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Marketing Game Changers 2019: Anita Mehra

Anita Mehra

SVP communication, reputation & brand at Dubai Airports

Years in current position 3

Years with company 23

Size of department 35

Previous jobs

  • 1986 – 1996: Head of Dubai Duty Free marketing & media relations
  • 1996 – 2007: Head of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation marketing & corporate communications division
  • 2007 – 2016: Vice-president, marketing & corporate communications at Dubai Airports

Recent achievements

  • Launching the new DXB brand promise to the world, under the patronage of HH Sheikh Ahmed, at a spectacular event here in Dubai attended by HH Sheikh Mohammed, HH Sheikh Hamdan and HH Sheikh Mansour with a live stunt by an Emirati athlete from XDubai.
  • Welcoming our billionth passenger through DXB in December 2018 with a special event, treat and surprise VIP itinerary for the young family. The entire campaign was developed in a short time scale and with very limited budget.

What is your objective in your current role?

To promote DXB and DWC by engaging with passengers through the new brand by staying relevant and exciting.

Do you have a guiding principle?

Honesty, integrity and relevance.

What is your advice on working with agencies?

Ensure you are working with an agency that is relevant, that understands the industry, the market and most importantly your business.

What do you look for in agency partners?

An agency with their finger on the pulse of the market and the industry. Marketing and communications is constantly changing, and we look for agency partners that can guide us through the changes, be creative in their thinking and offer a fresh and exciting point of view.

Who inspires you professionally?

HH Sheikh Mohammed.

What is the biggest challenge in marketing at the moment?

Staying relevant to your audience while still attracting new interest. In 2018 we welcomed 90 million customers through our two airports and we needed to make sure our voice was relevant to each and every one.

What is the next big trend in marketing?

Personalisation, but moving forward from where it is now to become more authentic. It is something we consider all the time for our 90 million customers a year; we are always working towards giving them all an intimate experience at DXB. It will mean brands will need to do a lot more to show that they truly understand their audience.

What trend do you wish would just stop, already?

Influencers. There is a lack of authenticity now and it needs to be managed. Consumers are starting to see through it.

What can we expect to see from Dubai Airports in the next year?

We have the biennial Dubai Airshow in November, and the Airshow Gala Dinner, which is always a highlight in the Dubai calendar. Then into 2020 we have a lot of exciting campaigns coming up, highlighting the DXB brand and how it is growing in the passenger space.

We will also be putting our full support behind Expo 2020. As the gateway to the city, DXB will be the first Dubai experience for the many Expo visitors and we will make sure it is reflective of the rest of the city.

Rapid fire

What are you listening to?
Ted Talks about Sustainability; R1010 Italian music station

What are you working on?
Dubai Airshow & Airshow Gala Dinner and support of Expo 2020

What are you reading?
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari

Who are you following?
Dubai Media Office, HH Sheikh Mohammed and DXB

What are you craving?
Green spaces

What are you hiding from?

Where are you dining?

What are you playing?
Flywheel and kitesurfing

Where are you travelling?
Italy, New York, San Diego

What are you watching?
Outlander and Vikings

Agency reference

Mark Rogers, partner, Mojo Communications Group

Anita has been a big part of the transition of Dubai Airports from a mid-tier regional airport to the world’s largest international airport. Within that evolution the last 18 months have been pivotal with the relaunch of the Dubai Airports corporate brand in early October 2018 and the launch of their customer-facing brand, DXB, in February 2019. Each was a significant project in its own right. Integrating the two presented significant challenges in terms of brand strategy and positioning, campaign design and messaging and the logistics of engaging with and inspiring 4,000 internal staff, 15+ stakeholder organisations and a global audience of international travellers. Anita is respectful and highly experienced, with a fantastic grasp of the big picture. When it’s your role to lead, it’s really important to be able to keep an idea of the big picture and articulate why this matters. She is respectful of everyone she works with. Willing to listen and take on board the agency’s point of view. Focused on what needs to be done. Does not micro-manage. Excellent at managing stakeholders.

What have you learned from her?

  • Focus on the things that matter.
  • You don’t need to bang the table to get things done.
  • You don’t have to win every battle, just the ones that count.