Carat, the largest independent media agency, has named Arjan Pomper as the new chief executive to oversee its rapid expansion in the MENA region. Mr Pomper, who had led the Netherlands operations of Carat's parent Aegis Media, takes over at Carat after a year in which it grew from four regional offices to 19. "We have been quite aggressive in the last 12 months in this region just to get in real good shape, because this is a region with huge opportunities," he said.
The company wanted in particular to get in shape to vie for the Nokia account, which it took over from Mindshare last autumn. It expanded mostly through joint ventures and affiliate agreements with local agencies in Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. Antonio Boulos, the chief executive of Aegis Media Middle East, said last autumn the company was also to open offices in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Yemen, Kuwait, Syria, Jordan, Iraq and Sudan.
Mr Pomper is also charged with guiding a restructuring of Carat's regional centre in Dubai. This month Carat, which had been a company with a majority Emirati owner, became 100 per cent owned in Dubai Media City. "Looking at the complex situation in the Middle East, the way you need a sponsor, it was counter to our thinking that we need to be independent from everybody," he said. The move prompted the company to take a "very close look" at its staff, Mr Pomper said, and let go five of its 20 employees in Dubai.
In 2008, Carat bought out the Lebanese partner that owned 49 per cent of the regional business. In the Middle East, Carat works with international brands such as Kellogg's, Philips and Adidas, as well as regional brands such as Meydan and Egypt Telecom. The move to open offices in each MENA region country is counter to the current trend in the advertising industry, with agencies consolidated into regional centres.
Mr Pomper said this showed the difference between advertising and media planning and buying. "Advertising agencies can, to a certain degree, centralise advertising, especially in MENA, where you can have the same tone of voice in your advertising, but you need local expertise when it comes to media." email@example.com