I am coming home,” said Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner right before jumping off a balloon capsule 39 kilometers above Earth, setting a new world record. Sponsored by energy drink company Red Bull, the stunt, which took place in October of last year, was streamed live by 8 million people. It marks a new era in advertising communication. Several months later, the organizers of the eighth edition of the MENA Cristal Festival invited Felix to attend its event at the InterContinental Mzaar hotel in Faraya, from February 5 to 7. Headed by Christian Cappe, the MENA Cristal Festival brings international recognition to the advertising industry in the region through awards decided upon by juries of international professionals. Executive, present in snowy Faraya, sat with Cappe to discuss why Felix was invited, his thoughts on the evolution of the advertising industry and why MENA Cristal was held again in Lebanon.
Why did MENA Cristal decide to invite Felix to the event this year?
They say Felix did the jump. It is not just the jump. It’s the first and biggest operation of brand content done in the world because behind Baumgartner is Red Bull and behind Red Bull is video online, YouTube and the new era of communication. It is in a context of global evolution.
In your opinion, what are the best types of advertising creations?
The most importing thing is [for the creation] to touch a local target and if it is recognized internationally then that is fantastic. The recognition through festivals is done to stimulate the creation. When we are creative, we want to show our work; we want it to be recognized.
Which advertising format is going to dominate going forward?
We are in the post-digital [era] now. All communications now are through mobile. There is a multiplicity of screens, and when you search the Internet on a smartphone for information, you go directly to the information. We are no longer passive like when we read the newspaper. So for a brand to be seen, it has to be in the content either through an article or at the origin of the article, the origin of the game, the origin of the event etcetera. That’s the big evolution. The client becoming mobile, we get to the problem of managing the data. This is going to be the big challenge: associating the creation with the means of distribution.
How have revolutions in the Arab world affected the advertising industry?
It is complicated to speak of countries that are in a real crisis. Syria has no real economy and Egypt is very problematic. Today [the industry] needs to go to the countries that are moving, like Saudi Arabia and Dubai.
How financially viable is the MENA Cristal budget?
I think it won’t be possible to organize this event if MENA Cristal was the only festival that we organize. Now, we organize events all year long in this field so that we can support the industry through the events.
Why is the MENA Cristal Festival held in Lebanon and not in other countries in the region?
The Lebanese talent, hub and brilliance has to be known. [Cristal Festival] people ask to be part of the staff organizing the MENA Cristal because of the enthusiasm, entrepreneurship attitude, culture and elegance of the Lebanese. It’s quite specific to Lebanon.
Perhaps the event could be bigger in Abu Dhabi or Doha but the concept is to put together, in the same place, people that are happy to not go back to the office and have an exchange [of ideas] and so on. To organize an event [which celebrates] cultural creativity in the country that provides the most important [number] of creative people in the Middle East is quite logical. I know Saudi Arabia is the biggest country in economic terms and that the hub for many companies is in Dubai but where is the talent coming from? From Lebanon. Plus there is only one ski resort in the region that we can attend!