An apple a day may keep the doctor away but Leo Burnett's philosophy is that an apple a day fuels not only the body, but the mind and the spirit as well. Having graced every Leo Burnett office the world over since the company's founding in the midst of the Great Depression ...

By Ilyas Qureshi

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Published: Fri 6 Aug 2004, 3:49 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:32 AM

in the 1930s, a bowl of the ruddy fruit "symbolises hope and determination in the face of adversity and serves as a reminder for us to never get too comfortable in our work and to remember we're only as good as our last job. We are challenged to always strive to do better in this industry which puts us to the test with every sunrise," says Kamal Dimachkie, managing director, Leo Burnett, Dubai, and Kuwait.

Ask him about the health of the ad industry and like a knowledgeable insider Kamal offers detailed answers encompassing many aspects of his trade. "The industry in the UAE is doing quite well for itself. The sense I get is there has been a 10 per cent to 15 per cent increase in the field this year and I don't see why, with continued stability, this shouldn't continue into the second half of the year. This has been supported by the continued rise of local and regional companies, among them telecoms and their alliances across the region."

Kamal adds: "A number of industries are developing, among them real estate, that are impacting the marketing field. We're seeing a boom in the UAE real estate sector, and the rest of the Gulf is not far behind. We're starting to see countries like Qatar and Bahrain really trying to move to occupy centre stage with their various developments. A place like Saudi Arabia, which has not been as open, is also moving in its own way to develop that industry. This industry will both contribute to these economies and have an impact on the communications and marketing field.

The global advertising industry also is witnessing major change, notes Kamal. "We are seeing more conscious activity on the holding group level in terms of pitching, with companies like Publicis and others looking at the industry and gauging their own scale and areas of competence, evaluating the pros and cons of using each of their different brands and then bringing their entire communications muscle to a particular marketing/communications challenge and delivering all that the group possesses to resolve it. This really makes sense, I suppose, like the commander of an army deciding what part of his forces to use for a given battle and terrain. Ultimately all of his forces fight under one banner."

About the Dubai scene Kamal avers that the emirate is spearheading a trend towards higher standards across the region. "The government is breaking new ground in quality and generally elevating standards, and this is contagious. Now, there is a high demand for quality work and that is haloing on the communications industry through a stronger competitive environment. There is a higher demand on talent in order to keep upgrading standards. Increasingly, the poles of excellence in the region are shifting to Dubai at a swift pace." Kamal is optimistic about the future. "All this is already starting to bear fruit."

Kamal cites as an example, his company's recent holistic communications training programme - a high-energy, three-day training programme held recently by the Leo Burnett Group of Companies, Middle East and North Africa. Participants from the group's Gulf offices including Leo Burnett, MS&L public relations, iLeo digital and CRM learned how to forge creative, strategic, integrated communications offerings that powerfully serve clients' requirements.

"Brands today are best served through the distinct advantage offered by the holistic communications approach, particularly in this region's increasingly sophisticated and fragmented markets. This training reinforces the promise we make to clients that our brand-building work is the rival of work done anywhere in the world," Kamal explained.

And how about freedom of expression in the ad world? Have things become much easier for them? "The UAE is a very balanced environment that allows us to use whatever we need in imagery to drive our message. The advertising industry here has been reasonably self-disciplined in ensuring that we do not rub the local culture or sensibilities the wrong way. I think it's wise to continue in this, particularly because of the tolerance shown to us."

And with a logo like a hand reaching out to the stars, has his company been able to achieve that target? "This is an industry where you can deliver a product, even after going through it several times, and still have the nagging feeling of 'could it be any better Ð for the consumer, for the client, for the brand?' This logo reminds us to aim higher, to try harder, to reach further. The view is that if you reach for the stars, you may not quite get one, but you won't get a handful of mud either," signs off Kamal.

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