Telecommunications companies are now the top-spending advertisers in every category of traditional media in the Middle East as other firms pull back on new campaigns. Zain is the top TV spender across the region, with Etisalat the largest user of newspapers and radio. Vodafone is outpacing all rivals in magazines, while Q-tel's spending is nearly double its closest competitor, du, on outdoor advertising, said a third-quarter report from the Pan Arab Research Center (PARC).
"Government and telecoms have not reduced their spending because they have not been as affected by the crisis that hit the property and financial sectors so badly," said Elie Jichi, the production manager of PARC. While telecoms have long been among the top spenders, their dominance of every medium of advertising is new. Weakness continues in categories such as cars, financial services, property, construction equipment, clothing and jewellery, all of which spent less regionally in the first three quarters of this year than in the same period of last year.
Property ad spending, the hardest hit sector, fell 63 per cent. "The [telecoms] used to have a competitive category in real estate, but that is not the case anymore," said Ghassan Harfouche, the treasurer of the UAE chapter of the International Advertising Association. "They are emerging as an important support to the economy." While regional spending is still growing, its rate of gain dropped to the single digits - 8 per cent - for the first time. Spending rose 24 per cent last year compared with 2007 and 11 per cent in the first six months of 2009.