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.

Two-thirds of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, 11th Arab Youth Survey 2019 shows

Two-thirds of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, according to findings from the 2019 ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey which were debated at a special event for academics, journalists, policymakers and diplomats held at the London think tank Chatham House last week.

The event, “2019 Arab Youth Survey: Pragmatism, Frustration and Optimism,” featured a presentation of key findings from this year’s Survey, now in its 11th edition, including new data about young Arabs’ attitudes towards European nations and a panel discussion, chaired by Dr Sanam Vakil, Senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House.

With tensions running high in the Middle East after the strikes on Saudi Arabian oil installations on September 14, 2019, an attack which many observers are blaming on Iran the event proved to be an opportune moment to revisit Arab youth’s attitudes to their perceived allies and enemies. The Survey, conducted in January 2019, reveals that 67 per cent of young Arabs view Iran as an enemy, with 32 per cent viewing it as an ally.

The data reveals significant differences in perception based on region: in the GCC states, 87 per cent view Iran as an enemy, with just 13 per cent saying ally; while in the Levant, youth are equally split, with 51 per cent saying enemy against 49 per cent saying ally. In North Africa, 64 per cent saw Iran as an enemy, with 35 per cent saying ally.

New findings from the Survey reveal that young Arabs are generally favourable towards European nations, with three European nations among the top 10 viewed as a strong ally. France is viewed as an ally by 75 per cent of those surveyed, closely followed by Germany with 73 per cent and the UK at 68 per cent. Arab youth attitudes towards the US are much more polarised, with more than half (59 per cent) considering the US to be an enemy of their respective countries.

Closer to home, 93 per cent of young Arabs seeing the UAE as their strongest ally, while 80 per cent seeing Saudi Arabia as their biggest ally – showing a high favourability towards the GCC.

Participating in the panel Sunil John, Founder, ASDA’A BCW, and President, Middle East, BCW said, “We’re moving from the power hubs of Baghdad and Cairo to those of Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.”

In addition to John, the panel, which explored the potential of harnessing the findings of the Arab Youth Survey to steer policy- and decision- making and to shed light on young people’s attitudes towards  countries around the world,  comprised  Dr Simon Mabon, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Philosophy and Religion, University of Lancaster; and Sara Masry, an independent consultant. Dr Mabon provided his expert opinions on religion and regional conflicts, while Masry provided strategic insight into Arab societies and the role of social media among Arab youth.

Addressing the audience at the event, John said, “We are proud to bring our research on the largest demographic of the Arab world to one of the foremost think-tanks in the world. To bring about any progressive change, a dialogue must happen. This dialogue here today at Chatham House heralds the larger discourse of an evolving global future that has, till now, often failed to hear the voice of Arab youth.”

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.

ASDA’A BCW named ‘Middle East Consultancy of the Year’ at the EMEA SABRE 2019 Awards

ASDA’A BCW cemented its position as the Middle East’s leading Public Relations firm after being named ‘Middle East Consultancy of the Year’ at the prestigious EMEA SABRE Awards 2019 ceremony in London hosted by The Holmes Report.

The SABRE Awards are the largest PR industry prizes in the world and are deemed the ultimate benchmark in PR performance. This year’s SABRE Awards EMEA shortlist included 400 campaigns selected from over 600 entries.

In recognising ASDA’A BCW, The Holmes Report said: “ASDA’A BCW’s maturity is reflected by an integrated offer that is perhaps best known for its ability to handle regional projects for government agencies, NGOs and corporations, and for its high-end corporate capabilities. But the firm also has strength in brand marketing, public affairs and tech.”

Sunil John, Founder and CEO of ASDA’A BCW, said: “We are extremely grateful for this wonderful recognition from The Holmes Report which honours not just our breadth of expertise but the strength of our creative work that moves people and delivers measurable business results for our clients. Congratulations to everyone at ASDA’A BCW for their dedication and great work. We are grateful to our clients for their confidence in the Agency’s competencies.”

The Middle East PR Consultancy of the Year award is the result of a thorough research process by a number of The Holmes Report editors, who review the submissions and travel the region to undertake face-to-face meetings throughout the year.

Paul Holmes, Founder and Chair of The Holmes Group, said: “Now in its 15th year, the SABRE Awards EMEA are all about engagement, credibility and relationship building. The jury made up of over 60 peers choose to award those agencies, corporate teams and individuals they believe to excel in those credentials.”

Since its founding in 2000, ASDA’A BCW has been a pioneer of public relations in the Middle East. With five dedicated practices – Consumer & Healthcare, Enterprise & Technology, Financial, Public Affairs and Corporate – it has grown to be the agency of record for regional businesses, governments and multinationals alike.

Proof IC, the digital and design firm, and PSB Middle East, the research arm, are fully-owned subsidiaries of ASDA’A BCW, together bringing cut-through solutions that encompass public relations, research and digital. Today, the Agency employs nearly 200 professionals across nine wholly-owned and eight affiliates – in 15 Middle East & North Africa (MENA) countries.

ASDA’A BCW to unveil findings of 11th annual Arab Youth Survey on April 30

ASDA’A BCW, the leading PR agency in the Middle East and North Africa, will unveil the findings of its 11th annual Arab Youth Survey, the largest independent study of its kind on the region’s largest demographic – its youth – on April 30 in Dubai.

This year’s survey marks the first time that the thought leadership initiative, with a distinctive new logo and brand identity, will be presented by ASDA’A BCW, following the global merger of WPP’s Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe firms last year.

The ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey underlines the agency’s ‘power of three’ model, which combines public relations, research and digital capabilities through three specialist brands. ASDA’A BCW works closely with its sister company PSB Middle East, the research firm, which conducted 3,500 face-to-face interviews with young Arab nationals aged 18 to 24 in 16 MENA countries; while Proof, the digital, data and design agency, drives digital and creative aspects of the Survey including the new logo and brand identity, and its digital and social presence.

With 65 per cent of the Arab population under the age of 30, the Survey presents evidence-based insights into the attitudes of Arab youth, providing public and private sector organisations with data and analysis to inform their decision-making and policy creation.

Sunil John, ASDA’A BCW’s President Middle East, said: “Over 11 years now, the Survey has provided credible pointers to the events shaping the region and highlights how young people here – the world’s youngest demographic – respond to them. The aspirations and attitudes of Arab youth serve as a compelling source of information and insight to help shape policies and drive business strategies.”

The launch event will be live streamed on ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey’s social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter in addition to real time updates on Instagram and LinkedIn and at www.arabyouthsurvey.com.

The Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey has also won the coveted IN2 SABRE Award for ‘Thought Leadership in PR’ in EMEA for three consecutive years and was awarded the PRWeek Global Award for Middle East Campaign of the Year in 2018.