Top 5 Marketing Campaigns in the Middle East

Arab Business Review
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5 min
  • In this article, we analyse some of the successful marketing campaigns in the region over the past 2-3 years to understand see why they were succeeded and what can other brands and marketers learn from them.
  • Vodafone’s “Fakka” campaign in Egypt, and Nivea’s “Tough Men Choose Nivea Sensitive” campaign clearly point to the fact that the knowledge of local traditions, cultural sensitivities, and regional issues is key to running a successful marketing campaign in the region.
  • The success of Lebanese Brew’s “The Last Summer on Earth” campaign, and adidas’ “Unleash Deadly” campaign suggest that the middle eastern audience reacts to global events, and not just those focused on the region. Therefore, global events present strong marketing opportunities for companies looking to make an impact in the region.
  • Finally, the success of Beat FM’s “Can You Beat This” campaign, along with the ones listed above indicates that brands can no longer underestimate the importance of social media platforms like Facebook in running a successful marketing campaign.

Fakka from Vodafone: How to make small feel BIG

Company: Vodafone

Creative Agency: JWT Cairo

Year: 2013

Why was it successful? The campaign focused on replacing small change at retail outlets with valuable airtime (talk-time) for shoppers, thereby making small change feel BIG and solving a problem faced by locals, tourists and retailers in Egypt. It also gave an unparalleled distribution network to Vodafone, the client.

Campaign details: “Fakka” means ‘small change’ in Arabic and is a problem faced by retailers (pharmacies, vegetable stores or corner shops) in Egypt, who do not have sufficient small change to return to their customers. Therefore, these retailers historically used to hand back items like medicine, a vegetable or sweets/candy to their customers in lieu of small change. These items are useless beyond a point for the locals, and the method seemed strange to tourists visiting the region.
Therefore, when Vodafone Egypt wanted to launch micro re-charge cards (a new concept) in the country, creative agency JWT launched a campaign positioning these micro re-charge cards as small change (Fakka). These cards were designed to fit into the cash register’s cash tray, and retailers were encouraged to hand back Vodafone “Fakka” micro re-charge cards instead of the useless items historically returned in lieu of small change.

Impact: The campaign gave Vodafone an unparalleled distribution network in the country and strengthened its presence in the marketplace, as Vodafone “Fakka” micro re-charge cards have become a new currency in Egypt, with little shops across the country stocking the “Fakka” cards to use as change.

Awards: Vodafone Fakka was awarded Contagious Magazine’s Most Contagious Retail award in New York, together with the Audience Award for most contagious idea in London. The campaign also won the Grand Prix award at The Effie MENA Awards 2013.


source: JWT

The Last Summer on Earth by Lebanese Brew

source: Vimeo

Company: Gravity Brewing, Lebanese Brew

Creative Agency: Interesting Times Beirut

Year: 2012

Why was it successful? The campaign was aimed at promoting a relatively new beer brand – Lebanese Brew – in a market dominated by large players. The campaign used the ‘2012 End of the World’ story and turned it into the ultimate deadline urging people in Lebanon to come out of their comfort zones and do things they never had the courage to do, including trying a new beer brand like Lebanese Brew.

Campaign details: The Lebanese beer market had historically been dominated by big brands like Almaza, Heineken, Corona, Budweiser, and Effes, with Almaza having a nearly 47% market share. Lebanese Brew was first launched in 2011 through a bold campaign titled ‘Courage
Is Contagious’, which encouraged the youth of the country to be courageous and challenge age old practices, including drinking Almaza which had dominated the market for nearly 70 years.
After the success of its launch campaign, Lebanese Brew came up with another innovative idea to encourage even more people to switch to their beer brand. The campaign, which was launched in the summer of 2012, looked to capitalize on the hype around how 2012 was said to be the end of world. The campaign used the myth of the story and dark humor to create a sense of urgency among young Lebanese youth to try Lebanew Brew in “The Last Summer On Earth”.
The campaign reached people via various marketing channels, but all offline and online communication directed people to where they could download Lebanese Brew’s mobile app, which allowed people to document their last summer on earth and act on things which they had always wanted to do, such as ‘getting high of life by visiting the highest peak in Lebanon’, ‘becoming a star’ by posting YouTube videos, ‘crashing a party’, etc. This app also allowed had games which allowed users to bet virtual bottles of Lebanese Brew, among other things.

Impact: As per Snowball Distribution s.a.l. & Effie Mena, Lebanese Brew saw an increase from a 3% market share to a steady 7% market share on key accounts in its second year from launch. Further, the company gained a staggering 18% market share within its target audience of 18 to 24 year-olds, and went from selling 2500 cases per month, to selling an average of 5400 cases per month.
Further, the campaign posters and manifesto video posted by Lebanese Brew on its Facebook page received 4573 likes, 678 shares, and 564 comments throughout the campaign duration. With an 80,000 viral reach, amassing 738,328 impressions, and engaging 34,464 Facebook users, Lebanese brew had an average of 5,608 users talking about the brand throughout the campaign duration.

Awards: The campaign was the 2012 GEMAS Effie Grand Prix Winner.

Tough Men Choose Nivea Sensitive (Nivea for Men)

source: Kommando

Company: Nivea, Beiersdorf Middle East

Creative Agency: Horizon Draftfcb & OMD Dubai

Year: 2012

Why was it successful? The campaigners understood the macho culture prevalent among men in the Middle East, and the cultural taboo associated with men choosing personal grooming products for sensitive skin. These factors were taken into account while creating the messaging for the target audience, and the campaign effectively engaged the audience through a 360º outreach featuring novel online and promotional concepts.

Campaign details: Nivea’s marketing research showed that men in the region were embarrassed to use sensitive grooming products, as they felt that it hurt their macho image. Therefore, the campaign for promoting men’s grooming products was centered around highlighting the fact that sensitivity and machismo are not mutually exclusive. It included elements like a “What’s Your Man Quotient” quiz on the product’s Facebook page, which was backed-up by in-mall activation, print, TV, and below-the-line media marketing. The global campaign also included TV ads which had split screens showing several males in the middle of the shaving exercise, a ‘musical chorus’ is delivered from the noises of each irritated man, followed by a last note (by voiceover) which says "silence the irritation with Nivea For Men Sensitive."

Impact: The campaign effectively engaged the men in the region, as shown by the 140,000 new Facebook fans for the brand, and also spectacular sales results for the product.

Awards: Nivea, the Beiersdorf-owned skin care brand, received the prestigious GEMAS Effie MENA award for this campaign. Nivea were the only recipient of the Effie Award in the Fragrances and Cosmetics category.

"Can You Beat This?" by Beat FM 102.5

source: E-consultancy

Company: Beat FM

Creative Agency: Prodigi Corp

Year: 2012

Why was it successful? Effective use of digital media to drive user engagement. It was one of the first campaigns in the region that successfully used digital media to drive user engagement for Beat FM 102.5, an English radio station in Amman.

Campaign details: Beat FM 102.5 is an leading English radio station in Amman whose target audience largely comprises of young an d trendy Jordanians aged between 13 and 30. The FM channel wanted a campaign to 1) create buzz around Beat FM; 2) increase its Facebook fans; 3) increase ‘listernship’ of fans who stream Beat FM; and 4) increase fan loyalty to Beat FM.
To achieve the above objective, creative agency Prodigi Corp designed a Facebook campaign titled "Can You Beat This?" to engage Beat FM’s target audience. As part of the campaign, Prodigi Corp built a custom app on Beat FM's Facebook page where fans were invited to share their pictures for a celebrity look-alike competition and vote for their favourite celebrity look-alike. The campaign was publicized through Facebook, Twitter and through outdoor advertising. Two months into the campaign, Beat FM picked the top ten photos (based on number of votes), and the winners were given free night stays at 5-star hotels, gym memberships and shopping vouchers.

Impact: As a result of the campaign, Beat FM increased its number of active Facebook fans from 23,000 to 40,000. In addition, interactivity (user engagement) within the company’s Facebook page increased dramatically, indicating that the campaign did well to engage its Facebook fans and encourage them to join the conversation on the page.

Awards: The campaign won the Best Digital Campaign award at ArabNet's 2012 Digital Summit in Beirut.

Unleash Deadly – adidas Predator Lethal Zones

source: WordPress

Company: adidas

Creative Agency: Starcom MediaVest Group

Year: 2012

Why was it successful? The campaign, targeted at young Arab football aficionados, used the hype around UEFA Euro 2012 to successfully launch adidas’ most innovative boot ever – ‘Predator Lethal Zones’ – via various media platforms.

Campaign details: Adidas was looking to launch its most innovative boot ever – ‘Predator Lethal Zones’ – during the UEFA Euro 2012. The boot featured five, super-light (SL) rubber and memory foam 3-D zones. To promote the boot, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG) launched an ultra-creative media strategy entitled ‘Every Touch Counts’, which leveraged the five Lethal Zones using world-renowned football stars such as Xavi. SMG promoted the boot via competitions, ads, etc. on various media platforms, including digital, print and radio channels.

Impact: The campaign helped adidas ride the EURO 2012 wave to launch its innovative boot offering, and increase its market presence in the region.

Awards: The campaign helped adidas garner top honors at the inaugural Middle East Sports Industry Awards 2013 (SPIA), winning Gold in the Best Sport Brand category and Silver in the Best Sport Marketing Campaign category. The campaign also won the Silver in the Sports Marketing category at the Effies MENA 2012.