Global communications firm APCO Worldwide was named the best Middle East agency at the PRWeek Global Awards 2019 as senior figures from across the global PR industry gathered for the glittering gala awards night in the UK.
APCO Worldwide - which has four regional bases; in Dubai, Abu Dhabi Riyadh and its newly-launched Bahrain office - took home the coveted trophy in the Best Agency: Middle East category in the highly anticipated 2019 edition of the PRWeek Global Awards, while Four Communications Group was highly commended in the same category.
Other regional winners included Rashed Al Harmoodi, who scooped Best PR Professional – Middle East. Al Harmoodi leads external relations for the UAE’s Mubadala Investment Company, one of the world’s biggest sovereign wealth funds.
Al Harmoodi oversees a team of more than 17 communications professionals, as well as being part of the group managing the global relationship with agency Edelman.
At the heart of his role is transparent and engaging financial reporting; his duties also include corporate affairs, government communications, more than 20 partnerships, community initiatives and sponsorship properties, and executive profiling, through which he has helped Mubadala chief Khaldoon Al Mubarak gain international respect.
The winner of the Best Campaign – Middle East/Africa, was Edelman, which employs 130 people across the region. The Dubai arm off the PR firm won the trophy for its #HearItFromMe campaign for LinkedIn which encouraged women in Saudi Arabia to showcase their professional skills on the platform.
In the same category, Hill+Knowlton Strategies MENA was highly commended for its campaign; The Super Six - GOSHxSuperhope for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
The Superhope journey at GOSH started in May 2018 with one central question: ‘if you were a superhero, how would you imagine yourself?’.
Best-selling London comic book artist, Amrit Birdi, visited GOSH to capture these answers and sketch out the children’s imagination onto a page.
These sketches, unbeknown to the children, were transformed into real-life costumes and as soon as the costumes were ready, Superhope and GOSH surprised the children with their bespoke costum.
At the launch of the documentary film and trailer, invited guests and family members saw the patients as superheroes for the first time.
As GOSH treats 1,500 children from the Middle East every year for rare and specialist conditions, the campaign was tailored towards empowering children from UAE and Kuwait during their time in hospital.
Elsewhere, in the Product Brand Development category, ad agency TBWA\RAAD was highly commended for its work with the Louvre Abu Dhabi to prove the UAE’s capital’s monument is far from a traditional - or predictable - museum.
More than 12,000 people drive the Dubai-Abu Dhabi E11 highway every day, listening to their radios but without much to look at. For the campaign, the agency decided to use the highway and the radio to provide a surprising museum first-look.
The museum's top masterpieces were reproduced in giant frames and placed along the highway, and for each artwork, a special FM radio jammer powered by solar panels was installed. When drivers approached a billboard, the FM transmitter synchronized and intercepted their car radios, triggering the Louvre Abu Dhabi museum audio guide.
Instantly, a story about the art piece would broadcast through their speakers.
On Tuesday, senior figures from across the global PR and communications industry assembled at the annual gala awards night, this year held at London Marriott Hotel, Grosvenor Square.
Internationally, Weber Shandwick won the most Awards in the night, with six – although after four years, its Global Agency crown passed to sister Interpublic consultancy Golin.
The Editor’s Choice award for Campaign of the Year went to Always Fights to #EndPeriodPoverty by MSL for Procter & Gamble (New York). The campaign won three awards overall as MSL picked up four in total.
Among the other Gold Award winners, HP Inc. picked up the Global Brand prize, while the company’s Karen Kahan was named Global Professional – In-house.
London’s Manifest Group was named International Agency, Gail Heimann of Weber Shandwick New York won the Global Professional – Agency accolade, and Peter McGuinness of Chobani was named Global Marketer.
The Awards celebrate transformative work that crosses global territories, as well as the best work in different regions.
An elite panel of judges from across the US, UK, Europe, Asia, LATAM, Middle East, Americas and Africa reviewed and scored each entry.
This year there were nine new categories, all focused on different regions, including the Middle East.
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