Middle Eastern Advertising In A Post-Revolution Context
Egypt's revolution is a pivotal moment that requires brands to reassess their messaging strategy; how are global agencies acting on this?
While most of the world knows the amount of agitation facing the Middle East’s leaders, one has to wonder how marketers feel about the recent developments in the region. Most advertising agencies had only mildly acknowledged the paramount role that social media has been playing in the lives of Middle Easterners. They might have conservatively bought banner space on popular media site Maktoob or ventured to buy targeted space on MSN Messenger.
Recent developments, however, have forced them to think more deeply about social media campaigns, not simply the digital media space. No where is this more apparent than in Egypt. A recent article in Ad Age Global offers advice on messaging in Egypt’s post-revolution environment, where they cite that Egypt’s Facebook population has quadrupled in only two months, suggesting that similar growth is being experienced across the region. The article mentions brands making noteworthy strategic shifts in their messages:
“Egypt’s new global tourism campaign [by JWT], unveiled at a travel trade show, is adding slogans such as “Welcome to the country of peaceful revolution” and “Tahrir — a square that rocks the world” to the existing “Egypt, where it all begins”… Coca-Cola is working on two campaigns linking the rebuilding of Egypt to Coke’s values of hope and positivity… TBWA Egypt, working with Egypt’s Ministry of Finance, shot 16 testimonials to rally support for the economy. The spots broke three days before the crucial reopening of the stock market.”
Two key takeaway insights from the same article are:
- Acknowledge the increasing maturity of the youth, largely due to how they demonstrated leadership and have been mobilizing global communities to take action
- Don’t overdo the patriotic appeal; instead generalize the focus to positivity and hope
While revolutions sweeping the Middle East aim to democratize their society, they have specific interest in elevating the quality of education, political corruption, ending poverty, advancing the voice of women, and creating a more sustainable vision for the future. Some of these areas are uncontroversial (everyone can agree on ending poverty and improving education), but there are thorny issues that advertisers are better off staying away from.
The end goal, after all, isn’t to force brands to join the revolutionaries, but to sync their ad messaging with the zeitgeist of a given country and emerging insights into the ever-expanding digital class.