FeaturedPeopleSpecial Feature

Marketing Game Changers 2023: Alaa Khushaim, Director of Marketing & Communications, McDonald’s KSA

Marketing Game Changers is back, to recognise and celebrate those brand-building marketing leaders who have made a huge impact this year.

This exclusive list features the men and women who we feel have shaped our industry this year, and includes a wide array of brands, campaigns and their achievements.

The prestigious top 10 includes four women, three Saudi based brands, an abundance of creativity, plus a strong focus on sustainability.

Number of years in current position: 3
Number of years with current company: 9
Size of department: 40+ employees –3 direct reports

What is your objective in your current role?

As a leader my objective is to ensure that my team has the right environment, resources and tools that they need to excel at their job.

As a marketer, my objective is to create marketing communications that create market disruption, via establishing personal and cultural relevancy.

What is your guiding principle?

If you are not taking risks, then what are you doing! We need to be open to new ideas that might sound uncomfortable.

How do you make agency relationships work?

There can only be a successful client-agency relationship by having honest transparent conversations. I make sure that the agency always shares feedback about how we can improve the way we work, and vice versa.

It is important that we, as a client, ensure that the agency feels that we are receptive to feedback. Finally, we need to work as one coherent team.

Who inspires you professionally?

Nilan (my ex-boss) inspired me and continues to inspire me to be curious, always challenge myself and most importantly be fair. He taught me how to put on the business hat and the people hat and have the right balance.

Richard Branson is another inspiration. He managed to establish a multi-billion-dollar empire from nothing.

His drive to solve problems and establish businesses that one thought impossible inspires me to break the norms and create disruptive marketing communications.

What is the biggest challenge in marketing at the moment?

Catching attention is a continuous marketing dilemma. However, I believe the biggest challenge is to move from creating marketing communications that interrupt what people are interested in, to creating and being what people are interested in.

What is the next big opportunity?

Establishing cultural and personal relevancy. This is the highest level of brand-customer connection. If this is established, a brand is not only going to be creating loyal customers but also true fans who act as brand ambassadors.

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

Establishing stronger consumer connections. We can only achieve that though ensuring brand relevancy with consumers and the cultural context.

What was your last binge-watch?

House of Cards