By Ahmed Hafez Younis (AKA Fizo), Creative Shop Lead for MENA at Meta

As people are recovering from a pandemic-driven survival mode, they have greater expectations about life and work, more awareness of social issues and a deeper appreciation for the technology that allowed them to stay connected during those difficult times. This was reflected in the Middle East, where we saw a concerted effort by telecommunications companies, donors, and governments to make internet access more widely available and affordable, helping citizens maintain core connections.  

Through this period of change, we also saw people’s expectations of brands and advertisers grow. Today, they expect marketers to be more meaningful, engage and entertain in new ways, to provide practical value and strengthen communities. Studies show that Middle East consumers have become more socially and environmentally aware during the pandemic, which will affect what type of messaging they want to see from brands. Some of past year’s marketing campaigns pioneered new creative trends and had an exceptional impact reflecting pandemic’s cultural shifts. The most important cultural shift we see today is the rebirth of big ideas.

People are hungry for bold, insightful creative advertising that taps into today’s cultural changes and technological innovations to deliver real value.

Here are five key creative behaviors rooted in the rebirth of big ideas that are driving business impact.

Empower the crowd

While sharing feedback with businesses on social media fosters stronger connections, it’s no longer enough. Consumers want to be empowered and participate in shaping  their experiences to go beyond a two-way conversation. Find areas that overlap between your brand’s focus and the audience’s expertise. When you  give people the opportunity to bring new ideas to the table you build a truly engaged community. 

Emirates NBD achieved a 6.4-point rise in ad recall after using Instagram Reels ads as part of its Mother’s Day campaign in the UAE. Using the platform’s trending ‘Teleportation’ transition, Emirates NBD showed videos of a mother being plucked out of her environment and transported into the lap of luxury at one of the hotel partners of ENBD. The videos encouraged users to recreate the same teleportation effect with their mothers for the chance to win a Mother’s Day gift. The campaign’s aim was to raise awareness of ENBD’s Mother’s Day offers and discounts, and to engage mothers themselves, encouraging them to participate in the campaign. 

Elevate unheard stories

People want to be inspired with original and authentic stories. Authenticity became more valuable during the pandemiс and real-life stories are what kept people afloat. What communities are doing amazing things with your product but have never been highlighted in that way? Think about groups that people usually don’t hear from and let them re-tell your brand’s story. This will help your brand to connect  with underrepresented communities and energize broad audiences.

Instagram and Chalhoub Greenhouse have teamed up to mentor and develop high-potential local fashion startups in KSA. The initiative by Chalhoub Greenhouse called  ‘Fashion Lab’, created to promote corporate entrepreneurship and identify disruptive and innovative Saudi Fashion brands provided five newly emerged businesses with the necessary skills and resources to accelerate their growth. 

Shop the moment

Social media is  where people go when they want to feel part of something bigger than themselves. And when they find irresistible content, connection or community, they don’t hesitate to buy into a piece of it. Breakthrough brands are finding ways to help audiences shop the moment, either by tapping into trends or by creating exclusive experiences of their own. 

Solve real life problems 

Voicing support is easy. What’s more difficult is taking action. That’s why businesses that are moving barriers and helping to address issues are drawing attention and admiration. By creating utility and helping solve audience’s problems in real life,  purpose-driven brands are making their way into people’s hearts.

Maggi wanted to boost brand awareness and lead generation during Ramadan 2022, but more importantly help people find inspiring recipes that are easy to prepare and relevant to their needs. “Cook the difference” campaign included a mix of video and Branded Content ads that ran across Feed, in-stream and Reels. By encouraging people to register and get exclusive recipes and a chance to win shopping vouchers, Maggi brought 87% more cost efficient leads compared to previous year.

Unlock the you-verse

Instead of thinking brand first, the companies creating exciting metaverse experiences are doing so by putting people first and unlocking the “you-verse.” They are using new and immersive augmented and virtual reality tools to build spaces that give people a greater ability to express themselves and experience the realities of others. 

As part of the second edition of the international art exhibition Forever is Now that took place in Egypt this October, Instagram partnered with the organizers at Art d’Egypte to transport visitors at Forever is Now II into the heart of art. Instagram introduced 11 interactive filters, custom created for its community in Egypt to bring the exhibition to life. Accessible through bespoke QR codes, each filter featured a guide – Bastet, an animated cat inspired by the ancient Egyptian deity of the same name, who accompanied the visitors as they explored the backstory of each piece and its creation through immersive videos, images and illustrations, all powered by AR technology.  

Ultimately, developing creative that breaks through with today’s audiences and delivers real value requires developing a deeper understanding of cultural and technological shifts and then taking bold leaps. While this can be challenging, the payoff can also be powerful. By building creative on big ideas, marketers can create deeply impactful campaigns for the future that help forge stronger relationships, compel more action and drive greater business results.