Publicis Communications’ PR agency MSL Group won the Samsung Gulf Electronics PR account from Omnicom’s Fleishman Hillard in January, following a competitive pitch. The agency has represented Samsung’s Middle East and North Africa corporate and headquarters account since winning it in a 2015 pitch.
In February, Huawei put its regional media planning and buying account out for tender. Interpublic’s Initiative MENA successfully defended the account in a pitch that included Omnicom agency PHD and Publicis Groupe’s Zenith. In November, PHD announced it would be working with Huawei in Lebanon.
- Arabian Automobiles
Initiative MENA in March won the media planning and buying account for Arabian Automobile Company brands Infiniti and Renault. The distributor had called a pitch in October 2016 and Initiative had been up against five competitors including its MCN sister agency Magna and Omnicom’s OMD. Arabian Automobiles’ Infiniti work had been handled by OMD, and Renault by Publicis Groupe’s Optimedia.
Kuwait Food Company, better known as Americana Group, became the first account win in the region for OMG’s Hearts & Science after a three-way review. Americana, which holds regional franchises for restaurant brands including KFC, Krispy Kreme and Pizza Hut, had worked with Initiative for eight years, and Initiative had pitched to retain it. The win was announced in March. As the year closes, however, some of Americana’s brands are out to pitch again.
- Ferrero Group
Leo Burnett Dubai won Ferrero Group’s entire portfolio of brands in the GCC in April. It took the work from Lowe and Grey, which had shared the brief since February 2013, following a multi-agency pitch.
Dubai-based airline Emirates announced in June that it was to renew its media contract with Havas Media. Havas will manage global media strategy, planning, social, traditional and digital investments across the carrier’s 150 destinations through to 2020. It has held the account since 2014.
After a two-month pitch process, MCN’s Initiative won GCC duties for one of the biggest clients in the region: US beauty company Coty. At the same time, Dentsu Network’s Vizeum won the media contract for Iran. Coty had been represented by Havas Media Middle East since that agency was formed as MPG Middle East in 2005.
- Saudi Telecom Company
Media agency UM MENA won media duties for Saudi Telecom Company, the region’s biggest advertiser, in November. It took the account from Publicis Media’s Starcom, which had held it since 2002.
A Publicis Groupe partnership led by media agency Starcom and creative shop Leo Burnett has won combined duties for McDonald’s in the GCC. The media account had been held by OMD since it won it from Interpublic’s UM in 2012. OMD had defended the account with Omnicom stablemate TBWA/ Raad, which had been one of a clutch of agencies handling the fast food giant’s creative in the region, along with Leo Burnett. DDB, another Omnicom creative agency that had worked on McDonald’s, was not involved with the pitch.
Late in the year, Hearts & Science, the data-led Omnicom media agency, won UAE telco Du, which had previously been handled by Starcom. Du’s creative, which is currently handled by Leo Burnett, is also out for pitch.