WPP, Ogilvy PR prep for wave of journalists at second Suez Canal opening

A coalition of WPP agencies won the account earlier this summer.

"Bittersee suezkanal" by gregor rom - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
"Bittersee suezkanal" by gregor rom - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

CAIRO, EGYPT: A consortium of WPP agencies is working with about 200 journalists who will be on hand this week to cover the opening of a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Suez Canal.

Their campaign was "designed not only to embrace and involve the Egyptian people but also to tell the story of the canal to a global audience," according to a statement from Ogilvy Public Relations.

The group of firms working on the account, won earlier this summer, is led by Memac Ogilvy Public Relations with help from Memac Ogilvy & Mather, Media Waves, Emeco Travel, JWT, Richard Attias, and Mindshare.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi will officially open the canal on Thursday, a year after construction began and two years ahead of the original schedule.

"This canal really is the symbol of ‘the new Egypt,’" said Jennifer Risi, MD of media influence and head of media relations for North America at Ogilvy PR.

Work on the Suez Canal ceremony aligns with Ogilvy PR’s other international projects, including work in Mexico, France, and China, as well as its work in Columbia and for Brand USA, said Stuart Smith, global CEO of the firm. It’s also a reflection of the growth of PR over the past half-decade in areas such as the Middle East, Turkey, and sub-Saharan Africa, he added.

"This is a signature moment in Egypt’s history," said Smith. "When you read its Wikipedia page in 10 years’ time it’ll say ‘the opening of the expansion of the Suez Canal.’"

The $8.5 billion project is designed to shorten waiting times on the canal, which is one of the world’s most important waterways. The extension includes dozens of miles of new channels. Egyptian officials say the extension will boost the number of ships using the channel daily from 49 to 97 by 2023, generating $13.2 billion.

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