Nissrine Fessikh
01-10-2021 5 min read

Strengthening communication for intensified engagement: brands hand over control to consumers

Consumer participation has visibly increased this year at the WARC Prize For MENA Strategy, being a key element in 52% of paper shortlists (vs. 35% in 2020). Winning participatory strategies, brands are taking a step back and putting consumers on stage.

Crowdsourcing mechanisms were used by both Emirates Nation Brand, which encouraged people to enter a contest to make their dream trips. And Almosafer Brand, which collected the memories of pilgrims to Mecca in an emotional video during lockdown. In both cases, the brands acted as a voice for consumers to express themselves.

Knorr's Rooftop Farms initiative aimed to empower the poorest segments of Egyptian society by teaching them how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. The brand also provided knowledge and tools, and funded this work that positively impacts these communities in the long run.

Couscous brand Diari made consumers the protagonists of a documentary series shot throughout Tunisia to shine a spotlight on the country's culinary traditions. At the end of the campaign, the brand surprised the participating families with a book featuring their own recipes and traditions.



                                                       Campaign produced by the brand of couscous "Diari"      


Emotional intelligence empowers consumers: Nielsen Media consultant Laura Chaibi explores winning work that combined empathy and participatory mechanisms to empower consumers.

"Brave," "smart," "impactful," "locally relevant," "creatively executed," "strategically insightful"... are terms that come up often to describe winning strategy documents in the MENA region over the past five years.

"As judges, what we really look for are the exceptional cases that we want to share with the rest of the world. Conducting projects that make a difference, with positive contributions and positive results...and proving that it works, that's what the WARC MENA Strategy Awards are all about. This year's winners stood out for the way several brands empowered consumers through users: letting them play, interact, and become advocates for the brand itself by showing empathy, trust, and understanding."

Travel brand Almosafer showed its support for Muslims around the world by encouraging them to submit their "stories to Mecca" at a time when the pilgrimage site was empty due to closures.




Finally, the Diari couscous brand's content series went into the homes of Tunisian families to highlight homemade couscous dishes. "Instead of trying to invent something new," commented one judge, "Diari decided to celebrate the traditions of Tunisian culture. It showed a sense of pride and created a kind of cultural archive."


Leading from the heart


From insight to ideation to tone to delivery, these winners demonstrated a high level of emotional intelligence in their communications. With many people facing income cuts during the pandemic, Burger King trusted customers to put their percentage of pay cut into a discount on their order. Meanwhile, Knorr's Rooftop Farms was praised for shifting the focus of donations to training people on how to develop their own farms. One judge described it as "a gift to the community that keeps on giving."


The Win in People Strategies


The big winners were those that supported and empathized with consumers by serving as a channel for their expression. There was an element of goodness that came through in so many of the entries, the kind the judges hope will emerge year after year to affirm a genuine commitment to strategies that have heart and science to explain success.



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