Eric Mirabel is Regional Executive Director, Marketing at Omnicom Media Group MENA and also a judge for the World Media Awards which are now open for entries until 25th January 2018. You can enter here. Here are his thoughts and advice to potential entrants on what makes for great cross-border, content-driven advertising campaigns and a little bit of insight into what makes him tick.
LBB> What is the role of the media agency in content-driven advertising?
EM> From a planning perspective, we’ve always considered the value of content as the context for our client’s brand communications and its appeal for our selected audiences. Some years ago, more than 10 in our case at Omnicom Media Group MENA, media agencies got a lot closer to content. Be it with brand placement, content creation, social media, performance measurement, dynamic creative optimization and now even creative production, we’ve been and stayed very close to content. We’ve now added influencer marketing. Our involvement is in the design of the strategy based on strong local cultural insights, the definition and targeting of the most relevant audience, the selection of creative partners and the optimization of the activities’ performance.
LBB> Content-driven marketing is often associated with higher volumes of content but often lower production budgets than traditional advertising - how do you achieve great content without compromising craft?
EM> What we’re seeing in our region is a natural decrease in the amount of content and a gradual increase in its quality, with a growing focus on the amplification of that material. The end goal of course is to create deeper levels of engagement, which also explains influencers’ rise in popularity with brands. Video platforms are particularly popular with Gulf consumers so it’s no surprise to see local brands embracing digital video more and more. In Saudi Arabia, for example, they prefer to contract influencers, whereas in the UAE, it’s often broadcasters or production houses that are the most sought-after partner. In both cases, snackable content is the main format now.
LBB> What is the key to finding a content marketing idea that can translate across borders?
EM> We’re fortunate in the Middle East in that we have a great deal of commonalities between nations, with Arabic and Islamic traditions as cultural glue. There are also some differences so we rely heavily on local insights to identify the type of content that resonates the most with our audiences. Some of it comes from observation and analysis, some from testing and research, the rest is experience. While there is a greater acceptance of international content, which we can see in the popularity of some show formats, ultimately, it is local content that people crave.
LBB> What do you need to look for in your media partner(s) when planning an international content-driven advertising campaign?
EM> For content to be truly effective, it often needs to be trusted and this means the vehicles that carry it must be trusted first. Here, pan-Arab media are often a preferred option for brands as they are very popular here with audiences but their performance can be uneven across the region. You must make sure you have the right mix of regional and local media to get through properly. One size rarely fits all. On top of this, you obviously need credible content creators, access to consistent data to inject in your campaign development, robust tech to drive scale of distribution and the infrastructure to provide meaningful and cohesive measurement.
LBB> As a judge at this year’s World Media Awards, what are you hoping to see most?
EM> First and foremost, what I am looking for is evidence of brands having clearly identified, conceived and delivered content that is valuable to their audiences, as it’s an essential first step towards impact and effectiveness. In addition to this, I’m interested in seeing powerful content platforms, the engagement of consumers in a wide and participative interaction and the delivery of tangible value to both audience and brand beyond views, likes and shares.
LBB> What advice can you give potential entrants for creating a winning entry?
EM> The most memorable story is often short and simple. If it can’t be told succinctly, then it probably isn’t strong enough. The temptation to drown the judges in details is often overwhelming but a high volume of entries makes long cases rather unappealing.
LBB> What was your first music download?
EM> Eric Clapton’s Best Of
LBB> Your favourite film?
EM> Almost anything by Alan Parker, who worked in advertising before telling the most powerful stories on celluloid
LBB> Your favourite TV series?
EM> I am currently totally absorbed in Black Mirror on Netflix
Entry to the World Media Awards is free but the deadline (Thursday 25th January) is fast approaching. If you need more time to enter, please email Sheryl@no-4.co.uk.