Vishal Badiani - Head of Creative Strategy at Snap Inc. MENA
Vishal Badiani, Head of Creative Strategy at Snap Inc. MENA

The MENA Effie Thought Leadership Program (TLP) - Dubai was held on 3rd March 2023, at the Conference Hall, Dubai Knowledge Park. Part of the long-running MENA Effie Awards, the prestigious event lived up to its billing, bringing varied perspectives and insights around this edition’s theme: Leveraging the Full Potential of Immersive Marketing: Challenges and Opportunities.

“We are overwhelmed by the positive response to MENA Effie TLP - Dubai. The program succeeded in bringing actionable insights into immersive marketing, a niche that every marketer is fixated on but many find challenging to tap into. The tech-oriented discussions, keynotes from c-suite executives of leading brands, and purpose-driven dialogues shaped the narrative for the future of immersive marketing,” said Sahar Rafique, Managing Director of NordStella, the organiser specialising in hosting and publishing meaningful, insight-rich, and in-depth-yet-entertaining content.

MENA Effie TLP 2nd pic FOR WEB
From left: Jon S Maloy, Bureau Beatrice; Adeline Chew, Cheil; Georges Khouri, Tecom; Anajulia Oliveira, Impact BBDO; Antonio Mara, Porsche Image Credit:

NordStella’s streamlined agenda for MENA Effie TLP - Dubai enabled attendees to maximise their takeaways from the programme. In conjunction with executives of leading organisations such as Snap Inc., NordStella facilitated a deep dive into emerging technologies that marketers can leverage to drive immersive marketing and deliver highly engaging experiences to end users.

Head of Creative Strategy at Snap Inc. MENA, Vishal Badiani, said: “We have been investing in immersive marketing for over 10 years now. For us, from a marketer’s point of view, immersive technology is very straightforward. It’s not VR or the Metaverse. It’s AR. Many marketers in this region have already been investing in Snap, it’s fair to say that this technology is quite scalable as it helps reach millions of people, and it is also efficient and measurable. When marketers say that AR is not for them, they need to pay attention to these elements and that it can easily become a part of their strategy”.

Badiani added that there are two strategic reasons why one should be thinking about AR. “First, millions of people are using it. There are over 250 million people on Snap globally playing with AR filters every single day. If we just look at Saudi itself – we have around 20 million people engaging with Snapchat every month. In a study we conducted with Deloitte, we found that the usage of AR correlates directly with the usage of mobile phones. It also explains how Gen-Z is going to become frequent AR users by 2025.”

Ana Júlia de Oliveira, Integrated Strategist at Impact BBDO, reinforced the concurrent need for the right messaging, saying: "The key for brands and marketers is to really use the right tools to create immersive experiences. At the same time, they need to make sure that it doesn't overshadow the story that brands are trying to tell through those experiences. If brands and marketers approach immersive marketing with empathy, they'll further be able to tap into how their consumers are feeling and their emotional quotient. For them to truly feel that way, the technology used in the process should leverage that and not curb it.”

Ghada El Kari, CMO of W Group, echoed that notion: "Today, there are so many technologies in the market that can be used to execute immersive experiences, even in DOOH, such as AR, VR, and drones. But what's more important is for brands and marketers to make it relevant to the consumer sentiment and also measurable."

From a strategic perspective, Tamkanat Raza, E-commerce and Digital Marketing Manager, Electrolux, said: "We're moving into a hybrid environment, where brands need to start delivering experiences both online and offline. When it comes to bringing immersive experiences in the offline space, we need to truly engage the audience. After all, we're all fighting for the human attention span, and by integrating AR, VR, or other immersive tools in the shop, brands can drive stronger footfall and have their consumers spend more time with the brand. That, in my opinion, is a winning strategy."

Likewise, industry experts from leading companies such as Publicis Groupe, Anghami, Cheil, TECOM Group, Nestle and several others also brought unique perspectives to the table, making MENA Effie TLP - Dubai a resounding success. Partners Snap Inc., Communicate, YourWordsmiths, MKV Digital, and Sajilni were equally integral to that success. The TLP series builds on the 13-year pedigree of the MENA Effie Awards, one of the region’s biggest and most-celebrated marketing events. It made its KSA debut on 6th March, three years after its inception in Dubai.

In addition to the renowned MENA Effie Awards and the TLP series, organizer NordStella has launched the ‘Marketing to Youth’ forum, which is particularly aimed at empowering and fostering a young generation of marketers in the region.