by Neometro

Advertising in the Middle East

Ideas, Open Musings - by Giles Watson

Melbourne based Art Director Giles Watson recently left Australia to move to London. However one year on, is living and working in Dubai… learning the challenges of advertising Lynx deodorant and Durex condoms in a land where sex can not sell.

Somehow, after leaving the advertising scene in Melbourne just over a year ago to move to London, I ended up in Dubai. It wasn’t a planned move, and it’s been the most interesting and the most challenging place to advertise in I’ve experienced so far. For starters, one of our accounts is Lynx deodorant, a brand whose main selling feature is helping guys get sex – a topic not so easily handled in the Middle East.

This is possibly the biggest problem… I mean, “challenge” here (not – it’s not which camel to milk next): It’s so easy to offend people! Whether it’s using a woman in a suggestive way, or even using an animal that is considered haram, clients here are scared of running anything that might cause a bit of a stir. The consequences of upsetting someone can get you thrown out of the country. My first thoughts with this kind of culture were that the quality of ads here would be horrible. But, thankfully I was wrong.

Clients want nothing more than to be famous here. They crave they next big idea that will compete with the big markets

One of the biggest advantages here is that when you do get a big idea up – it appears everywhere and is scene and completely out there because there is literally nothing else like it that’s been done before. Recently, a campaign created by an agency called Buzzman (A French based agency but we wont hold that against them) created a campaign here for durex condoms. It played on the insight that you never have one when you need it – so they used the incredibly cheap and accessible labor here to create a service where you could place an S.O.S condom request and have one delivered to your location, discreetly within the hour. I have no idea how they got this up, but it’s a world first and something that could not be done in any other major city be in London, New York or Melbourne.

Last month Dubai held their big award show here – the Dubai lynx, which proved again that good work can get made. They were mostly ads that have run once in a small type newspaper – but almost all for big time clients keen to do something great.

So Dubai’s biggest challenge – opens up a very unique opportunity (how cliché). The best part is, Dubai’s not short on good beaches and pools to…”brainstorm” at either. Life’s tough!

Some sample work coming from Dubai adland

Durex SOS condom app:
Agency: Buzzman Middle East, Dubai, UAE
Creative Director: Georges Mohammed-Cherif
Art Director: Regis Boulanger
Copywriter: Romain Repellin
Land Rover Edible survival guide:
Creative Director / Copywriter: Shahir Zag
Creative Director / Art Director / Illustrator: Joseph Bihag
Copywriter: Guillaume Calmelet

 Fat & Skinny “Lose the Fat. You’ll live longer”
 Agency: Wunderman Dubai
Creative Director: Richa Khan
Art Director: Giles Watson
Copywriter: Hugh Southall


By Giles Watson
Art Director, amateur soccer player, and techno lover, working in Dubai after being taken hostage from London.


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