From Left To Right: Maria Parsons, Zeina Korek

About Maria Parsons , Head of Strategy, Research & Planning , GREY Doha

Maria is an award-winning brand strategist with extensive experience across marketing, brand management, consumer insights and advertising, and in multiple geographies, including New Zealand, Latin America & MENA.

Maria currently leads the strategic output of the Grey Doha office, working with some of the most exciting brands in the region, including Ooredoo, Qatar Foundation and the FIFA World Cup 2022. 

Prior to her time at Grey, Maria developed her skills and knowledge in the FMCG industry at Mars Inc. She worked across the Food and Petfood portfolios leading the strategy development and execution of several global brands, including Uncle Ben’s, Dolmio and Mars’ largest brand – Pedigree. She has extensive experience executing local, regional and global campaigns and has led a number of highly effective, award-winning campaigns. 

About her thoughts for the industry

Following years of curve balls and once-in-a-lifetime events, marketing effectiveness is no longer a nice to do and must become a priority across both agencies & client side. 

Our industry has come such a long way in understanding how advertising works and why it works, that my wish is that we embrace all of this science-backed knowledge to drive epic brand & business growth. And by embracing it, I mean living it, breathing it and making it part of our everyday operations. I truly believe this is needed to help us & our clients navigate the choppy waters ahead. 

Specifically, below are three thoughts I find useful as I reflect on my wishes for the industry:  

  1. Bring more left-brain thinking to our world: In a world filled with much short-termism and advertising one-hit wonders, being able to think about and demonstrate the impact of short as well as long-term brand actions is critical. Long-term measurement needs to be at the centre of the conversation, requiring more number ‘crunchers’ in the industry who enjoy and understand data. 
  2. Harness the power of creativity and emotion: One of the most interesting things we have learned about emotional advertising is that it’s effective in making people think better of products and brands. Emotional campaigns have stronger effects even if they don’t provide as much information about the product’s performance or benefits. But emotional doesn’t mean ‘unbranded’ – emotional ads with the product at their heart often win big. This is a pretty cool reminder about the power and magic of advertising. 
  3. Tap into existing strengths before looking elsewhere: creativity often makes us want to throw out the old for the new and shiny. And in a world of disruption and tough economic times, the new is what we often search for to offer solutions. But when a brand has powerful, distinctive assets and strengths, it pays off to build on them fresh. This is not about running the same ad over and over or bringing new ideas each time – it is about sticking to the strengths and coming out with new executions that express them in fresh ways. 

Despite the pitfalls and tough times, I’m a huge believer in the power of creativity to change the world.

About Zeina Korek , Group Account Director, GREY Dubai

Zeina has spent 15 years as an avid practitioner in the advertising world, filled with creativity, collaborations, and lots of fun!

Working with prime agencies along the way, including Publicis Groupe, McCann Worldgroup, MullenLowe, and Grey Worldwide, on creating award-winning content for brands. Zeina is proud to have contributed to the growth of global brands in the Middle East like IKEA, Lego, Coca-Cola, Nestlé, P&G, Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, Mondelez, Haleon, HSBC, and more by leading client business at the agency side with efficiency, innovation, creativity and a warm personality — currently leading client servicing at Grey Dubai and working on driving growth across clients’ portfolios.

When Zeina is not working, you’ll find her enjoying time with her family and participating in sports like gym and snowboarding. As things are busy, she has a way of cooking healthy minute meals. Zeina is invested in physical health and feels it is essential for a successful career.

About her thoughts on the industry 

As an industry, we are inundated with trends to look out for and what the future will bring. While there is truth in that, it is all about what works best for your clients and the relationship with your agency. Every client’s needs are different, and I pride myself on being able to identify their necessities and delivering the best work possible while also providing solutions for their business requirements.

I have two essential thoughts about the industry that will remain so for many years.

Creativity is non-negotiable: 

Internally, creativity is critical for keeping agencies competitive. Externally, creativity is vital for driving results for our clients. Bringing quality work in a way that makes our partners grow is a challenge but one I love, and I succeed in doing so! Consumers thirst for creativity, something that breaks through the noise and makes them pay attention. There is a reason why people always talk about the commercials they see. 

The moment of truth is when it comes to shopping decisions; in front of the shelf, either physical or virtual, people will make the ultimate choice based on what is on top of their minds about our brands. We earn a space in their cart if we represent what they find meaningful.

Entrepreneurial spirit:

Amid uncertain times, spending is shifting for both consumers and companies. Conscious people will pivot their purchasing patterns in 2023 to choices that maximize impact, utility, and convenience. In response, marketing leaders should adjust to meet consumers where they are, with even more pressure to deliver practical value when buyers are more selective. I see the need among clients for a partner who provides creative business solutions that focus on solving real-time business issues and challenges and cultivating ideas and initiatives inspired by the local culture that change situations, accelerate growth, and transform outcomes. Embracing technology and new tools is essential for continuous success. 

The advertising industry is a fast-moving environment, but achieving results and servicing your client’s needs in an enthusiastic and calculated approach can’t always be replaced by fancy tools.