Choueiri: it's time to raise ad spending

Media moghul Antoine Choueiri has mapped out his masterplan for Middle East advertising spend to reach US$10 billion by the year 2010, by focusing on ten key categories.

The chairman of the Choueiri Group, which sells advertising on behalf of MBC, LBC and several leading newspapers, said his '10x10x10' strategy could end years of under spending in the region.

"Enough is enough. The media market is not a welfare state," he told the inaugural Campaign Conference. "We have reached a tipping point, and if we do not act quickly and decisively, the future will pass us by."

More than US$5 billion was spent on advertising in the Middle East last year, according to figures from Ipsos-Stat and the Pan-Arab Research Center, but Choueiri said the real value was just US$2 billion. And he argued that TV spend was less than 20% of the reported US$2.6 million.

"The truth is that our region suffers from a very low per capita advertising spend: an average of less than 11 dollars per capita in the Arab world," he said.

"For a part of the world as fast moving as the MENA region, these numbers are nothing less than shocking. Compare the Arab world to the rest of the world and it looks even more abysmal. Clearly this is a case of gross under-spending and a lack of concerted effort from the industry to ensure a balanced and professional approach to advertising spend decisions."

Choueiri expects per capita advertising spend in the GCC to rise from US$40 today to US$100 by 2010, while the population swells to 40 million, raising ad spend to US$4 billion. He expects spend in the Levant to hit US$3.75 billion, and the Maghreb to reach US$2.38 billion.

He blamed the relationship between the advertiser, agency and the media for this under-spending, comparing it to a "dysfunctional family".

"Some agencies need to get their act together, and make a case for their clients to spend correctly based on accurate data and knowledge," he said.

Choueiri re-iterated his pledge to commit up to US$3 million per year for three years towards people meters in Saudi Arabia.

He also called for the formation of an MENA Advertising Action Group to be created under the umbrella of the International

Advertising Association (IAA), and pledged US$1 million towards its operation.

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