Communication spend continues to decline
AMEinfo.com speaks with Kamal Dimachkie, regional executive managing director at Leo Burnett Kuwait, UAE and Lower Gulf, about recurring industry challenges and trends in the region
How would you describe Leo Burnett’s performance in the Middle East region?
Our performance is incredibly solid and an example in the communication industry, because this is an agency that has been consistent in its performance throughout the years and has adhered to some strict principles of work, and has got a wonderful value system, while it continues to be financially successful. I suppose the best example of how well Leo Burnett is doing is the fact that it continues to be a strong magnet for high-quality talent throughout the region and, at the same time, in its enduring relationships with existing clients, along with its ability to attract new businesses.
What is your strongest factor?
Without a doubt, best creative ideas that bring about a change in human behaviour. Creativity isn’t easy and the fact that the UAE has a diversity of cultures makes the work even more challenging to try and identify common human insights, and multiple cultures and ethnic groups, however, ultimately, this is part of the rainbow that represents the UAE, and it is wonderful to be able to develop ideas and enable brands to communicate with different cultures.
What are the challenges that creative agencies face in the region?
The challenges that we are facing are the challenges that the industry is facing; the fact that there is no, or very limited, growth. The industry is not growing and, if you look at the forecasts for the past few years, the communication spend has been declining, growth expectations are low at one per cent and this is at a time when organisations are putting agencies under pressure, which is understandable considering their strict financial goals by shareholders. So, this touches everything we do, including communication. The biggest challenge we face is to figure out how to continue growing in an environment that is not developing.
The second biggest challenge is transforming quickly enough to adapt to all of the new skills that are required by the changing communication landscape, and to continue to attract expertise and talent to make a difference to clients.
What are the areas of growth that you can identify?
The first thing is to continue generating organic growth by offering new skills and services to clients that need them, as well as explore available channels of communication with the public. Then, by default, brands are going to need them and you will be required to help them connect with these new channels. To be successful, you have to constantly force yourself to be upscale to be fit for tomorrow.
What are the main trends to look out for in the industry this year?
The main trends are: digital continues to grow by double digit, social continues to challenge everybody and we have still not scratched the surface of mobile, which is growing at an astronomical rate, but, yet, remains small. The other challenge is the blurring lines between different skill sets, so you often see that what used to be the main focus of a creative or media or PR agency is now becoming foggy. The water is becoming so unclear that everybody is fishing in the same water and each has a different angle or a perspective that is not wrong.