Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Same same Campaign

Campaign is dead, long live Campaign..... The editorial team have now moved across from ITP to Motivate, where they will recommence their work on the weekly magazine once the licence has been processed. An uncharacteristic display of generousness from ITP by not banning them? Or maybe they were all on Dubai Media City visas ..... One thing is clear: Motivate staff are making the Auld Enemy feel very welcome: a Campaign flag stood proud on the vacated desks to welcome the new arrivals. But will Campaign retain its bite at Motivate?

Sunday, 25 February 2007

Staying Alive, barely

A second delightful anonymous submission:

A certain government agency looking to establish a bigger and better corporate image here in Dubai has gone and opened a closed pitch with only three agencies requested to present.

It is not unusual in Dubai or the Middle East for companies or brands to choose and qualify agencies before sending out a brief and without informing the general marketing public. Nor is it unusual that because someone knows someone, then a second or third someone, can effectively find himself or herself meeting the first someone to pitch for something he or she did not anticipate. Effectively fooling themselves into the foolish thought that it was the quality of their creative genius and level of commitment that got the first someone to come knocking at their door on their own.

The cockiness with which that someone then proceeds beats this writer, however it must be said, the creative concepts with which two of these three agencies came up with have humbled this writer in a way entirely unknown to me before.

Our first someone honestly and with all their hearts - pause for effect - thought that presenting a creative concept for a campaign aimed at safe driving to the tune of the BG’s Staying Alive was entirely appropriate. Just because you got it right with the local Dubai airlines, doesn’t mean you’ll be lucky the second time around. Meanwhile someone else figured a play on words such as Rich Tourist Attractions was a sure fire way to create trustworthy and reliable brand positioning. Did you reward yourself with a chocolate after that one? And I’d like to see that painted across the Abras please.

All this someone has to say is, everything about all of this in Dubai has become mediocre to the point where the majority of those working in agencies have turned into completely irrelevant robots. One wonders if some of those lurking in the dark corners of creative departments in the agencies across Dubai actually dusted those creative brain cells before they attempted to come up with such pathetic communication strategy. They pay can't be that bad. For now the public eagerly awaits more insulting advertising.

Raining on prom night

A delightful anonymous submission:

Last November, a relatively new agency based in DMC specialising in marketing communications and trying to pose as new media representatives (more like wannabes) took to the high society of Dubai like fish take to water with an event that promised lots of exposure and a return in pr beyond measure. What the GM of this new agency did not expect is that his past experience in managing night clubs might not exactly translate as well as he had hoped into the foray of event management and buttering up diplomat's wives.

Things didn't go quite as planned and a million dollar wedding dress didn't quite turn out to be the show stopper it was expected to be. One has to wonder if it was the blue eyed 35 year old GM's preoccupation with every 5'9 blonde that crossed his path that interfered with his judgement leaving his staff high and dry clambering and running like chickens with their heads cut off trying to put things together at the very last minute. Or were the staff equally incompetent? All the king’s men couldn’t have helped.

Fortunately for those in attendance, backstage passes were not part of the package and the only complaint was “Did you notice that the chicken was a little dry?” However the same cannot be said for those that paid to sponsor and exhibit at the event. Imagine 12 luxury cars sitting at the security gate’s of Burj Al Arab waiting to be admitted because someone forgot to bring the security passes for the drivers. And just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, thunder and rain came down hard soaking entire racks of designer clothing left unattended in front of the hotel.

And just in case you missed the circus the first time around, the agency and its GM with all his wanna-be Don Juan stylings have promised to make this painfully amusing experience an annual event despite the lack of post event positive feedback in the papers from the backing party which begs the question if the Dubai Ladies Club don’t want it why should we?

Look for it next November. One can think of two or ten establishments that will not touch it with a 100 foot pole. Where’s that bottle of Moet when you need it eh?

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Painting a glossy picture

Following the Bahrain business paper recruitment, it's time for part two in the series Violations of the Trade Description Act.

This advert ran in the Guardian Jobs section and the first part of the ad is pasted below. I didn't have the heart to copy the second half as my computer crashed over the words "amazing country" and "the world's fastest-growing media climate".

Dubai’s leading publishing house requires an editor to work on their flagship insurance title, the leading publication of its kind to the Middle East. The company has a strong reputation, with its publications being circulated to senior figures within global blue-chip companies.

Which company do we think has decided it is Dubai's leading publisher this week? Could it be ITP? No. Motivate? No. Previous incumbent Al Hilal? No? Shame on you if you didn't guess the correct answer - The Media Factory.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Dubai TV's terrifying ad

A flash presentation of bloodshed, carnage and orgiastic violence would be less unsettling than this horror:

WIDTH="200" id="top_grid" ALIGN height="250">

TYPE="application/x-shockwave-flash" PLUGINSPAGE="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer">
WIDTH="200" id="top_grid" ALIGN height="250">

TYPE="application/x-shockwave-flash" PLUGINSPAGE="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer">

Does this make anyone want to turn on Dubai TV news? Or run for the hills/dunes?

Friday, 16 February 2007

Who's zooming who?

Now, for this week's round-up of shenanigans in the murky media and PR world:

Which PR agency needs to worry about the airing of some dirty laundry? Staff may need to start covering up the bedroom antics of one of their clients, as her list of conquests gets circulated around Dubai? Her victims: half her senior personnel, as well as a couple of prominent locals and the head of one of the biggest companies in Dubai.

Which poppet has been a really good sport by offering more services to her client than just PR? We wonder if her fees rose as much as her client did.

Business picks up in Bahrain

There was an interesting recruitment advert doing the rounds this week. I've reproduced below (complete with lack of punctuation and typos).

Closing date: 24/02/2007
Job title: Journalists

Full details: Our client the largest publishing company in the Middle East has an outstanding opportunity for a strong business journalists looking for a fresh challenge.

We are launching a Bahrain-based regional business daily and require journalists at all levels to for a deputy editor, reporters and sub-editors roles.

Our aim is to provide the most comprehensive, accurate and up-to-date coverage of Gulf markets, economies and companies - as well as breaking off-diary financial stories.

We offer exciting and challenging opportunities for business - oriented journalists to join a team based in Bahrain - the Middle East's banking hub.

For further details please email a Word format resume and we will arrange an interview for suitable candidates.

New regional daily from the largest publishing company in the Middle East? Could Arabian Business Standard finally be getting a licence, but in Bahrain - which would be an audacious move for ITP if true? Or, could Motivate be ready to recapture its dominance over the regional market by beating ITP to a business daily licence?

Actually, it's an advert from Bahrain-based Al Hilal, who are extending the business coverage in Gulf Daily News. The largest publishing company in the Middle East? You decide.

X marks the spot?

Gulf News' tabloid - Xpress, formerly known has Project X, has been given a March 15 launch date ... March 2007, though I seem to remember it's been "about to launch" for more than a year now, making it the fifth-most delayed project in Dubai after each of the Palms and The World.

It will have a print run of 80,000 - 100,000, apparently. Is that on the Gulf media counting scale, where a copy in the hand is worth two in the named print run?

Gulf Snooze staff say it will compete with 7Days. I'm not quite sure how: it's only going out twice a week. Actually, come to think of it, not sure that even qualifies it to be called a newspaper.

Thursday, 15 February 2007

PR Agencies wasting whose money?

Emirates Today ran a story back on 6/2/2007 that was quite interesting. Not sure how no one noticed it here.

To quote:

Public relations agencies are largely failing to provide their clients with value for money, according to the managing director of media analysts Mediastow.

Mohammad Elzubeir said UAE companies were wasting money on ineffective PR.

“Of course, there are good and bad PR agencies; some understand how to measure their effectiveness and some don’t,” said Elzubeir.

Mediastow surveyed 150 PR practitioners, 87 PR agencies and more than 200 in house PR managers. The study showed that 83 per cent of the respondents do not know how to measure their work, while only 12 per cent counted clippings and five per cent were able to calculate the equivalent advertising value.

Why is this not surprising?

Monday, 12 February 2007

Gulf News: cock-up or cop out?

The Gulf News ran an interview with Dr Amr Jad, a consultant from Riyadh Armed Forces Hospital, where the doctor said sex education in the Middle East did not need to cover ways of preventing STDs.

Apparently, the doctor's views were "putting a damper on HIV/Aids awareness efforts in the region". I'll say.

This is where editors should get involved. There should have been uproar at the daily meeting and - with a lack of probing questions in the article - there should have been a stern comment piece written forthwith. Much as everyone loves Secret Dubai, we need some baring of teeth in the local and regional media.

Haymarket to buy into Motivate?

The plot thickens. Apparently, today's the day Motivate is signing with Haymarket to take over Campaign, having barely let the ink dry on the termination agreement with ITP. Furthermore, a well-placed media source has said Haymarket has already bought into Motivate and may increase their shareholding.

I should point out that the rumour mill has gone into turbo-overdrive over the fate of Campaign, etc. People have been musing over Ian Fairservice's exit strategy since the dawn of time, but this looks like a realistic scenario. This way, the Motivate supremo keeps his finger in the publishing pie, while cashing in part of his retirement plan.

Saturday, 10 February 2007

The gagged German

Is this the first instance (at least publically admitted) of a UAE newspaper, in this instance Gulf News, "buying up" a story subject and preventing them from talking to other media?

Explaining his dilemma, Graf said, "The reporter who first carried my story said I could talk only to German media and not anyone from the local media until he carried my follow-up on Friday. I know this is a free world and you have the right to write about me. But I cannot talk anything till they allow me."

It's a well known tactic elsewhere, but unfamiliar and possibly new to the local media scene, no wonder Gulf Today describes it:

"...clear manifestation of conditional help and how unhealthy competition can spoil professional ethics in journalism.

It would be also interesting to see what - if any - contract Graf has signed with Gulf News and what legal representation he has. A few Max Cliffords would be quite an interesting addition to the local "celebrity" scene.

Friday, 9 February 2007

Farewell Campaign

So farewell to Campaign ME, at least from the Serafin stable.

The editorial team got the bad news seconds after putting the last edition to bed.

Allegedly the split between ITP and Haymarket was over revenue sharing. But rumour has it that Campaign is off to Motivate, which has a five magazine deal with Haymarket.

The Spin will be sorely missed, as well as the Campaign blog.

Archived polls

Let the games begin...

Nearly every Dubai media blog has been driven off the web for whatever reason.

Dubai Media Observer is a new group blog version of DMO that includes a team of anonymous authors from Dubai and beyond.

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