Arab CEOs’ Great Challenge: Traditionalism vs Professionalism

Arab CEOs are confused about what Marketing really is. Are Arab CEOs so simplistic in their analysis that they believe Advertising is the ultimate solution? There is an underlying issue here and it seems to be repetitive through generations or quite frankly inherited; the mindset of a ‘Know it ALL’ (preventing from listening and adhering to the advice of Experts). Such behavior has held most of the Growth dormant to the point that few had to break away from this grid in order to seek development and sustain growth

Along with these sentiments, another hindering quality is the ideology of bringing Traditional culture into the work place, which controls much of the internal processes. In other words, having the Traditional culture take precedence over the Corporate culture is counterproductive because with two competing methods of operation in one environment it can leave one company fragmented thereby increasing inefficiency resulting from demotivation of the most important stakeholders: The Employees.  Furthermore, these companies are run similar to the Arab CEOs home environment, so there is a refusal to accept alternative solutions that will enhance their organization

Also, something that’s a common trend is to claim to hold a position and not have a clear cut job description. This can truly undermine the internal operations, because some talk about policies and others talk about expansions, while the head of the Marketing department thinks Logo is the Brand and the Brand is the Logo while the Advertising agencies are pitching for Advertising contracts centering around Communications and Promotional tactics. To top it off, the organization is only hiring individuals based on favoritism (personal relationships be it family or friends) over credentials and qualifications. Nationality does play a role as well whether if they are well informed about the subject or not, it doesn’t matter

Lets look at these issues within the context of Marketing. Marketing, as a field, is profoundly misunderstood. Confusing Marketing with Advertising is a fatal mistake that continues to affect businesses across the region. For example, the Marketing department is often allocated resources to simply Advertise or even worse, conduct Ad Sales. This critical department, often the revenue generating one, is so mislead by upper management that the companies see very little or no progress

The question I would ask here is: if you have unqualified employees, impossible CEOs to work for and your Corporate culture is driven by Traditional culture, then what do you expect your operation to look like? Secondly, what do you expect from Marketing or rather any department, when you have such an inefficient operation?

The responsibility that the CEO takes is that he or she is leader of the organization. The CEO must accept diversity and implement the proper changes in order to achieve results. A smart CEO won’t act like Jack of all Trades but he would listen to his advisers to cut the cost of his own error and produce results

The questions one should ask are:

  • Where do you want your company to be tomorrow?
  • How competitive would you like your company to be?

AND finally, realize that Marketing is the source of your income, NOT Advertising or your Cost-cutting Finance department

Said Baaghil is the ‘Unconventional’ Branding and Marketing Adviser to reputable companies in the Middle East, author of many reputable books including the ‘The Power of Belonging’ and a Speaker. Baaghil appeared in books published by America’s experts on Branding and Marketing such as Dan Hill and Libby Gill. Most recently Baaghil was interviewed by world renown Branding Consultancy firm Siegel+Gale on Branding in the Middle East

He can be reached on

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