Midas Awards Grand Jury Spotlight: Tahaab Rais

The Midas Awards recruits its respected Grand Jury from creative and marketing disciplines. The Grand Jury includes prominent client and leaders from the world’s most award-winning agencies and internationally recognized experts in financial policy and communications from around the globe. The Grand Jury reviews all entries and awards Midas Gold and Silver Ingots to the highest scoring entries, as well as the Grand Midas Award to the entry named “Best in Show.” The results of the jury are parsed in an annual rankings brief, The Midas Report and The Midas Brand Report —a veritable who’s-who in the world of financial services advertising.

Tahaab Rais brings his creative insights and talents to the 2016 Midas Award Grand Jury. He's the most awarded strategist in MENA, he's ranked 1 among Top Strategic Planning Directors worldwide in The Directory Big Won Rankings.  As Regional Head of Strategic Planning, FP7/MENA, UAE he leads marketing, content and connections strategy for FP7 across 14 markets in the MENA region, with a focus on creatively driven marketing solutions that win hearts, minds, respect and profits. Tahaab’s work has made regional brands like Emirates NBD, Daman and SmartLife globally renowned and global brands like Coca-Cola, MasterCard, HSBC, Nestle and L'Oreal regionally relatable.

Tahaab spent a few minutes with the Midas Awards and shared his thoughts on creative work that stands out, judging international work, and the challenges to working in financial advertising. Keep reading to find out more!

Midas Awards: What is your opinion of the Midas Awards? Can you comment on the international reach of the Midas Awards? What makes the competition stand out?

Financial brands are often considered creatively placid! I’ve always disagreed with that. With the right balance between strategy, creativity and a focus on making the creativity work in the real world, ideas in the category have proven to win hearts, minds and profits. Midas Awards therefore, deserves plaudits (and more international reach and more participation from agencies across the world) because it recognizes and celebrates such work in financial advertising.

As part of the winning teams, we've been very happy and grateful to have the chance for our work on Emirates NBD, MasterCard and Daman win for their creativity and effectiveness, and to be recognized as one of the top 3 agencies amidst great work in financial advertising from around the world. It has pushed our teams to develop better ideas and it has pushed our brands to support those ideas, and also challenge us to bring more meaningful creativity to the table. It’s a win-win for brands and agencies who work in the financial sector. It also is a good opportunity to weigh and assess ideas that can win at subsequent award shows that follow the Midas Awards too.

Midas Awards: Why did you agree to participate on the Midas Awards Grand Jury?

Tahaab Rais: It’s a selfish reason: Envy. Every year I feel envious when I watch or judge the work that wins. And it’s an awesome motivator for me to keep besting our own best. I get to see see more real work that has worked for financial brands, their business and the causes they support. I get to see and learn from technological innovations that serve a purpose and quite simply makes lives better. And I get excited to see ideas that solve the really hard business, brand or societal problems in a sustainable way; that aren’t conventional advertising ideas. I’m looking for more of the same this year.

And of course, if Midas Awards is kind enough and considers my oft-repeated request for Kanye West to be added to the roster of judges, that'd make the company we keep even more interesting.

Midas Awards: What do you look for when determining whether a campaign is successful and award-winnning?

Tahaab Rais:Does it aim to solve a real business, brand or societal problem? Every great idea is proven to start life as an answer to a real world problem – it’s fundamental. And the ideas that are best at answering those problems, through applying creativity, inevitably do have the best entries and win the most awards.

Is it effective? How an idea solves the problem it set out to achieve is a factor in determining if it was a creative idea that worked or was it just art that impressed but drove no returns.

Will it move marketers to push for and support better creativity? The work that is awarded must move marketers (who were part of it and who watch it once it wins) to be more open to insightful and distinctive creative ideas and be more accepting of them. Hence, it is so crucial that real work that has worked wins at Midas Awards. It creates a healthy motivation for brands to allow their agencies to create great ideas on existing briefs and real-world opportunities, achieve real-world success and translate that success into awards vs. focusing on creating work for awards.

Does it move the industry forward? If an idea is brave and defines the way forward for the financial industry as a communications or a business/product idea, it deserves the big ones!

Midas Awards: Is it difficult to judge work from other countries around the globe? What are the challenges and benefits?

Tahaab Rais: It’s not that difficult because most of us are global citizens and ultimately, a great idea is a great idea! Judging international work is an enjoyable, learning experience. It does get challenging when ideas are based on specific local insights that international judges may not be familiar with. Hence, the case study is so crucial in terms of explaining the insight or the cultural relevance of that idea very clearly. Often times agencies miss out on that and the campaign ends up feeling small whereas it could’ve actually been very significant!

Being a closet anthropologist, I try and do my own research into such unknown/untapped insights and cultural nuggets and it’s pretty entertaining! There’s a lot one can learn from different cultures in terms of how a challenge was approached and how an idea was brought to life.

Midas Awards: What’s the biggest challenge to working in financial advertising?  How has financial advertising changed since you started working in the industry? What’s on the horizon for financial marketing and advertising?

Tahaab Rais: Finance is the one category that’ll never go out of fashion! Money will always be a part of our lives. Yet, one look at indexes and we’ll see that increasingly most financial brands around the world are the least trusted!

Firstly, despite the exponential growth of technology and the need for people-centricity, as an industry, most financial brands tend to continue being more acquisition-focused; we see brands around the world seeking to reach out to and acquire more consumers. There hasn’t been enough focus on what is done once the customer has been acquired. The next mile for financial brands is about changing perception – not chasing customers, but playing a very meaningful role in their lives, becoming irreplaceable and therefore, making them want those brands.

Secondly, when talking playing a meaningful role in their lives, it is crucial for financial brands to move from creating ads to creating ideas; ideas that have the product at the core but also go beyond the product or the category. We’re seeing banks creating products that are rooted in innovation meant to make people’s lives better, richer, healthier, more entertaining, adding more badge value, etc. They’re not just financial brands but digital brands or lifestyle brands that enhance your life, with your finance and your money at the core. And that’s the evolution of the industry. It’s here. And it’s up to financial brands and their agency partners to adapt and reframe their approach.

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