ASDA’A BCW’s Sunil John named Best PR Professional in the Middle East in PRWeek Global Awards 2020

Sunil John, founder of regional public relations agency ASDA’A BCW and President of BCW Middle East, has been named ‘Best PR Professional in the Middle East’ in the PRWeek Global Awards 2020.

This latest individual award for John from the global PR industry coincides with the 20th anniversary year of ASDA’A, the agency he founded. He is credited with transforming PR from a communications function struggling under the shadow of big advertising agencies “to a thriving industry that attracts global capital and talent to the Middle East,” according to PRWeek. Other judges’ comments highlighted his role as “a renowned expert in the region, a true leader with a point of view on all things communications and business related.”

Under John’s leadership, ASDA’A BCW’s achievements include being part of the team which launched the tallest tower in the world, Burj Khalifa in Dubai in 2010, and supporting the UAE in its bids to host Expo 2020 Dubai and Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi.  John is also the driving force behind the annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey – the largest and longest running research into the region’s largest and most important demographic, its youth. The 2019 edition of the survey, titled ‘A Call for Reform’ was shortlisted in the PRWeek Global Citizenship Award.

ASDA’A BCW was also Highly Commended in the Middle East Agency of the Year category. Judges noted how the agency used the formation of Burson Cohn & Wolfe (BCW) in 2018, following the merger of two of WPP’s biggest public relations brands Burson-Marsteller and Cohn & Wolfe as, “a springboard to adopt new methodologies, focusing on culture and training.”

ASDA’A BCW has continued to grow through its five specialist practices: Consumer & Healthcare, Corporate, Enterprise & Technology, Financial and Public Affairs from small shoots as ASDA’A in 2000. It is now the only Middle East geography reporting directly to worldwide among any international PR agency and John, as President-Middle East, has a seat on the BCW global board. John also leads two additional subsidiary brands in the Middle East: Proof, spanning design, digital and social; and PSB Middle East, the research specialists.

This prestigious global award from PRWeek is the fourth individual industry award for John, following the SABRE Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in 2014, and two MEPRA awards, including the Chairman’s Award in 2016 and the inaugural MEPRA Fellowship in 2018. He was also invited to join the Arthur W Page society in 2019. In 2018, he was named among the ‘Arabian Business 100 Inspiring leaders in the Middle East’ and was ‘Arabian Business 100 influential people helping shape the Emirate’.

ASDA’A BCW shortlisted at the SABRE EMEA Awards 2020

ASDA’A BCW is honoured to be shortlisted for the SABRE EMEA Awards Middle East Consultancy of the Year and to be part of the BCW EMEA team shortlisted for the EMEA Consultancy of the Year. These nominations are based on our client work and performance in 2019, our first full year as BCW, making this accomplishment even more meaningful to us. The shortlist selections are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 200 submissions, calls, and face-to-face meetings with the leading PR firms across Europe, the Middle East and Africa, and we could not be prouder to have been recognised for our work.

We are also nominated in the following five categories for work with some of our amazing clients:

The SABRE Award for Superior Achievement in Reputation Management

Oil & Gas 4.0 – Strengthening ADNOC’s Corporate Reputation as the National Oil Company of the Future — The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) with ASDA’A BCW

Regional – The Middle East

Merchant-ising the Digital Dream! — Visa with ASDA’A BCW

Product Media Relations (Trade Media)

Completion of the World’s Largest Oil Platform — NPCC with ASDA’A BCW

Multicultural Marketing

‘A Call for Reform’ – The 11th Annual ASDA’A BCW Arab Youth Survey 2019 — ASDA’A BCW

B2B – Energy and Natural Resources

Oil & Gas 4.0 – Strengthening ADNOC’s Corporate Reputation as the National Oil Company of the Future — The Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) with ASDA’A BCW

We are grateful to our creative, collaborative and hard-working team and our fantastic clients, who have made this nomination possible, and we look forward to finding out the results on May 28th at the virtual SABRE Awards. Good luck to all, and fingers crossed!


To read about the full list of nominees, click here


MENA’s $1billion PR industry set to double in value by 2030

  • Evolution of National Champion companies to global brands will catalyse the growth of the PR sector, observes opening panel of PRovoke MENA Summit
  • Region’s senior communicators present insights on the global success achieved by Emirates, Mubadala, ADNOC and Dubai Holding

Dubai, UAE; February 6, 2020: Fuelled by the rapid growth of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s National champion companies, the Public Relations (PR) industry in MENA is set to leapfrog in value to double its current size of $1billion by 2030,  was the key take out from the PRovoke MENA Summit 2020, held in Dubai today.

PRovoke MENA Summit, organised by PRovoke Media (formerly The Holmes Report), is part of a global series of events that explore the innovation, disruption and evolution of the PR industry that is redefining influence and engagement across the globe.

The Summit opened with an insightful session ‘From National Heroes to Global Brands: Why the Middle East has emerged as a PR Powerhouse,’ moderated by Sunil John, Founder of ASDA’A BCW and President, Middle East of BCW. The panel hosted some of the region’s most respected and influential communicators: Boutros Boutros, Divisional Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications, Marketing and Brand, Emirates Airline and Group; Umayma Abubakar, Director of Internal Corporate Relations, Mubadala; Omar Zaafrani, Senior Vice President, Group Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility, ADNOC; and Huda Buhumaid, Chief Marketing Officer, Dubai Holding. The panelists explored how the regional PR landscape has grown, mirroring the transformation of National Champion companies such as Emirates, Mubadala, ADNOC and Dubai Holding into global brands.

Introducing the panel, Sunil John noted that the dramatic economic, social and political changes witnessed in MENA position the region as a strategic market for all global industries. The region will be at the centre of the world this year, with Expo 2020 Dubai, the G20 Summit meetings in Saudi Arabia, the upcoming World Bank IMF annual meetings in Morocco in 2021, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022 and other global events set to contribute to the regional PR industry’s continued growth.

“From US$500million a decade ago, the industry has upped its value to more than double that figure today and will further gain traction to double again by 2030. This will be driven by the growth of global brands that emerge from our region, especially from the two largest economies, Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” said Sunil John.

Highlighting the growth of Emirates, which today has a total communications budget of US$800 million, a team of 250 communications professionals, and working globally with 85 PR agencies, 100 advertising  firms, and 30 digital and events management companies, Boutros Boutros said Public Relations continues to be the “most valuable, effective and affordable communications medium, which will continue to grow in the coming years.” Boutros said the Dubai office of Emirates plays the role of a, “global inhouse hub to manage all the different agencies, with the strategy and policies originating here.”

Umayma Abubakar said successfully communicating the Mubadala story is also a reflection of the vision of UAE’s leadership. “Their goal of economic diversification has positioned the UAE as more than an oil and gas economy. There is a compelling need to tell our story to the world, to show that you have a lot to contribute and add value. In this, it was important to be transparent, and to be perceived as a responsible investor.”

Omar Zaafrani said the responsibility of national brands goes beyond their organisation and must represent a national perspective reflecting the UAE’s national branding and soft power. With a directional focus on making ADNOC, an oil and gas company, ‘cool’, Zaafrani said the challenge is to address the stereotypical stigma that is attributed to oil and gas sector players. “That takes courage, and a deliberate focus on humanising the story to make oil and gas relevant to the community.”

Dubai Holding’s Huda Buhumaid said there are interesting stories from this region and people are interested in knowing ‘how, why and when.’ “We are here ‘For the good of tomorrow’ and we change the landscape of Dubai through our different ventures. With over 400,000 people living in our real estate communities, more than 3 million people staying in our hotels, and with 11 business parks employing 95,000 people, we are promoting Dubai to the world – to the investors, tourists and residents – across various touch points.”

Concluding the session, Sunil John said communicating to a global audience is different from talking to a local audience. “The strategy needs to be truly global, cultural nuances understood with creativity playing a key role, supported by advanced data analysis. But innovative content and story-telling will continue to be at its heart.”

Arab Youth Survey wins Best Campaign in the Middle East at MEPRA Awards 2019

Agency wins 10 awards at leading regional PR Awards event, including 3 golds, 4 silvers, 3 bronzes

ASDA’A BCW’s pioneering thought leadership initiative, the 11th Annual Arab Youth Survey 2019, was named Best Campaign in the Middle East at the Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA) Awards 2019, held in Dubai on 20 November, 2019.

Titled “A Call for Reform”, this year’s edition of the Survey also won gold for ‘Best Use of Data and Insights’,and took silver for ‘Best Non-Profit/Humanitarian/Charitable Campaign’. The largest survey of its kind, the Survey has been providing insights into the hopes and aspirations of the Arab world’s most important demographic – its youth, since 2008. In 2019, the Survey addressed topics such as religion, role of government, mental health and drug abuse. This year’s findings have driven dialogue at special Survey events around the world, including at Chatham House in London, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings in Washington DC, and two events conducted by leading Washington DC publication The Hill.

ASDA’A BCW won a total of 10 awards on the night, including three golds, four silvers, and three bronzes, at a gala ceremony and dinner held in Dubai at the Atlantis, Palm Jumeirah. ASDA’A BCW’s work with real estate developer Marjan in promoting the New Year’s Eve Fireworks at Ras Al Khaimah’s Marjan Island won gold for ‘Best Real Estate or Construction Campaign’ as well as bronze for the ‘Best Travel or Tourism Campaign’.

The Agency’s work with Ford Middle East for its breast cancer awareness campaign “Warriors in Pink 2018: Stories of Courage” won silvers for ‘Best Healthcare Campaign’ and ‘Best Use of Influencers’ and bronze for ‘‘Best Non-Profit/Humanitarian/Charitable Campaign,’ while the campaign for the IPO of Network International won a silver for the category, ‘Best Financial Services Campaign’ and a bronze for ‘Best Use of Traditional Media (Consumer/Trade)’.

Sunil John, Founder of ASDA’A BCW and President, BCW Middle East, said: “We are delighted to be recognised for the work we do for our clients, and for our own thought leadership platform, the annual Arab Youth Survey. To win Best Campaign in the Middle East and be recognised at the MEPRA Awards is always special, as this is the forum in which we are judged by our peers in the region’s public relations industry.”

MEPRA is the Middle East region’s leading body for public relations and communication professionals and students. The MEPRA Awards provides an opportunity to communications specialist across the region to showcase their finest work and be recognised among peers. The 2019 MEPRA Awards saw more than 70 agencies and in-house communications teams compete in 47 categories.