Not me, but in the Middle East. This has been bothering me for a while. A lot of things when it comes to advertisements and PR in the Middle East do not make sense. Our media outlets have outsourced their advertisement sales to incompetent ad agencies that have blown prices out of proportion. This was possible during the property boom, but we have seen how unreal those prices were and still are. Having more expensive advertisements only serve the ad agencies. Businesses and even government agencies are the ones paying the price.
If you look at campaigns, designs, and messages they carry, you would be surprised with the quality and lack of creativity in them, even from the bigger advertisement agencies. A lot of ads even lack the basics of cultural sensitivity. I think some of the Arabic ones can replace the comic sections in newspapers. In fact, if you trace these agencies then, it is easy for you to trace the few who control them and you will not be surprised why such non-sense takes place.
In the last few years, even government agencies started to appoint PR agencies, to do their branding, PR, and so forth and pay them millions of dollars for almost doing nothing. Having worked with some of these PR agencies, I can tell you that they can’t even draft a simple press release properly. And if you want to know, how they won their contract, then search for the new Marketing recruit and you will find the missing link. A lot of the work within these government agencies is still done by their ‘“internal PR Department.” So if you have a PR department that is very competent and experienced, then why do you need an advertisement agency. In fact, why pay a million for a logo. After all, you are not Pepsi. And with that in mind, I just wanted to remind our friends who hire these big agencies that the Nike logo was designed for only $35. The money spent on these agencies can be utilized better in improving services or training their internal PR team, who have always done an excellent work.
Here is a very recent example that struck me. An announcement was made recently that Dubai has the most expensive billboard in the world with a value of $1.3 Billion Dollars.
This is how those behind the campaign justify this:
“The billboard involved a man with a Jet Pack, initially hidden within the billboard, who emerged from the billboard and flew around it for approximately 20-30 seconds, before landing back on the billboard. If the Jet Pack act for the billboard were to have continued for a month, it would have cost approximately USD 1.3 Billion.
The seconds of flight time for the billboard in Downtown Dubai would cost a minimum of USD 500 per second. If the number of seconds in a month (60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24hours x 30 days = 2,592,000 seconds) is multiplied by USD 500, the total amounts to approximately USD 1.3 Billion for the month long fly time for the billboard.”
I don’t know, but does this make sense to you guys; is this guy flying non-stop for a month. And is this supposed to be a billboard or a TV advertisement. They have calculated how much it will cost if this dude keeps flying for a month non-stop, which is apparently not happening, and will not happen. In fact, they missed to include the cost of erecting the billboard, rental, and printing the banner in their calculations. May be if they included those, then it would cost about 2 billion dollars using their logic. Apparently this campaign was backed by Emaar, the largest property developer in the country. Emaar posted $560 million in operating profits for the year 2011, less than half of the suggested cost of this billboard. And by the way, the design is terrible.
Unfortunately, this was hailed by the local media. Another flop that one of those useless advertising agencies tried to pull. It is sad to see how these advertisement agencies underestimate the intelligence of the public thinking that this will sell. I am sure they can justify this in a way that a lot of media will capture this and start talking about it, but this will generate a lot of negative PR rather then positive PR. The effect of this negative PR, particularly through new media channels, is some thing that these PR & AD agencies don’t understand and frankly speaking don’t even care about. We really do not need this unnecessary propaganda and false messages. People are not stupid. And to our friends at the local media, the most expensive, does not mean the best, in fact sometimes it does not mean anything and does not add value to anyone. Please understand that Dubai does not need this, we have a lot of success stories, and people from all over the world come to benchmark our success. Please don’t be deceived by the false campaigns these advertisement agencies drag you into. You can report on much better stories, which go unreported because of this nonsense.
In the past few years, we have seen a surge of young UAE national that have superb creative skills, and have mastered the art of new media and driven their business forward. Others have mastered design, and many are emerging as great writers. They have also used their skills in a lot of philanthropic activities and social work. Their efforts were recently applauded and supported by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. We thank His Highness Sheikh Mohammed for his continuous support to young and emerging Emirati leaders.
I believe that it is time that we take back media and pr into our hands and give these opportunities to young and talented Emiratis; at least those business opportunities within government based media outlets and government agencies. These promising young leaders of the future will definitely produce much more creative work and deliver better results as they will not only be doing business but at the same time serving their country, let alone the fact they will give back to the community; something that these big ad agencies have never known.