Marketing Game Changers 2021: Bilal Adham, Batelco

Chief marketing officer, Batelco

years in current position: 2.5

years with company: 2.5

size of department: 22

previous jobs:
Head of group digital, Landmark Group – Dubai & India

Head of digital marketing, Jack Wills – UK

Digital transformation consultant, Accenture

recent campaigns:
Stay-at-Home Heroes

Fastest & Largest 5G Network

Fiber 1 Gbps

What is your objective in your current role?

To champion the customer, elevate the Batelco brand and use data and creativity effectively to drive and grow our business.

Do you have a guiding principle?

Data is your friend. Real-world data empowers marketing and lets it realise its potential as a growth driver. Marketing and business strategy are one and the same.

How do you make agency relationships work?

Ultimately the things that makes an agency relationship work are the same things that make a regular relationship work – trust, honesty and clarity. It’s not ‘me versus you’; it’s ‘us versus the problem’.

What work do you wish you had done?

I’m a huge fan of the Colin Kaepernick Nike ad. Its message, its timing and its delivery were superb and it took a lot of courage for a brand to put that out there.

Who inspires you professionally?

My colleagues and the many great marketing professionals I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I have a genuine passion for my field, particularly harnessing data and leveraging technology.

What is the biggest challenge in marketing at the moment?

We’re all collectively girding our loins for the inevitable death of the cookie, but that’s neither here nor there. I think marketers are still grappling to find a way to quantify the value and power of brand-building. My background was very much performance-marketing-based, where everything can be boiled down to real-world data. But how do you assign a number to an emotion or sentiment? There are models that try to, but ultimately these intangibles tend to fall by the wayside, and I think that’s a shame.

What is the next big opportunity in marketing?

Marketing has a tendency to eat its own tail. Privacy is once again taking precedence, which means engagement and customer-centricity are more important than ever. If we really want to know our customers we’re all going to have to collectively dig a little deeper and start interacting with our customers, not just transacting.

What can we expect to see from you and your brand in the next year?

The last 12 months saw us building a solid foundation. Now it’s time to build. We’re engineering a consistent, holistic customer experience working with trusted partners to collectively build a brand that delivers better business results year on year.

Recent achievements

Over the last year, we’ve completely reimagined the Batelco brand experience to create a leaner, faster, more digitally focused enterprise that focuses not only on customer acquisition but customer retention too. A complete brand refresh empowered us to reclaim top-of-mind awareness amongst our customer base across our mobile and broadband categories. By overhauling the Batelco website, app and kiosk experience, we’ve tripled digital transactions over a 12-month period.

Thanks to a data-driven retargeting and customer value management programme, app usage has seen a substantial increase resulting in more revenue and cost efficiencies for the business. In tandem we’re also proud of significantly improving our customer satisfaction and net promoter scores through comprehensive enhancements throughout the customer experience accompanied by a store refresh across all branches.

Finally, we developed a proprietary in-house sentiment analysis tailored to cater for the nuances in Bahraini dialects that provides actionable insights to help grow our business.

Agency reference

Fadi Yaish, CEO and chief creative officer and us

Bilal has revolutionised not only the Batelco branding but the Batelco brand itself. He’s used data-driven models to humanise a corporate behemoth and transformed it into a consumer-centric brand that not only enhanced the way the brand is perceived but also greatly improved its top and bottom lines.

We have worked together for two years, and our greatest collaborations aren’t the things you see but the things you don’t. We’ve worked tirelessly with Bilal and his team to make the Batelco brand experience simpler, seamless and more intuitive to its customers and helped to craft everyday communications and platforms that have redefined their marketing and business objectives.

Bilal is wise, transparent and patient and does not suffer fools lightly. He is a consummate professional and a team player. He works harder than anyone and he has without a doubt the
finest, most immaculate coif of hair that we have ever seen.

Working with Bilal has demonstrated without a shadow of a doubt the importance and utility of data-driven metrics to inform and guide the creative process as a whole. Where these kinds of inputs may once upon a time have been seen as impediments to the creative process, we’ve learned that they can provide a framework that can be foundational, inspirational and transformative.

We will continue to work with Bilal and his team to enhance and grow the Batelco brand with work that will transform their brand, their business and their bottom line.

Rapid fire

What are you working on?
Balancing a toddler and newborn.

Who are you following?
Scott Stratten.

What are you craving?
Hummingbird cupcakes. They don’t have a branch in Bahrain.

Who are you hiding from?
My wife.

What are you playing?
When I get the chance, Assasins Creed Valhalla.

What are you listening to?
Drive Forever – Russian Remix. It’s great workout music.

What are you reading?
Bite your Bullet by my friend Vijay Luhar.

What are you watching?
Squid Game.

What is your good habit?
5 am starts.

What is your bad habit?
Giving my daughter sweets. I can’t say no to her.