ASDA'A Burson Marsteller - Campaign

How to Enter

Company: ASDA'A Burson Marsteller, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Company Description: Over the last 16 years, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller has earned its reputation as the Middle East’s leading public relations consultancy and the benchmark of PR practice in the region. The company’s growing list of prestigious clients and high-profile industry awards reflect this position. ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, a WPP company, has 11 wholly owned offices and reaches into 18 Middle East nations.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications Campaign of the Year in the Middle East and Africa

Nomination Title: Rolex Awards for Enterprise 2008: Reaching out across the Arab world

Tell the story about this nominated communications program (up to 500 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms. Be sure to mention obstacles overcome, innovations or discoveries made, and outcomes:

In July 2007, Rolex of Geneva commissioned ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller to
implement an 18-month PR campaign across the Middle East and North Africa for
the Rolex Awards for Enterprise. One of the world’s oldest philanthropic
programmes, the Awards champion individuals working to benefit humankind and
the environment through advances in science, technology, exploration, the
environment and cultural heritage.

Rolex had chosen to hold the 2008 Awards international prize-giving ceremony
in Dubai, but the 32-year old Awards programme historically had scant
participation from the MENA region. Applications averaged in the single digits
biennially, and awareness of the Awards remained low even among specialist

ASDA’A B-M proposed a multi-phase campaign combining media relations and
stakeholder outreach across the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman,
Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Egypt.

Historically, multi-market campaigns are challenging to implement in the
region, with its tremendous economic, cultural and linguistic diversity
requiring a bespoke approach for every country. The campaign faced the
additional challenges of limited advertising support, the lack of an Arabic-
speaking Awards spokesperson, and no permanent Awards representation in the

ASDA’A B-M believed that to stand out in the Middle East’s awards- and events-
dense market, Rolex needed to establish itself as a partner for the region, by
its awareness of the region’s tradition in the five areas, its contribution to
development through knowledge sharing, and by uncovering genuine stories of

Innovations: To underline the commitment to knowledge sharing, for example, we
created a series of road shows where Awards leadership and former Laureates
and jury members selected for their relevance to the region travelled to
Egypt, Dubai, Oman and Lebanon to lead community lectures.

ASDA’A B-M also created a day-long Rolex Middle East Forum focusing on issues
of mutual interest to the Awards and the Middle East, helping identify and
prepare international and regional panellists. The agency also built an Arabic
microsite to extend the Awards’ footprint.

Successes: The agency’s core objectives were: to drive applications for the
2008 cycle; to spread awareness of and position the Awards in the media; to
create mutually beneficial partnerships with local governments and academia;
and to ensure a successful prize-giving ceremony.

Rolex received 136 applications from the MENA region, a 300 per cent jump from
previous cycles. The 2008 Awards also yielded the first global Laureate from
the Middle East, a Jordanian professor working to preserve Petra.

Between September 2007 and January 2009, the Awards received more than 500
media clips, including more than 37,500 column centimeters and with total
circulation in excess of 25 million.

The Dubai ceremony was the largest in Awards history, with attendees including
two UAE cabinet ministers, business and media leaders and prominent

The agency secured meetings with senior government ministers from the UAE and
Oman for Rolex, and sparked a partnership with the Higher Colleges of
Technology, the UAE’s leading higher education provider. The UAE Minister of
Higher Education even opened and endorsed the Rolex Forum, which drew more
than 275 people.

List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that support the claims made in the section above. IMPORTANT: Begin each link with http://, and enclose each link in square brackets; for example, []:  Coverage of the
Dubai launch of the 2008 edition of the Rolex Awards for Enterprise in the
Middle East   - The announcement of the record
application turnout from the Middle East and North Africa region  – the May 2008 Egypt announcement
of the Middle East shortlist for the Rolex Awards 2008 cycle, led by jury
members Farkhonda Hassan and Sir Magdi Yacoub  – news coverage of the
September 2008 visit to Oman by former Rolex Awards winner Rory Wilson and
Rebecca Irvin, head of the Rolex Awards  – news coverage of
the agreement between the UAE’s Higher Colleges of Technology and the Rolex
Awards, and the confirmation of HH Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak’s endorsement of and
participation in the Awards Forum.  – the Dubai Nov 17 2008 press release
announcing the first Middle Eastern Laureate in the history of the Rolex
Awards  Rolex Awards Journal article about the Rolex Middle East Forum held
in Dubai  – the Arabic microsite commissioned and populated

Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader(s) of the team that carried out this nominated communications program:

Sunil John, CEO of ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller, has been at the heart of the
public relations business in the Middle East for nearly two decades. He has
shaped ASDA’A B-M to be the benchmark of public relations consultancy,
advising regional governments, global and local corporations and NGOs.
Sunil, who serves on the National Advisory Council for the College of
Communication and Media Sciences at Zayed University and is the UAE National
Chair of the International Public Relations Association, was named one of the
50 most influential expatriates in the Middle East. He is also Vice President
of the IPRA Gulf Chapter.