What is the biggest change you have seen to the way you do business in Saudi?
These are unrestrained times for industry folks within the kingdom. Not only are new rules of the game being amended daily due to the 2030 Vision, but we are also witnessing seismic shifts in how clients articulate objectives and identify drivers to growth. What is commendable is the excitement amongst local and foreign talents with this transformation and their commitment to these remarkable changes, which demands an outcome-first mentality. The immediate impact for agencies is to go back to fundamentals to ride this wave – to have a clear product offering and the talent to deliver on this vision. I can confidently say that long gone are the old ways of conducting business in Saudi. Today, if you are to succeed as a business, you need to start implementing Saudi-first thinking and what it entails.
How are societal changes affecting the industry?
What has become apparent is Saudi’s embrace of the recent societal changes that are already reflecting positively on the economy, individual welfare and resulting lifestyle habits. Retail, QSR, automotive, domestic travel, entertainment and a whole gamut of sectors have seen near-term positive impact (even when averaging out the Covid-19 impact) on a large scale from these changes, due to the new opportunity segments that have opened up. We are also seeing more interplay from government and private sectors working together, aimed at ultimately delivering a better life for Saudis. To call out some of these: the ‘Sports for All’ initiative and the entertainment and motors sports initiatives by both GEA and SAMF. These were embraced by the population and then leveraged by the private sector, all of which has resulted in a cascade of new projects and a great upside for the industry.
What are clients asking for that’s new?
We are seeing clear, consistent requirements from our clients in Saudi:
1. Single, coherent and integrated multi-discipline team structures, as opposed to fragmented specialist agencies working in silos. There is an increasing need for holding companies to provide solutions that truly deliver a single-team ecosystem, and provide talents with horizontal experiences to service a progressive market.
2. A consultancy mindset with a capability to execute. Delivering the best of the two worlds to truly deliver client impact.
3. Technology that will help with scale, efficiencies and revenue.
4. A commitment to outcomes. An ability to define and deliver strategies that will unlock growth, helping to change the perception of the marketing discipline from a perceived cost centre to a critical core revenue driver.
What are the biggest challenges to growth in KSA and how are you tackling them?
Greater focus is needed to support developing local content and thinking Saudi-first. This fittingly complements the client requirements I touched upon and are at the core of everything we do as MediaCom. Being part of WPP, the largest marketing and communications company in the world, helps us to address these challenges, ensuring we bring our clients the very best end-to-end solutions, talents and commitments.