2019 Winners & Shortlists


Short List
CategoryUse of Digital Platforms

Why is this work relevant for Media?

The Middle East is a region often defined by stereotypes and social taboos, as well as one constrained by conservative laws and mindsets, particularly when it comes to women and their role in society. Even during a time of relative progress, the fact remains that due to a combination of conservative media regulations, cultural taboos and societal sensitivity, many Arab women often feel they don't have an authentic narrative, meaning their true identity and voice is being suppressed. This means there has been a huge vacuum in the Arab media, one that we've moved to fill.


Middle East Beauty. Three words that have misrepresented the Arab woman for too long. Three words that have narrowed the entire population into shallow categories from veiled and covered through to plastic surgery stereotypes. Today, this distorted image is projected on young Arab women, affecting the way they think about beauty standards and their role in Arab society. It creates unrealistic standards and societal pressures they feel they have to conform to. Sadly, not only has the advertising industry and media failed to address the issue, they have become complicit in reinforcing it, letting this preconceived imagery dominate the cultural conversation. So instead, Unilever, a company responsible for some of the world’s most famous beauty brands, has chosen to lead change and set out to represent the true voices, faces, and values of Arab women all around the region.

Describe the creative idea/insights

For Arab women, beauty is not a fixed concept. Its definition has never been more individual, and goes beyond the superficial and deep into societal issues. Our idea was to help Unilever build trust, social fluency and create conversations that address the individual impact beauty has in culture. We wanted to make a point of going far beyond the product and take a closer look at the real issues brands almost always avoid. Miraa was developed to represent a true reflection of women today. To push the boundaries of cultural conversations forward and raise the profile of Arab women by questioning, informing and offering an authentic, worldly perspective on the reality of the society they live in. Miraa’s mission is to send a bold statement: that the time for stereotypes of this kind is over, and that there is finally a platform in Arabic for, by and about Arab women.

Describe the strategy.

To actively participate in the cultural conversation and to add value to it. This is not a campaign, it’s a long-lasting purpose-driven platform to champion Arab female voices. We have created a new communication model that has allowed Unilever to move beyond traditional advertising and adopt a publishing mindset with social journalism at its core. This is all perfectly aligned with Unilever’s mission of building brands with genuine purpose at their core. We knew from our own network's data and insights (both quantitive and qualitative) that there was a large audience of women who felt their voices and views weren't represented in mainstream media and advertising. In addition to that, we continuously used surveys to identify the subjects that these women wanted to hear. Our audience are women, aged 18-35 years old from across the Middle East and North Africa.

Describe the execution.

We built a journalistic network of more than 100 female Arab contributors across the region to ensure authentic voices were represented. The core collective and editorial unit is also composed entirely of Arab women, ensuring the platform's content is trusted. We started by creating a dynamic platform that splits our content into four main categories tackled through journalistic articles and a series of short films. We have also seamlessly interwoven branded content that is produced by the same team, in the same authentic style, with the same focus on purpose. In addition to the core Miraa platform, we also launched relevant social channels to ensure our reach was as wide and deep as possible. In total, our network of contributors has to date published over 135 articles, our producers have created 6 short films and our social team have reached and engaged over 9 million users through strategic cut-downs.

List the results.

In less than six months, Miraa has turned Unilever into one of the region’s largest cultural publishers through three key differentiators: - Continuously listening to social and gathering trends that can be leveraged - Monitoring Miraa's content's performance and doubling down on the topics resonating with our audience - A/B testing multiple titles for articles and videos to ensure that all content achieves a minimum of 5% CTR or 45% VTR The result is that Miraa is already ranked second versus existing publishers when it comes to both the average duration a user spends on the site and the number of articles they read per visit. We have been able to gather more than 10m views with an unprecedented 50%+ view retention rate for our content. Our follower base and the number of website users have exceeded 1.5m with a growing returning users base that is currently at 30%.


Name Company Role
Ciaran Bonass VICE Arabia Creative Director
Yara Boraie VICE Arabia Editor
Maya Mohtar VICE Arabia Senior Creative
Lotus Habbab VICE Arabia Creative Producer
Engy Helmy VICE Arabia Social Media Executive
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