The secret sauce to Gambit Communications’ success

Top left: Judy Bakieh, Gold Cannes Young Lions 2023 Top right: Sarah Alsalem, Gold Cannes Young Lions 2023 Bottom left: Sara Al Dehni, MENA Young Lions 2024, Bottom right: Alexandra Richards, MENA Young Lions 2024

Gambit Communications was set up in 2019 and has since won 70 trophies, including the region’s first Gold at Cannes’ PR Young Lions. 

The recipe for success is no secret to Gambit. But what exactly goes into their secret sauce? Is it the awards and their young team? Perhaps it’s collaborative leadership and a well-rounded approach to client work?  

Campaign Middle East sat down with the team at Gambit to find out what powers their success.  

Leveraging awards to win clients  

Gambit is the current holder of PRCA’s Medium Agency of the Year, MEPRA’s Medium Agency of the Year and Campaign’s UAE Agency of The Year.

The value of these awards comes to fruition when pitching to potential clients. 

“We recently had four Young Lions winners on our deck for a client pitch,” said Judy Bakieh, Senior Integrated Communications Manager. “The client specifically wanted the award-winning members on their team.” 

“Winning is a habit at Gambit,” said Sarah Alsalem, Senior Account Manager, who won Campaign’s Account Person of the Year in 2023.

Hiring the right talent  

Gambit has a key focus on hiring capable entry-level talent that intend to grow within the agency.   

“The industry has a real issue with talent retention, and the constant turnover could be frustrating for clients,” said Jamal Al Mawed, Founder and Managing Director  

Jamal noticed a gap in the market for an agency that could attract the best talent and retain them by providing an exciting career progression, rather than being a steppingstone to move over to working in-house on the client side of things.

This is backed by Sarah’s testimony. Before her role at Gambit, Sarah worked in-house on the client side. After moving to Gambit, winning awards helped strengthen strategies for clients and pushed her to do better work.  

“I’m grateful to be working in a place that supports my personal career growth as well,” she said.

Jamal Al Mawed, Founder and Managing Director, Gambit Communications

Collaborative leadership and time management  

The leadership team at Gambit don’t function in the traditional way. Senior executives often step up to cover the work of junior members to give them an opportunity to focus on award submissions.

The 2024 winners of the MENA Young Lions, Alexandra Richards and Sara Al Dehni, said they were given two full days to focus solely on their submission.

“An office-wide notice was sent to not bother us with client work so we could focus on the submission,” said Al Dehni.

The sentiment comes from Jamal’s ideology that, at Gambit, hierarchy is about authority and not superiority.  

Apart from leaders stepping in to lighten the workload, Judy said Gambit makes sure to get most of their work done in “quiet times,” planning client work months ahead to prepare for the “peak times” of pitching and awards season.

Impactful campaigns over profit  

Gambit has giant accounts in the region with names like BMW AGMC, Majid Al Futtaim, and Acer under their belt. But when it comes to their driving force, doing great work sometimes trumps turning a profit.  

“We get great clients because we do great work, but we also do great work because we have great clients,” said Judy.

The team at Gambit says they take a 360-degree, well-rounded approach to all their campaign ideation, making sure to include every aspect, from feasibility and budget to starting conversations on social media.

“We always try to get past the ‘big idea’ mentality and think about strategies that will have an impact and be implementable,” said Jamal. “We start with behavioural and consumer insights and build our ideas from there.”

“To achieve that successfully, you must be ready to give up chasing profits sometimes. Many leaders are not willing to do that,” said Jamal.