Being in the right geography and a bit of luck can go a long way for the region’s advertising industry. Ghassan Harfouche, Group CEO at the multi-agency network MCN, sure believes this is the case.

“I believe that the emerging markets, especially the Middle East, will play a major role in the global growth of the advertising industry — we are still lucky to witness an average growth of 5 per cent this year while Europe is struggling and the US market is still trying to recover,” said Harfouche in an interview to Gulf News.

“The potential of the

[ad sector] in the UAE is seen as markedly higher and the Egyptian market — in spite of its instability — is still showing some good signs of growth. As for Saudi Arabia, it will continue to grow organically in a steady manner.”

The region’s ad industry will not have any quibbles with this prognosis — except for Lebanon ad spend in all of the other key markets are clocking a steady clip. All of which are several growth levels removed from the prevailing sentiments in geographies elsewhere.

“The Mena region is still driving growth globally and remains a region of positivity to the rest of the world,” said Harfouche.

Certainly, this sentiment was enough of a cue for MCN to reinvigorate its recruitment policy. “This year we increased our head count because we’re creating new capabilities that are necessary to elevate our products to meet the challenges of the future,” said Harfouche.

“We’re preparing the MCN Group to integrate technology into our business… this definitely is a sign of our belief in the industry and its future.

“During the last two years we substantially increased our hiring activity in the digital sphere and upgraded our offering to embed digital and understand it better. Additionally, we created a digital ecosystem that allows us to deliver a better product.

“Today we are more than equipped to deliver search solutions, real-time bidding solutions and can integrate, correlate and analyse data for the purpose of optimising the results for clients.”

MCN itself is a conglomeration of multiple agencies and operational roles. But isn’t it kind of difficult to get all of the strands to pull together at the same time? “MCN is the parent company for a number of operating brands that offer a large spectrum of communication solutions to our clients,” the CEO said. “Because of this platform we are able to drive value since it allows us to work more closely together to deliver an integrated product. It all comes back to the structure: in order to deliver integrated solutions, we have the structure that facilitates this and can incentivise our talent to deliver an integrated product to our clients.”

  • By Manoj Nair, Associate Editor, Gulf News, Dubai
  • Published: 13:03 June 26, 2013
  • Gulf News