Foreign dominance in advertising sector


Al-Jazirah newspaper

IN the past few days our society has been exposed to some erroneous and offensive advertisements, which resulted from absolute reliance on foreign content makers and the monopoly of certain advertising companies run by certain Arab nationals who often refuse to accommodate young Saudi men and men in their firms.

I have noticed that these Arabs put obstacles in the way of Saudis obtaining jobs in the advertising sector. They make all possible efforts to ensure that Saudis are not employed in the advertising market, taking advantage of the distrust of advertisers and creating doubt about the experience and ideas of the national cadre.

I do not blame business owners and advertisers for taking such a negative stand, as they want to ensure success of their advertising campaigns for which they spend huge amounts of money.

I wonder why the Ministry of Labor and Social Development has not yet attempted to Saudize the advertising sector, or at least part of it, in coordination with the Ministry of Culture and Information and related agencies. I believe we consider advertising as an art and skill that cannot be monopolized by a specific nationality.

Everybody knows that the advertising industry is highly profitable and enables its owners and workers to make huge amounts of money. I am sure that young Saudis will be able to succeed in the content industry by presenting their creative and attractive ideas because they know better the characteristics, nature and customs of their people than foreign employees in advertising companies.

I would like to disclose a secret. There are young Saudis with creative ideas and foreigners make use of them to generate local ideas and produce content by giving them small amounts of money. These foreigners then sell these ideas to famous advertising organizations that get huge annual contracts.

The reason for this pathetic situation is that talented young Saudis do not find customers who trust their capabilities or give them an opportunity to prove their skills. This is because the advertising sector is dominated by foreigners working in advertising companies and publishing organizations.

Many advertising companies have so far failed to appoint Saudi representatives and they continue to rely on individuals having blue eyes and blond hair. These employees may look like Saudis when they wear thobe and shimagh but their way of dressing, dialect and behavior are totally different from Saudis.

It is high time we develop local content in advertising by making use of capable Saudi artists and talented individuals. An advertisement is made for a Saudi company or a Saudi product and will be published in a national newspaper or media while its target audience will be Saudis, even if it is published in the Arab media. Then why do we allow non-Saudis to make its content?

This is not usually the case outside the GCC countries, and it is absolutely unacceptable for foreigners to take away big advertising money from any other country. It is amazing that we show extra leniency toward foreign advertising companies while we suffer heavy financial losses.