PRWeek Global Awards Winners 2020 - Global PR Professional: In-House

The winner of the Global Professional: In-House category is Omar Zaafrani, senior vice-president, group communications, at Abu Dhabi National Oil Company.

PRWeek Global Awards Winners 2020 - Global PR Professional: In-House

Under Zaafrani's leadership, the comms team at the world's 12th largest oil producer have secured the social and political capital necessary within the company to place comms front and centre of its transition to a forward-looking, progressive oil and gas producer.

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In 2019 Zaafrani and his 54-strong comms team - which grew from just two in 2017 - led PR programmes to improve the ADNOC's reputation. These included work to counter the accusation that the state-owned entity was “slow to move” by the international business, including the Oil & Gas 4.0 campaign, a year-long corporate brand building and thought leadership program targeted at the b2b international audience to reposition ADNOC.

Action to strengthening the ADNOC brand among the local community included launching 'Energy for Life', a nation-wide brand campaign that helped to connect with the local audience at an emotional level by bringing-to-life the ADNOC's role in everyday lives of people in the UAE.

There was also a focus on internal business transformational comms initiatives for the ADNOC's 50,000+ staff, with schemes such as the ADNOC Way, an award-winning employee engagement programme focused on building company culture and instilling pride.

Schemes and programmes led by Zaafrani helped the ADNOC to become the “Most Valuable Brand’ in the Middle East”, for the second consecutive year, according to Brand Finance. The ADNOC was the first regional oil and gas company to be featured in the 2019 Brand Finance Global 500 report with a brand valuation of US$8.9bn.

An employee engagement survey in 2019 showed engagement levels the ADNOC Group level matched or surpassed global industry peer benchmarks. There was also a 10 per cent increase in favorability of the ADNOC brand among Emiratis.

Judge's comment: "A clear leader who has overseen an extraordinary transformation in their organisation and team"

Highly commended

Finola McDonnell, chief communications & marketing officer, Financial Times

Last year saw McDonnell drive the FT's new positioning called The New Agenda - from inception to rollout. It focused on putting the FT firmly on the side of responsible business, underlining its role as a trusted guide to the ‘new normal'. The New Agenda campaign provoked conversations in the media on the future of capitalism and was discussed on top broadcast programmes with a combined reach of more than 15m people. As an example of its impact on sales, on launch day, the FT was cover-wrapped in a yellow ad, declaring: “Capitalism. Time for a reset.” This led to a nine per cent rise in retail print copies sold.


  • Paul Cohen, senior vice president, chief communications officer, Visa Inc.

  • Trevor Hale, CCO/general manager, INFINITI Global Communications

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And the winners are…