Saudi: “A perpetual state of beta”

TBWA\Raad’s Group CEO Reda Raad tells Campaign Middle East editor Justin Harper about his excitement for Saudi Arabia

TBWA\RAAD has reinforced its commitment to Saudi Arabia’s vibrant advertising landscape by establishing a world-class agency in Riyadh, which will serve as a central hub for the entire Kingdom.

Campaign Middle East editor Justin Harper spoke to Reda Raad, Group CEO at TBWA\Raad to find out more about the move.

Why are you so excited about Saudi Arabia?

As the Kingdom undergoes a significant transformation, marked by a cultural and creative renaissance, there’s an undeniable sense of momentum propelling the advertising industry forward.

This transformative energy, combined with the visionary initiatives outlined in Vision 2030, has positioned Saudi Arabia as a global powerhouse in marketing and communication.

Vision 2030 has played a crucial role in elevating the advertising sector to a vital component of the Kingdom’s cultural, economic, and social renaissance. This surge in activity has led both local and global agencies to invest in expanding their capabilities to meet the evolving needs of Saudi Arabia.

Looking ahead, the next decade offers immense potential and opportunity for agencies in KSA. With a diverse range of economic activities, the presence of global brands, and the rapid advancement of digital technologies, Saudi Arabia is primed to become a leading hub for the advertising industry well beyond 2030.

Significant growth is anticipated in sectors such as e-commerce, social media, gaming, and mobile advertising. The Kingdom’s growing interest in emerging technologies like AI and machine learning further underscores its commitment to innovation and adaptation to the evolving media landscape.

Tell us more about the new office

Our primary focus for 2024 and beyond is on cultivating world-class talent within Riyadh while ensuring that our operational processes are optimised for excellence.

We operate under the philosophy of being in a perpetual state of “beta,” continuously evolving and adapting to meet the evolving demands of our clients. As client needs evolve, so do our staffing requirements and the level of sophistication expected of our team.

Business in Saudi Arabia has been experiencing remarkable growth, with the advertising industry playing a crucial role in driving economic expansion.

How has the industry been growing?

Paid advertising practices in Saudi Arabia have seen substantial growth, with total advertising spend reaching $2 billion in 2023 (according to Statista). Digital advertising, in particular, has emerged as a driving force in the industry, with projected annual growth rates of 8.2 per cent.

By 2027, digital advertising spend is expected to reach $1.4  billion (according to TechInsight360), underscoring the increasing importance of digital platforms in reaching target audiences.

What clients have you been working with?

Our biggest clients in Saudi Arabia include Infiniti, KFC, NEOM and Nissan Saudi Arabia.

The ‘KFC Originals’ campaign played a vital role in transforming KFC’s image among Gen Z by releasing a hip-hop music video featuring renowned Saudi rap star Slow Moe.

Launched on TikTok, Spotify, and Anghami, the campaign quickly gained traction among Gen Z, strengthening KFC’s connection with the youth demographic.

Our partnership with Nissan in Saudi Arabia exemplifies our agency’s ability to drive impactful outcomes and elevate brands to new heights.

Over the past three years, our strategic initiatives have been instrumental in maintaining Nissan’s top position in Overall Opinion (OaO) for the Patrol in the SUV-F segment.

And what’s next?

Through a meticulously crafted ‘always-on’ strategy and by leveraging consumer insights and market trends, we continue to deliver campaigns that captivate audiences .

Investing in talent and technology is another critical aspect of our approach. As global businesses look to establish a presence in Saudi Arabia, it’s essential to have a team of experts who understand the cultural nuances, behavioural trends, and lifestyle preferences of the local population.

We also recognise the importance of embracing digital transformation and innovation. With the younger, tech-savvy generation becoming increasingly influential, we are exploring innovative ad formats and digital platforms to connect with our target audience effectively.