x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

FNC adverts 'lack personal touch'

FNC candidates put their newspaper advertising campaigns into overdrive ahead of this weekend's election, but the personal touch was missing from most, says an analyst.

ABU DHABI // Peering seriously from the pages of the Arabic press, their promises and goals printed neatly alongside, FNC candidates put their newspaper advertising campaigns into overdrive ahead of this weekend's election.

But most will have done so in vain, according to Ramzi Haddad, a business development director at Saatchi and Saatchi in Dubai.

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"I'm not the target, so it's very hard for me to judge 100 per cent, but I don't feel that these adverts are extremely effective right now," said Mr Haddad.

None had stood out, he said. Candidates had overlooked making themselves more approachable to the Emirati community.

"I think the big challenge is how to ... connect with consumers on an emotional level. Right now, these ads are connecting on a rational level.

"What you need, really, is to drive the point and create empathy for the candidates and that connection with them on a personal level."

Some of the adverts paid too much attention to design, rather than getting the right message across.

"I think when it comes to political candidates, the big impact is the picture of the candidate and the agenda that he or she has," Mr Haddad said.

"Because you see a rush of advertising at the last minute for these types of political events - rather than a build-up - some are going to go for a one-off [advertisement], and for the FNC, it's important to be able to recognise the candidates, their name, and their number."

One manager at Al Qudrah Advertising and Marketing agency in Dubai said his agency had tried to help several candidates to improve their approach, but their advice had fallen on deaf ears.

"The problem was that these guys didn't listen, they knew everything," he said. "So we were asked to just release an advert, keep quiet, and take the money."

For Jamal Al Mawed, the regional associate account director at Dabo & Co, there had been "some interesting dynamics" to the campaigns. "While some candidates have opted for quite repetitive advertising in Arabic dailies, others have hired communication managers to develop comprehensive electoral campaigns covering advertising, PR, radio interviews and social media," he said.

Others took a more old-fashioned approach. "I did my advert at home, and it was very straightforward," said Abdul Razak Al Hashimi, a retired army officer and candidate from Dubai. "I didn't go for a big campaign because I am a straightforward person and I wanted my advert to reflect that."

zalhassani@thenational.ae