Five minutes with... Keesoo Kim, president and head of Cheil MENA - Gulf Business
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Five minutes with… Keesoo Kim, president and head of Cheil MENA

Five minutes with… Keesoo Kim, president and head of Cheil MENA

Spend in traditional media is declining with most brands focussing on digital, says Kim

How has 2015 been so far for Cheil in the region?

We would like to believe we are the fastest growing agency in the region. The past three years have been particularly instrumental in moving significantly in the direction of becoming an independent global network with 2015 presenting itself as an even more promising year. In the first half of 2015 we have had several business wins and participated in some strong pitches, including global assignments. Even if only half of them come to fruition, we will be very busy this year and beyond.

Are you looking at launching any new services or expanding operations this year?

We are always looking at expanding the scope of our services to offer an integrated approach to our clients. This year for the first time we are offering MediaCube – a programmatic trading desk that uses data and technology to deliver real-time bidding decisions against the most valuable media impressions looking to provide effective digital advertising and performance marketing campaigns.

Will you be hiring in the next six months?

Since 2012, Cheil has doubled in headcount year-on-year, with the current staff strength at 490 people in the region (including our retail production company – One Agency). We are always on the lookout for the best talent, especially in the digital area. Good digital planners, analysts and programmers are rare and always welcome to apply.

How is the overall media and marketing industry performing in the Middle East?

It is slower this year compared to the previous years with media spend in traditional media declining. Brands are now seen re-directing marketing/ad budgets towards digital media.

Which segments within the industry are showing the strongest growth?

Digital marketing is definitely on the rise. Most of the briefs we get today are either digitally or socially driven, or have a strong digital component in them. Also, Middle East smartphone users are regarded as some of the most active and dedicated worldwide. Hence, there is a growing appeal for mobile-first solutions in the region and marketers are quickly getting on the trend.

What are the biggest challenges that it currently faces?

Political instability still continues to affect the levels of confidence in the region. It forces businesses to be more cautious about their investments and hesitant regarding marketing spend. For us it also creates challenges in relocating good talent to the region.

Where do you see the industry headed in the near future?

We have always believed in creating ideas that move. The industry, too, is becoming boundless, unleashing creativity that transcends channel-specific thinking. Social media, search, commerce and mobile activities are so interlinked that communication has to be multi-dimensional, personal and real-time for any marketing activity to make a cut above the rest.

What’s your leadership style?

I believe in empowering people to give them the flexibility and power to innovate and revolutionise the way business is done.

Three tips for becoming the boss…

1. A healthy mind and a healthy body. 2. Enthusiasm for the job. 3. Passion for people.


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