international brands are going local
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
Egypt Today, egypt today
Egypt Today, egypt today
Last Updated : GMT 11:59:16
Egypt Today, egypt today

International brands are going local

Egypt Today, egypt today

Egypt Today, egypt today International brands are going local

Dubai - Arabstoday

An increasing number of global brands are looking for local ambassadors to get closer to their growing Middle Eastern consumer base They're going local. In an attempt to get closer and become more relevant to the market, an increasing number of international brands, many of them high-end, are embracing Emirati and locally-based personalities to be their brand ambassadors in the UAE and beyond. tabloid! can exclusively reveal Wednesday that the latest addition to that pantheon is Emirati entrepreneur Mohammad Sultan Al Habtoor, who has been chosen as one of the faces of Swiss luxury watch brand Jaeger-leCoultre — or as they call it, a "friend of the brand". Al Habtoor will join the likes of Hollywood actors Diane Kruger and Clive Owen, Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan and French acting legend Catherine Deneuve, and will be its representative at local and international events. Al Habtoor is a known face in fashion circles and also founded the House of glaMo art and design company. An alumnus of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, he says this is the first time he is endorsing a product. Article continues below "I believe the link should be genuine and natural," he says. "I have been very familiar with the brand from an early age; my father owns a couple of Jaeger-LeCoultre watches himself and I used to borrow them when I was younger." Growing status The relationship also marks the launch of a new watch, the Grande Reverso Ultra Thin, which Al Habtoor will promote. The trend, while not new, is a sign of the Middle East's growing status in the global luxury market. "It's the place to be," says Renaud Pretet, the regional brand director of Jaeger-leCoultre, who says his company is massively focusing its local efforts. "The Middle East has always been a crossroad of civilisation and the UAE nowadays is one of the major international hubs where East meets West, and where people from India, Far East, Africa and Europe all enjoy living or travelling to." According to a study conducted by the Italian association of luxury brands Altagamma and UAE-based luxury retailer Chalhoub Group, the regional luxury market is estimated at 4.1 billion euros (Dh21.62 billion), with a 7.8 per cent projected growth this year. "Expanding our global community of Friends of the Brand to the Emirates is a way of connecting further into the local community," says Pretet. In May, Emirati filmmaker Ali Mustafa, who directed the hugely popular 2009 film City of Life, was chosen by Dubai luxury retailer Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons to represent high-end Swiss watch brand Hublot. Mustafa was also the regional ambassador for British men's fashion brand Alfred Dunhill until recently. Last year, French fashion house Nina Ricci named Dubai socialite Lina Samman as its "face" while German sports apparel company adidas partnered with Emirati footballer and Al Jazira Club player Subait Khater Al Mekhaini. Canon, the Japanese imaging company, has Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja, and German automobile company Audi chose British artist and Dubai resident Sacha Jafri. Respected Emirati rally champion Mohammad Bin Sulayem, who is also the current vice-president of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), has been the face of luxury sportswatch maker Tag Heuer for the past four years. ‘More relevant' Whether it's the promotion of a new watch in the case of Jaeger-leCoultre, or a limited edition Dh18,000 bag by Nina Ricci in honour of its ambassador, the idea is to get closer to the target consumer, say the brands. "Nina Ricci is a French fashion house with great couture heritage but at some point, the brand became disconnected with the fashionistas of today. Since Peter Copping came on board as Creative Director in 2009, he has reinterpreted the brand in a fresh, new way. Our local initiative with Lina Samman is an extension of this central idea — to become more relevant to our audience, particularly in the Middle East region," says Diana Onu, commercial and marketing executive at Chalhoub Inc, a division of Chalhoub Group, which represents Nina Ricci in the Middle East. Mohammad Seddiqi, vice president of sales and retail at Ahmed Seddiqi & Sons, says the choice of Mustafa was made because he fit Hublot's "brand attributes". "He is a true representation of Emirati values — creative, dynamic, respected, talented and has a bright future ahead of him," he says. Tag Heuer, one of the first brands to choose an Emirati personality to drive its local promotion four years ago, says the aim was to make more impact. "We thought it would make more sense from a cultural point of view if we could find a local personality giving a regional attraction to the brand — someone the inhabitants of the Gulf region would relate to more than an international ambassador," says Eric Vergnes, the brand's general manager in the Middle East. Tag Heuer global ambassadors include Formula One drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, tennis star Maria Sharapova and actor Leonardo di Caprio. Other brands meanwhile have a more adoptive approach. adidas, for instance, provides Al Mekhaini with customised products and also sponsor his club, Al Jazira. "The Middle East has always been passionate about football and we wanted to demonstrate our commitment to the region and also to a player who has been growing from strength to strength in recent years," says Jad Chouman, head of marketing. Canon meanwhile has provided Al Khaja's company D-Seven Motion Pictures with the necessary equipment to support her BLOOM! Cine Startups initiative, which aims to help young filmmakers realise their dreams. "This strategy will help strengthen our long-term relationship with filmmakers, who are among our key target audiences," says a spokesperson. ‘Ideal ambassador' Audi's involvement has an angle of corporate social responsibility, with its support of START, a non-profit organisation which provides art education for refugees in the Middle East. With artist Jafri as ambassador, the company has been able to raise funds from works of arts created by him for their car models. "We feel closely connected to the region and Sacha is the ideal ambassador in this sense. He is an internationally renowned artist who is based here and even has Middle Eastern roots himself," says Jeff Mannering, Managing Director of Audi Middle East. For the ambassadors, the decision to represent a brand was also carefully thought out. "I have been approached by other brands many times in the past, but I have never felt that it was something I would like to do. Nina Ricci was my first experience," says Samman. "I have always admired [the brand] for its elegance and femininity, although I used to feel that it was too classic for my taste. But since Peter Copping took over as the Artistic Director, he has made the brand quite ‘cool'." Hublot ambassador Mustafa, who is also on the "Design Council" of men's fashion website, says the associations help cement credibility and come with an added advantage. "I've been told that the interest started from the achievement and faith in my ability to continue to work hard in my field. My style and appearance was second," he says. "Being recognised as a pioneer or an accomplished contributor to your field helps in creating awareness too. "Recognition is high up there [in the list]. But getting to keep cool stuff is a very nice benefit as well."


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