Company: ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller, Dubai, UAE
Company Description: ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller is the Middle East's premier public relations consultancy.Over the last decade, ASDA’A has earned its reputation as the Middle East’s largest independent public relations consultancy and the benchmark of PR practice in the region. A growing portfolio of prestigious government and corporate clients, and array of high-profile industry awards, is a reflection of this stature.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Public Relations Agency of the Year in the Middle East and Africa
Nomination Title: ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller
Tell the story about what this nominated agency achieved (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 a twelve-month period which began with businesses in the Middle East resetting their growth strategies following the financial crisis, and culminated in the Arab Spring, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller - a WPP company - shaped public opinion, steered debate and set a new benchmark in evidence-based communications.
Although unable to divulge financial information due to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller was WPP’s most profitable PR agency in the Middle East in 2010, ranked number one in terms of revenue, clients and reach.
A central strength of the agency is its ability to deliver region-wide, with a network of 11 fully-owned offices in nine markets (Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt), seven regional affiliates, and the support of the global Burson-Marsteller team. Today, 140 staff provide strategic counsel, local insight and on-ground programme delivery for clients looking to communicate across Middle East markets.
Strong client performance
As well as strengthening and growing existing client relationships - including multi-market accounts for global businesses like Accenture, American Express, Ford, GE, HP, and Microsoft; and regional clients including Aramex, Emaar, Emirates NBD (region’s largest bank by assets), Etisalat (region’s largest telecoms operator) and MH Alshaya Co. (retail giant) - the agency racked up an impressive list of new business wins. These included developing the Middle East communications strategy for Total across 13 markets, and a 16-market account serving three Lufthansa Group brands (bmi, Lufthansa, SWISS).
A key agency contribution was proactively identifying the aspirations of the region’s youth, who played such a central role in reshaping the region’s geopolitical structure in 2011. ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller’s proprietary Arab Youth Survey continued to highlight the democratic aspirations of young people – the survey’s headline finding in 2009. In 2010, more than 2,000 face-to-face interviews were conducted with young Arabs in the GCC, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. Once again, results showed the eagerness to be active political participants - fully borne out as 2011 began. Findings also highlighted the huge increase in youth online engagement, which the agency capitalised upon, strengthening its in-house digital division region-wide.
The agency’s portfolio of government, semi-government and private-sector clients makes it imperative that communications strategies are tailored to address regional reputational issues – showcased for the UAE Government as it hosted the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda (November 2010), bringing 700 world leaders and international media to Dubai. The agency encouraged community participation on and offline in the Forum, billed as ‘the world’s biggest brainstorm.’
A great place to work
ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller - with 140 employees, 60 per cent of whom are women, from 27 nationalities - has long encouraged workplace diversity. Its single-digit staff turnover rate is extremely low, reflecting a commitment to its people and meritocratic performance appraisals based on the Balanced Score Card.
The agency also took time to give back during B-M’s One Week for Kids, hosting a picnic in Dubai for the Special Families Group, a network of families with children and teenagers with special needs.
List hyperlinks to any online news stories, press releases, video clips, work samples, 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, [http://www.youraddress.com]:
Provide a brief (up to 100 words) biography about the leader of this nominated agency:
Sunil John has been at the heart of the public relations business for nearly two decades. He has shaped ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller to be the benchmark of regional public relations consultancy, advising regional governments, international brands and local companies.
Listed on the “Arabian Business Expat 50” of the Most Influential Non-Arab Expatriates in the Middle East in 2009/2010/2011 – Sunil is the only PR Industry figure on the list.
He is UAE National Chair of the International Public Relations Association (IPRA); Vice President of its Gulf Chapter, and has been elected as a member of the new IPRA Governing Body, representing the UAE. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the College of Communications at Sharjah University.