BMA expands with new chapters in Middle East, UK

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Chicago—The Business Marketing Association is in the midst of a big international push, having recently added a Middle East chapter based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and with a U.K. chapter scheduled to debut next week. The two new chapters are the association's first outside the U.S., and discussions are underway to open others in China, France, Germany and Singapore. “In the Middle East, b-to-b marketing isn't seen as a separate approach from marketing in general,” said Annette Fernandes, acting Middle East chapter president. “The key benefit will be to educate and raise awareness that b-to-b marketing is different from b-to-c, in skills, approaches and sometimes in greater creativity.” The Middle East chapter is not restricted to the UAE, but rather encompasses the entire region, said Fernandes, who is client services director at agency Fifth Ring, Dubai. “I suspect that long term, we may end up splitting, with subchapters formed in the region, similar to how the U.S. is organized,” she said. The U.K. chapter, based in London, will blend in the significant number of current BMA members there, as well as members of the Association of Business to Business Agencies. It is expected that ABBA will shut down, with all members joining BMA U.K., said Rob Morrice, CEO of Stein IAS Europe, London, who is heading up the organization of the BMA U.K. chapter. “We want BMA U.K. to be the single body that represents all b-to-b interests and parties here, with all key b-to-b players,” he said. The U.K. chapter already has a 20-member council, made up of agencies, vendors and client-side marketers, as well as a smaller board of five charged with implementing council recommendations. Morrice said the chapter plans to hire a full-time president. The new international chapters have been organized primarily by members of agency network Business Branding Network, whose members include Fifth Ring and Stein IAS. “The BMA board and leadership have been extremely supportive of the international expansion,” said Tom Stein, CEO of Stein IAS Americas, New York. The BMA's Go and Grow series of conferences has also helped spur the international expansion, he said. “There is great interest in BMA being a global big tent for b-to-b marketing,” Stein said. “The senior marketers at the London Go and Grow conference last October were saying BMA should think of itself as a global entity, not just a U.S. one.” Eduardo Conrado, who just finished his one-year term as BMA national chairman, said the new chapters will work closely with the BMA. “The chapters will share resources, ideas and content,” said Conrado, who is senior VP-marketing and IT at Motorola Solutions. “When BMA board members from the U.S. travel to Dubai, we will try to coordinate a luncheon or dinner. I'll be out there in August or September.” Conrado added: “Dubai is a hub for many multinational companies. It is a thriving community of marketers and a good location for us to have a community of marketers to connect and share experiences with.”
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