A big thanks,
to big thinkers.
I’m blessed to have worked with some of the best creative minds, brands and organizations globally. Along the way, I’ve digitally transformed organizations, raised the creative bar, won awards, built brands and grew multidisciplinary teams from the ground up. Without the support of big thinkers, I would not be where I am today.
Get an insight into my work from the people I’ve worked with. I’ve curated articles and reviews from around the world wide web so you can get the story from them.
Role: Director of Marketing at Qatar Museums
Reinventing the arts and culture category
Qatar is a small but influential nation in the Arabian Peninsula. One that is changing rapidly, as it develops significant international influence and welcomes in expats from around the world.
By 2011, Qatar was reflecting on its own identity and the role that arts and culture could play in shaping it. Plans were already well underway for an astonishing collection of national museums and great collections were being built to be housed within them.
Working closely with Wolff Olins we identified, extracted and honed a much bigger ambition. Qatar Museums – as it is today more simply named – now behaves not solely as a museum manager, but as an organisation with the potential to change the career choice of a generation of young Qatari residents.
The new brand sets out to help the country originate art, culture and heritage experiences from within, rather than from abroad. This effort will span generations. To aid the undertaking, Qatar Museums are building a new arts infrastructure for the nation, that will broaden opportunities long into the future.
This mission raises huge and ongoing questions: How to truly engage local audiences? How to address negative preconceptions among the international community? How to build a creative future for the people of Qatar rich enough to enable new careers and release untapped talent?
At the heart of the story
The strategy hinged on the creation of a single-minded brand purpose: to be ‘a cultural instigator for the creation generation’. This sat alongside three strategic priorities that fed into a wider transformation programme led by the COO. Each of these priorities set out to take the experience of arts and culture out of glass cases and hushed buildings, and into the hustle and bustle of people’s daily lives.
The strategy touched almost every part of the organisation – from finance to curatorial. And we designed a vibrant creative expression to carry the organisation’s new purpose, as well as a robust brand architecture to help manifest its role in different ways across the city and the world.
It was important to make all this change real within the organisation, and so as a team we worked with individuals, coaching them to think, plan and act in a unified, mission-led way.
Delivering proof-points that set the intention at launch, including an internal event for 1200 people chaired by H.E. Sheikha Mayassa, a brand education centre constructed on site and a website presenting the wealth of work to the public.
Through constant collaboration, and dedicated teams in London and Doha, we became true partners with Wolff Olins. We encouraged senior executives to stay true to the long-term vision, despite significant leadership changes, including at government level.
New roots, new shoots
Although these are early days on a generations-long journey, the output is extraordinarily impressive. Richard Serra has installed his greatest masterpiece in the Western desert, as a response to that special landscape. The MIA and Mathaf are world-class museums setting global agendas and – increasingly – fostering local audiences. The National Museum of Qatar – an ethnographic celebration of the history and culture of Qatar – is well underway and at the Fire Station, fledgling Qatari artists are finding their voice while talent is nurtured through a number of Qatar Museums leadership programmes . There are now also a number of highly-regarded mentoring programmes to help young people take their first steps towards becoming museum professionals or recognised arts practitioners.
DAMIEM HIRST: RELICS
Role: Director of Marketing at Qatar Museums
Introducing controversial contemporary art to a conservative culture
As part of a series of cultural initiatives by Qatar Museums which aim to redress the traditional boundaries between eastern and western art in the Middle East, the largest retrospective of Damien Hirst’s work was displayed at Qatar Museums ALRIWAQ Doha. Spanning over 27 years, ‘Relics’ is the artist’s largest and first solo show in the Middle East.
Damien Hirst is an internationally renowned artist and is reportedly the United Kingdom’s richest living artist. Death is a central theme in Hirst’s works. He became famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved—sometimes having been dissected—in formaldehyde. A topic that is religiously controversial in Qatar and in the Middle East.
Since Damien Hirst was unknown to Qatar and his art would create cultural backlash and controversy a clear marketing and communication strategy to introduce him to the region, create curiosity in Art and instigate discussion on a controversial subject was pivotal.
This is not just a shark in a tank: I agree / I disagree
Through a series of educational programs and events, intertwined with 3 phased marketing and communication plan that spanned a period of 4 months, ‘Relics’ was positioned as an exhibition that gives you something to think about.
Creative executions that featured artwork and statements to encourage debate on whether Damien Hirst’s art was “not just what they appeared to be” were at the core of all communication.
Rather than kick starting the campaign with traditional media, the heart of the campaign was the exhibition website, used to generate and house user generated content from across all channels.
Social media played a vital role in educating audiences on contemporary art. While on-ground experiences, launched across high footfall areas invited audiences to explore Damien Hirst’s art and share thoughts on video to be featured on the website.
Since the Qatari culture feeds off word of mouth, it was essential for Qatar Museums to give audiences something to talk about. As part of the initial phase of launch, a replica of Damien Hirst – The Immortal, 1997 – 2005, was placed on a trailer roamed around the streets of Doha.
Traditional media kicked in the last week of the opening, launching in magazines, newspapers and outdoor campaigns to stimulate discussion, whilst inviting people to go and visit ‘Relics’ Exhibition.
A nation engaged in a debate
‘Relics‘ closed on 22 January after three and a half months at ALRIWAQ Exhibition Space in Qatar. Since October, over 62,000 people have seen the show, making it the most visited exhibition in Qatar Museums history. Over 8,000 video comments were recorded during the exhibition and the Qatar Museums Authority generated 11,500 new twitter followers.
Over the course of the exhibition, more than 5,500 schoolchildren and university students took part in Qatar Museum education programme, attending workshops and guided tours to learn more about Damien Hirst and contemporary art. In a documentary about the staging of the show, Jean-Paul Engelen, Director of Public Art Programs at Qatar Museums, explained that the exhibition has succeeded in, “creating a dialogue” in Qatar about the role of contemporary art.
“I would trust Sara to handle my digital strategy any day.”
Sara is a digital artist. She knows how to use digital media in the most effective way, ensuring a good customer experience and positive ROI. She has shown that digital can be a stand-alone medium, and can generate significant quantifiable returns ranging from sales leads to positive ratings and instant actions. I would trust Sara to handle my digital strategy any day.
Founder / Managing Partner at Netizency
Role: Digital Guru at Virgin Mobile
Standing out from the Incumbents
Virgin Group and Qtel (now re-branded to OOREDOO) formed a brand partnership in early 2010 to deliver Virgin-branded mobile telecommunications services in Qatar and the wider middle-east. In a highly penetrated established mobile market where incumbents were striving to be all things to all audiences, Qtel’s Virgin Mobile needed to respond with an innovative offering to acquire and fend off the increasing competition.
You can do more with the power of your connections
Although Qatar’s population is a predominantly a young demographic, there was very little being done to engage with them across multiple industry sectors. This opened up an opportunity for Qtel’s Virgin Mobile to establish itself as the Middle East’s first “Social” telecom brand. A mobile service that challenges conventions in a traditionally conservative market allowing customers to create, participate, experience, share, and discuss events that expand their social networks.
To establish proof points, infrastructures where set in place to deliver on the social brands’ promise. The strategy impacted almost every section of the startup including how customer care handled the community.
Working with Cargo Collective and Priocept, we re-designed Virgin’s visual expression to be more socially relevant. The traditional Virgin branding was updated to include cultural aspects to fit into Qatar’s overall visual landscape.
Marketing efforts where focused on digital, social media, brand partnerships as an outlet for events, along with empowering and championing talent in Qatar to increase brand awareness and credibility. Where incumbents had multiple retail outlets, Qtel’s Virgin Mobile took a different approach. Using e-commerce as the primary channel for sales, backed by a series of small retail outlets in malls and downtown areas, and partnerships with smaller distributors, Qtel’s Virgin Mobile increased its footprint in a short period of time.
Launching without sound
The brand positioning made the launch and maintenance of the brand effortless. Building on the brand purpose we used social engagement strategies across 4 key pillars – extreme sports, Music, Arts and Causes to interact with the public on their own terms and locations and established communities. Using event based marketing we leveraged some of the biggest brand partnerships, that included the likes of RedBull, WWA Wrestling, Harley Davidson to drive audience in engaging with Qtel’s Virgin Mobile.
Content strategies where formed to create awareness and acquisition on events, products and services across Qtel’s Virgin Mobile social media pages, along with partnerships with event listing platforms and engagements with Qatar’s prevalent social media influencers.
Since the website was the core sales channel, along with highly intuitive e-commerce UX, an interactive map delivered content that showcased events and allowed for users to create their own network which truly embodied the brand purpose of being the first ‘social’ as a home for listings and social content, this was also delivered as an instore experience.
Role: Creative Director at Leo Burnett
Chevrolet gives you a glimpse ahead
Chevrolet is a division of the General Motors Company, a brand who is known as a volume leader in the General Motors family, selling mainstream vehicles with “a car for every purse and purpose.” In the Middle East market, Chevrolet, although a known brand is not aspirational amongst the youth. Multiple factors contributed to this perception, most notably the price to entry and it’s Americanized image.
In 2009 Chevrolet Middle East wanted shift the perception and capture the new generation of buyers from an early age, engaging them with the brand in meaningful way.
With the brand positioning being “Find New Roads”, this provided a solid platform for uncovering insights on MENA’s millennium generation. More so than their western counterparts, MENA youth are increasingly becoming more concerned about the deterioration of the world around them and want to be the change agents for a better future.
They are aware that they have the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the region and ultimately the world if they act now rather than wait for change.
The best way to understand the future is to create it
With the purpose of inspiring an epidemic of positive change that empower MENA youth to be the drivers. We launched tink.me. Tink is an online community working together to design solutions for the region’s biggest challenges.
Set in the year 2020, the audience is invited to discover what their world needs today so that they can advance their world tomorrow. They are invited to exchange ideas with their peers, help projects get off the ground, connect with others in their community to create change and get their ideas brought to life by Chevrolet.
Challenges with events and activities under relevant topics such as the environment, mobility and safety are presented to the community to inspire creativity and innovative solutions.
Ideas didn’t stay up in the air, the best were actioned by Chevrolet’s R&D team and partnerships with MENA’s thought leaders and change agents, fostering a sense of accomplishment and achievement.
Recruiting and rewarding future leaders
The initiative went further by collaborating with regional universities. We recruited students from a varied academia fields to lead the change and voice out their ideas. Distinguished students become ambassadors and moderators of tink.me, driving and supporting the community to move forward. Students were rewarded with recognition of ideas, scholarships, internships and potential career in GM for their accomplishments.
Tink.me is no longer online
“It was through her that I have found a passion for everything digital.”
A lot of great things can be said working with Sara. I, on the other hand, had the privilege of working with a true gem on a professional and personal level. She is the best mentor and creative director I have ever worked with and owe a lot of my career accomplishments to her. It was through her that I have found a passion for everything digital and continue to do so and although her team management skills may be somewhat unorthodox and deeply missed. She’s got the pizaz when it comes to building and grooming an award winning team. I, personally, have never seen colleagues work with that kind of determination and passion as I have under Sara’s leadership and whenever a challenge arises, we came out triumphant and begging for more. I do hope that one day I would have that same privilege of working with her again. Hooah!
Digital Art Director @ RAPP
MANSOOR BIN EBRAHIM AL-MAHMOUD
“She has been exceptional in developing her team’s individual skills.”
Ms. Anani demonstrated passion in the field of creative leadership and at building multi-cultural teams. She has been exceptional in developing her team’s individual skills and competencies. This was apparent with the young fresh graduates who have now been marked as Qatar Museums leaders of the future.
I can state with confidence that she is an energetic and motivated leader with a high degree of integrity.
CEO Qatar Museums & Advisor to Her Excellency Sheikha Mayassa bin Hamad Al Thani
“Sara has proven to be a great asset to any business I was involved with.”
I have worked with Sara Anani on several occasions, at Du Telecom, where I served as Vice President of Marketing Communications and at Virgin Mobile as Head of Brand and Innovations and can state that she is an artist of creative and exceptional talent. I was well aware of her work in the creative digital world for many years prior to meeting her.
Across the past twelve years our paths have crossed several times and I am sure will still continue to. Sara has proven to be a great asset to any business I was involved with. And it is just logical to seek her advice, opinion and creative intelligence on creative, digital and communication projects.
It is beyond any doubt that Sara is creatively gifted and a rare artistic asset to our industry. The combination of her originality and talent, as well as her considerable achievements so far, firmly establish Sara’s position at the pinnacle of the creative marketing industry.
By virtue of her extraordinary talent in the field, Sara has achieved the industry’s highest levels of success and respect, becoming the go-to leader, whether managing a brand or a team, creating something amazing or directing a campaign, inspiring an individual or running a project.
From managing agencies to transforming businesses, or from digging deep with digital to reworking a process, Sara Anani thinks fast, acts differently and delivers.
Regional Head of Innovation (MENA) at Promo 7
“Many who trained under Sara have been inspired & educated by her.”
Sara is a power house, a self-assured, confident leader. I first worked with Sara in London at Arc Worldwide from 2000 until 2004, her title may have been junior, her years of experience may have been few, but her energy, creativity & enthusiasm were always world class.
Sara’s track record speaks for itself, she’s accomplished a lot in the MENA region. I had the opportunity to partner with her again on a few projects in Dubai, 2007. It was a pleasure to witness her leadership at work in her role of Creative Director. Many who trained under Sara in the region have been inspired & educated by her, giving them the strength to develop their own careers in leaps and bounds.
It is always a pleasure to work with Sara, and she never ceases to amaze. If she’s not thinking up the next great idea for marketing & communication, you can be sure she’ll be working on a new way to take over the world! less
Creative Marketing & Digital Director at ICLP – Hong Kong
“She is a phenomenal team leader and knows how to push her team.”
I had been aware of Sara Anani’s incomparable creative work for many years and I greatly desired to collaborate with her. Finally, in 2005, Sara was appointed Digital Creative Director of the regional office for Leo Burnett in Dubai. Although a ‘foreign’ language to most, Sara spoke digital fluently. She knew how to activate a campaign on those newly born social media channels and was (and still is) without a doubt the ‘it’ girl in this virtual world.
Sara allowed me to see the future of the digital world and all it has to offer. During our years working together, she demonstrated strong creative capabilities and distinguished herself in her meticulous approach to the job. I enjoyed watching her give birth to ideas and most importantly giving the much needed creative twist to those ideas.
It is true that Sara is a remarkable Creative Director specializing in digital and I feel it worth noting that she is also a pioneer for what we refer to today as an integrated campaign, which means tackling a brand in a 360-degree way.
Sara is never afraid to take on board all of the creative challenges she has to face, especially when taking the lead on important regional pitches for international brands such as McDonald’s or General Motors. She is a phenomenal team leader and knows how to push her team to become better creatives. This was evident by the numerous multinational awards won during her time at Leo Burnett.
To conclude, Sara is the best creative working in the business today and she would be an asset to any agency or company.
Regional Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett
“She is a one-person creative powerhouse who is so at ease with new media.”
Sara brings a host of great qualities and skills to the work environment. She is phenomenally creative, quick, lateral, witty, hardworking and funny, and always comes up with solutions that, time after time, exceed expectations.
She is a one-person creative powerhouse who is so at ease with new media, and is a treat to work with. Her energy and enthusiasm are contagious and her love for the creative product is infectious.
I really enjoyed working with Sara and miss her presence at Leo Burnett.
Executive Regional Managing Director at Leo Burnett
CHEVROLET'S HIROSHI & OSAMU
Role: Digital Creative Director at Leo Burnett
Confessions of Corporate Spies
Kenshin is the president of Yotoya Motors in Japan. He’s concerned that more people are becoming interested in Chevrolets than his cars, so he sends two of his employees, Hiroshi and Osamu, to the middle East to investigate. In a humorous series of missions they send reports back to Kenshin covering the four key areas of Safety; Quality, Reliability & Durability; Low Cost of Ownership and Peace of Mind. This integrated campaign aimed to change how people thought about Chevrolet compared to Japanese auto makers in a fresh and flexible way, ultimately driving prospects to showrooms.
Improving the health of the brand
General Motors have a tracker that they use called the Brand Health Monitor, which tracks the health of their key brands in the region.The results coming out of the latest wave of research indicates that all key measures during the period of when the Hiroshi and Osamu campaign launched have increased. The measures of Value for Money, Exciting, Protection/Safety, Trustworthy, and Strong Personality have all shot up in the KSA and UAE markets. When you look at Facebook, there are 27000 fans that constantly interact with Hiroshi and Osamu, evidence that people around the region have a close affinity with these characters. As for the client, they appreciated this campaign so much that each time they gave us a new new brief to work with, they requested that we also create a Hiroshi and Osamu execution to answer the brief. Proof that they believed in the Hiroshi and Osamu campaign.
As integrated as it can be
The Hiroshi and Osamu campaign was launched holistically across numerous ATL, BTL and Digital channels. We launched the campaign on TV (Regional Satellite and Local channels), print media (Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, and UAE), online web banners covering regional portals (e.g. TimoutDubai, Timeout Abu Dhabi, MSN Arabia, Facebook, Kooora, Maktoob), social media (Facebook and Twitter), and in BTL (showroom ceiling danglers, cutouts, and leaflets). We also set up an entire website www.hiroshiandosamu.com to host all the messages and an assignment for visitors to fill out; this way we captured their information.
www.hiroshiandosamu.com to host all the messages and an assignment for visitors to fill out; this way we captured their information.
DUBAI LYNX 2010: Integrated / Bronze
DUBAI LYNX 2010: Media / Grand Prix
“I am a more resilient entrepreneur today because of the coaching received.”
Sara asks the right questions to lead me to very deep findings about my life, work and purpose. She has helped me to focus and prioritize. I have been better able to look at problems in different ways, thus finding very creative solutions. I am a more resilient entrepreneur today because of the coaching I received from Sara. More importantly, I am a better human. I know myself better, hence my development path has never been clearer. As a communicator who advises others on how to reach out, I was astonished of how difficult it could be to reach in. there were moments of profound emotional discoveries during my sessions with Sara that forever changed who I thought I am.
Founder – Chief Storyteller Commverse
EMIRATES MEET DUBAI
Role: Digital Creative Director
Changing the perception of Dubai from the inside out
Meet Dubai is a campaign about stories. The stories of Dubai as a city. And the stories of the people who have made Dubai what it is today. Everyone knows about Dubai’s accomplishments, her skyscrapers and record-breaking feats. Our campaign introduces the raw side of Dubai through 14 TV spots, 18 separate print ads, a website and yahoo page, and a personal blog detailing our TV character’s journey in Dubai. This is the side of Dubai people around the world rarely see. The real Dubai.
Stories that were retold
This was Emirates’ largest campaign for the past 5 years and hence there was a great deal of interest in its success. The print and digital campaign did very well, generating word of mouth for the airlines, especially for the breadth of executions and natural style of photography. However, the most important element that came through was that real Dubai residents were used – representing a fresh approach when advertising Dubai. It was the webisode content, however, that generated the most success. From the shooting style to the actor chosen, it was seen a great success both with the client and the industry. It appeared in countless magazines and received praise from everyone who saw it. The results with the consumer were equally impressive with research showing that it changed viewer’s perception of Dubai and increased their likelihood to visit the city dramatically.
Drive to book
The campaign was launched in April 2009 with print ads that appeared in major publications such as Time, Newsweek, Business Week, Financial Times, Herald Tribune and the Wall Street Journal all around the world. Along with the print, online banners and social media were used to drive people to the Emirates website where they could find out more about Dubai and also books flights.
2010 Dubai Lynx: Silver / Media Category Best Use of Television/Cinema
2010 Dubai Lynx: Bronze / Media Category Consumer Services
2010 Dubai Lynx: Bronze / Integrated
“She is an exceptional brand builder and digital innovator.”
Sara Anani is an exceptional brand builder and digital innovator. She is unrivaled and has rare ability to create fresh and extraordinary ideas. I had the pleasure to work with Sara during the start-up of Virgin Mobile and experienced first hand her innovation, passion and creativity. She is able to get to the heart of the brand, understand its core essence and translate that into evocative imagery and storytelling. I wholeheartedly recommend her to any one considering working with her as you will never find a more unique wonderful ardent provocative team player.
Learning and Development Director
OOREDOO'S DIGITAL LANDSCAPE
Role: Digital Engagement Manager at OOREDOO
Transforming a local brand to a unified multinational
The Ooredoo Group (originally as Qtel) is a leading international communications company, with a significant presence in the MENA region and Southeast Asia, and having a consolidated customer base of 83 million as of December 2011. It operates a portfolio of brands including Ooredoo, Indosat, Asiacell, Wataniya, Nawras, Nedjma and Tunisiana.
Until 2013, the 16-country operator used various brand names. To better serve global customers, a company-wide strategy was initiated to bring all its operators across the Middle East, Africa and Asia under a single name, Qatar Telecom (Qtel) changed from its brand name to Ooredoo, which means “I want” in Arabic.
Having a unitary brand is that it will help create a coherent identity that communicates what the companies mission, vision and purpose. To further solidify the identity and to ensure that the brand remained consistent across different territories, OOREDOO HQ marketing team worked together to transform the brand and deliver a digital experience that spanned across multiple channels.
Empowering millions of customers in new, transformative ways
With the new brands purpose at the core of the design process. We delivered a holistic digital experience from instore, web to the long-awaited launch of the Ooredoo App which has become one of the most popular apps in Qatar since its launch with over 500,000 downloads.
Apart from a fresh new look, the new website and App empowered customers to take control of their relationship with OOREDOO at a touch of a button.
A design centered approach was advised and initiated across all platforms with the OOREDOO team living and breathing the new brand philosophy by listening to customer’s needs. “I want” became core the process in delivering creative and innovative solutions.
Features that matter
The new Ooredoo website and app enables users to view and manage all Ooredoo accounts, including prepaid, postpaid, Ooredoo Passport, and more on the go, at home or abroad.
With a more efficient service, users can now see detailed account usage reports and select the service they really need, based on the amount of data or minutes they have consumed.
Users can even fully-customise their prepaid or postpaid account at the touch of a button, by upgrading, downgrading, adding data plans, International Saver Key options, and more.
Ooredoo took home the award for “Best Mobile Application of the Year” at the 2016 Qatar IT Business Awards event in Doha.
“Sara is very adept at building a team that delivers very creative campaigns.”
Sara Anani has developed effective campaigns for Qatar Museums that are creative and encourage community engagement. Employing a strong process of developing thorough creative briefs and including all stakeholders, Sara has been very effective in reaching internal employees and the public in campaigns for exhibitions, conferences, and events.
By coaxing excellence from her staff and the creative agency, Sara is very adept at building a team that delivers very creative campaigns and promotions. Regardless of the size of the budget she has been smart in the use of social media and user generated content to build interest in Qatar Museums activity. With a very strong work ethic, she reviews every detail to make sure the entire promotion is within budget, on message and on brand.
Qatar Museums is very fortunate to have Sara’s considerable talents dedicated to communicating art, heritage and culture in Qatar.
Chief Marketing Officer at Qatar Museums
“She really cares about the depth of the brief and briefing process.”
Sara is an extremely diligent and professional member of the team. Because of her creative background, she really cares about the accuracy and depth of the brief and briefing process. This leads not just to better work, but less re-work and hassle. She’s a good team leader, developing the confidence and ability of the younger team members. Sara is a great asset to any team.