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BCW Ranked Number One on PRovoke Media’s Global Creative Index

UAE, December 21, 2020 – BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe), a leading global communications agency, announced it has been ranked number one on PRovoke Media’s ninth-annual Global Creative Index.

PRovoke’s Global Creative Index analyzes entries and winners from more than 25 PR, digital and marketing awards programs from around the world over a 12-month period, up to the 2020 Global SABRE Awards. The formula takes into account the expansion of ‘public relations’ work across multiple categories at advertising-oriented shows.

In honoring BCW, PRovoke reported that BCW’s top ranking was “powered by a range of work from across its global network, including award-winning campaigns for Boehringer Ingelheim, Coca-Cola, Huawei, Lenzing, the NBA and Tencel — with much of the work originating from its Asia-Pacific, EMEA and LatAm markets”.

Donna Imperato, Global CEO, BCW, said: “I am so proud that BCW has been ranked number one on PRovoke’s Global Creative Index because it recognizes BCW’s creative strength, which we have always believed to be the core component of the work we do to move people for our clients.”

Sunil John, President – Middle East BCW, stated: “I’m very proud that BCW has received this global recognition of the exceptional work we are doing for our clients around the world, including the MENA region. I look forward to an exciting 2021with all the challenges and opportunities that a new year brings.”

Tear up those playbooks: In the new normal, everything has changed by ASDA’A BCW’s Sunil John

The new normal is a rude awakening for the communications industry.

It is a call to throw those tried, tested and carefully structured communications playbooks of the past out of the window. It is a nudge to shake off formulaic approaches and the so-called golden rules, which had worked well in our pre-Covid life. Many of these proven approaches have failed the stress-test of the pandemic. And now as the economy gradually reopens and we cautiously move into the ‘new normal’, it is time to reboot the industry.

We will be forever reinventing, changing the rules and adopting new models, which not surprisingly, take us back to the fundamentals of communications: Engaging audiences with inspiring messages aimed at behavioural change and moving people.

I see seven trends shaping the communications sector in the post-COVID-19 era, so here goes:

1 Large is resilient

The pandemic has impacted several small-sized firms that served ‘niche’ business sectors. When these industries, such as travel, tourism, hospitality, real estate and retail, were hit, they dragged down with them these boutique firms too. I started small and I feel their pain.

Now, evaluating the landscape, I see the value of scale in our industry: Agencies that are part of global networks, which are right-sized, demonstrated exceptional resilience. They are diversified yet lean and not tied to the fortunes of any one business sector.

The lesson from the crisis is that the communications industry will see more consolidation, mergers and even a few acquisitions. Expect more disruption.

2 Government communications will be the mainstay:

In February, just weeks before the coronavirus gained pandemic proportions, I was moderating the inaugural session of the PRovoke MENA Summit 2020. One of my observations was that government communications and the region’s National Champion companies will help leapfrog the value of Public Relations in the Middle East and North Africa to over US$1 billion by 2030.

Has my point of view changed? No, it has only been reinforced by the pandemic, which sees government communications gaining even more traction. The larger National Champion companies with a growing global footprint and ambition also scaled up their narratives because it was important, perhaps more than ever before, to demonstrate that they are steely warriors with unshakeable long-term objectives. On the flip side, several private sector companies were the first to cut retainers or go on pause mode; a mistaken move, no doubt prompted by short-term outlooks.

3 Purpose and profit are compatible partners

Corporate purpose will assume even more significance, and not at odds with profits. From product-push, corporate communications will increasingly be about problem-solving, and about how they can contribute to the community or champion a cause. That will mean revisiting corporate social responsibility policy, which many organisations have been doing with no real conviction.

Just as organisations define new strategies and business models and must find innovative ways to deliver value beyond profits, they will also need communications partners that can help restore stakeholder trust. In short, it is time to make your purpose real.

We can see this globally with Nike and Colin Kaepernick, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Or with Patagonia and its environmental position.  On the other end of the spectrum, you see Facebook facing a growing boycott by its advertisers, including small businesses and large corporates, for its ‘irresponsible’ handling of misinformation and hate speech. I see a new focus on Corporate Purpose in the region.

4 Rise of local talent and genuine employee engagement

I have always advocated the decisive role that local talent plays in shaping our regional sector. More so now. Organisations will increasingly seek talent who understand local nuances. The new normal will see Arabic talent bloom and thrive, so will expat talent with deep knowledge of the region. For organisations and agencies, the new normal will be one when employee engagement and internal communications will assume greater significance. People will continue to be the major differentiator and keeping them engaged, empowered and motivated is key.

5 The era of owned and shared media

The pandemic hit the media sector too as furloughs, salary reductions and job losses take a toll. As media houses experiment with new business models, including paywalls and only-digital editions, the age-old reliance on the PESO (Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned) model will – and must – change. Organisations will move towards more owned and shared media models with high-impact earned at its core. That means a surge in vlogs, blogs, podcasts and digital engagement, all creating data-driven communications relevant to an always-on target audience.

6 Home is where the office is

Work-from-home is here to stay, if not wholly, then in flexible and hybrid ways. As a die-hard proponent of office working, the efficiency and productivity that my team showed during the lockdown has been an eye-opener. The more you trust your team to do their job, the more your teams will surprise you. And this shift in office environment will be pervasive, influencing both agencies and clients. It will contribute to better efficiencies with lesser need for prime commercial space.

7 The demise of the road warrior

I see the demise of the road warriors – people flying in and out for meetings. Less travel will be the new norm without impacting work efficiency as technology brings in a level playing field that is unhindered by geography.

I believe that the global pandemic has brought the fundamentals back to the business of communications: And that is to be hyper-dynamic, evidence-based and value-driven. Going forward, our playbooks will be reinvented in real time – and that will make us agile, flexible and relevant.

I end with a quote by Andy Grove, the famous creator of Intel: “Only the paranoid will survive.”


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.