MEA’s best marketing campaigns for 2020
For most of 2020, the countries in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region were under strict lockdown measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Consumers stuck at home had forced marketers and advertisers to think outside the box and prioritize their digital channels. MEA’s best marketing campaigns showed more agility than ever, adapting to shifting consumer behavior amid an ongoing health crisis, job market instability, and prolonged times of being indoors.
Naturally, brands leveraged this opportunity to provide their customers with a source of comfort and solace in the form of light-hearted content and emotionally-driven communication. MEA brands, like many around the world, embraced the ‘we are all in this together’ mantra to guide their strategies, localizing to match regional tastes. Let’s take a look at some of last year’s best marketing campaigns in MEA.
Pepsi depended on the element of nostalgia to create its newest ad, featuring one of MENA’s most famous singers Amr Diab. The artist has collaborated with Pepsi on numerous campaigns over the years, which made him the face of the brand for many generations of Arabs.
The ad, which was made to promote Diab’s newest album, reminds Arab viewers of the ‘good old days’, as it features the singer in various stages of his career, together with the Pepsi branding. While hugely successful, the ad went viral, albeit with mixed reactions from the audience.
إعلان عمرو دياب ده بيجي ياخد قلبي ويمشيي🥺— Malak Hamdii✨ (@Malakhamdiii) January 4, 2021
e3lan amr diab x pepsi mor3eb ya3ni ana begad khayfa HAHAHAHAHA— karma (@djbarakotaremix) January 2, 2021
اعلان عمرو دياب عظمه♥️♥️— Donia sayed (@DoniaMo98) January 3, 2021
Many viewers criticized the poor quality of the CGI implemented on Diab’s face, saying that it looked creepy or funny. Looking closely, it appears that the producers used a look-alike model instead of depending on costly post-production with unguaranteed results.
But, looking at the sentiment data, it appears that Pepsi’s newest ad was adored by the majority of viewers across channels. Just look at the amount of heart emojis!
Talkwalker’s Quick Search feature gives you a visual cloud to quickly analyze the major themes surrounding Pepsi’s latest ad with Amr Diab.
Quick Search feature gives you a detailed view into the most-used emojis around your topic.
The ad creates a precedent in the region and has been applauded by many as being innovative, and bold. The Pepsi’s marketing campaign, #حبها_عيشها, is so successful in the MEA region because it engages the audience musically and emotionally without directly pushing any product.
For the launch of its fifth gaming console, PlayStation spared no effort to generate online buzz and hype to promote its highly anticipated next-gen gaming experience for Arab gamers. Building on the astronomical demand for gaming and online entertainment, PlayStation had an advantage over its competition, though was faced with the challenge of communicating its flagship hardware.
To overcome the challenges brought about by the pandemic, PlayStation developed an omni-channel marketing strategy revolving around the games and gamers, with a particular focus on video. Looking deeper into the strategy, we realize that PlayStation tapped into the growing community of Arab video content creators, specifically those who are covering video games.
A view into some of the most influential MEA video creators related to PlayStation during the past year.
While video proved to be a successful tactic to reach the audience en masse, PlayStation took it a step further with stunt marketing, where it filmed a series of adrenaline-filled videos around MEA landmarks like Burj Khalifa in the UAE and AbdelAziz street in Saudi Arabia.
Knowing that Saudi Arabia is ‘the biggest user of YouTube per capita globally’ it comes as no surprise that the biggest share of online conversation has come from the kingdom, followed by Egypt and then the United Arab Emirates.
In fact, due to the major success of the marketing campaign, from the teaser stage all the way to the actual launch, Sony faced the issue of not being able to meet demand. The demand for the console was so high that the brand had to publicly acknowledge the issue and release a statement saying they would only fulfill sales through their online channels. The reason behind that decision came after ‘scalpers’ snagged a huge number of consoles and hiked up the prices.
Luckily the marcomms team at PlayStation acted swiftly to avert the crisis. It goes to show that reputational risk is always around the corner.
Last month, The Marketing Society held its first ever GCC awards ceremony, celebrating the greatest minds and brands that this region has to offer, during which they awarded Emirates Airline the 2020 Brand of the Year Award.
With airplanes grounded and passengers stuck at home, the Emirates Airline marketing team took advantage of this opportunity to boost its overall brand affinity and reinforce the element of trust with passengers.
Rather than solely focusing on the act of traveling, the marketing campaign highlighted Emirates Airlines’ initiatives related to sustainability, diversity and inclusion, and safety. More critically, the cancellation of several flights and reimbursement issues around March could have posed a reputational risk to the global airline, especially during the early stages of the pandemic.
The key element for the success of the marketing campaign was not necessarily its grandiose, but rather its agility and ability to leverage its strong brand recognition and partnerships. For example, one of the most engaging videos during 2020, featuring the Emirates Airlines logo, was posted by Formula 1’s Twitter account.
In addition to that, the Emirates emblem became even more visible with videos related to Arsenal FC, Real Madrid FC, and the Roland-Garros tennis tournament. What makes the Emirates Airline brand so successful is its ability to garner the attention of its community effortlessly and effectively.
This article is far from being an extensive list of all the best marketing campaigns in MEA I loved during the past year. I tried to highlight a few ways that brands have reacted to instability and how data-driven innovation can avert crises. Whether it was the excessive use of memes, cat photos, TikTok dance moves, or sourdough bread recipes, the year 2020 will always be remembered as the year the fourth wall broke and brands started interacting with their audience as equals. We’ll have to wait and see how brands and marketing strategies will adapt in 2021, as streets eventually fill up and people go back to some sense of normalcy.