INTERNATIONAL: Right-wing rule casts shadow over booming Israeli advertising sector

Boaz Gaon reports on the international growth and how it could soon be over

Boaz Gaon reports on the international growth and how it could soon be


Almost three years of near-peace in the Middle East has brought a

bonanza for Israel’s advertising agencies, with the market soaring 30

per cent and millions of dollars flooding into the country as

international brands have taken advantage of the break in hostilities.

But the assassination of the former prime minister, Yitzhak Rabin, last

year and his replacement in May’s elections by the less peace-oriented

Benjamin Netanyahu, is casting gloom over an otherwise upbeat

advertising community.

Netanyahu is a right-wing prime minister with the difficult task of

forging his fragile alliance - including some ultra-conservative

religious MPs - into a workable coalition. Even worse, doubts about his

commitment to Rabin’s peace process are causing severe disquiet among

the big foreign names behind Israel’s phenomenal advertising growth.

Yair Sason, a manager of the Israeli agency, Dubetzki Zaks Sason, which

handles the US drinks company, Ocean Spray, summed it up this way: ‘They

are simply afraid. They are afraid to commit to big budgets, they want

to see first what will happen. They say that there is just too much

uncertainty about the future.’

Not everyone is as pessimistic, however. Winberg Karraso Shamir, for

example, the Lintas affiliate which handles Unilever in Israel, is

claiming business is normal, but there are undoubtedly the first signs

of caution following three years of runaway success.

The good times began in 1993 when the Palestine Liberation

Organisation’s chairman, Yasser Arafat, first shook hands on the lawns

of the White House with Rabin. Soon after, Israel’s first commercial TV

station, Channel 2, was launched and the floodgates opened to foreign


It was as though the international community had just discovered Israel.

Big names such as L’Oreal, Procter and Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive,

Nestle, McDonald’s, Toys-R-Us and Burger King started to spend on media.

Interest in Israel’s local agencies was quick to follow and now there

isn’t a single shop in the country’s top ten which does not have some

kind of international affiliation. This has helped to bring Israel into

the international arena, with the English language now a more integral

part of the daily routine, and English-language commercials being aired

on television.

Also, an increasing number of industry executives now have experience

abroad, and have entered and won international awards.

All this has been Israel’s peace dividend, a benefit most in the

community are now praying they will keep.

Boaz Gaon is a freelance reporter for the Israeli newspaper, Ma’ariv,

and the communications magazine, Tikshoret




Rank  Name                              Affiliation

 1    Gitam                             BBDO

 2    Tamir Cohen                       J. Walter

      (Yacobsen)                        Thompson

 3    The Arieli                        Lowe

      Group                             Group

 4    Kesher Barel                      McCann-Erickson

 5    Dahaf                             Bozell Worldwide

 6    Baumann                           Bates/Saatchi and Saatchi

      Ber Rivnay

 7    Fogel Levin                       Ogilvy and Mather

 8    Reuveni Pridan                    Leo Burnett

 9    Warshavsky                        Grey

      Freilich                          International


10    DDB Linial                        DDB Needham.

Ratings by the Israeli magazine, Hatikshoret. Affiliations among the

next ten agencies include FCB Publicis, TBWA Chiat Day and Lintas