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How to succeed in Dubai’s competitive Advertising Market, advice from an Award-Winning CEO

He wears many hats - marketing genius, risks taker, connector, author, business leader… his conversation with Shaguffta Pattel is a reflection of all that makes Amit Vardhan a person of some distinction

His life mantra is, “Adapt. Embrace change. Make the most of everything that comes your way.”

Meet Amit Vardhan, co-founder of Prism Advertising in the UAE and Prism Communications in the UK, who believes in making the best out of any given situation, turning even life’s “negatives” into “positives”.

He has recently authored a book, ‘Who’s Who’ that speaks on the 5P’s – The right powerful, influential, and effective (Potent) Who’s (People) in all the aspects of life are important to drive (Push) highest level or maximum (Peak) capability (Potential) to achieve success in life. Also active in Business Network International (BNI), he has held various roles and earned accolades. Following the “Givers Gain” philosophy, Amit became a Launch and Support Director, facilitating BNI workshops.

Balancing roles as a son, husband, father, Prism’s CEO, and BNI’s Director Consultant, he strives to align personal goals with universal consciousness.

Tell me about your journey in the advertising industry. What inspired you to start your own advertising company in Dubai?

My journey in advertising started with JK Industries in India in 1994 which was almost 3 decades ago. I worked with JK Industries as Assistant Manager for Advertising and Corporate Communications managing the brands like JK Tyres, JK Pharma etc. I then moved to Muscat, Oman in 1996 and worked with an agency called ADINC which was associated with Bates Pan Gulf and later TY&R. It was part of Zawawi Group, one of the biggest conglomerates of Oman. I worked on many brands Peugeot, Mitsubishi Motors, National Heaters, Reem Batteries, Oman Air and for promoting Omani Brands internationally. I moved to Dubai in 2002 and established Prism Advertising in 2004 and since then we have worked on some of the biggest brands in the world for the region. We have also worked on Bollywood movie premieres, country reports etc.

In your opinion, what are the most crucial elements of a successful advertising campaign?

Advertising is mainly about two things – The Media and The Message. Where do you want to be seen, what you want to say and how will you effectively communicate that to your target audience.

Could you share a challenging situation you faced in your advertising career and how you overcame it?

Advertising throws challenges at you with every campaign if you want to bring innovation in it. I was told to launch a USD 10,000 Korean barbeque grill and they wanted us to put ads in the newspaper. After understanding the brand we realized the product is meant for hotels and catering companies. Press advertising would be a waste of money. So we created an event for the Chefs and by the Chefs where we invited 400 Chefs and purchase managers from Hotels and Catering companies. 40 chefs did live barbeque on the beach for 400 people of their own Industry. Our client could book orders on the day of the launch event.

Advertising is mainly about two things - The Media and The Message

Can you share some key milestones or successful campaigns from your advertising company that you are particularly proud of?

We are proud of winning several awards and accomplishing many successful campaigns. I have personally won the Golden Bugs Bunny Award for the best product launch for Warner Bros Consumer products for Sterling Perfumes, we have won awards in different aspects of advertising – for rebranding Gulf Paints and Aqua de Fonte, also some for creative campaigns done for Phillips for most innovative exhibition stand for Glaxo SmithKline to name a few. We got appreciated for a work done for China and Korea Country reports in local papers and for organizing one of the Biggest India Shows outside India.

How do you balance creativity and practicality when developing advertising strategies for your clients?

We are about creative strategies and strategic creatives; I firmly believe that advertising needs to achieve its objectives of enhancing brand value and increasing sales and if that doesn’t happen it is waste. So every creative has to have a strategy and every strategy should be creatively executed.

How do you stay updated with the latest trends and technologies in the advertising industry? What changes do you foresee in the advertising industry owing to advancing AI?

To stay updated keep yourself connected to the media and information, adapt to the developments or you die as agency and it is the end of career for you. The basics remain the media and message. Like everything else, media evolves and how to communicate and send your message through evolved media is important.

Data analytics and AI is the future of the industry; rather I would it is the present of the industry. Advertising needs to look at Data Analysts and Prompt Engineers to be part of the teams for communication. The pace is getting faster. The demand for content and specific targeting is the key for success.

In your opinion what role do traditional media platforms play in advertising and brand building?

Traditional media like TV, Radio, Press, Outdoor have lost some relevance as the times and media consumption habits change. Some who have kept up with the change will survive rest will find it difficult. Traditional media has to and is trying to adapt to change.

Tell us some platform names that every entrepreneur / business / product should have a presence on?

Every media (Digital, TV, Radio, Press, Outdoor) has its place in the overall communication strategy of any brand or product. All should have a right mix of the media in their strategy. Depending on the product and the campaign objective we need to select the right media.

As a Executive Director at BNI, what strategies do you implement to help businesses grow within the network?

Now more than ever Networking is the way to grow business. “Your Network is your Net worth”. BNI is about putting the right kind of people with positive mind sets and exclusive categories in a room. A room full of Givers will Gain by being together and helping each other and business happens naturally.

What advice do you have for aspiring professionals looking to establish a career in the advertising industry, especially in Dubai’s competitive market?

Learn the basics and keep updated with trends in media and message format. Learning and keeping updated is the only way to survive and grow.

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