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Challenges of Branding and Advertising in Iran

Discussing the challenges of Branding and Advertising in Iran after the sanctions with Dr. Damoon Mir the CCO of ZIGMA8 | 360º Creative Communications

Dr. Damoon Mir is the CCO of ZIGMA8 | 360º Creative Communications, the first Iranian advertising, marketing, and branding agency to become an affiliate member of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (4As). He has over 15 years of experience with prominent international agencies. Dr. Damoon has worked for renowned brands and developed national and international advertising and branding campaigns. As an affiliate member of the American Marketing Association (AMA), the Society for Experiential Graphic Design (SEGD), the Association of Professional Designers of America (AIGA), and the Global Association for Creative Advertising & Design (D&AD), Dr. Damoon Mir has insights on designing and developing national and international advertising campaigns. He has special expertise in positioning a brand and expanding sales, plus working with sales managers at major brands. We had a quick interview with him.

Q1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. Your background, education etc.

I studied cinema as a university student because of my photography background, and then I moved into graphic design and interface design. I also got experience in Web design and multimedia, focusing on print production and graphics, eventually jumping to the role of director of photography for a film in the UAE. I directed TV commercials and corporate films, eventfully working at a full-service production house in Dubai Media City. I left there to become creative director at A+, a French advertising agency with headquarters in New York, Paris, Dubai, and Abu Dhabi. I also started studying management at Tehran University, and I eventually got MBA and DBA degrees.

Q2. At what point did you decided to establish Zigma8?

One day I was working at the A+ agency, in my office at Emirates Towers, and I got an offer to do the same job at one of the leading advertising agencies in Iran. This agency had many of the major accounts in the country, including large banks and insurance companies, and private brands like Samsung and Panasonic. It was a great opportunity for me to come back to my hometown and work in the capital of Iran. After six years working with large and small brands in Iran, I realized that clients were not being served well when it comes to advertising and branding. The main reason was that big advertising agencies in Iran are all media owners, and their creative and strategic departments are focused on selling media, not providing clients with solutions to sell their products or services.
I decided to start my own agency with the core idea that we would never ever go the route of media ownership.

Q3. Zigma8 has successfully managed to become a member of the 4As. How will it benefit your clients and your company?

As you know, after the UN removed the sanctions on Iran it was virgin territory. The market was wide open for brands, so the brand owners needed agencies they could trust to do quality work. We started to negotiate with 4As, which took about ten months. Eventually we qualified for acceptance, and we were the first and only Iranian member.

Q4. How would you describe the advertising industry in Iran? Is it difficult to advertise in such a market,

keeping in mind the cultural complexities and government pressures.
For sure it is. Advertising and branding are generally more complicated, as they are cross discipline tasks, plus here in Iran we have more factors which increase the complexity. The limitations and restrictions sometimes get really tight, I confess.

Q5. What’s been the biggest creative challenge in your career to date?

Working in Iran is always a challenge, both on the client side and the legal side. Here’s an example from the client side: Imagine you are working with Agribank of Iran, which targets people who are active in the agriculture field. Your campaign is expected to attract both normal citizens and businessmen, in order to do fund-raising. To get an idea of the legal limitations, imagine that must you design a campaign to position a luxury mall like atlasmall for the higher end market, but you are not allowed to use any luxury visual or verbal elements.

Q6. Describe yourself in three words.

Work, work, work.

Q7. Everybody needs time out. What do you do in your free time?

For more than ten years I’m a stranger to this term, “free time”. I am trying my best to swim and play tennis besides go to the gym, but I end up canceling too many times.

Q8. what are your future plans for Zigma8? Your vision for the coming years.

In Zigma8 | 360º Degree Creative Communications, we want to provide clients with all kinds of marketing communications services: naming, slogans, brand identity design, print production, TV commercial production, corporate film production, showroom design, event management, roadshows, advertising campaigns, etc. Our focus is to provide clients with integrated world-class outputs, and our daily goal is to maintain this level of quality to the last detail, never missing anything.

Q9. For someone who wants to enter the advertising world of Iran, what advice would you give?

First of all, I would encourage him or her, because early birds get more than latecomers, and now is the time to enter this virgin market. However, do not underestimate the need for strategic branding and advertising. The Iranian people have had 35 years of exploring the world of brands from behind a glass. Although the brands were not officially on the market, they were available on the black market either as originals or copies, and consumers were developing their tastes and brand awareness. So, you could say there already was brand positioning in the market, but now it has to be strategically refined and redirected.

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