WPP gains foothold in the Iranian market

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Gagan Bhalla, MD North Africa and Iran, Kantar Consumer Insights; Stephen Hillebrand, CEO MENAP, Kantar Consumer Insights; Afshin Vafadar, CEO, Rahbar Bazaar; and Azam Alibabei, Partner in Rahbar Bazaar.
Gagan Bhalla, MD North Africa and Iran, Kantar Consumer Insights; Stephen Hillebrand, CEO MENAP, Kantar Consumer Insights; Afshin Vafadar, CEO, Rahbar Bazaar; and Azam Alibabei, Partner in Rahbar Bazaar.

The network announces a market-research partnership in Tehran a year after its historic entry into Cuba

WPP has made its first tentative steps into Iran’s fledgling advertising industry by joining forces with a local agency.

The group’s research division Kantar has partnered with the Tehran-based Rahbar Bazaar Market Research Institute, which was founded in 2003 by market researchers Afshin Vafadar and Azam Alibabaei.

The agency currently boasts big brands among its clientele, including MCI, Henkel, Unilever, Hayat and BAT Pars.

WPP’s move into Iran comes a year after the global advertising giant became the first international communications group to move into a newly opened Cuba.

The group had been carrying out data research in Iran, WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell told Campaign earlier this year.

At the time, Sorrell said Iran’s 83 million population made the country "the largest market to have really opened up since the fall on the Soviet Union or the (Berlin) Wall since the end of the Cold War."

However, WPP remains one step behind its international rival Dentsu Aegis Network, which became the first to formally open an agency in Tehran — Carat-ICA — by partnering with International Communications Agency (ICA) in January 2015.

Stephen Hillebrand, chief executive for the MENAP region at Kantar Insights, said: "There’s been a very high level of interest in Iran among our clients since the easing of the sanctions. With a population of over 80 million people, Iran presents a significant growth opportunity for many of our global clients. This agreement heralds Kantar’s commitment to help develop new business opportunities for our clients in this important growth market. We look forward to working with Rahbar Bazaar to deepen the service offerings for both Kantar’s clients, and Rahbar Bazaar’s clients, in Iran."

Vafadar added: "Rahbar Bazaar is excited about affiliating with Kantar in order to address the needs of our local clients and to attract new multinational clients. We believe that access to Kantar’s global network of market research experts, its proprietary consumer insight and technology tools and its market research ‘best practices’, together with our dedication, local insights and expertise, along with our young motivated team will make a compelling service offering."

This article first appeared on campaignme.com.