A Perspective on the Dream Team: Egypt’s Government and the Winds of Change

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The new government comes with the enabled ‘economy team’ and along comes the talk of competitiveness, exporting, branding Egypt, consumer orientation and quality standards. To achieve this, the roads are many but I think that a major milestone in this country’s development will be a true belief in the power of marketing and putting a stop to the ‘fahlawa’ era.

 

While adopting the marketing approach for starters is a major barrier in Egyptian businesses, another hurdle is the management of the marketing practice itself. Subjective inputs from senior managers particularly in family-owned companies as well as centralized decision making as opposed to what the market demands is usually a bat on the head.

 

“Oh …let’s go with a yellow logo, I like this color” or “let’s put my cute niece in the TV commercial” , “ let’s change the pack design and advertise a whole new nutritious  product”, “ why do market research, I know what the market needs”, “ My competitors products are trash”. Sounds familiar?

 

Another killer is when well-established giant companies with good budgets to spend on marketing and could easily afford the best marketers in town, say; “my product is selling itself when it stops, I will think of marketing”. This is simple logic to them (Ok, twisted logic) but the answer to this argument is even simpler. “If you are making good sales today without any marketing imagine what kind of sales the future would generate if aided by marketing?

 

‘Easy sell’ changes to ‘hard sell’ when competition heats. Egyptian businesses in this respect lack the long term vision. It is also true that some multinationals may fall into this trap if run by an expat (Expatriate) with a two year contract thus having a short term plan in mind of appearing to the stakeholders as the hero of sales but not the long term investor in brand equity.

 

I have to be harsh on the marketers themselves as well. Mostly they are too busy with themselves to give back to the industry anything that can boost its lagging professionalism. Not even coaching juniors for example. We need to get together as a marketing community to upgrade the industry practices.

 

Away from the business side, marketing can play an integral role in reforming our society. In the 70s, Philip Kotler and Gerald Zaltman realized that the same marketing principles that were being used to sell products to consumers could be used to "sell" ideas, attitudes and behaviors. Kotler and Andreasen define social marketing as "differing from other areas of marketing only with respect to the objectives of the marketer and his or her organization. Social marketing seeks to influence social behaviors not to benefit the marketer, but to benefit the target audience and the general society.” Thus campaigns like “Save running water”, “pay your income tax”, “vaccinate your baby” to name a few examples.

 

Even on a country level, we as Egyptian citizens have become so negative and passive. Would you like to change this? If yes, then again marketing. If I were writing the brief for this campaign, I would put in the objectives: Change the Egyptian mindset from ‘I’ to ‘we’, from criticizing everything to positively being selective in criticism, for example.

 

Do you realize that Europe’s largest industrial economy –Germany, had the same problem to the extent that former Counselor Gerhard Schroeder had to appeal for the people to stop talking negatively about the German economy as it was actually affecting the business environment? Even further when Angela Merkel took over the government, her first speech to the German people was a speech of encouragement to believe more in their personal abilities and in their country! Today, there is national campaign to improve the morale of the German people with the Slogan "Du bist Deutschland" ("You are Germany"). More and more you find the sign ‘Made in Germany’ coming back with the German Flag to highlight German Products and the pride in good quality produce. Why not follow these footsteps?

 

 

Note:

Dahlia Zayed is currently the Marketing Communications & Insights Manager for North Africa at Cadbury Adams Group. She is also an active member of the Egyptian society and founder of Marketers of Egypt community group. She can be contacted on dahliazayed@yahoo.co.uk

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