October 2019

ASDA’A BCW cements position as Middle East’s leading PR firm with second PR Agency of the Year title in 2019

Consultancy celebrates record 29 awards at International Business Awards 2019

Haul includes 7 Gold ‘Stevies’ for work created for UNHCR, Ford, Network International, Arab Youth Survey

ASDA’A BCW has cemented its place as the leading PR consultancy in the region by winning PR Agency of the Year – Middle East and Africa, at the International Business Awards, its second big win in 2019 after being named Middle East Consultancy of the Year at The Holmes Report EMEA Sabres in May.

The agency won a record 29 International Business Awards – known as ‘Stevies’ : 7 Golds, 10 Silvers, and 11 Bronze medals in the PR Category, including a Gold for PR Agency of the Year for Middle East & Africa, and a special ‘Grand Stevie’ for ranking third among the ‘Top 10 Honoured Organizations’ globally.

‘Reaching out to Refugees’, the UNHCR Refugee Zakat Program, won two Gold Stevies, for being the PR Campaign of the Year in the ‘Multicultural’ and ‘Public Service’ categories, along with three Silver Stevies in the ‘Community Engagement’, ‘Global Issues’ and ‘Non-Profit or Charity’ categories.

Ford Middle East’s non-profit campaign ‘Warriors in Pink’, which focused on spreading awareness for breast cancer among Arab women and creating a community which would serve cancer survivors and fighters, won Gold for ‘Public Service’, a Silver in ‘Healthcare’ and two Bronze Stevies for ‘Community Engagement’ and ‘Influencer Management’.

The 11th Annual Arab Youth Survey was awarded a Gold for ‘PR Campaign of the Year focused on Global Issues’ for the 2019 edition, ‘A Call for Reform’. The Agency’s pioneering thought leadership initiative also took home six Silver awards, for ‘Corporate Responsibility’, ‘Events & Observances’, ‘Integration of Traditional and New Media’, ‘Media Relations’, ‘Public Service’ and for ‘Best White Paper or Research Report’.

The landmark campaign conducted for the IPO of Network International took a Gold Stevie for ‘Financial Services & Investor Relations’ and two Bronze medals for ‘Media Relations’ and ‘Corporate Communications’.

Projects by ASDA’A BCW that earned Bronze Stevies include the #LivingWithEczema awareness campaign by Sanofi; the launch of KitKat Ruby at Sole DXB; and Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan Island’s New Year’s Eve Fireworks on the night of New Year 2018-2019.

The International Business Awards are the world’s premier business awards programme, with the 2019 edition receiving 4,000 entries from 74 nations.

Sunil John, Founder of ASDA’A BCW & President, BCW Middle East, said: “The record number of wins at the 2019 International Business Awards is a testament to the dedication of our team and continued trust of our esteemed clients. Our teams throughout the region are proud to uphold and raise the bar for excellence with our work for all our clients. We are delighted to have our hard work and persistence be recognized on an international platform.”

The Grand Stevies are awarded based on a points system, with a Gold Stevie win counting for three points, a Silver Stevie win for two points, and a Bronze Stevie win for 1.5 points. ASDA’A BCW was ranked third in the ‘Top 10 Honoured Organizations’ with an impressive total of 59.5 award points.

This year’s International Business Awards ceremony and gala dinner took place at the Andaz Vienna am Belvedere Hotel in Vienna, Austria on Saturday, October 19, 2019.

Nine in Ten Young Arabs Concerned About Unemployment, 11th Arab Youth Survey 2019 shows

An overwhelming 89 percent of young Arabs expressed concern about levels of unemployment in their countries, according to a new finding from the 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey, unveiled at an event organized by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) during the IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington, DC today.

The event, “Youth Aspirations in the Middle East and North Africa,” was moderated by Brian Cheung, a reporter with Yahoo Finance, and featured a presentation of key findings from this year’s Survey – now in its 11th annual edition – by Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW, and President, Middle East, BCW, which included new data about young Arabs’ concerns over their careers.

Joining John on the panel were Her Excellency Sahar Nasr, Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Jihad Azour, Director, IMF Middle East and Central Asia and Syrine Chaalala, co-Founder and Managing Director, nextProtein.

As the largest demographic group of the Middle East and North Africa region, many Arab youth face severe hurdles joining the labour force, with World Bank research[1] indicating 30 percent of 18-24 year olds are out of work in the Middle East and North Africa – the highest unemployment rate in the world. The 11th Arab Youth Survey shows that the rising cost of living and unemployment are the top two concerns among Arab youth but indicates a marked divide in opportunity between young Arabs living in the oil-rich Gulf states and their peers elsewhere, especially when it comes to expectations of their governments to address issues that matter to young people.

For example, while 97 percent of youth in UAE are confident their national government has the capacity to battle rising unemployment, 80 percent of youth in Iraq have no confidence in their governments to do the same.

Young Arabs in the wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states also look to their governments as a source of employment. Seven in 10 (69 percent) of youth in the GCC want to work in the public sector – while those elsewhere are more amenable to private sector jobs, with just four in 10 youth in North Africa (40 percent) and the Levant (39 percent) preferring government jobs.

Presenting these findings to the panel, Sunil John said, “As a developing region with some of the fastest growing economies in the world, Arab youth cannot afford to be left behind. Now, more than ever, the region’s young people require the support of their governments if they are to realise their potential and take up the productive, fulfilling and rewarding careers which are needed to drive the economies of the region to greater heights.”

Addressing the audience at the event, John said, “We are privileged to present our research at the prestigious IMF and World Bank Annual Meetings, and to share actionable insights with international governments and other decision makers. The Arab Youth Survey is for a platform for dialogue and I hope that the dialogue we spark today can be the basis of policies and actions that can help change the future for Arab youth.”

The International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group Annual Meetings bring together financial experts, government representatives, private sector executives, academics and other civil society organisation representatives to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook, poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

The Arab Youth Survey is the largest study of its kind into the region’s largest demographic: its youth. Every year, ASDA’A BCW generates evidence-based insights that provide governments, the private sector, media and civil society with critical information and analysis to inform decision-making and policy formation and build greater awareness of Arab youth.

The full survey data is available at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.



[1] International Labour Organization, ILOSTAT database, “Unemployment, youth total (% of total labour force ages 15-24) (modelled ILO estimate)”. Data retrieved in September 2019 by The World Bank

ASDA’A BCW makes strategic hires for subsidiary companies Proof Communications and PSB

Leading Middle East PR agency ASDA’A BCW has increased its expertise with two new strategic hires for its subsidiary companies Proof Communications, the digital, data and design specialist, and PSB, its dedicated research company. The move comes as its Power of Three strategy continues to reap dividends by delivering a full service, integrated communications offering to clients throughout the Middle East and North Africa region.

Stefanie Spanos joins Proof Communication as Associate Director – Digital, bringing with her 12 years of experience from Canada, UK, and the UAE. Spanos was instrumental in launching the world’s largest blockchain festival  in Dubai and taking the Mohammed Bin Rashid Innovation Fund to market. She has previously worked with Edelman and is an expert in digital analytics and data in the communications and PR industry.

Michael Hodgkinson, who joins as Senior Consultant with PSB Middle East, is experienced in international communications and strategy research with high-profile firms in the Middle East and Europe. A graduate in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Oxford, Michael has led the GSK global delivery team at PSB as well as delivering numerous corporate and government projects in the Middle East.

Sunil John, Founder of ASDA’A BCW and President of BCW Middle East noted, “Public relations in MENA has always required a more nuanced approach than most other regions. We’re situated in one of the fastest advancing economies in the world, where digital communication and data are increasingly in demand. ASDA’A BCW extended its operation a few years ago to embrace a Power of Three strategy, including digital and data expertise through its wholly-owned subsidiaries Proof Communications and research through PSB. We are fortunate to have brought Stefanie and Michael aboard to strengthen our offering in these important sectors.”

Proof Communications began as the digital and branding division of ASDA’A BCW and grew into a fully-fledged digital and design agency that caters to clients across the Middle East. Proof’s most memorable campaigns in recent years include “We See Genius in Every Child” for GEMS Education as well as the multiple-award-winning Welcome to the Driver’s Seat Campaign by Ford Middle East, which marked the historic move to allow Saudi women to drive for the first time.

PSB specialises in custom research and analytics worldwide that uses a deep understanding of people, science and business to create human insights that inspire leaders to make more informed decisions with confidence. It has provided strategic guidance in sectors such as healthcare, technology, blue-chip corporate, financial, entertainment and public sectors in more than 100 countries. It is also a member of the BCW Group of companies, which is part of WPP, a creative transformation company.