Mindshare is to become the first international media agency to open an office in Baghdad.
The agency, whose regional headquarters are based in Dubai, is in the process of establishing the operation in the Iraqi capital, with an official opening expected to take place next month. The office will be staffed by Iraqi nationals and be headed up by Ammar Shawkat, with 10 staff already in place to service existing clients.Other agencies are already based in the more stable northern Iraq, with Leo Burnett operating an office in Sulaymaniyah. However, no agency has previously ventured into volatile Baghdad.
Samir Ayoub, Mindshare’s CEO for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “We are opening in Iraq for two reasons. Number one is to service our existing clients there, in particular Zain, because they want us to be present on the ground. Number two is because, sooner or later, the Iraq market will open up and we want to be well established and ready for the market when it does opens up. The country has big potential. You’re talking about a population of 30 million, which is as big as Saudi Arabia.”
The Baghdad operation is the result of a tie-up with a local partner, with Mindshare the majority owner. In the MENA region Mindshare is jointly owned by JWT and Memac Ogilvy.