Agency Network of the Year 2014: Leo Burnett MENA


Memac Ogilvy was first runner up, with JWT MENA in third place. A rounded body of work with Dubai and Lebanon leading the way, saw Leo Burnett MENA stride forward as a network into 2015.

The Work

Leo Burnett had several campaigns to show in terms of cut-through work. Several of those came from the agency’s Beirut office.

Work for NGO Sakker el Dekkane (Stop the Shop) was amongst them. ‘Report corruption and get your country back’ wouldn’t have resonated as well if told without this kind of a story. Citizens were urged to stop the ‘shop that will sell anything – even you’. Woven into a comical script, the message comes across beautifully that Lebanon should not be ‘for sale’. Besides a website, the campaign saw Android and iOS apps, and a hotline which one could call, text, or WhatsApp. A branded car would be parked at the most corrupt institution according to collected data.

Another piece of work that has captured attention is the sequel to #KeepWalkingLebanon for client Johnnie Walker. The simple video, of an unending battle between a flame and the storm, makes a poignant message about the resilience of the nation.

The agency was also behind a landmark campaign in the country. It was for NGO Kafa, which was fighting for a legislation on domestic violence against women. In the wake of a spate of such incidents of violence, Kafa wanted to run a campaign that ensured the law was passed when the (97 per cent male) parliament met – with a time window of just three days. Thus was born ‘Vote for us – we’ll vote for you’, which threatened not to vote for the parliamentarians with 52 per cent of the electorate being women. The law was passed after the campaign featuring red thumbs hit social – and thereafter mainstream – media.

The New Generation Project for Picon was yet another that struck a chord, with a claimed reach to over half the country’s population.

Elsewhere, the agency’s Doha office was busy creating work for Qatar Handball 2015 and Ooredoo. Those apart, the agency’s work for the Commercial Bank of Qatar warmed hearts. Radio spots and a print innovation for Mozaic added to the tally.

In sum, a rounded body of work from across offices, with Dubai and Lebanon leading the way, saw Leo Burnett MENA stride forward as a network into 2015.

Business Growth 

As was the case with Dubai, the overall business grew only in single digits for Leo Burnett MENA, but it was growth supported by multiple offices. The Qatar operation grew close to 30 per cent, for instance. Among account wins, the agency lists: Oasis, d3, Zain Telecom, Takamol (KSA Ministry of Labour), Qatar 2015 (Handball World Championship), Sidra Medical & Research Centre, Credit Agricole Bank and Qatari Diar.

Strategic Business Initiatives and Innovation

Specialist social and media agency Holler will support the network’s offices across the region. The agency also ventured into content creation and consumer engagement.

Among innovations, it lists development of a Wella Pro Series Eye-Web Live Consultancy, a digital platform for live product recommendations. For Sakkere, it built an anti-corruption mobile app that will highlight the most corrupt government entities. A mock e-commerce platform that sells corruption relevant material (such as a fake college degree or ID) was also created.

Awards and Recognition 

In addition to the Dubai office wins globally and regionally, Leo Burnett MENA was Network of the Year at MENA Cristal, led by Beirut, which won Agency of the Year. As a network, Leo Burnett won three Grands Prix at MENA Cristal, and eight Gold Awards at Dubai Lynx.

Talent and Culture Initiatives 

The list includes Leo College for new recruits, ‘digital transformation’ workshop LeoLab, leadership programmes for future leaders across management levels, a creative leadership programme and a Cannes Leadership programme in association with the Berlin School. Most initiatives are ongoing, and have been expanded over time. ‘Adopt a creative’ initiative with LAU Design School looks to adopt students in third year and coach them during their year-end project.

Industry contribution and CSR

Involvement of the leadership at industry forums and associations, in regional and international award festivals, and educational initiatives, is noteworthy. Among IAA Board members are Leo Burnett’s Kamal Dimachkie and Yousef Touqan. Chief creative officer Bechara Mouzannar is on several international and regional juries. The agency is also engaged in developing an Ad Council via the IAA and AAA to champion industry and country causes that would give the industry a higher local profile.

Leo Burnett MENA also works to mentor multiple charities like Endeavor and Afkar. It is on the board as member and is goodwill ambassador for Gulf for Good. The agency participated in the Beirut Women Marathon to support ‘Kafa’ and also sponsored the marathon by ‘adopting’ a group of children to run on its behalf.