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WARC unveils 2021 MENA Strategy Report’s top takeaways

Winning the Grand Prix award was KFC Arabia for its Shift+K+F+C campaign, which added a “cheat code” directly into KFC's e-commerce website

By: Business Today Egypt

Thu, Sep. 30, 2021

Launching its 2021 MENA Strategy Report, showcasing some of the biggest and most impactful campaigns in the region, global authority on marketing effectiveness WARC explains its analysis on the results of this year’s WARC Prize for MENA Strategy.

Chiara Manco, Commissioning Editor, Case Studies, WARC stated that “While analyzing the winning entries for this report, it became apparent that – across objectives, strategies and executions – this year’s winners shared the same overarching theme: empathy - aptly described by some judges as “emotional intelligence”.

Related > Chiara Manco’s “How the pandemic accelerated brand purpose, for Ramadan and beyond

“This ability to deeply connect with consumers allowed brands to create digital experiences targeted to the needs of their audiences. It made for participatory strategies that empowered consumers and timely executions that showed an understanding of local cultures and sensibilities,” she added.

Winning the Grand Prix award was KFC Arabia for its Shift+K+F+C campaign, which added a “cheat code” directly into KFC's e-commerce website that was promoted solely through Twitch and gaming influencers.

According to WARC, the 4 main points highlighted in WARC’s 2021 MENA Strategy Report were


Targeted experiences cut through in the pivot to digital

Amongst this year’s winners were brands that proved the pay-off of targeted digital activations. KFC, Bose and Burger King all created experiences that supported specific audiences or communities. Personalization, which this year increased in popularity as a creative strategy, was a key element of such activations.

“Delivering targeted and empathetic experiences through digital touchpoints can have a long-term impact on brand equity. Targeted approaches are a ‘must-have’: implement them intentionally and at scale,” explained Jury member Roxane Magbanua, Business Unit Director, PHD, UAE.


Empowering communications heighten engagement

Many brands, including Almosafer, Diari and Knorr, made consumers the protagonists of their communications, as evidenced by participation rising to be the top creative strategy this year.

By empowering their audiences – whether by providing tools for life improvement or giving them a voice – these brands showed the engagement potential of empathetic participatory strategies.

Related > Around 72% of marketers see mobile marketing increasing in 2021| WARC

Judge Laura Chaibi, Senior Consultant, Global Media, Nielsen Media Middle East, stated “The big winners were those which empathized with consumers by acting as a channel for them to express themselves.” 


Switched-on brands leave a mark on local culture

By having their finger on the pulse of local issues and events, winners Emirates Nation Brand, An-Nahar and LADA showed that reacting to cultural happenings can build strong connections with audiences.

“It’s evident from this year’s winners that, by being plugged into local pop culture and current affairs, brands can tackle relevant moments with confidence, even when it comes to controversial topics,” notes Rohit Arora, General Manager, Liwa Content Driven, UAE, and member of the judging panel.


Real-life stories lend humanity to brands

Featuring real people instead of actors, as well as creating relatable characters, has paid off for winners like Emirates NBD, Burger King and Home Centre. These winners showed how infusing communications with humanity can aid brand perception.

Judge Tahaab Rais, President – SLC and Regional Head of Strategy & Truth Central at FP7 McCann MENAT, states that “It's imperative for brands to recognize they cannot succeed without people. There’s a return and reward in conscious empathy.”


The WARC Prize for MENA Strategy, now in its fifth year, is a free-to-enter annual case study competition in search of the best strategic thinking from MENA’s marketing industry.