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Interview: Taufic Zeidan

Interview: Taufic Zeidan

Not many beverages can out pace the mighty Red Bull, but Power Horse can. Taufic Zeidan, the man with the marketing muscle, 
talks to Alex Malouf in Riyadh.

August 1, 2011 12:06 by

2006 onwards.

“We’ve launched a number of viral marketing campaigns, including one in 2008 for the launch of Holsten’s pomegranate-flavour beer. One million people participated in that campaign in two months.

“We actually ended up with an award from Carlsberg for the best viral campaign globally among 500 partners for our microsite.

“We attracted more than one million visitors during the summer of 2009, with 600,000 unique users, who spent, on average, more than two minutes on the site. On average each visitor shared the site with six of his friends over the summer period following the site’s launch.”

Zeidan works with a number of agencies. On the branding side he has used the Brand Union. For advertising he uses Riyadh-based Blindspot, as well as JWT and Saatchi & Saatchi. TBWA/RAAD acts as Holsten’s Middle East advertising agency following its appointment a year and a half ago. Zeidan’s preferred brand activation agency is DMI, while the online agencies he uses are Dimensions and RMG Connect.

HWB’s marketing team has pioneered online marketing, including the use of microsites and social media. Zeidan is blunt when it comes to the advantages of spending on the internet.

“The ROI from online media is much faster and much more cost effective than traditional advertising. Your target audience will Facebook it with their friends, they’ll tweet about what you’re doing. It’s a snowball effect, which will only gather pace over time.”
While he describes himself as easy-going, Zeidan certainly has a passion for his brands. Under his management, HWB has built up resources that are used to develop branding in-house. One example is the latest logo for Nova Water.

“This new logo was done in-house by our designer. If you do this anywhere outside you’d be paying tens of thousands of dollars. What we have done has cost us very little. And yet I sell the most expensive water, the most expensive beer, and the most expensive energy drink. I like the challenge of convincing people that there is value for money in the brands we sell.”

Zeidan’s brands have also led the way in terms of sports marketing. While Holsten is known globally as a brand that sponsors sports such as football, HWB has used activation tactics locally to build brand equity among young Saudi and non-Saudi adults.

“Our focus is on sport, on football in particular. I’d go so far as to say that football is the only sport I’d recommend supporting and sponsoring. If you see the figures of Saudis and non-Saudis watching the Spanish and English league, it’s huge. We use these evening gatherings to promote Holsten. Our teams go to the beaches, to shisha cafés and other locations where people gather to watch football to pass out samples and market our range of flavours.

“You have to remember that the Saudi market is all about flavours. Beer is a social lubricant and it’s a beverage that is very much in a growth phase here in Saudi. Even FMCGs are launching beer brands in Saudi Arabia as they see the opportunity to do volume business. When you see this happening you know that you’re in the right business.”

Having overseen the company’s marketing for 10 years, Zeidan’s thirst for the business is unquenched. HWB has several new product launches in the pipeline that he believes will shake up the beverages market. Far from being deterred by the increasing numbers of new brands in the bottled water and beverages market, Zeidan, it seems, is up for a fight. 
“I am a person who likes challenges. I enjoy working in HWB as the decision-making process is fast. I don’t procrastinate, I want my brands to be first-movers.”

This interview was first published in GMR (Gulf Marketing Review)

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