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The advertising, marketing and PR industries in Brunei Darussalam are still in their infancy, especially when compared to the state of the industries in the surrounding region, as well as internationally. The underdevelopment of this industry is made up for through the outsourcing of such services and needs on a case-by-case basis. For example the Said Business School of the University of Oxford, Research and Education Project in Islamic Branding and Marketing aims to carry out research into key areas of Islamic Branding and Marketing that will be of practical use to policy makers and practitioners in Brunei; and to provide a focal point for Islamic and non-Islamic countries, companies and organisations to share their branding and marketing experiences. The select nature of the native industry is reflected by lack of associations representing the various sectors of the industry.
The local advertising market is small, partly due to the small number of major news publications. However, the sector has seen the development of a number of local firms. Prominent examples include Sunlit Advertising, Media Biz and easyOrange. Companies are increasingly putting emphasis on product advertisement and branding, fuelling the developing sector. The country has seen in recent years the entry of regional advertising players, such as the Singapore-based Crush Advertising Pte Ltd, which has increased competition in the sector and consequently lowered prices.
Marketing and PR are relatively small industries in Brunei and are primarily in-house operations for most companies.
In the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report (2012-13) Brunei was placed 80th out of 144 countries in terms of the extent of marketing, with a score of 3.9 out of 7, just below the mean of 4.1. This indicates that companies in the country are slightly less likely than average to extensively utilise sophisticated marketing tools and techniques. In relation to buyer sophistication, Brunei scored 3.3 out of 7, again just below the world mean of 3.5. This indicates that buyers in the country are more likely to make purchasing decisions based on the lowest price, rather than on a sophisticated analysis of performance attributes.
Numerous small companies in the country deal solely in sign advertising, and a large proportion of the sector is taken up by billboards and banners. Additionally, recent years have seen the introduction of digital signage, marking the progression of the industry. Whilst print advertising is relatively limited, commercial website operators are continuing to see a rapid growth in online advertising. Mobile phone providers have been developing services that will allow corporate advertisers to reach customers.
Some companies have been looking into taking advantage of the increasing internet use of Bruneians and advertising via social media. However, due to the small market, the take-up has been slow, and the majority still prefer the more traditional billboards and banners.