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The year ahead for... Innovation [Campaign Middle East]
[January 19, 2014]

The year ahead for... Innovation [Campaign Middle East]

(Campaign Middle East Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Although agencies pride themselves on their ability to offer adver- tisers an integrated offering, the line between media, communications, cre- ativity and technology has become completely blurred. By 2017, Gartner has predict- ed that chief marketing offic- ers will be spending more on IT than the chief information officer, and advertisers seem to be increasingly willing to 'cherry-pick' specialist offer- ings from individual agencies across a range of disciplines.

Advertisers are demanding far more than just great crea- tive and awards - they are de- manding that agencies inno- vate and find ways to lead their brands to new oppor- tunities in order to differenti- ate their offering and catch the attention of increasingly fickle consumers.

As Henry Ford famously said: "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses." With all the tools, data and insight that agencies have at their fingertips today, how often do we actually sell ad- vertisers anything other than a faster horse? In the 2012 annual reports of some of the world's most respected brands, the word 'innovation' keeps popping up. Apple mentions it 22 times. Google, 14. That's what we expect from compa- nies such as Apple and Goog- le. But here are the numbers from some more 'traditional' companies: Scotts-Miracle Gro (21); Cambell's Soup (18); Procter & Gamble (24) Everyone is talking about innovation. How can innova- tion help me reach my cus- tomers more effectively? How can innovation help me optimise my marketing spend? How can innovation help me differentiate my brand? How can innovation help me im- prove my products? I know we say this every year, but 2014 really is the year that digital will grow up in the MENA region. We really are in the most exciting times in the history of tech- nology, communication and entertainment, and things that we thought were impos- sible only a few years ago have become ubiquitous.

With this revolution the need for agencies to adapt or perish has never been strong- er, and here are some of the key trends and opportunities that will allow agencies and advertisers to cut through the clutter and reach our increas- ingly distracted and demand- ing audiences.

The Real World Web Our digital life has gotten a lot more personal and it's only going to get more prevalent. From the ubiquitous Nike, Jawbone and Fitbit personal tracking bracelets to smart- watches from Samsung, Sony Mobile and Pebble and the promise of Google Glass, the internet just got real.Although some of these technologies are limited and may seem quite niche, brands that are brave enough to try anything in thesespaceswillberewarded.

Immersive brand experiences Unforgettable and disruptive real-world brand experiences are going to become more prevalent, more digital, and more powerful than ever be- fore. Who wasn't moved by watching Westjet's 'Christ- mas Miracle' or Coca-Cola's 'Small World Machines' last year? Expect to see brands doing bigger, better and cra- zier things in malls, in retail and in outdoor spaces.

Online marketplaces The internet has broken the monopoly that Middle East bricks-and-mortar retailers have enjoyed, and if they can't beat them, they're joining them. Consumers now have access to online-only special- ist retailers like Namshi and Jadopado, clicks-and-mortar real-world retailers like Landmark Shops, or digital heavyweights like dubizzle and Souq. Brands will in- creasingly begin to consider how they can drive volume and brand value by selling through online channels.

Old Media is the New Media Regional media brands like ARN (Arabian Radio Net- work) and OSN have taken what were once considered analog, one-way channels like radio and TV, and have turned them into real-time, highly targeted media through mo- bile apps, mobile streaming, digital broadcast and OTT (Over The Top) set-top boxes. They know more about their subscribers than ever before and the smartest brands will  use that customer insight to drive value.

Bravery Last year's Red Bull Stratos event not only broke records for the highest manned bal- loon flight and the highest al- titude jump, it was also shown on 80 TV stations in 50 coun- tries and a record-setting 52 million live streams. By all accounts it was one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. It wasn't just Felix Baumgartner who showed bravery by jumping out of a balloon at an altitude of 39km. It also takes a brave brand manager to throw somebody wearing their logo out of that balloon. And it is also a very brand Brand Man- ager who is willing to wait seven years and spend $30 million dollars to do it.

Brands are going to have to try harder than ever before to capture their audience's imagination, and it's going to take courage. Agencies need to be brave and experiment with technologies and prod- ucts that can't be billed back to their clients, and brands will have to be brave by challeng- ing social norms, stepping out of their prescribed brand identity and do things that might completely backfire on them to get noticed.

The reality is that if you want to be the brands of the future, you have to write the future. You have to identify those trends, make those un- comfortable decisions, and not go to where the future is, but where it's going to be.

And you will have to be brave. Very, very brave.

Yousef Tuqan Tuqan is chief innovation officer at Leo Burnett MENA       (c) 2014 Motivate Publishing. All rights reserved. Provided by, an company

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