Serviceplan Group Middle East
We’re calling it the Serviceplan Group Middle East Diary: Every week, one of our team members will be sharing what’s currently going on in her or his life at Serviceplan Group Middle East.
My desk looks like a mini tornado… I keep my stuff all over the place. Some people consider it ‘messiness’, but I call it ‘creative chaos’. I believe if you need to look for something really hard to find it, and you do, then you will never forget its contents. It’s a surreal concept really, but it works for me.
I’ll drown you with ‘Mansaf’, and you will never need another calorie in your life. Jordan is the hub of funny people, men and women, as opposed to popular belief, which states Jordanians are angry frowny people. You’re more than welcome to visit the lowest point on Earth, the Dead Sea, and stand under one of the 7 wonders of the World, the Petra.
You can find me somewhere, with a friend or two, maybe with a glass of wine or two, talking about a profound subject or two, playing an instrument or two. There is never a regular place to find me in, but I would like to find myself travelling all the time, to get to know life on a deeper level.
I can imagine it might get too deep now here, which means I will leave you alone for now. Nevertheless, with a deep quote of one of my favorite stand-up comedian:
‘I have a lot of beliefs, but I live by none of them, they’re just my little beliefies.’
Apart from hanging out with my friends, my recent favorite thing is to look for new activities with my baby: Playgrounds, beaches, development and swimming classes are on the top list for the coming weekends! It may sound boring for some but I get super excited when I spend time with my small family.
Yes, this is absolutely true – I love my job the most, when the client is satisfied after a long and hard-working journey! My biggest personal challenge is a lack of inspiration to come up with new ideas. In this case: Coffee is my absolute savior!
My home country is Lebanon, and if I know you or not you’ll hear me calling you my “Habibi”. Literally Habibi means my darling or my love, but in Lebanon we use it for every single person and in any situation.
So, thank you for reading, Habibi! 🙂
When you ask what inspires me the most I would answer that learn in everything you do! Both in my personal and professional life I make sure that whatever I do, I learn from it – even if it’s a mistake. The keenness to learn, inspires me to take up new challenges every day!
- You want to know a funny fact about my home country? Then let me tell you that the game ‘Snakes and Ladders’ was invented in India in the 14th century by a poet Saint Gyandev. The ladders represent the virtues while the snakes indicate vices. The game was designed on the basis of the concept that good deeds take you to heaven while bad deeds take you to hell.
My relaxation therapy after a week-long hectic work schedule is spending time on Dubai’s beautiful beaches. Dubai is one of the most amazing and remarkable travel destinations, enclosed by the towering skyscrapers, stunning islands, seven star hotels and the extravagant malls… but my personal favorite will still stay close to the sea and sand since it relaxes me the most.
Learn – Unlearn – Relearn
It’s been my favorite place for the past 25 years!
But what I love about it the most is that you will make lifelong friends because you all share similar experiences of living and working in this exciting yet challenging, truly foreign environment through which you learn a lot about the world.
I enjoy the wide variety Dubai has to offer: from theme parks to private beach clubs, from incredibly opulent shopping malls to cinema complexes and an abundance of restaurants. From indoor snowboarding to the most remarkable music and food festivals Dubai really does have it all – it never gets boring for me and there is always something new to discover!
I guarantee that you don’t know what hummus is until you’ve had it at Hashim, an open-air falafel place in Amman’s old downtown.
“Listen, smile, agree and then do whatever you were going to do anyway.”
Just to mention one example, currently I’m being involved with the Social Media Account Executives in coming up with content ideas for the brands that they manage. We keep each others’ eyes and ears open for new ideas and see with which brand we can use it creatively.
The Philippines! I just recently came back from home spending it wakeboarding, surfing, rock climbing, island hopping, all the water works! My recommendation for you is a free-dive for 15 seconds and you emerge in a cave lagoon. An almost neon blue water greets you and you swim in it, it is magnificent. You will probably never run out of new things to discover there!
It’s by listening to other people’s stories I learn about them and in the process, I learn about myself too. There’s a quote by Bill Nye, “Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”
Our office is located in Dubai Design District. Which means most of the art shows, events, and interesting talks are always happening here. I feel like I’m in the center of everything art-related.
“I did it by doing the things I was afraid of doing so that I would no longer be afraid.”
-this quote by Sandra Cisneros helped me transitioning aka choosing life in Dubai. Everything’s a learning process and continuously doing things you’re afraid keeps you growing. (I suggest picking up her book, “The House on Mango Street.”)
I have since lived in Asia for over 20 years before moving to Dubai three years ago. In my free time, you will see me wakeboarding around the Palm Jumeirah, coaching my son’s junior rugby team and watching the Australian Wallabies National Rugby Team at the pub. Otherwise, I enjoy pretty much any sport, with indoor snow skiing in the desert a crazy highlight!
When I was living in Singapore, I was designing everything from Formula 1 race experiences to theme parks, museums, traveling exhibitions and launch events, and being fortunate enough to pick up a number of awards along the way. Many people ask why I would leave such an awesome city as Singapore. The question and the answer is ‘why?’. This word constantly pushes me to keep moving forward in all I do. If my reason for staying in one spot isn’t a compelling answer to this question then it’s time for something new.
It’s a little unsophisticated, but very unforgettable and I reckon this is a lot like Aussies and Australia. Take a Tim Tam and a cup of hot chocolate, bite the ends off the Tim Tam and then suck the hot chocolate through the open ends of the Tim Tam like a straw. The Tim Tam explodes into this deliciously decadent molten chocolate experience. You’re welcome!
So if you try it or not, I leave you now with my favorite words:
Treat people as you wish to be treated!
and work on everything from websites and digital display campaigns, to content creation, apps and other digital concepts for clients like Danone Nutricia, BMW, DIFC and MAN Truck. We’re currently working on a set of Facebook Messenger chatbots for one of our clients too which is really interesting!
and a sucker for gadgets. I’m passionate about how technology is changing our world, as well as how it can facilitate creative marketing and I’m always looking for the next big thing and for how we can make our clients first-movers. I send out an internal digital newsletter every week to make sure everyone is up-to-date on all the exciting new tech possibilities to get people’s creative juices flowing.
It’s actually such a good way of disconnecting from the always-on life that most of us live these days hooked up to our smartphones and laptops. I love writing too and try to keep my own blog updated as well as writing the occasional piece for the Serviceplan blog and a couple of magazines in the industry. I also love playing video games and am crazy about football, including a pretty heavy obsession with Manchester United.
– in Turkey, Morocco, South Africa, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The project is giving me enough caffeine, to meet tight deadlines of other exciting projects like a tailor made mobile showroom design for our client to reach multiple cities throughout China without the heavy investment of a network of showrooms. Actually… Not the caffeine, it is more the exuberant team, which is the secret ingredient for me – love you team!
is doing any kind of activities together with my beautiful wife and my children. It doesn’t matter if we go for a swim, dance, play golf, make music together or spend some time with good friends. These are the best moments in life.
was watching Yusuf Islan/Cat Steven’s 50th Year Anniversary Acoustic Tour Concert in Glasgow, UK last November. I still get goosebumps when I think of this gig – after all these years of singing the songs of the legendary superstar in the bathroom. How cool is it, to have him as one of our valuable clients? I bet you’re jealous now! 🙂
I still appreciate being back home in Singapore – it has some things in common with Dubai, like the multicultural society, but what is outstanding: it is such a food paradise! I can’t wait to go back some time soon, together with my family.
I have to make a move – guess to where? Of course to the airport! Client is calling! Although some travels are long and some stories are not easy to tell, don’t forget:
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift… that’s why they call it present.” – Master Oogway
So, I hope you don’t mind me telling you a tiny little bit about my country: We are one of the largest producers of crude oil and the most populous country in Africa. We boast of more than 250 ethnic groups and home to the largest diversity of butterflies in the world. One thing that sets us apart is our diverse culture, our mouth-watering delicacies (Jollof rice) and the love of Afrobeat music (Fela Kuti). Aside from having immense love for fashion (Editor’s note: exhibit A – ChiChi!), Nigerians are well known for being very hospitable, happy and resilient – which ties into my day to day work.
Everyday comes with a different set of tasks but it has to start with a cup of coffee – thank goodness I have a machine right by my desk. Throughout the day, I multitask between administrative and HR duties, taking 20-30 calls from clients, customers and marketers and diverting calls to the appropriate recipient. I also take care of walk-in guests and ensure they leave with a pleasant memory of the office. I handle all employee leave applications, coordinate travel arrangements which include flights and hotel bookings. I also help colleagues resolve issues related to IT, visa applications, insurance applications and ensure the general welfare of everyone at SPME.
Going out of my way to make other people happy and being kind inspires me. I enjoy the time I spend with my colleagues at work, I feel like a member of a hard-working team, it makes me happy and motivated to work hard. I could also say that success is my biggest motivator. I love putting my all into everything I do and getting the job done right.
So on the weekend, you will find me at the beach jet skiing or laying in the sun soaking up the heat while reading a fiction novel or fashion magazine. I go to church every Friday morning. I come from a religious family and I love God. I am a fashion fanatic so you will most likely bump into me at the mall shopping, trying out new dresses or going to see a movie at the cinema. You might also find me playing snooker or hanging out with friends at Kiza (one of my favorite African Restaurant in Dubai).
And with that, I will leave you with my favourite quote:
“Trust yourself. You know more
than you think you do.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock
I’ve joined Serviceplan in August as the new Senior Account Manager for MINI. What I like the most so far about my working days is the amount of new things I get to know day by day. The team made me feel like I have been here forever since the day I joined – I cannot emphasize on how great the team is. Thank you, team!
I love being active and even though it is Dubai – which is very hot most of the time – I try to do outdoor activities as much as possible. As long as the sea is not getting too warm, water sports are just perfect in the heat!
which explains my love for hiking and cooking. As you may know, there are not many possibilities going for a hike in Dubai – but have you ever been on a hiking trip to Hatta in the UAE or Salalah in Oman?! Give it a try – it is very exciting (but of course not comparable to the mountains back home)!
and fill your lungs with fresh air – this is what I miss the most from home. I really love my home country in so many aspects: food, lifestyle and of course Spanish people J
I love chatting in Spanish to my colleagues from Argentina and Colombia from time to time. Nevertheless, experiencing something new is always a good idea – whether by living in the desert, joining a new team or trying something new. So always keep in mind:
If it doesn’t challenge you,
it won’t change you!
I am responsible for finalizing artwork for our clients. I have just completed jobs for Marriot Al Forsan in Abu Dhabi and been briefed on a couple of print ads and social media assets for City Properties. My work involves a lot of editing, color correction and other technical things that are far from boring.
Living on one island is already fun but having that many in one place allows endless travel and adventure with the family. Every year I go home and do some island hoping with my family. I have two kids – a son who is in high school and a daughter who recently graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia. I am really proud of her and to see all my hard work abroad has helped her achieve her dreams really brings a smile to my face.
I love that I have been able to incorporate my job and passion which inspired me to start studying videography. On weekends, I am out and about shooting and editing everyday life and putting into practice what I am learning. Hopefully one day, it can be part of my job as well.
and has given me the opportunity to develop creatively both at work and outside of work. I am motivated by practicing and applying all that I have learnt from my colleagues and the courses I have been studying.
I will leave you with my favorite quote:
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Zigla
for our clients including BMW, MINI, Rolls-Royce and Apta Advice. I am always excited to learn new things so this has been quite an exciting period in my work life and getting used to working with Arabic copy. I work with a great creative team; we have immense fun brainstorming ideas that either become simple or complex animations, or video edits that I create.
A very surprising thing to me is to hear that people don’t close the door of their houses! I have now picked up this bad habit as my flat mates recently pointed out to me – oops! Luckily my sister and her family are close by in Abu Dhabi and I get to spend time with my gorgeous twin nieces and I have found brilliant Bikram yoga studios to keep me Zen, especially right now as we are knee deep in an exciting digital pitch for a client.
It doesn’t get better than Mediterranean food. I am however looking forward to discovering more of Dubai once the heat and humidity dies down. I did however attend my first Suhoor a few weeks after moving here. For those who don’t know, Suhoor is the meal before the days fasting. It was weird eating that late at night but it was a fun evening and a great way to get to know my new colleagues at SPME.
this BMW launch documentation video won’t get itself done!
now let’s talk about what I like to do in my spare time. I have been in Dubai for 8 years and I was planning to move from here after completing my Bachelor’s degree LOL! Now I have a Master’s degree and married. So Dubai has become home for me and slowly I have fallen in love with it.
It can be as simple as trying a new cuisine or a new game. This is why I love Dubai, as there is always something new and tasty to sink your teeth into J I have also taken up chess, which has proven slightly more challenging to learn than I expected but practice makes perfect and I am determined to get better, till then my husband can enjoy winning.
right now I am busy rebranding most of the client showrooms as Ramadan and Eid are over and we need to replace all the layouts. Also the first ever BMW 5 Series PHEV is about to be launched so I am working on a launch campaign and event for it for one of the markets. This is exciting and I love the thrill of seeing a concept come to life. It is not always easy but where would the fun be if it weren’t a bit of a challenge right?
Talk to you guys later,
need to release an OOH Bye!!
My Lebanese passport is quite challenging from time to time, but there was no country so far which did not let me in! My next travels (after Lebanon) will be South Africa, Mexico and Cuba – Insha’Allah the embassy is accepting my application.
Dubai is changing everybody to a more open-minded and more international oriented person – at least this is what I think. Although my name is Mohamad – the most Arab name you’ll ever find – it’s also changed me. The pace of this city helped me grow my experience pretty fast, so did my career. I’m one of a handful of “Serviceplan Middle East” pioneers, who have been with the agency from the beginning. After we’ve defined work processes and built up the agency, I’m now leading the creative team through pitches and clients briefs.
but driven by a great deal of passion and devotion when it comes to the actual craft poured into an idea. With passion for creativity and my growing team I try to follow my routine through the working day. Depending on the amount and complexity of projects I follow my routine or I spend the day solving challenges.
We are the perfect mix of people coming from different backgrounds, different cultures and different ways of showing creativity. Each of them is adding a special value to the team – I simply love all of them!
And if you don’t know, now you know.
(by Notorious B.I.G.)
The last two months have been crazy with client Ramadan campaigns running across the agency – finishing layouts, copy and engaging ideas. It was an exciting and busy time but we are very happy with the end result of all our social campaigns.
for BMW & MINI Middle East with new content topics and visual direction. We have been working closely with the client to create this and we are in the final stages of development, looking forward to the new direction, which we will then introduce to the importers too.
and this is what makes me wake up every morning. I am always online! You will find me taking a selfie, documenting the moment with a photo or sending WhatsApp voice notes to my sister or mum – whom I am very close to. It is my first year in Dubai and I miss my family and friends back home in Egypt, but I am really happy that I get to see them this month as I will be going for my brother’s wedding.
I also enjoy working on the Danone account [Apta Advice and Bebecare] as I get to come up with new ideas to engage their female audience. It also helps in preparing me to be a successful future mom!
you will find me hanging out with friends, shopping or pizza and movies with my husband. I am a big Minions fan – I have a minion toy on my desk, a Minion’s poster hung in my home. Yeah true in my home! I am so excited that today I am going to the cinema to watch the new minion movie ‘’Despicable me 3’’ with my team.
Gotta go, time for today’s selfie! Can’t keep my followers waiting…
I contemplated working in London after university, it’s a good three-and-a-half-hour journey so I thought that’s a big enough of an adventure. However come graduation I found myself sat on a plane heading to work 85 miles from the equator in Singapore. After making great friends, learning the odd bit of Singlish, and tucking into some great Asian food – you can pass me a bowl of Ramen or a steamer of Dim Sum any day of the week – I found myself on another journey to the Middle East.
Which all leads to my day to day work; designing ways of telling our clients stories through engaging experiences. Connecting with people and taking them on a journey, experiencing the good and not so-good, yet all producing the desired story which people will share and remember. Finding the right method or journey to communicate the story is all part of the fun.
I am also involved in quite a few activations for clients from the Middle East to South East Asia. This is what I love about my work, the endless variety of experiences and the people you meet along the way. This includes presenting to a Sultan on his front porch in a full suit and 32 degree heat and accepting an award from a President for a project telling the stories of people separated by distance yet united through photography.
Yet another chance to share the weekly stories of my first week of driving in Dubai (with a steering wheel on the wrong side of the car) to a random man offering a falcon to my best friend in the middle of the desert!
I am really looking forward to the next journey…
I have no routine as I have to keep myself flexible for both scheduled and unscheduled meetings – from briefings to debriefs, and from brainstorming sessions to grilling sessions. Positioning brands as well as planning physical and virtual consumer engagements is honestly not a walk in the park. It usually involves a lot of ground work and digging to uncover insights to define strategic directions, only to be challenged and compelled to rework the groundwork all over again.
Of course, let me introduce myself: I am Frances Bonifacio – an accidental yet passionate strategist inside and outside of work! I was a communications pioneer with three of the biggest car brands in the market before I stumbled upon my passion for strategy and insighting. My career in marketing and communications began in the Philippines, and some 8 years ago, the door to the Middle East was opened with the establishment of Serviceplan Middle East.
Along with the other “seniors,” I’ve helped define the working processes and the current “collaborative” atmosphere in the agency. Right now I am focused on a couple of big pitches, while helping creatives shape Ramadan campaigns for our highly discriminating clients. Ramadan is a critical season for the region, so we start the planning phase a few months early.
If you don’t see me buried in a sea of books, you’re more than welcome to challenge me to a strategy board game (Dominion Intrigue, ftw!) Hanging out with my 19 year old son is another joy of mine. We share a lot of similar interests including photography and binging Netflix. I have yet to get him excited over analogue or old-school film photography, though.
Anyone in the office will tell you how much I enjoy my coffee and you will always see me with a coffee mug. Lucky for me this region now has a burgeoning range of specialy coffee-shops which means my weekends are spent trying the newest third place concept in town.
Talking about coffee – who took my coffee muuuuuuuuuuuuug?!
Originally, from Pakistan, I have been in Dubai for the last 16 years. Back then, I lived in Gardens and I could see the beach from my balcony – there weren’t as many tall buildings then! I came to Dubai with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to open their Middle East office. I worked there for several years before joining Espresso, which went on to become Mediaplus Espresso, a part of the Serviceplan Group Middle East late 2016.
One of our teams more luxurious activations is our on-going work on the VIP terminal at Dubai South – which offers VIP customers a seamless travel experience. We have created a unique space to maximize and revolutionize the customer experience by offering luxury product placements, experiential advertising, discreet promotions, limited editions, bespoke and specially curated products.
Right now we are busy with a new coffee house concept called “Lavender House of Coffee” as well as an exciting new lifestyle hotel in Downtown Dubai which is part of the Marriot brand – Renaissance Downtown Hotel set to open this summer.
As the Head of Activations, I am heavily involved in each step of a project – from creating an identity for each activation, naming, collateral and execution. I am constantly on the go, including weekends as a lot of activations take place then, which at the same time doesn’t leave much down time for me..
…but I love the endless adrenaline of getting a job done.
The newsletter is a way of providing the importers with the latest information from Regional Office and highlighting any exciting upcoming events in the region – right now it’s all about the launch of the all-new BMW 5 Series, which most of the agency has been working tirelessly on for the last couple of weeks.
I have recently returned from another amazing culinary adventure in Italy My brother lives there so I go there every year but this time my family flew in from Egypt for a great big delicious Christmas. The cold weather didn’t stop us from exploring the beauty of Italy either and I would definitely recommend going to Como – so much beauty and history all in one place.
what excites me the most about what I do is creating something from scratch, the endless creative ideas and constant innovation. I‘ve always wanted work in advertising. It’s been a year and 4 months now and I come every day to work looking forward to a new project and learn from my amazing managers, creatives and all at Serviceplan Middle East.
Oh, I forgot to send a report. Bye!
It was the first time for me to travel outside of the UAE – apart from my trips to Kerala (India), where I’m from. I loved it – the food, the people, the weather… Unfortunately, it didn’t snow when I was there. But it was really cold. We spent most of the time at the main BMW office tower, but we had time in the evening to visit the Christmas market and nice restaurants.
It’s a brand I can relate to – I’ve got a 3-year old daughter, Janki. I’m reading a lot about the different stages of children’s development while I’m working on their nutrition and grow-up milk jobs. I’m glad that my wife is taking care of our daughter. 😉 But when I’m at home, I do like to play a lot with Janki. Together with my wife we like to explore new places on the weekends. Even though we’ve been in Dubai for 9 years now it’s never getting boring. And in case I do get bored I still have my Playstation. My wife keeps telling me to stop playing – but this is how I relax from work, I’m a techy after all. J
Many of my SPME colleagues know him. I’d like to invite the whole agency to join the celebration – it would be really great to see them all at my home.
Colleagues, if you read this –
come visit me in India!
Thanks guys! Be sure to check out “Who cares what they say” in our newsletter.
When I’m not bringing joy and fabulousness to those around me, I work on the Rolls-Royce account. As the account manager, I am the link between the client and the agency, mainly the creative department.
Right now, things are a little mad as we are preparing for the opening of a really extraordinary new Rolls-Royce Showroom, launch events for a brand-new Rolls-Royce model as well as campaigns for existing models.
When I know my seniors are happy with my performance. That always fills me with a sense of satisfaction and pride in what I do.
My headphones for sure – I can’t live without music; it always keeps me going, and dancing. Right now am very into James Blunt, Ed Sheeran and Norah Jones. Creatively I am also inspired by fashion and art and I do a bit of sketching in my spare time.
I leave you with some wise words from Kahlil Gibran “Work is love made visible.”
is one crazy and amazing ride. I get to work on a lot of fun and exciting jobs – currently my team and I are preparing a really cool activity for MINI. But since social media is a fast moving media the deadlines are often tight. Thank God I work with a great team! Being part of the social media means I should always be on my toes, so the pressure is really on.
Right now I am busy with various social media campaigns for October. Many people underestimate the job we’re doing. We’re not just posting random photos and content. All content plans are worked out down to the smallest detail and in advance. But of course, we still have to keep them flexible enough so we can refer to current events if needed.
So it’s a busy time for me. I would not be able to survive without my laptop, phone and my collection of toys from Kinder Surprise eggs that take up a bit of space on my desk.
aside from the cliché answer “God, family, and friends”, I easily get inspired by kind people, happy environment, and bucket lists. Right now my bucket list includes skydiving, parasailing, hiking, and other outdoor adventures. I just need the Dubai weather to cool down a bit before I head out and tick off my list.
Well, everyone back home of course! And oh, street food and beaches. So I really can’t wait to get a ticket to Manila! For now, I shall explore the beauty of Dubai. ♥