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Saudi Industry Snapshot: Bassel Kakish, Publicis Groupe MENAT

Bassel Kakish, CEO, Publicis Groupe MENAT

How have consumers changed in Saudi Arabia in recent years?

I think the question is: What hasn’t changed? The visionary leadership in the Kingdom has propelled change in the economy, in content, in social lives and in opportunity. With such significant shifts, consumers lives cannot remain in a state of status quo. You can look at this through things that seem like small changes such as the opening of cinemas. Movies can create conversations, spark imagination. Seeing a movie is never just a three-hour experience; it’s a moment in time that can shape lives and unlock new worlds. We can also look at this from a larger business context, which centers around the investment and giga-projects from the public sector. The global reach and impact of these investments create opportunities for education, mobility, and connectivity with the wider world. The potential in Saudi today is immeasurable and we, as agencies and our partners, have the opportunity to seize this moment in time to help shape and propel the potential of Saudi Arabia and its citizens.

What are clients asking for in Saudi that’s new?

Transformation. Be it marketing transformation or digital transformation, the pull of the future is palpable. Our clients expect us to do the job we are hired for, whether that is in communications or media. However, the real ask, and real need, is for a partner who can help them achieve their transformation vision. At Publicis Groupe, and specifically in how we are set up in Saudi Arabia and MENAT as a whole; this is core to our organisation. Publicis Sapient helps our partners in both public and private sectors keep up with the pace of technological, societal and cultural change, all while meeting the ever-evolving demands and expectations of their customers. It truly is an exciting time for businesses and agencies to work together as we build tomorrow and enable the vision for Saudi’s transformation.

How have you changed your offerings to reflect changes in Saudi Arabia?

Publicis Groupe has been on a transformative journey for the past decade. Our transformation has touched all corners of our business and operations. In Saudi Arabia, this has translated into three key areas which Thamer Farsi, Publicis Groupe Saudi Arabia CEO, has spearheaded the integration and implementation.


As a key market of Publicis Groupe, our Saudi Arabia capabilities have grown exponentially from our global mergers and acquisitions. From new data, commerce and operational solutions, each acquisition has been intentionally crafted to create an ecosystem that helps our partners. win in the Platform World. Epsilon, the largest data acquisition, has rolled out in Saudi, enabling our partners to achieve and utilise real identity solutions to bring them closer to their customers. Most recently, through our latest acquisition of Profitero, which closes data and experience loops in commerce, we are pushing into the future of marketing to not only keep up with but lead tomorrow’s dynamic landscape.


Thamer, with the support of Mohammed Bahmishan, our KSA CCO, and Bashar Abdulkarim, our regional Chief Talent Officer, has focused on investing in diversified talent. We have launched new talent programmes to nurture young local talent. We have also built the most active regional community on Marcel, the Publicis Groupe AI platform, where Saudi talent is able to connect and collaborate with the full 86K+ people across our network.


We have been expanding our Agency footprint with new offices for Digitas, a connected marketing agency. Digitas brings forward the power of data, loyalty and holistic CRM solutions to our clients at the very moment that owned relationships with your consumers becomes a critical point of success in balancing the growth loop.

Our investment in Saudi will continue as we seek out new home-grown solutions in Saudi to fuel growth and expand relevant capabilities. Together, each investment and acquisition, brings our Power of One proposition to life for our clients in Saudi Arabia.