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Objective of the new UAE-based creative agency to prove its role, the value of empathy in balancing humanism and capitalism: Mimi Nicklin

DUBAI: FREEDM is a new UAE-based creative agency that was launched last month. Based in Dubai, the majority of its team is spread around the world in countries such as the United States, Singapore, India, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Backed by Devmark Group investors Sean McCauley and Richard Aybar, founding board members, FREEDM is led by Mimi Nicklin, who has worked in the advertising industry for 15 years and is the author of “Softening the Edge Which is why empathy is essential to a business turnaround.

Nicklin told Arab News: “When I arrived in the Middle East three and a half years ago, I took over a business that needed a major turnaround and decided to do it with empathy at heart. .

“It worked against all kinds of criticism, and we’ve grown into a phenomenal small business – with empathy at heart.”

She pointed out that empathy levels have been declining for three decades, a situation that has had far-reaching consequences, such as mental health issues.

“We have over 300 million people with depression, which is one of the highest costs of our health care services in the world today; and anxiety issues are almost out of control – even the World Health Organization has recognized burnout as an official work-related illness, ”she said.

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has exacerbated many mental health problems, inspiring Nicklin to combine learnings from the global health crisis, her past work experiences and her research on empathy, to create a new type of agency.

“If we don’t take the lessons from the trauma that has hit our world then we are just going backwards and I don’t understand why the business world seems to want to return to 2019 with such ease,” she added.

On how to translate empathy into the workplace in the fast-paced world of agencies, she said, “It translates into uplifting our employees to balance people and profits rather than sacrificing our people. to generate profit. “

Nicklin noted that advertising agencies have come under increasing pressure over the past two decades as client demands have increased and team sizes have shrunk.

“We are an industry that doesn’t sell products, we sell creativity. And creatives need space and time that are priceless to supply. As creative talent is deprioritized, creative efficiency suffers.

Today, creative businesses contribute 3% of the world’s gross domestic product, employ 30 million people worldwide and are the largest providers of jobs for workers aged 18 to 25, according to the United Nations United Nations for Education, Science and Culture.

“This makes us the industry of tomorrow, and my belief is that the industry of tomorrow cannot function like yesterday,” Nicklin said.

FREEDM’s vision is to create an environment free from prejudices and restrictions that allows creativity to flourish. This includes recruiting talent from all walks of life, regardless of age, gender or economic background.

“We are not a particularly strong industry when it comes to diversity and inclusion. And this company is ready to change that by being founded in a very different way, ”she added.

For clients, this not only means access to exceptional work that meets their marketing goals, but also the ability to achieve social and personal goals by “having a direct impact on human beings by creating them. freedom, ”she said.

“I believe that we are all people before we are employees, leaders or managers. And I think the last two years, in particular, have created a shift in society where we are all more aware of our collective role in improving and sustaining the world around us.

The results speak for themselves, with the agency receiving a phenomenal response within a month of launching and gaining new clients every day for at least an entire week. As of September, the agency already had nine clients and more were in the pipeline.

From the start, FREEDM aligned its activities with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and UNESCO’s International Year of the Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.

UNESCO believes that the creative economy must welcome creators, through careers in the creative industry that are “viable and characterized by decent working conditions, living wages and opportunities for growth”. In order to achieve this goal, he called on policymakers and world leaders to conduct a comprehensive policy review that includes jobs, intellectual property and education.

“This means we need to reformat our entire business and our industry. So it’s an incredibly big challenge, but at the same time, I think you can’t create change without discomfort, ”Nicklin added.


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