Are new agencies meeting Saudi brand needs?

Fuse Integrated's Abdulelah Al Nahari gives advice to new agencies entering the Saudi market

The Saudi Arabian marketing landscape is abuzz with new agencies emerging almost daily, each promising unparalleled creativity to eager brands. Amidst this whirlwind of pitches and presentations, the question arises: are these agencies genuinely addressing the evolving needs of Saudi brands?

Campaign Middle East heard from Abdulelah Al Nahari, Business Director at Fuse Integrated. He shed light on what new agencies entering the Saudi market should keep in mind in the early stages of their operations.

As a seasoned player in this dynamic market, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the downright gimmicky.

Saudi brands need partners who understand their brand DNA, their audience, and the cultural nuances of the Saudi market. They need agencies that can build and execute comprehensive communication strategies, not just deliver a single, fleeting moment of brilliance.

Abdulelah Al Nahari, Business Director, Fuse Integrated

The ABM conundrum 

Many brands haven’t adequately defined their account-based marketing (ABM) or brand strategies. Their positioning might be outdated, irrelevant, or simply non-existent. 

The blame doesn’t lie solely with the agencies. Some brands are resistant to change, clinging to old ways of doing things. Others lack the internal resources or expertise to develop and execute a cohesive brand strategy.

This creates a vacuum that many agencies are all too eager to fill, often with dubious claims of their own strategic prowess. 

The perils of long-term contracts 

Another issue plaguing the Saudi market is the prevalence of long-term contracts, particularly with governmental and semi-governmental entities.

While these contracts offer agencies a degree of financial security, they can also lead to complacency and a decline in work quality. 

Brands deserve partners who are constantly striving to deliver their best work, regardless of contract length.

They deserve agencies that view themselves as strategic advisors, not just vendors fulfilling a checklist of deliverables. 

The Saudi appetite for relevance 

Saudi consumers are increasingly sophisticated and discerning. They want to be entertained, informed, and inspired. To stay relevant in this fast-paced market, brands must adapt, evolve, and constantly reinvent themselves. 

This requires agencies that are agile, innovative, and deeply attuned to the Saudi consumer psyche. It requires agencies that can not only ride the latest trends but also anticipate future shifts in the cultural landscape. 

Riding waves or charting a course? 

In this era of viral trends and social media frenzies, it’s tempting for brands to jump on the bandwagon, to “ride the wave” of the moment.

However, this reactive approach is rarely sustainable. True brand relevance comes from having a clear vision, a strong identity, and a well-defined communication strategy.  Instead of riding waves, brands should be charting their own course.

They should be identifying potential opportunities and threats in advance, crafting situation response plans, and preparing for the unexpected. While crisis management plans are essential, they are not enough. 

The Way Forward 

The Saudi creative boom is an exciting time for brands and agencies alike. But to truly capitalize on this momentum, we need a shift in mindset.

We need agencies that prioritize strategic thinking over gimmicky concepts. We need brands that invest in their brand foundations and agencies that can help them achieve their long-term goals. 

It’s not about who can create the funniest ad or the most viral hashtag. It’s about who can build lasting relationships with brands and who can help shape the cultural landscape of this dynamic nation. 

In this ever-evolving market, one thing is certain: the only constant is change. Brands and agencies that embrace this reality, that are willing to adapt and innovate, will be the ones that thrive. 

By Abdulelah Al Nahari, Business Director, Fuse Integrated