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Conversations with an advertising Don

Conversations with an advertising Don

Ramzi Raad, chairman and CEO of TBWA/RAAD, speaks to Kipp about the region’s industry, the Lynx debacle and why he expects digital advertising to boom.

May 21, 2009 9:16 by

Kipp: So what’s going on with the advertising industry? From the looks of things, it isn’t faring well.

Raad: Everybody is interested in what’s happening to the advertising market, and there are a lot of reports that there is a dramatic drop and the situation is very depressing. And regretfully the people who are supposed to give a better story and a clearer picture are not doing that.

The reality is the advertising market has not been hit as badly as people think. And the facts show a different situation that people are failing to see because they keep looking at it from a very insular angle.

Kipp: Ok. What’s the other angle?

Raad: Globally, experts say that in 2009 the advertising market is going to drop by 16 percent. That’s a lot, but you have to look at it in context. For the past six or seven years, the industry in the MENA region has grown 20 to 25 percent year on year, which was not in line with the rest of the world where growth was following a much slower pace.

So we’ve been following a different pattern because the world was not growing with these percentages. If we look at the UAE alone in the past two years it has been growing by over 40 percent. So even if the markets, suffer we will still be seeing positive growth.

Kipp: But Industry experts have said that the UAE has been hit hard by the crisis.

Raad: Surely. The UAE has been most affected because of the industry’s rapid growth. If you look at it, one of the major contributors to the market was the real estate sector. There was also a lot of activity from the financial sector, including international and local banks operating in this part of the world. If we look at the neighboring markets, the spend of the real estate sector was not in the same proportion. So yes the UAE suffered the most because of that.

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