2022 Winners & Shortlists


Short List
Product/ServiceMAX FASHION
CategorySocial Behaviour & Cultural Insight

Why is this work relevant for Direct?

Some discriminatory practices are thousands of years old. This is the story of how MAX, a value fashion brand, fought against a naming practice that has existed in the Arab world since biblical times. Going against the prevalent culture, the brand’s ‘Abu Benti’ initiative encouraged fathers to include their daughters’ name in their kunya / nickname. Launched on Feb 1st, known as the Arab Women’s Day, the initiative enabled the brand to create a strong impact with their primary target audience in a personal and emotional way.


MAX is a fashion retailer primarily popular among consumers due to its affordable prices and good quality clothes. One of the most unique things about the brand is that it is born and grown in the Middle East, and while it has become a multibillion-dollar business, it understands the region like no other. So, while the pandemic impacted the retail category heavily and sales for all the brands, including MAX declined, MAX knew that the answer was not just about running year-long promotions and sales. In a challenging category, amid retailers seeking short-term sales to appeal to Arab mothers and launching limited-time discounts, MAX needed to deepen its emotional appeal. Arab women prefer buying from brands that are meaningful to them and have some form of purpose. How could we make MAX stand out in an increasingly commoditized category and expand our brand appeal with our customer segment: Arab women?

Describe the creative idea (30% of vote)

Have you heard someone being called “Ahmed Abu Mohammed” even though his name is “Ahmed”, not “Mohammed”? This is a practice called Kunya. Essentially “Abu” mean “father of”. And so Ahmed is being called “Ahmed, father of Mohammed”. That’s kinda nice, isn’t it? It gives you a sense of pride as your name acknowledges the next generation and shows your belonging. However, the practice only applies to sons; even if a father’s first-born is a daughter, she will not be given the place of honor in her father’s name. It gets worse - even if a man has only daughters, he will not be called by the name of his daughter but by the name of his father! We decided to go after this age-old discriminatory practice against women and created Abu Benti, an initiative inviting fathers to include their daughter’s name in their kunya/nickname.

Describe the strategy (20% of vote)

To challenge a practice that is ingrained in the culture for thousands of years, we needed to create something that is provocative, yet sensitive at the same time. Max is a brand that appeals to the masses, and we couldn’t make it come across as a rebel that is going against the society. Speaking to many Arab fathers, we realized that they take immense pride in their daughters’ ambitions and want them to be successful. There was no gender bias existed when it came to support and encouragement for their children. We needed to gather endorsement and trust from as many fathers as we could. To solidify Max’s association with the initiative, we needed to create an engaging in-store experience that enabled fathers to become champions of this initiative; and with 280 stores across the region, there was an opportunity to reach many people and become a torchbearer of change.

Describe the execution (20% of vote)

Launched on February 1, also known as International Arab Women’s Day, a film kicked off the conversation. We asked different fathers about their kunya, why it doesn’t involve their daughters’ names, and hearing their positive reaction to a new kunya including their daughter’s names. An in-store activation was launched to allow fathers to fully embrace their new nickname; they could visit any MAX store, bring their favorite T-shirt or sports jersey, and customize it to include the new nickname, allowing them to wear their daughter’s names with pride. In addition, outdoor billboards and in-store banners were designed encouraging fathers to join the initiative. We also reached out to different Arab father influencers and persuaded them (and therefore also reaching their followers) to change their Instagram handles to their new kunya.

List the results (30% of vote)

Since launch, Abu Benti has positively surprised thousands of store visitors with a new way of looking at an age-old tradition, motivated to adopt their daughters’ names in their kunya. On social platforms, the initiative has spread swiftly, reaching over 1.2 million people in just 4 days. Many influencers across the region participated & hundreds of users expressed their thoughts echoing similar sentiments: “A daughter deserves her father being called by her name!” “It made me cry” “My husband always wants to be called Abu Dana” “Love this! Why wasn’t this done for so long!” “I always wanted someone to speak about it! My father doesn’t even mind it!” Additionally, the initiative has also started making rounds in media, with many leading publications covering it extensively. This is just the beginning. With Abu Benti’s positive impact spreading all around, it is set to become a movement across the region.

Please tell us about the social behaviour and / or cultural insights that inspired your work

The Middle East is a hub where gender inequality is still prevalent in today’s progressive world. Arab cultural traditions almost always place more importance on men, where stereotypical gender roles applied; they are seen as the breadwinner of families, the main source of pride and income, the “prince” who would carry the lineage for generations to come. Women, however, are unfortunately overlooked, almost as if she brings nothing to the table. The kunya was a prime representation of this inequality; even in the situation where fathers only have daughters, they are all shunned. Shadowed by a nickname with a man’s name representing the son that never was. However, this was only an issue of culture and outdated traditions. Arab fathers usually love all their children equally, especially daughters, and they could empower them and show their love by wearing their name, both literally and emotionally.


Name Company Role
Walid Kanaan TBWA\RAAD Chief Creative Officer
Joe Lahham TBWA\RAAD Managing Director
Jennifer Fischer TBWA\RAAD Chief Innovation Officer
Jim Robbins TBWA\RAAD Executive Creative Director
Alex Pineda TBWA\RAAD Executive Creative Director
Bhaskar Bateja TBWA\RAAD Planning Director
Mohammad El Tayech TBWA\RAAD Strategic planning
Marianne Sargi TBWA\RAAD Production
Alia Fakha TBWA\RAAD Production
Majdy Alawna TBWA\RAAD Copywriter
Laila Alkaf TBWA\RAAD Copywriter
Nada Al Alami TBWA\RAAD Designer
Hind Remy TBWA\RAAD Junior Designer
Ian Carvalho TBWA\RAAD Brand Leader
Adnan Kusybi TBWA\RAAD Account Manager
Romy Abdelnour TBWA\RAAD PR & Communications
Zeina Abuzaid TBWA\RAAD Motion Design
Ezzat Habra TBWA\RAAD Traffic
Naveen Madurakariyan TBWA\RAAD Traffic
Alain Abi Khalil Rush Executive Producer
Elie Ballan Rush Production
Ahmed Noor - Film Director
Elias Trad Rush DOP
Yucel Omer Rush DIT
Media Max Media Max Equipment
Media Max Media Max Equipment
Joe Farhat Rush Sound Engineer
Hamis Arieda Rush Production Manager
Cecile Crolais Rush Wardrobe Stylist
Make up your mind - Make up your mind Hair & Make up Artist
David Richards Rush Location Manager
FStop - FStop Location Services Unit
Ultrafast Transport - Ultrafast Transport Transportation
Video URL   |   Video URL   |   Video URL