27 May 2024 11:42

Meet the Leader

Spencer Moody, Regional Strategy Director – Initiative UAE

“Digital media is huge in the region and will continue to grow. Advertisers have already begun shifting more of their marketing dollars from offline to online and rightfully so. Our offline media partners are investing heavily in their online capabilities in order to effectively reach audiences and secure advertising budgets that would otherwise be lost.” Said Spencer Moody, Regional Strategy Director – Initiative UAE in an interview with MediAvataar MENA.

Here’s the complete Q&A with him……

 MediAvataarME: Initiative’s M&M nominations have already picked up major marketing awards. Please tell us more about the nominations and wins.

Spencer: Initiative MENA’s entries for the 2013/14 awards season certainly bore fruit, with the agency scooping a combined total of 16 awards and 41 shortlists in prestigious festivals throughout the region and across the globe. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for a positive outcome for the campaigns we are shortlisted for at the M&M Global Awards. Our nominated campaign for KFC Arabia, ‘Kintacky!,’ has already won two Bronzes at Dubai Lynx, a Bronze at The Internationalist Awards for Innovation in Media, and a Bronze at the MENA Digital Awards.  Etisalat, ‘Two Locals Fighting in a Cinema,’ won a Silver at Dubai Lynx and our Carefree campaign won a Gold at The Internationalist Awards for Innovation in Media, a Gold at the Global Festival of Media Awards and an Effie MENA Jury Commendation. We are proud of our clients and our Initiative teams who have together secured such fantastic results.

 MediAvataarME: What Middle East market trends over the last year do you think will progress marketing in the region?

Spencer: The Middle East has developed into a region that has among the highest video consumption rates in the world. This trend will continue to build as great new content is produced. It used to be that the best video content was found primarily in cinemas, but TV networks have upped their game, and great content can also be found online which captivates audiences within the region and around the globe.  At Initiative, we find video to be such an important trend that we’ve dedicated our next Initiative Talks event to be themed around the concept that ‘Video is King.’ We’ll be using the event to talk with clients and partners about the importance of video and to discuss how to best leverage the format it in the region, now and in the future.

MediAvataarME: How are digital communications and mobile penetration rates in the Middle East affecting simplicity in marketing? Does it not add layers of complexity?

Spencer: It depends how you look at it. Digital and mobile platforms have definitely contributed to more fragmented audiences, as there are now a greater number of options than ever before to consume content.  So in that sense, it may seem complex to try and reach millions of people with different consumption habits. But in other ways, it’s become much easier because we have data that helps us reach audiences more effectively and more efficiently.    Agencies that have proper automation systems and analytics teams in place are able to use the data to simplify and optimise procedures in what would otherwise be a very complex ecosystem.

MediAvataarME: How do you think digital media is expanding in the region? What is the future?

Spencer: Digital media is huge in the region and will continue to grow. Advertisers have already begun shifting more of their marketing dollars from offline to online and rightfully so. Our offline media partners are investing heavily in their online capabilities in order to effectively reach audiences and secure advertising budgets that would otherwise be lost.

MediAvataarME: How do you use marketing to ensure brand loyalty in such a fragmented market?

Spencer: Brand loyalty starts with a great product, but it’s not always enough. Great marketers understand their consumers from the inside out… what motivates them, what makes them tick and what is the best way to engage with them. We’re constantly looking for strong insights so that we can enhance our interactions with them. It’s no longer enough to push advertising messages at them – we need to engage with them as people and on their terms.

MediAvataarME: What is the main challenge to marketing to such a fickle demographic as the youth?

Spencer: Initiative has just completed a global study on Millennials, the generation born between the mid-1980s and the early 2000′s. Millennials are no longer kids, they’re 25-35 year olds, but some of the same challenges apply and are even amplified for younger audiences. For example, these generations are digitally mature and the way they’re using digital/social/mobile is a good indicator of how marketing must evolve.

MediAvataarME: What about the future?

Spencer: What’s big now is going to seem passé in the future. For example, when Apple introduced the iPhone, it was a game changer in terms of setting new benchmarks for smartphones.  Mobile will continue to grow and evolve beyond what any of us can imagine today. We have to keep our eyes peeled for the next big thing, take risks and test and learn quickly to keep pace with change.

MediAvataarME: What will the industry look in 10 years’ time?

Spencer: We will see a great deal more automation as we learn to mine data more quickly and efficiently. But this will never replace human brain power. We will always need analysts and strategists to make sense of the findings and to determine how best to reach out to and engage with consumers.

MediAvataarME: Which are the campaigns by your agency or other-you think have redesigned the way marketers should think?

Spencer: We’ve learned to listen to what’s happening in the region and to respond to opportunities in real time that can help our clients. Our ‘Kintacky! case for KFC Arabia’ is a classic example of that. As a key sponsor of the hit show Arab Idol, celebrity judge Ahlam Al Shamsi surprised us all in the middle of a live broadcast by demanding KFC to be delivered to her then and there. We had teams in place to not only make sure buckets of chicken were sent over, but to exploit the situation and broadcast it across the web. We fuelled over 17 million views of Ahlam’s KFC outburst via YouTube, user generated posts, memes, and images – coverage that was valued at approximately $850,000.

MediAvataarME: Please tell us more about Initiative’s existing clients and the work in the pipeline.

Spencer: Initiative has the best client partners in the world. We are constantly challenging each other to push boundaries and do more. We have some interesting work in the pipeline for Americana, which relates to their KFC and Hardees brands. We also have a couple of exciting projects for their packaged foods division, which unfortunately I can’t yet comment on. Our telecommunications clients, Etisalat and Mobily, are also doing some really cool stuff, primarily on social where we are engaging with audiences on Twitter to explain and promote loyalty programmes and to instill national pride. Expect to see more details with this year’s Effies submissions in September. Finally, one of my favourite cases involves work with Rabea Tea and online gaming in Saudi Arabia. Again, we will reveal full details during this year’s Effie submissions.


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