Najib Sabbagh: ‘Saudi Arabia, a dynamic canvas for creativity’
Posted on 2024 Jan,08

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Creative agency Sunny Side Up (SSUP) has only recently set foot in Saudi Arabia with the aim to cater to the demands of its local and international clients in the Kingdom. This expansion is a response to the increasing demand for creative services and the need to provide localised support to clients in the Kingdom. CEO Najib Sabbagh shares his outlook.

How would you describe the current general ad business mood in Saudi Arabia?

The business climate in KSA is notably vibrant, marked by a healthy equilibrium where demand scales are significantly high, keeping businesses alert to the importance of maintaining a positive image. This rising demand fosters a highly optimistic outlook, as companies strive to meet market expectations without compromising quality.


How do you maintain a competitive edge in such a dynamic market?

The influx of competitors in our industry is both a challenge and an opportunity. It pushes us to continuously innovate and elevate our services. We maintain our competitive edge by focusing on our unique strengths – our deep understanding of local market nuances, our commitment to creative excellence, and our ability to forge strong, personal connections with our clients. In this dynamic market, we emphasize agility and adaptability, ensuring that we are always ahead of industry trends and ready to meet the evolving needs of our clients with fresh, impactful solutions.


What specific struggles or challenges are unique to the Saudi market?

Navigating the industry in this region requires a keen understanding of local culture and adherence to specific regulations. However, the rapid adoption of digital technologies is truly exciting. It provides a dynamic canvas for creativity, demanding that our strategies are not only innovative but also culturally attuned and compliant with local norms.


And what is its most interesting aspect?   

What's particularly fascinating is the swift embrace of digital mediums by the Saudi population, akin to watching a city skyline rapidly evolve. Our role in this transformation is to craft stories that connect with diverse audiences, offering us unique opportunities for creativity and innovation. This enables us to significantly influence the narrative and engage with a wide-ranging audience.


“Agencies need to prioritize hiring local talent who bring essential insights into the cultural and consumer landscape.”


What do you think agencies need the most to succeed in a market like Saudi Arabia? 

To succeed in a market like Saudi Arabia, agencies need to prioritize hiring local talent who bring essential insights into the cultural and consumer landscape. Agility is also key – the ability to learn quickly and adapt to changing market dynamics. Additionally, agencies must cultivate the discipline to say 'no' when necessary, avoiding the pitfalls of overcommitment or greed. This balance of local expertise, adaptability, and strategic decision-making is crucial for thriving in the dynamic Saudi market.


What in your opinion Saudi advertising is still lacking? 

Saudi advertising still has room to grow in terms of diversification and inclusivity. While there has been progress, the industry can further embrace a wider range of voices and perspectives, reflecting the diverse experiences and backgrounds of the Saudi population. Additionally, there is potential for more innovative use of technology and digital platforms, pushing the boundaries of traditional advertising to create more engaging, interactive experiences for consumers. This evolution would not only enrich the advertising landscape but also resonate more deeply with a diverse and technologically savvy audience.


What role do you see your agency playing in the overall Saudi Vision 2030? 

SSUP aims to play a pivotal role in supporting Saudi Vision 2030 by contributing innovation and creativity in the advertising sector. We focus on creating narratives that not only resonate with local and global audiences but also align with the Vision's goals of economic diversification and cultural openness. By harnessing the power of digital media and embracing the rich cultural heritage of Saudi Arabia, we strive to contribute to the nation's narrative, promoting a modern, dynamic image both locally and internationally. Our commitment is to be at the forefront of this transformation, shaping a vibrant, diverse advertising ecosystem that reflects and supports the ambitious objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.