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The Influencers

Never Finished: Looking Ahead to 2021

Mazen Jawad, President Horizon Holdings, on how 2021 will build on trends established in 2020 and why the long slog of Covid means that voice search, content and e-commerce will be important areas of focus

Never Finished: Looking Ahead to 2021

Mazen is president of Horizon Holdings (Horizon FCB MENA, BPN MENA, GolinMENA, Blue Barracuda and FuelContent). While he reckons that 2020 has pushed his agencies to their most creative, he says there will be no let-up in disruption and innovation in 2021.


Even though we’re witnessing some countries opening up and many are enthusiastically back on the path towards living the new normality, we’re still living in a Covid reality. The world is still fast transforming, forming new habits that won’t reverse even after the world gets vaccinated. While many businesses and retailers had to close down or face a drop in footfall, it’s essential to have, by now, an ecommerce business plan, a newly redesigned website and a Google verified listing. 

Engaging content will remain center-stage, especially storytelling that reaches the relevant target, connects with its audience, engages with it and drives it to share those stories. We were all born storytellers and hence exciting storytelling will never die out. Stories help create an emotion, a connection, an awareness and hence build brand value but they don’t necessarily drive purchase. We still need to create personalised advertising that targets actions and therefore can activate our clients’ business. While engaging content is a must, it’s still not enough. Customer service and customer reviews are also key to drive a positive reputation, all based on EAT evaluation (Expertise, Authority and Trust). We need to make sure as well that customers are informed that they can contact us through the various social media platforms.  This is a process that demands constant customer relationship management, measuring and optimisation. 

Video content will remain significant and the leading content format whether it’s produced or the continuously booming live video. Video is the fastest, most engaging format to engage, educate and drive an action from our audience. We constantly see positive ROI for video marketing through our clients’ relationships, especially through platforms such as TikTok with easy-to-produce, watch and share short-format videos. A great example would be the Clorox TikTok workout challenge.

Loyalty programs that are personalised and that reward customers based on engagement rather than solely on purchase transactions will add value, bring customers back and bring new ones in. There is a significant population that feels that it deserves rewards based on its engagement with its favourite brands rather than only for monetary transactions. And many feel that games should be included in those loyalty programs, as gamers are more active on social media and can share more valuable content. Gamified content is here to grow. 

Living in a world that wakes up and goes to sleep everyday behind a screen (especially mobile), even more during the current Covid reality, technology and specifically innovative and creative technology will help us reach the more relevant customers, engage faster and drive them to promote our brand and buy our product. Keep an eye on the increasing use of voice search and voice commands in living trends.   

Never Finished, we’ll keep working on unleashing creativity fueled by technology and data.


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