When a digital agency takes the lame lane

A digital agency going offline approach to promote their service is not a new thing or harmful approach yet Rufus Leonard advertisement is definitely wrong and lame approach to promote their digital marketing services.

I never heard of Rufus Leonard before and asking around was the same answer; it seems they have recently set-up in UAE unlike Starcom, Flip Media, Omnia, Fire Fly, and Cyber Gears. This digital agency seems to be heavily focused on UK market and they probably represent their clients in UAE; however, two of their press releases show that they acquired clients within UAE market. Therefore, since not many of the media industry professionals know the agency, this un-branding approach in their market penetration strategy shows that they are on the lame lane in giving us the un-wanted brand perception.

Rufus Leonard quarter-page ad on Campaign Middle East magazine of January 31st issue, gives everyone impression that this ad is simply uncreative in its direct marketing approach that they called it “open letter”, let’s call it a last-minute rush job rather than an unqualified advertising skills. The open letter is simply saying “we need your money”. If the agency doesn’t know print advertising they should have hired an advertising agency next door to help them with the job. Therefore, a direct marketing approach in an ad is simply a lame lane they are in.

If Rufus Leonard provides execution and showing a simple uncreative-designed ad that has been probably done in-house by throwing in couple of paragraphs on blue background then sticking Fly Dubai logo definitely made them falls under the lame lane of “simple but not creative” approach. Even if they want to put it in a “letter concept”, it shouldn’t be executed this way.

Nevertheless, I’m not talking about Rufus Leonard digital production, I’ve seen their work and it’s good, but this is also an “open letter” for taking such case an example that digital agencies should think about effective print advertising since it’s not their specialty, or hire a good ad agency if they’ve selected the wrong one. Whether be it as small as one-off ad or as big as campaign, it should simply present agency’s work.

What do you think of this ad? Do you agree with me or disagree?

Image Source: this letter is scanned from the print magazine of Campaign Middle East Jan 31st issue.

Let us know your comments


Tarek is the founder and chief researcher at Youngberry, a youth research and marketing firm dedicated to the region. Tarek founded interactiveME.com and previously worked as Manager at Flip Media (Interactive Agency), Bayt.com (Job Site) and Consulting House Qatar (Consulting firm). He is researcher and writer on internet & disruptive innovation, entrepreneurship, and youth culture.


  1. I think this ad was well executed and smart. The writer of the article has a bitter undertone to his words – very poor article in my opinion and makes a bit of a fool of himself. Doesn't seem to really understand the market in the UAE or really know what he's talking about. I agree with Micky that the writer has missed the point. Simple ideas are usually the most creative.

  2. This is seriously lame – they are trying to outsmart themselves.

    The whole idea of advertising is catch my attention and then persuade me to take an action – for example considering them in a pitch for a digital work – I seriously doubt (and that's my personal opinion) that a 200-300 words letter will do that.

  3. I think the writer has missed the point of Rufus Leonard's ad. The reason it looked the way it did was beacause it was in response to an ad by Flydubai ran the previous week requesting agencies send in business proposals. Rufus Leonard's response was to emulate exactly the look, style and tone of Flydubai's ad, even placing it in exactly the same space in Campaign.

    You say you'd never heard of them before, but this ad bought them to your attention. Don't you think it would've done the same with Flydubai? Quite clever all considered…

  4. Well, the right execution may not be here but they made their point.
    Sure it's pushy but this is a competitive market and your and other similar reactions may give them some fuel to get their share of it 🙂

  5. Thanks Will for your comment.

    This is subjective point of view for sure, but most of the people whom I asked around had the same point of view. Also, as I mentioned in the article conclusion that I'm not criticizing their work or digital experience at all, it remains intact.


  6. Actually I think it's a pretty smart, snappy, engaging response and I reckon that it will stand out – flydubai should get to know them! Also I understand that the work they do in the middle east is integrated, both on and off line and has the heritage of one of the top brand and digital businesses in the UK beind it.

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