Ahead of 'Ice Age Live! A Mammoth Adventure' on the 3rd of February, we sit down with Dino Activations, who have brought some of the world's most famous animated characters to Egypt and continue to do so, while delivering smiles and childhood memories for Egypt's children.
The January 25th uprising dreamt of sparking revolutionary changes that would ultimately provide a better future for Egypt's children; however five years of turmoil later, the revolution's ambitious dreams are yet to be fully achieved and it has arguably robbed children of the opportunity to create cherished childhood memories amidst heightened fears. With the news that Ice Age Live! on Ice is coming to Egypt, we decided to talk Mohamed Amer, founder of Dino Activations, who set out to make the case to Disney, 21st Century Fox, and a slew of other brands that not only is Egypt safe, but that it is a largely untapped market that is hungry for enjoyable educational entertainment.
Having worked for some of the biggest international brands ranging from McDonalds to Sony, Mohamed Amer spent over a decade garnering a reputation as one of the best performing product and marketing managers in the region. “I joined PepsiCo in late 2005, where I established the whole function called Market Activation; I was actually the pioneer in this [in the market]. I was so effective they used to call me the godfather of this area,” Amer informs confidently.
Even though he had reached the top of his profession in some of the biggest companies in the world, Amer felt somewhat unfulfilled and bravely left his prestigious position to take a risk in building his own company. According to Amer, “I didn't want my life to end with me meeting Allah with nothing but PowerPoint presentations to show for it... I want to be remembered as a good Egyptian Muslim; someone who built his family legacy and helped the development of his community and the people around him.” Reaching this epiphany, Amer set out to add value to an underdeveloped market and launched Dino Activations with the vision of a pioneering agency that formulates entire brand activations in 360 format and focuses on the consumer as the center of attraction.
Mohamed Amer, founder of Dino Activations, at his office.
For Amer there were a lot of stressful nights spent on the floor of his empty office, but thanks to an Angel investor and an ambitious but successful Mountain Dew skateboarding campaign, Dino Activations would exponentially start growing with major clients looking to enlist their help. “We at Dino are all about innovation and bringing something new to the market. So in 2011 we were the first ever agency in Egypt to bring 3D mapping technology to a live event for Nokia. In that same year, we were the first business agency to bring the whole nation together to vote for a new flavour in a product campaign. In 2013, we took a decision to have our own product in the field of entertainment and organising big events, so we started to talk to Disney,” details Amer.
Talking to Disney is one thing, but convincing them that Egypt is safe enough to invest in is entirely other issue, especially amidst five years of political turmoil and scary globally spanning headlines. Undeterred, Amer perservered and managed to convince Disney that Dino Activations shares the same passion and vision to grow their brand in Egypt and beyond. “When we met with the Disney people, we told them that they needed to stop watching CNN, and to actually visit. When they arrived, they saw for themselves that it is safe. I told them that 'We’re not here to sell tickets, it's not about that; its all about building the experience and it's all about relating Disney as the brand that is going to bring back the smile to the Egyptian people.' So we got Disney on board, and were only given eight weeks to execute. It succeeded, and eventually I was able to take this organisation across 42 countries last year with most shows selling out, breaking a sales record. It was a global success for me,” proudly remarks Amer.
Even with the political situation being unstable Disney Live: Mickey’s Magic Show was a massive success, and seemingly put them on the map. As Amer puts it, “After we succeeded with Disney, we found global producers calling us! We found Live Nation - the company managing Madonna and Lady Gaga - approaching us saying 'Guys we’ve heard very solid background around your company and we want to work with you' and they ended up giving us Stage Entertainment. Stage Entertainment is the one who organises Mamma Mia, Holiday On Ice, and Ice Age with FOX Century.”
Ice Age is a massive animated movie success generating billions of dollars in revenue, and will make its Middle Eastern debut not in Dubai, but rather here in Om el Donia. Fuelled by the InterContinental Cairo CityStar, the on-ice extravaganza will take place at the Cairo International Stadium from the 3rd to the 10th of February. This marks the first time that an internationally touring show has decided to come to Egypt before Dubai, and is indicative to the trust established working with Dino Activations.
Mohamed Amer (right) with Ice Age character Sid.
Of course, security remains the highest priority and helping along the way was the Egyptian government, who understood how powerful Disney could be in changing the country's image. “Various members of the government were very helpful and organised to make sure everything ran smoothly. When we had Mickey at the pyramids - we took an iconic photo for Disney and it was instantly shared around the world. Same thing is happening now with Ice Age. Ice Age is flying the biggest crew ever; they have like 100 people traveling across 35 countries across the globe, traveling to Egypt to perform, while delivering a message of peace and stability in Cairo across international media,” Amer states passionately.
Bringing to Egypt beloved animated characters arguably leaves Amer a strong candidate for 'Egyptian Father of the Year', and although he humbly rejects the title, he does admit that his child is a endless source of inspiration. “The Egyptian people have the right to get quality offerings, and when they come to see Ice Age [which is coming with its own full equipment] you’re going to see a mammoth skating on ice, you’re going see people flying in the sky. The group who brought this to life is basically the creator of Lion King and the producer of Cirque De Soleil, who have created the biggest on ice experience, that will bring the characters in the Ice Age movie to life. Egyptian kids have the right to see something special without having to travel abroad, and we hope this will be a memorable life time experience,” Amer describes enticingly.
Every time a performance like this takes place, everyone involved wins; Dino Activations proves that they are innovating leaders in this field that can organise increasingly bigger events, the likes of Disney and Fox find an entry into an untapped market, the children of Egypt receive childhood memories that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and most importantly Egypt gets the chance to show that it isn't a country of only doom and gloom.
Unless states otherwise, all images retrieved from Dino Activations' Facebook page.