AI-linked services have reset the landscape on multiple fronts. BPG is to take a call on how AI integration can be managed into what it does. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal

Dubai: Creativity and brand building with some help from AI? One of the Gulf’s biggest advertising and marketing agencies, BPG, is considering such a move.

“A task force will present to us how AI can change what we’re doing,” said Avishesha Bhojani, Group CEO at the Dubai-headquartered entity. “A lot of our creative work is done on AI right now. And our target is by April 4, when we have our annual board meeting, we will have a clear roadmap on AI integration in our operations.”

The AI-linked ChatGPT has already inserted itself into the business landscape, more so where content and creativity are concerned. For advertisers then to tap into such possibilities is a small step as such.

At Bates Pan Gulf, the forecasts are for a better-than-expected organic growth this year as clients signal they would spend on marketing even amidst global concerns over what high inflation could mean for consumer and business spending. In particular, BPG is keen to realise the possibilities in Saudi Arabia, where investments across multiple sectors is transforming the economy. And by extension, throwing up new possibilities for advertisers and marketers.

Earlier this year, BPG Group recast itself as a full-fledged specialist consultancy. The results are starting to come through. Image Credit: Anas Thacharpadikkal

Bhojani said the agency has already achieved post-pandemic recovery, and its Q4-2022 revenues have surpassed 2019 earnings of $21 million. “As of 2023, BPG as a group is roughly a $15 million business in revenue in UAE and $12 million in Kuwait, which is not very large compared to other global networks (agencies).”

BPG’s host of new business wins includes a real estate development in Saudi Arabia, Dubai’s Jumeirah Group, TitanEyewear, and Zayed Sustainability Prize, among others.

Bhojani also said plans are underway to open a new physical office in Saudi Arabia while opening ‘cloud offices’ in various regional countries. “Truth be told, at the beginning of COVID-19, I thought the marketing services business was gone forever,” he said. “Now, the marketing services business has returned, and I believe the publishing businesses will also return.

However, they cannot rely on the traditional model. Budget allocations of publishing houses need to change as well.

- Avi Bhojani

BPG 3.0

BPG Group, established 42 years ago, underwent a strategic transformation earlier this year with the launch of ‘BPG 3.0’, which will place the company now as a specialist consultancy services firm. Darius LaBelle, President of the BPG Group, said the company is averaging two monthly pitches. “And our win rate is well above 50 per cent - the pitches are for companies across categories and industries,” said LaBelle.

We had 14 new people join us last month, and we have three more. We have also leased a new office space for our growing staff.

- Darius Labelle

Despite the high inflation and interest rate scenarios, BPG’s chiefs are confident that regional companies would continue to spend big on marketing and advertising. “T work that we do across PR, media, advertising, and customer experience is increasingly about how to build efficiencies into the model,” said LaBelle. “So, $1 can do a lot more today than it could ten years ago in terms of advertising spend.

“That’s because of technology, AI and predictive analytics and the role of mar-tech in what we do. So while there is an economic (crunch), there is still plenty of room for growth.”

Where does creativity stand?

According to Ramy El Sakka, the Chief Creative Officer of BPG, “Back in the day, everyone had large budgets to give to big production houses for its creatives. Now, given budgets have become contained, we’ve had to cut corners and shape productions differently.”

El Sakka said the spotlight is mainly on developing organic, viral content as most companies have changed their direction to operate digitally. “Operating with lower budgets has challenged us to find the product that is easier to do or filming and be as effective as someone who posts a video that he shoots at home for 30 seconds,” said El Sakka. “The competition now is with content creators.”

Operating with lower budgets has challenged us to find the product that is easier to do or filming and be as effective as someone who posts a video that he shoots at home for 30 seconds. The competition now is with content creators.

- Ramy El Sakka