Abdulrahman Saud, CEO, Bassmat.

What is the biggest change you have seen to the way you do business in Saudi?

After so many years working with governmental entities, we wanted to experience something different, to get more exposure, new challenges too. But we face two big changes that the impact of Covid-19 goes well beyond While some agencies have already taken some big and difficult steps forward, others seem to hope that things will go back to normal. A vaccine can halt the spread of a virus—and thank goodness for that—but it won’t reverse fundamental shifts where the business landscape or customer expectations are concerned. One more big change we face is the work-from-home era, which has been here for a while now. You’ll be in a pretty good spot if you’ve found out how to keep the efficient stuff that makes you unique, effective in collaboration, delivering the highest possible customer support and providing a better employee experience.

How are social changes affecting the industry?

Mohamed Bin Salman had announced that Vision 2030 succeeded in changing people’s mentality and attitude to a new era. The true effect of the new Saudi Arabia and transformation taking place is its ability to power innovation and diversification and support entrepreneurship where it has never been more important. While this opens up more opportunities for agencies to be more free and innovative, agencies must not get starry-eyed. Bassmat, I believe, chooses to be more cautious in adhering to key customs and societal laws. We like to read the room because otherwise, we would become tone-deaf.

What are clients asking for that’s new?

Bassmat prides itself on being a local team with a global mindset. It has a focus on understanding the culture of every client that it meets, approaching each project with the idea of finding a unique business solution. We’re prepared for a lot of change and uncertainty. The briefs we’re seeing (especially new business briefs) are throwing all kinds of new challenges at us, but new opportunities are coming along with them. Our advantage – our understanding of the environment in KSA – has the most impact. We have a direct view into the way new technologies are emerging, and we’re able to use data to forecast tiny adjustments (like in the ways we serve clients) as well as larger shifts (like in the way we allocate our resources on a larger scale). Clients are more aware of the right way things being done.

What do your clients value most?

We know just what our clients will appreciate: versatility, flexibility and the desire to execute incrementally when working for the big picture. Our clients know where they want to go, but they need our assistance in planning and determining how to get there. Oftentimes, they try to go for the game-changer – whatever that is with their brand – but the transition is difficult. They must understand the surest way to take the most rewarding chance. It is not easy to have a very granular, strategic course and to pave it with proof points and gradual results. That is where they place their trust in us: in our digital-first approach, in our innovative ways of seeing the customer’s perspective, in our ability to design the interactions that matter while still connecting them through a diverse, harmonised ecosystem.

What are the biggest challenges to growth in KSA, and how are you tackling them?

It’s a time of change, and the most significant challenge is that new subspecialties and trends will pop up everywhere. But the ability to put everything together, being flexible, collaborative, and having ways to co-create, will be the key attributes of any successful agency. Bassmat has the ability to acquire these attributes, localising content fitting for international brands while being relevant to KSA’s unique culture and traditions. The tightening talent market is another challenge. Business success requires talent. KSA is rich in talent, but in a highly competitive market, it becomes much more difficult to recruit and retain talent. We are proud of our qualified national individuals and expertise and we develop a plan for training every year. I’m in favour of promoting young talent internally. We consider other appealing job perks like flexible hours and remote positions.