Tarek Miknas: 'Dubai has become a global center of excellence'
Posted on 2023 Jul,17  | By Ghada Azzi

Listen to the article

Tarek Miknas, CEO of FP7 McCann MENAT, shares his perspective on the current state of the advertising industry in Dubai. Miknas asserts that the industry in Dubai has reached a level of maturity that positions it as one of the global centers of excellence, and expresses his desire for the industry to collaborate more cohesively and work toward a common goal.

How has the advertising industry in Dubai evolved over the past decade, and how would you describe the current general ad business mood?

In the past decade, the advertising industry has undergone substantial changes and advancements, rivaling the progress made over the course of an entire century. Technological advancements, the emergence of new platforms, and social media tools have significantly altered consumer behavior, establishing a new normal. With attention spans dwindling to unprecedented levels, advertisers find themselves in a race to capture eyeballs, likes, and ultimately, conversions. However, the more aggressively we pursue consumers, the quicker they become adept at blocking out our messages.

To succeed in this environment, we must earn people's attention by engaging with them on their preferred platforms in a non-intrusive manner. This entails delivering personalized, meaningful, and targeted messaging that resonates with consumers at key moments in their journey. Creativity stands as our primary tool for achieving this goal. Without the ability to captivate audiences through inventive storytelling, we will fail to influence their attitudes and behaviors.

Our second tool is purpose. Today's generation, while enthusiastic about brands, exhibits a strong aversion to feeling "sold to" compared to previous generations. The moment a brand appears solely self-serving, prioritizing its stock price and shareholder value, this generation disengages. Their actions, such as double-clicking Apple Pay, will instead support brands that prioritize serving people or the planet.

While these challenges are not unique to Dubai, they reflect the evolution of our industry. Dubai has matured to become one of the global centers of excellence, where we can engage in discussions about the shared challenges faced by brands and advertisers in London or New York. Today, we are on par with the quality of our work and the caliber of our talent.


“I’d love for us, as an industry, to be able to set standards together and have a stronger unified voice.”


What are some of the biggest challenges facing advertisers in Dubai today, and how do you think these challenges can be overcome?

Let's begin with the challenges that are common to mature global markets. Firstly, there is an oversaturation of agencies, including multinationals, local independents, generalist agencies, specialist agencies, and in-house agencies, along with an abundance of freelance talent willing to support all of these options. This situation creates a race to the bottom in terms of pricing and profitability.

In addition to these challenges, there is a distinct regional issue that I have come to recognize: a lack of industry cohesion or camaraderie. Our culture tends to prioritize weaker competitors over fostering a stronger industry, and we often go to great lengths to secure victory, even if it comes at the expense of agencies rather than benefiting advertisers.          


How do you ensure that your agency remains at the forefront of innovation in Dubai's competitive advertising landscape?

By continuously enhancing our capabilities, staying abreast of technology and platform trends, and prioritizing the ongoing development of talent at all levels, we strive to excel in the advertising industry. As part of the larger holding company, MCN, we have the advantage of accessing extensive knowledge, skills, and specialized expertise, which greatly facilitates our ability to deliver exceptional results. We leverage the expertise of senior talent across our diverse range of agencies and share valuable insights throughout our network.

Interestingly, our agencies' collaboration goes beyond mere training programs. When working together on actual projects for mutual clients or during pitches for common opportunities, our teams actively and seamlessly collaborate, enabling our staff to learn from one another in a more practical and profound manner.


If there is one thing you can change in the way advertising business is led in Dubai, what would it be?

I’d love for us, as an industry, to be able to set standards together and have a stronger unified voice.