2 minutes with Karim Tarek Nour: How 40-year-old TNC connects traditional and digital advertising

In 2018, TN Holding bagged a total of eight awards across multiple categories from the African Cristal festival in Marrakesh (Photo courtesy of Tarrk Nour Communication official Facebook page)

Operating in the industry for about 40 years now, Tarek Nour Communications (TNC) is one of the first companies that comes to mind when thinking about all-time memorable TV commercials.

In 1979, upon his return from the United States (US) where he studied TV advertising, Tarek Nour started off a company for communications that has grown into TN Holding. It consists of several companies with diverse business activities such as public relations, communications and video production. Nour also owns a TV satellite channel called “Al Qahera Wal Nas” (Cairo and the People).

Up until today, Egypt’s oldest and widely popular private-sector TV advertising family business still maintains its niche. In 2018, TN Holding bagged a total of eight awards across multiple categories from the African Cristal festival in Marrakesh.

In the run-up to the Holy Month of Ramadan, Business Forward talks to Tarek’s son and CEO of TNC Karim Tarek Nour about the company’s transformation since its inception while remaining relevant in the digital advertising era.

How do you weather the fierce competition in today’s TV advertising market?
Being around for 40 years is an asset in itself, given the amount of practical experience we have acquired throughout time. What I would think of as our competitive edge is that we are a people-first company with a very diverse talent base from within the industry. Most of the people working in the company are very young. Hence,mixing young talent with experience and case studies provides us with a unique formula.

How has the company transformed internally over the years?
In the matter of the shareholder structure, we started off as a family business, but moved on to a much more inclusive entity. It is not a one-man show. I work here because I am passionate about communications. But if I was not the right person for the job, the system itself would reject me. Any company that has been around for a while has to break free from the pitfalls of family control. I think we have a good head-start in that arena. It all goes back to capable people who are invested in the company, in every sort of way.

We are not operating like a traditional family-run business, since 49% of the company is already owned global communications company Omnicom and another sizable share is owned by individual partners.

How are you adapting to the changes in the advertising space, specifically the shift from traditional to digital media?
We do not differentiate between the online and offline worlds because these are just communication mediums. You need to use the appropriate media for what you are doing. Any agency that is not proficient and brilliant at either the digital front or traditional media loses. You have to be very holistic about it.

Mass marketing usually involves using  all types of media. It is an end-to-end process. We have our own intelligence and research units guided by insightful information on media in the digital age and it has been part of our competency and expertise for about 10 years now.

However, we also need to recognize that we are still in a mass market, and not everyone is digital. It is not the panacea for every single problem.

What about the company’s long-term plans?
In the long term, we are looking to tap into other markets. We have been doing a lot of work recently in the Gulf and MENA region. We spent a good 40 years growing into every section of communications, and now, we are looking abroad. Those are our long-term and medium-term goals that run in parallel with the short-term goal of ensuring that we give our local clients best-in-class insightful mass communications

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