First virtual REMAP brings disruptive marketing to the forefront PR in the Middle East

MEPRA wrapped up its third REMAP Creative Communications Festival this week, which was held virtually for the first time. Speakers explored the theme ‘Creatively Brave’ and showcased how communicators in the region could push the boundaries and advance the communications practice when it comes to creative strategy for brand campaigns.

Hosted by MEPRA Vice Chair and Hill+Knowlton Strategies METIA Managing Director Lisa Welsh, the event included six in-depth sessions covering creative strategy, behavioural science and digital marketing over two afternoons on 7th & 8th December. Unlike any other MEPRA event, REMAP brings in creatives and digital marketing leaders to inspire communications professionals to integrate new disciplines into their everyday work.

Rory Sutherland, Creative Director, Behavioural Science Lead, author and Vice Chair at Ogilvy UK, delivered a talk on ‘why it’s time to hype up marketing’ and argued that many of today’s problems, which are treated as problems of economic efficiency, are really marketing problems in disguise. Sutherland said:

“In order to make economics mathematically neat it makes assumptions about consumer behaviour which are fundamentally untrue. Businesses tend to use economics as the model by which they proceed because economics makes consumer behaviour look like an engineering problem, but consumer behaviour isn’t remotely like an engineering problem.”

“You could be throwing away millions if you don’t understand behavioural science. Behavioural science allows you to create magic. Marketers are essentially in the business of magic and we are dealing with hardcore rationalists in the rest of the organisation,” he said.

Global Chief Innovation Officer, Roy Armale focused his session on how we use technology to understand and connect with people as they decide on when and what to buy. Armale said:

“There are specific moments within your general consumption process that affect what you’re going to purchase disproportionally. It’s technology’s job to identify the moments that matter and capitalise on the moments that matter to inform us on how and when to sell. If you're not selling the way people are buying then you may as well not be selling at all.”

Vishal Badiani, Creative Strategy Lead for Middle East & North Africa, Snap Inc, discussed how the region’s young and highly creative population are pushing the boundaries when it comes to engaging consumers through organic and sponsored AR experiences with Snapchat. Badiani said:

“Whenever a new technology such as AR is utilised at such a mass scale there’s a unique opportunity for brands to rethink their strategies adding depth and dimension to their storytelling. People use AR on a daily basis, sometimes without even knowing it. It’s a blank canvas available to everyone to mark special moments and brands must be responsive to that.”

Continuing on the theme of immersive storytelling, Andrew Elia, Managing Director of the AR and VR agency Arishi showcased how AR and VR campaigns lead to the most effective and engaging form of content for consumers. Andrew said:

“Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of immersive technologies because during a sales process if you can’t show what you’re selling and allow people to interact with the product it becomes challenging. If you can mimic that experience in a virtual space you stand a much better chance in making the sale than saying ‘here’s my website’. VR and AR has immense capacity to revolutionise the way brands market their products and services especially in this current environment.”

MEPRA partner, YouGov MENA launched an original piece of research which examined what consumers in the Middle East want to hear from brands and also revealed its new audience segmentation and planning tool, YouGov Profiles. YouGov MENA, Associate Director, Imran Ahmed said:

“We now have access to insight gathering tools which can better inform us on an audience’s likes, dislikes and beliefs that are all shaping consumption behaviour, and the best way to interact with. The exploratory nature of a tool like YouGov Profiles allows us to help uncover deeper and richer profiles of customers well beyond standard demographics that we’re used to.”

The 2020 Virtual REMAP Festival is supported by corporate and agency partners including, Acorn Strategy, Brazen MENA, CARMA, Emirates Global Aluminium, Emirates Water and Electricity Company, Hanover Middle East, Hill+Knowlton Strategies, Travelport, Nunify Networks Unified, Mubadala Investment Company and YouGov MENA and Zayed University.