PHD set to open second office by end of the year

Media agency PHD will open a new office in either Qatar or Saudi Arabia by the end of the year.

The company is currently in talks with two candidates to head up each office and according to Samar Salman, general manager at PHD Dubai, the one that signs first will be the office that opens.

She said: "We are still looking at Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Both of them are going hand-in-hand. "We will not open an office unless we have the right person to run it.

"We are in talks with people to lead the Qatar office and the Saudi office. The one that we sign with first will be the office to open first."

Asked when that would be, she replied: "We are pretty close on both. I think end of the year, definitely end of the year."

Salman was speaking as the agency's Dubai staff received training in PHD's latest planning techniques.

Called Etna - which stands for exploration, thought leadership, neuroplanning and action planning - the system is designed to bring together agencies that have a vested interest in media planning.

Claire Goodlad, strategy director at PHD in the UK who was in Dubai to run the two-day training sessions, said: "PHD was never an agency that was led by processes or lots of unnecessary systems people had to use.

"We felt their came a point where clients felt we had to be media neutral and yet knowledgeable about everything and secondly to work more closely with different disciplines and agencies to facilitate that.

"We wanted to come up with a process that bought everyone together. We have created a strategic planning framework that doesn't necessitate being run by a media agency. The whole idea is PHD facilitates everyone who has a vested interest together. It runs as a workshop, but it can also sit on a planners desktop."

She added: "There is lots of territory which the creative agency can come with or the PR agency might know more about or the client will come along with."

Salman said that Etna would be used on some of its existing clients, the first being Danish firm Arla Foods, producers of Lurpak and Three Cows Cheese. Arla suffered heavy losses early this year after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed led to a boycott of Danish companies in the region.

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