Welcome to khayr.


Why khayr? Our name is based on the Arabic word for good, pronounced like the English word care. It embodies our belief that we can do well as a business by doing good for society.

At khayr we marry world-class communications talent with strong ethics, to create Qatar's first and only ethical communications agency. We deliver strategies, brands, programs and campaigns that make the world a better place.

Who are we?

khayr brings together a collection of brilliant, passionate, smart people with proven track records, who deliver strong strategic thinking, unique planning tools, unrestricted creative ideas and the right partnerships together with strong ethical values and a commitment to positively impact on Qatari society.

People who khayr

Our team is led by Mark Blackmore, Founder & Chief Strategist. Mark has over twenty two years agency and client side experience. He started out in Qatar as Brand Strategy Director at Oordeoo where he led a brand refresh project, helped raise the standards of marketing communications and wrote the company's CSR strategy. Most recently, as COO, Mark built Qatar's largest agency group, employing 75 people across advertising, branding, PR, digital, media, activations and research. Having built the biggest, Mark and his team are now committed to building the best.

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What makes us tick?

Our Ethos - Do well as a business, by doing good for society.
Our Mantra - Win hearts. Engage minds. Change behaviour. Benefit society.
Our Aim - To positively enhance society through communications campaigns and programs that promote social responsibility, health & active lifestyles, cultural enrichment, educational & scientific advancement and personal development.
Our Clients - Typically our clients will come from the public and not-for-profit sectors, but we also work with commercial organisations to help develop and promote their CSR programs.

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What do we do?

In a nutshell we're Brand Engagement Specialists.

What does that mean? To put it simply we are the glue that binds together our clients with their target audiences and society at large in a mutually beneficial relationship.

We are pioneers in a world where content is the new currency of brand engagement.

We are expert in developing brand strategies, communication strategies, CSR strategies and content strategies. We build powerful, engaging brands and help reposition & refresh existing brands into more fertile territories. We create impactful public education campaigns and communications programs. We engineer relevant, brand positive CSR campaigns and programs and we support marketing teams through a range of knowledge transfer workshops, training programs and consultancy services.

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How do we do it?

There is such a thing as THE secret formula. Having previously built multiple agencies and with the opportunity presented by a blank sheet of paper we've been able to create what we think is the perfect agency for Qatar. The result is khayr, the perfect blend of experience, strong strategic thinking, unrestricted creative ideas, the right partnerships and unique proprietary tools and processes:

glue is our overarching strategic approach which recognises the fundamental shift in the relationship between people, brands and content

360Six is our unique six step planning process, building on what we call Integrated Marketing 3.0

matchmaker is a unique, proprietary tool to ensure that CSR programs are relevant to the brand, impactful and engaging, but above all that they deliver a return on investment

marqa is our tried and tested approach to brand building that's built on proven, world-class methodology

SmartFunds is an innovative public/private partnership approach that marries corporate CSR funds with charitable good causes

Watiqa is our network of accredited partners who all meet world-class standards and who enable us to deliver the widest possible range of integrated solutions

Society2 is our own CSR fund into which a proportion of our profits is invested for the good of society.

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Our thinking

Below you will find a collection of our thoughts and opinions on a range of topics relating to communications, Qatar, CSR, strategy, campaigns and ethical issues. Enjoy.

Do you really need more content?
When CSR makes headlines
How much of your CSR spend is wasted?
Beware of greenwash
Social Responsibility has come a long way
When we profit, society profits

Why should you khayr?

We understand the Qatari market and are sympathetic to the cultural challenges, norms and issues that sometimes inhibit behavioural change. We're innovators in the development of CSR programs and campaigns through our unique matchmaker process. We're leading proponents of integrated marketing through our unique 360Six process. We're committed to enhancing the quality of life in Qatar through our unique Society2 initiative. We are a division of Resolution Productions, which means we have the backing of one of the most respected names in the Qatari marketing community. We've built the biggest communications agency in Qatar, now we want to build a great agency that also cares.

Call us today on +974 4483 5628 or send us a message.

And today's buzzword is content!

For the last couple of years the buzz in the communications industry has been around content and content marketing. The obsession across organisations to generate content has become frenzied and there is no shortage of new content businesses who will happily churn it out.

What most organisations fail to realise is that in reality they don't really need more content, they just need a content strategy. Organisations by their very nature are massive content generating machines and most fail to effectively utilise what they currently have, indeed many organisations are drowning in so much content that they lose sight of what is valuable and what isn't. You can be sure there's also a few who don't really know what content is. Content is simply a written, verbal, visual asset or piece of media that can be used to engage a particular target audience with your brand.

The purpose of a content strategy is to provide a framework and establish processes which enable the organisation to effectively and efficiently curate, manage and present content in a relevant and engaging way to each of its target audiences. In developing the content strategy there will also be some form of audit of current content, channels and audiences to identify where there are gaps and thus where new content or channels need to be created or established.

But a content strategy cannot exist as a standalone entity. You should be sceptical of anyone who claims otherwise. As such your content strategy can only be developed within the shadow of your brand strategy. The content you push out through whichever channel needs to be both on-message and on-tone else you could end up damaging the brand and alienating the very target audience you're trying to attract. Over the last couple of years we've seen some bad examples in Qatar. One Qatari financial institution has a noticeably jocular, chatty tone on social media which is totally at odds with both the brand and the category, whilst another major organisation targeting the youth space comes across like an uncle at a family wedding trying desperately to appear cool to the kids, but failing miserably. Both examples are the result of organisations pushing out content without a strategy.

In the same way that a content strategy cannot exist in isolation from the brand, it is also incomplete if we don't define the feedback loop ie what happens when people engage and interact with a piece of content. After all 'enagement' is the very reason we have put the piece of content out there in the first place. Amazingly the feedback loop is often overlooked - it's like a baker attracting people to his shop, encouraging them to sample his cakes but forgetting to install a cash register - it's a massive missed opportunity.

At khayr, Qatar's first ethical communications agency we have a unique process for developing content strategies, based on global best practice and our work with some of Qatar's leading organisations. It's an approach that ensures your content strategy dovetails beautifully with your brand strategy to build a meaningful relationship with your target audience.

When CSR makes headlines

It's rare that Sainsbury's, the UK's third largest supermarket chain should create a furore through its advertising, but that is exactly what it has done with its 2014 Christmas campaign.

In just 48 hours the Advertising Standards Authority, the body that polices the UK's advertising industry, received over 240 complaints which makes it one of the most complained about ads of the year (727 complaints total to date).

2014 is the 100 year anniversary of the start of World War I. The ad tells the tale of the 1914 Christmas truce when British and German soldiers swapped greetings, gifts and according to the story played games of football along the front-line. It's a heart-moving tale of how bitter enemies could put aside their differences for a brief time to come together and share the joy of Christmas.

The ad is beautifully shot with care and attention to detail and the branding restricted to a logo at the very end of the spot. The Royal British Legion, a charity who support ex-servicemen and women receive prominent billing and there's a specially commissioned chocolate bar from which the profits go to the charity. It should be pointed out that the ad in no way encourages purchase. If you haven't watched it, then view it here.

So, why has the ad created such uproar? What has led to the Guardian Newspaper proclaiming the ad as 'dangerous and disrespectful' or The Independent 'Hypocritical' along with numerous negative comments on twitter, youtube and advertising blogs?

Clearly the ad isn't entirely altruistic, no corporate CSR initiative ever is. Sainsbury's wants to build engagement and affinity with its brand so that ultimately more people will go to its stores than Tesco, Asda, Morrison's, Waitrose or Aldi. But as I say that is the corporate objective at the heart of all CSR initiatives. Businesses just don't spend unless there is some reward. Many good causes the world over would be considerably poorer if it weren't for corporate patronage and they're prepared to trade their endorsement for funding.

But for everyone who cries 'exploitation' there are more who simply cry, moved to tears by the ad. The response seems to have been black or white, love or hate with very few shades of grey. It's interesting how it has polarised opinions. I think the camp in which a person sits is dependent on how close to the exploitation wind you think the brand has sailed. And that in turn is much to do with sensitivity to such issues.

Journalists, intellectuals and social commentators, whose jobs it is to be sensitive, have whiffed a sensation, a story here...'Big bad corporation exploiting the memory of dead servicemen to sell sprouts'. I'd suggest that the UK press is more guilty of profiteering through their WWI centenary supplements produced with the express purpose of selling more newspapers, however that's a different issue, but is there, as the press would have us believe really such a moral outrage across the land?

An online survey by national newspaper, The Mirror, would suggest that the love and hate camps are far from evenly balanced. 86% of respondents found the ad 'moving' versus just 14% who found it 'cynical'. To date, in addition to those who have seen the ad on TV, over 13 million people have viewed the ad online. On youtube the ad has received 70,568 'thumbs up' versus just 2,408 'thumbs down', that's 97% positive.

Despite attempts by commentators to stir up a storm and a story it would appear they're failing to succeed. Why is that? My view is that the public are much more advertising savvy than journalists and commentators give them credit. I've often said that UK consumers understand the 'advertising game' and are willing to play along with it. In my opinion consumers fully understand that Sainsbury's clearly wants people to shop at Sainsbury's, but they are also capable of appreciating that the company has created a beautiful film, that marks a poignant moment in history and reinforces a positive Christmas message. They're capable of separating the beauty and the positive message from the sell.

In a world where most advertising is little more than visual wallpaper, Sainsbury's and the Royal British Legion can take heart that their ad has stimulated a debate and received an overwhelmingly positive emotional response from the British public. It has also ensured that a brief moment, when human compassion prevailed in an otherwise brutal, despicable war will not be forgotten.

Personally the ad leaves me feeling humbled. If bitter enemies, many of whom went on to sacrifice their lives for our freedom, can put aside their differences at Christmas, then what right do we have to bear a grudge. It's a beautiful CSR campaign.

How much of your spend is wasted?

In Qatar there is huge public sector investment in communications which is boosted by the high level of corporate spend on CSR programs.

According to our estimates, the combined spend of Qatar's public and private sector is upwards of QR100million per year on CSR programmes and on public communications related to society & culture, sport, economic development, education & science, the environment and health.

Against a backdrop of growing health issues and with both a number of high profile sporting events coming to Qatar and significant infrastructure projects going live, this figure is likely to increase substantially.

However, over the last few years a number of research studies, in which members of the khayr team have been involved, have shown that much of this spend is ineffective. It has little positive impact on the brands and organisations involved and does little to affect the attitudes and behaviour of the population. It's a real shame given the high levels of investment and the very real challenges we face as a society. The good news is that it is fixable.

Based on our experience we've identified five critical success factors. Get these right and the impact of your campaigns and programs will be dramatically improved.

Want to know what those success factors are? Then, meet with us. We'll take you through them and discuss how we could help you get more from your budget.

Beware of the Greenwash

Compared to five years ago, the environment and awareness of the impact of our actions on the environment has slowly made its way onto the national agenda in Qatar. Events like COP18, which was held in Doha in late 2012, have undoubtedly helped.

Whilst awareness is creeping up, there is still a massive distance between awareness, interest, intention, action and advocacy:

Awareness - I am aware on the topic and understand the basic points

Interest - It is a subject that interests me and I consciously seek out further information

Intention - I intend, at some point in the future, to modify my behaviour to minimise my impact on the environment

Action - I live my life in a way that minimises my impact on the environment

Advocacy - I actively try to persuade others to join me in protecting our environment

As marketers the gap between awareness and advocacy presents us with an opportunity, an opportunity to adopt the environment as an engaging CSR pillar and to build powerful programs and campaigns that can have an impact on behaviour. The bigger the problem, the more scope there is for us to deliver tangible, meaningful results. Deliver positive results and we raise our profile with key national stakeholders and we have a positive impact on the brand. Brilliant!

But our advice to any organisation who is currently using or considering the environment as a CSR pillar is to be very careful of straying in to greenwash territory - it's easily done. The environment is a very difficult pillar for most organisation's to credibly adopt as most businesses need to consume resources to make a profit.

What's a greenwash? Greenwash is a term that has been around for more than 20 years, although its prominence has really come to the fore in the last 5 - 10 years. A greenwash is an exaggerated, unsubstantiated or irrelevant environmental claim. Here are some examples of greenwash:

A car maker who claims 'Our new vehicle is eco-friendly'. This statement is pure greenwash, the claims is both unclear, unsubstantiated and exaggerated. A car whether petrol, diesel or electric will always be polluting to some degree. At best the vehicle could be less polluting than rival petrol powered cars. Language like 'eco-friendly' is vague and fluffy, designed to dupe consumers into believing mythical green credentials.

A chemical company that grabs hold of a small, comparatively green attribute 'Company X is saving the planet by reducing paper consumption', whilst its core busy is massively polluting. This is greenwash - the paper consumption claim is like a little silver bell that the company is ringing to divert the publics' attention from the rest of its business.

An AC system manufacturer claiming 'Our AC solution is better for the environment'. With no comparative data for alternatives and also from a sector in which all players have poor environmental credentials, this is greenwash.

So, as you can see adopting the environment as your CSR pillar is not as simple as it may first seem, there are many pitfalls. Greenwash will work for a limited time, but as the public becomes increasingly savvy, organisations engaging in greenwash will ultimately be uncovered and their brands will be punished for it.

The way to avoid greenwash is to ensure your organisation has a comprehensive CSR strategy in place, one that tightly defines the parameters and the framework of your program. It should define the core messages and language of the program. It should define the scope and scale of your program to establish very firm boundaries about how, why, where and when you talk.

khayr , Qatar's first and only ethical communications agency is expert in developing CSR strategies and programs that are relevant and engaging. We can help ensure your CSR program and your brand stay in the limelight and out of the greenwash.

Doing well by doing good

There was a time when CSR (corporate social responsibility) was just a tick box on a list of things that a company needed to do before the shareholder meeting. The CSR programme was considered the counter-balance to any ill-effects that the organisation may cause to society or the environment during the normal operation of the business. Depending on the nature of the business it was either a 'nice to do' or a 'need to do', but it wasn't considered core business.

Today's increasingly savvy breed of consumer are more aware of the impact that businesses and consumption has on society and the environment. Smart companies are waking up to the notion of 'doing well by doing good' and are building ethical credentials in to the heart of the brand. This trend started with social enterprises, green companies and ethical businesses whose aim was to turn a profit whilst making a positive contribution to society or at least to have a neutral impact. Now the spark is catching and progressive mainstream businesses are jumping on the band wagon, having realised that ethical credentials can be good for the bottom line. What does this mean for marketers?

Wise CMOs across the world are realising that CSR is no longer a separate function that exists as an adjunct to the comms department or worse a line item on the marketing plan, but a very powerful tool that can be used to positively impact brand equity. Statements around social responsibility and ethical behaviour are creeping in to brand platforms within the brand story or brand values and companies from Coca Cola to Ooredoo are creating high profile brand campaigns that would traditionally be considered entirely CSR in nature.

At khayr we marry world-class communications talent with strong ethics, to create Qatar's first and only ethical communications agency.

As our name implies, which is derived from the Arabic word for good and the English word care, our ethos is built around the idea of doing well as a business by doing good for society.

What does that mean? It means we're committed to positively enhancing the lives of the people of Qatar through communications. By creating communications campaigns and programmes that win hearts and engage minds we can change attitudes, break habits and positively modify behaviour.

We can help organisations in Qatar put CSR at the heart of their brand, helping them build brand equity and create a deeper, more emotive bonds with their customers and stakeholders.

When we profit, society profits

As Qatar's first ethical communications agency we genuinely want to be a force for good in Qatar and the region and are aiming for a win-win-win situation where our clients benefit, we benefit and society benefits.

We operate along social enterprise principles which means we aim to run our business with no negative impact on society or the environment. That doesn't mean we're a charity, we're still in business to make a profit, but what we will do is reinvest a portion of that profit in to our own CSR fund.

We call our profit reinvestment scheme Society2 because society benefits from the initial spend and then again when we reinvest profits in societally beneficial programs.

How does it work in practice? It's fairly simple, at the end of each year, if we've had a good year and turned a profit, then a percentage of that profit gets invested into our Society2 fund for good.

We then use that fund to run our own CSR program for the benefit of society. The cause we choose is selected by both employees and our followers on social media. Plus, we actively encourage those employees and followers to get involved, donating their time to the program in order to further boost the impact.

Shukran.


khayr, delivering strategies, brands, programs and campaigns that make the world a better place.