- The highly coveted ZED Winter Fest is a current point of focus
- TV takes the bulk of our advertising budget, especially during Ramadan
- Digital is not limited to our advertising campaigns only but extends beyond that
- 7 billion EGP estimated investment in Sheikh Zayed and 25 billion EGP in Silversands – North Coast
There is no doubt that Egypt’s real estate market had been on the rise in terms of investments and contribution to GDP until the COVID-19 crisis, which impacted the volume of demand. That prompted the investors to change their strategies regarding the characteristics of their new projects, pricing, and marketing plans adopted.
Chief Marketing Officers magazine (CMOs) interviewed Rasha Georgy, Head of Marketing at Ora Developers, to talk about the challenges facing the real estate market in Egypt at the current time, the features of the company’s marketing strategy, and other topics that we will discuss in the following interview…
First of all, would you tell us more about “Ora Developers” and its previous and current experiences?
Ora Developers is a leading name in designing and developing luxury lifestyle destinations in select locations worldwide. Today, it has more than one project, whether in Egypt or abroad. It has launched its first project, AYA NAPA, in Cyprus and then moved to Pakistan and Grenada before moving to Egypt.
When we initially thought of establishing Ora Egypt, Eng. Naguib Sawiris, the Chairman, and CEO had a vision and a particular method -as a credible person – to deliver on promises to consumers. Hence, we started with Sheikh Zayed, and then we began work on Zed East; following, we started our latest project, Silversands in North Coast.
What is Ora’s current size of investments in the Egyptian market and its expansion plans during the coming period?
Our investment range is estimated at 7 billion EGP in Sheikh Zayed and about 25 billion EGP in the “Silversands” project in North Coast.
As for the expansion plans, Ora Developers goes wherever it sees it can create added value to the consumer; in terms of the project itself, the mix, the premiumness, as well as many other factors that should be very unique, like the position, center, and future of that place.
Can you tell us about the key features of Ora Developers’ marketing strategy for the past year?
We always try not to present our brand as a real estate developer only. But we mix it with entertainment and sports so we could be the only real estate brand with something through which it can interact with the consumer directly. That is happening in Zed Park right now, where we are trying to deliver our consumers a particular experience in a certain way at the right moment.
For example, we are currently hosting this year’s iteration of the highly coveted ZED Winter Fest at the park for the third time in a row. The festival will run until February of 2022. This is a huge focus in regard to marketing activities during the year as the festival has been a proven success since its launch, it has now become a designated must-do winter activity every holiday season.
Over its last two iterations, it has driven significant traffic to the park by offering an array of attractions and entertainment for visitors. That includes live performances, roaming busker experiences, a wide array of carnival rides, and games for the whole family, along with a huge food district, all in the heart of ZED Park. In 2021 we have brought even bigger and brighter attractions like the recent unique orchestral and DJ concert fusion concept by Rodge and Michel Fadel, which was a one-of-a-kind show with 100 performers and musicians on stage, including a massive choir.
What are the newest activities and upgrades that you are currently communicating to the public?
Aside from the ongoing ZED WinterFest, another key announcement is that Ora Developers is intending to launch the ZED East strip, starting with the launch of office spaces. It will be a commercial strip, situated in the heart of the up-and-coming business hub, the New Administrative Capital in Egypt. Aside from the offers and exceptional payment plans that Ora Developers already offer, during Cityscape they will be adding an additional year of installment payment on all projects.
Generally, we are always very keen to communicate and showcase the other side and added value of our offerings to our audiences, how we have much more to offer than your standard residential projects. This includes administrative complexes, medical clinics, and world-class sports and recreational clubs, that will include football pitches, swimming pools, squash, tennis, and paddle courts in addition to an indoor multipurpose court. We are also the first to introduce a sports university in Egypt and a sports club with world-class academies and international coaches in different sports
Communicating the acquisition of a 486-feddan area of land in the North Coast, to officially launch our latest mixed-use development project on Egypt’s sandy beaches, was also one of our focuses this summer. As part of our marketing strategy, we are positioning Silversands as the go-to beach destination for all vacationers all year long, from those who prefer to spend the whole summer by the beach, to those looking for a quick weekend getaway.
What marketing tools do you use to achieve your goals?
We use the same tools that others use, except for the Billboards, this year. At the same time, we focused on the usual tools such as digital, TV ads, PR campaigns, and whatever can deliver our message on the ground.
But why did you exclude Billboards from your campaigns in 2021?
Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, outdoor advertising has become less consuming than mobile phones and TV. That’s why we shifted this year to focus more on other mass media and exclude billboards that most real estate companies use, with almost the same message but a different brand logo.
However, with the new year almost coming up, we’ll be exploring new tactics and tools that will help deliver our messages to the audience which may include billboards amongst others.
May we know the medium that dominates the largest part of your advertising budget?
TV advertising takes the bulk of the budget, especially during Ramadan, because of the price point. But going back to our on-ground activities, it also takes a large part of our investment because our consumers are in the park almost every day, whether those who come to play on our grounds or academies, enjoy Food & Beverages, amusements, or who come to enjoy the park.
To what extent has the Covid19 pandemic changed your marketing plans for 2021?
Let’s agree that the consumer’s mentality has changed than before, not only because of the pandemic but also in consumption, receiving information, and making a purchase. So our last Ramadan campaign aimed to educate the audience that we have both projects, “ZED East in Al-Tagamoa and ZED West in El-Sheikh Zayed, using the concept of “East versus West” which emphasizes that we are different and have credentials. Further, the name of Ora’s owner Eng. Naguib Sawiris always makes a difference in our campaigns.
Despite the success of that campaign, it was criticized for adopting the celebrity branding strategy that brands overused during recent years. What is your response to that?
It is not related to the number of celebrities, but rather how they are used with the jingle to serve the campaign, which is definitely the difference. We wanted to convey a message that we have two projects, one in Sheikh Zayed and another in Al-Tagamoa, not just a single one in Zayed as some people think, taking advantage of the perpetual debate between the residents of both over which is better, so we can deliver the message easily.
How does digital transformation play a role in Ora’s marketing activities?
What distinguishes digital from other mediums is that it is calculable, meaning the return of every pound spent is known.
Being a medium through which it is possible to measure consumer interests and understand their behavior on the Internet enables the marketer to reach the target audience with the right message and time. So, any real estate campaign cannot be without digital marketing.
For Ora Developers, digital is not limited to our advertising campaigns only. However, it extends beyond that, as we are now trying to transfer all money transactions at ZED Park into cashless solutions.
What are the challenges facing real estate marketers at present?
The most significant challenge is that the market is getting cluttered with offers and messages, which make the consumer admittedly lost between believing any of them, so I see that who will cut this clutter are the developers who have the credentials to deliver their promises.
As someone who has spent about 16 years at JWT – Cairo, what do you think is different in the life of agencies than corporates?
By default, agencies have a higher creative edge, but life in them is more difficult because you work there on a variety of things, and in the end, the client is the decision-maker, not you. Therefore, agencies are more risk-takers, while risks in corporates are always calculated.
How do public relations play a role in your marketing plan? And do you think it is more appropriate to rely on an in-house PR department instead of a specialized agency?
Public relation is an integral part of any communication strategy. It’s about how to get your message across to the consumer at the right time.
Actually, I’m against relying on an in-house PR department in the company; I see agencies are more specialized and more focused on trends and what is happening in the market because we get exposed to real estate only, unlike agencies exposed to so many brands. Thus, they are more experts in this area than us. But it is crucial to find the right partner with a credit history who can manage this function optimally.