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Saudi Industry Snapshot: Razmik Kalaidjian, Mindshare KSA

Razmik Kalaidjian, managing director, Mindshare KSA

With all the changes in Saudi Arabia Landscape, how have you changed your offering ?

When Seth Godin said, “By definition, remarkable things get remarked upon”, his reference was to advertising but really it can be applied to a market such as Saudi Arabia. It is a remarkable market; we’ve always believed it. But today the spotlight on it is significantly larger. We could argue it is floodlit.

In line with Vision 2030, the country is undergoing transformations on every level – economic, social, cultural, geographical and more. This impact is felt across our engagement in the Kingdom, from our consumer insights to our communication solutions, talent, skill set and offering.

When we look back to 20 years ago when we started, our client base was primarily local with some of the global giants who were dipping into the Middle East. Today, a significant sector of our portfolio are local brand powerhouses alongside Saudi government entities. Our teams are as proficient today running a campaign covering the Kingdom or a global market. We tap into the Mindshare/WPP network to assist in delivering but the central hub is now here. This also ensures we can bring best practice learnings into market, and the talent career path and learnings locally are far reaching.

And of course, the media landscape has changed. Our structure has changed to reflect this, in terms of digital consultancy and specialists being integral. Our partner clients are leading in m-commerce, driving their own digital transformation, and we are there to lead and support these initiatives. As an agency, in the early 2000s, you could review your product, your tools, even your partnerships in the media ecosystem every 2-3 years; now it is almost monthly.

TV and outdoor still are impact media. The increased opportunity for measurement in these media is welcomed. The launch of eTAM is big step for TV measurement. Alongside Nielsen and other industry leaders, Mindshare, representing GroupM, has been actively involved in this project as we believe it will bring much needed granularity and accuracy of measurement.

Overall, data has historically been challenging. We’ve worked within our network to build strong data through GroupM, syndicated data/research partners and proprietary research. Perhaps one of our biggest wins for 2021/22 is our proprietary consumer insight research. The frequency of the research has been altered to quarterly. In any market, but particularly Saudi Arabia, the opportunity to track consumer behaviour and attitudes across time periods is an additional bonus alongside our ability to contrast data with the other 70+ markets covered by the Audience Origin survey.

What future opportunities do you see?

Besides the business growth opportunities, really it lies in talent and skill building. We are in the unique position to build the future leaders of advertising and marketing in the Kingdom. As an industry, we have an important role to play in building Saudi National talent. This is already in play at Mindshare. We can as a network ensure we drive the skillsets needed for future success, be it advanced precision marketing, retail/ecommerce, modelling and analytics or the metaverse,