Creative Commons Spurring Arab-Originated Digital Content

By: Abdulhadi Hafez

If you are an agency (creative, advertising or digital), publisher, blogger, artist, or you want to do any of the following, then Creative Commons is for you.

  • Let people share and use your branded visuals (photos, videos, graphics, etc.), but not allow companies to sell them.
  • Encourage readers to re-publish your branded content (blog posts, articles, press releases, etc.) as long as they give you credit.

Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that aims to enable the sharing and use of creativity and content through free and easy-to-use copyright licenses. Here’s a video to feed your visual urge and to give you a better idea of the concept.

With the ever-growing popularity and need for branded digital content and entertainment, protecting such work has become even more important seeing that it is so easy to copy and paste other people’s creative work.

Fortunately enough, we’re now starting to see this become more active in the Middle East, especially seeing that Creative Commons Qatar just celebrated their first year anniversary. Creative Commons Qatar has become an affiliate partner in order to help spur and protect arab-originated digital content. Check out the video they recently created:

Great job Qatar! Arab countries such as UAE, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Egypt have also joined the affiliate network. We hope to see more Arab countries become official affiliates especially Kuwait seeing that we’re based (or should we say ‘biased’?) there and all.

As you may have noticed from the video these licenses do not in any way conflict with nor replace copyright. Rather they work alongside with them to allow for greater protection and flexibility in the sharing and usage of creative work. Here’s a  list of the licenses that Creative Commons offers (compiled by the Australia Affiliate.)

The Best of the 2012 Arabian Social Media Kuwait Conference

By: Abdulhadi Hafez

Yesterday we blogged about our 1st Day at the 2012 Arabian Social Media Kuwait Conference and today we had even more fun at the event. Yes, that’s me on the right (the short guy!) representing Raad Afyouni Advertising Agency.

And next to me is Mr. Mathew Batarse, the Director of the Social Media Club in Kuwait (a non-profit organization that facilitates social connections and collaborations), which he convinced us to become an official member of (and we’re happy to!)

During his presentation, Mr. Mathew kindly shared some really interesting facts and insights on social media and on how some of the best companies are utilizing it to reach and connect with their customers in an engaging, practical, but more importantly, non-salesy way.

For example, Gigaset’s neat little “Talk to the bird” Facebook campaign. What did Gigaset do to get people more engaged on Facebook? Well I can describe it to you, but I don’t want to bore you to death so I encourage you to watch the above video to get your daily creative inspiration intake.

You know what Gigaset did, was humanize their brand and with a non-salesy and storytelling way of delivering a marketing message, even though they used a Parrot to do so (I know, how ironic!) You know what? Two previous articles we wrote that relate to these topics come to mind, How the Heck do I Humanize my Social Media Brand?, and The Future of Advertising: Effective Storytelling (6 Tips), in case you’re interested in getting some further inspiration.

One other speaker we were inspired by was delivered by Mr. Khalid Al-Zanki, who has recently founded The Media Boss, whose mission is to educate, empower, entertain and inspire people by spreading knowledge of marketing and technology.

Khalid Al-Zanki was also responsible for bringing the best-selling author and world-famous social media commentator, Gary Vaynerchuk to speak at the Crush it Seminar in Kuwait, which received quite some publicity from the media, namely Al-Watan TV as you can see from the above YouTube video.

The biggest takeaway from Khalid’s presentations and from others as well, is to sit and plan your social media strategy before you launch. Of course content is king, but one key finding is that only 20% of your content should be promotional while 80% should be entertaining and/or educational. Here’s an example of the 80% type of content that not only educates and entertains (through comedy) but shows the importance of Digital Marketing Strategy as well.

1st Day at the 2012 Arabian Social Media Kuwait Conference

By: Abdulhadi Hafez

It’s fortunate enough that we were able to start the day off with a caffeine fix to help us last through the information overload that we received during the workshops. In case you missed it, we wrote an article on how Kuwait is to Host the 2012 Arabian Social Media Conference, and today was the first part of the 2-day conference.

The presentation that we enjoyed the most was one that was delivered by Mr. Patrick Attallah, Founder & CEO of Social4ce who enlightened us with a great presentation on how social businesses need to find and engage with communities online more effectively and utilize social graphs to better reach each target audience.

Another presentation we enjoyed was the one that was delivered by Mr. Ziad Rahal of none other than the famous Yahoo, which is making quite of an impact in the Middle East by focusing on Arabic content development by purchasing “Maktoob”, an Arabic Internet Service Company.

We look forward to the the 2nd day of the conference tomorrow and at the end of it we will make sure to write some blog posts providing lessons and takeaways drawn out of the event. Stay tuned!

Middle East: 20% Trust Online Sources More than Traditional Media

By: Abdulhadi Hafez

You’ve heard this before I’m sure, that traditional media and advertising is on the decline after the advent of social media and online advertising. We’ve heard this from many experts such Larry Weber in his book, “Marketing to the Social Web”, where he cites studies that reveal that only 18% of people now trust advertisements.

To add to that, Nielsen came out with a study that suggests that 70% of people trust the opinions of complete strangers online, so imagine how much they trust the opinions of their fiends posted on social media sites!

These kinds of studies however are mostly conducted in the west (mostly US and UK), but now we finally have one that focuses on the MENA region, giving us a better insight on the media industry in the Middle East.

YouGov recently surveyed 30,000 adults in the MENA region to give us a better insight of the use of social media and digital media devices with the following findings:

  • 1 in 5 now trust online sources more than traditional media
  • 45% of respondents access digital media using mobile phones
  • 47% use the Internet to surf for new TV shows

And don’t expect any of those numbers to go down, especially in light of the fact that the MENA is still the growth stage when it comes to online and social media adoption, and has not reached near-maturity stages like Western regions have.

As for Kuwait, the numbers are impressive when you take a look at the study conducted by the Dubai School of Government in their Arab Social Media Report, where it was revealed that Kuwait scored in the top 5 regions for the following categories:

  • New Facebook Users In the Arab Region and Globally as % of Population
  • Number of Active Twitter Users in the Arab Region
  • Twitter penetration as a percentage of population
  • Number of Tweets in the Arab Region
It’s no surprise that 75% of companies now are using Twitter as a marketing tool, seeing that consumer behavior is switching to online and is drastically being affected by online media as opposed to the declining traditional media.

Much-Needed Ad in Middle East: To Fight Bullying, Corruption, & Greed

By: Abdulhadi Hafez

Ad Week labelled this video as “ad of the day” but after viewing the video ourselves, we think it should have been called ad of the year, especially after all of the turmoil that occurred in 2011.

The turmoil that took place this year was fueled mostly by greed and corruption, and what helps overcome those two evils: kindness and fairness. And this is exactly what this video tries to portray, how small acts of kindness can help cure a troubled world. Have a peek at the video ad yourself:

The video was produced by Life Vest Inside, a NYC nonprofit whose goal is to encourage the spreading of happiness through small acts of kindness—as a way of combating bullying and teen depression.

We think advertising agencies, especially those in the Middle East after our recent Arab Spring, have a lot to learn from this video so we could start producing inspirational videos alike, to help spread small acts of kindness in the hope that it snowballs into something greater than ourselves to bring about a revolution of positive influence and change.

A Creative Marketing Stunt in Kuwait: The Red Bull Art of Motion

We could say this is an example of a PR campaign, executed by the world-famous Red Bull, but I would say it is more of a guerrilla marketing stunt, a creative one that is!

Red Bull invited some of the top Parkour athletes to partake in this year’s Red Bull’s Art of Motion contest by showing off their moves throughout the streets and even islands, of Kuwait.

Check it out (of course you seen it coming), here’s a YouTube video of the event:

This is not your traditional advertising, but rather is more of a guerilla marketing stunt, which is defined by Wikipedia as: “The concept of guerrilla marketing was invented as an unconventional system of promotions that relies on time, energy and imagination.”

There’s plenty of energy and imagination tied into what Red Bull is doing with this event, especially when you have harmonic teenagers doing flips throughout the streets of Kuwait.

The Internet Show: “The Middle East’s Only Internet Business Event”

Terrapinn, an event planning and training company, is once again offering the Internet Show in Dubai. In the Social Media frenzy world and information age we are living in nowadays, especially after the social media ignited Arab Spring, many companies in the Middle East are flocking to attend such events so they can fully utilize the power of the Internet. 

Here is an excerpt taken from their Website describing the show for us: “The Internet Show is the only internet business event in the region. It focuses on everything any business needs to know to create and manage an online business, effectively move an existing business online & promote your business online. It brings together Big, Medium and Small business and government, all eager to find new ways of doing internet business. It is a business, not technology show.”

They are offering exhbitors and participants the opportunity to engage ideas, solutions and products in:

  • Digital advertising and marketing
  • Web 2.0 and social networking
  • E-commerce and payments
  • Content management and streaming
  • Hosting and infrastructure 

The event is going to be held in Dubai, UAE on April 17-18th, 2012. You can find out more about it at www.internetshow.ae.

Middle East: A Business Hub for Big Investments in 2012!

Despite the unrest seen from the recent Arab Spring, the IMF predicts a 4% growth rate for the whole Middle East region in 2012 and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries could even see a striking 7% growth rate, which is good news for us here in Kuwait!

It’s also good news for the advertising industry in the Middle East, because where there’s business, there’s advertising. A study done by Harvard shows that two activities businesses cannot afford to cut back on: employee training and marketing!

Another piece of good news is that Coca-Cola announced a nearly $1 billion investment in Aujan Industries, the region’s largest juice, fruit drinks and cordials company. Here’s their comment on the deal: “It’s the largest fast-moving consumer goods deal in Middle East history and our partnership will give Coke a majority stake in the juice portfolio in the Middle East and a minority stake in Aujan’s bottling operations.”

Let’s hope we see more of these types of investments to help improve the Middle East’s economical outlook, especially for the advertising industry in Kuwait (we’re usually selfless but we have to look out for our own self-interests sometimes as well ;)

Twitter Receives $300m from Saudi’s Prince, Alwaleed Bin Talal

It’s no surprise that Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal has invested $300m in the ever-popular Twitter for two reasons:

1) He’s got bags of money seeing that he tops the Arabian Business Rich List with $21.3bn as the chairman of Saudi Arabia’s Kingdom Holding Company (KHC).

2) Twitter has become extremely popular in Saudi Arabia and according to IQPC, Saudi Arabia has seen a 240% increase in their number of Twitter users in 2010!

On top of that, according to the Arab Social Media Report by the Dubai School of Government, Saudi Arabia has the 3rd most Twitter users in the Middle East.

In an emailed statement KHC stated: “Our investment in Twitter reaffirms our ability in identifying suitable opportunities to invest in promising, high-growth businesses with a global impact.”   

Prince Alwaleed already has stakes in successful companies such as Apple Inc, and given the emerging popularity of the two companies (Apple and Twitter) in the Middle East, I think his company has made a strategically smart move.