising is about revenue per dollar spent. However, with the present-day diversification of media – traditional and digital – it’s more difficult to maximize the budget. We have to make our dollars work harder,” he says.
How to do that is the million dollar question, particularly in a part of the world riddled with very specific cultural, social and financial challenges. Bob Kiple, Chevrolet’s global advocate and brand strategist, says: “There are many challenges but, specifically, the nuances in language are difficult to manage when you are marketing across the region. Also, the role of women in the Middle East is an important thing to note.” However, it could also be argued that these unique attributes and the rapid growth that the region is currently experiencing could set the regional industry apart from the global marketing environment.
As Hani Philobbos, director of external communications, corporate marketing and brand development at Majid Al Futtaim Holding, puts it, “One thing that makes the regional campaigns unique is the cultural diversity of [the] minds who are developing campaigns for a global yet very local market.” He also notes: “It is time for regional campaigns to be used as global campaigns and to inspire global adaptation and adoption.”