Wednesday, February 21, 2018

BankMed and the Lebanese Pound saga

Hmmm, the Central Bank by its own admission has pumped six billion USD to keep the Lebanese Pound afloat when PM Hariri resigned-did-not-resign episode thanks to some KSA-meddling-yet-done-in-his-own-free-will. BankMed is indeed owned by the same family in question, which is now advertising "our (Lebanese) pound is our currency" - the beautiful part of the ad is that they actually got the vintage typography present on the currency to write the headline giving the ad a typical Lebanese cachet. Pity the ad has to come with the hefty price tag of 6 billion Dollars to have it done!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 73

Abou Fouad, from the YES detergent fame of "3 in 1" is offering his expertise in triplicates to the Lebanese public enticing them to find a collective identity via language. The same word or concept has been applied to three different situations illustrating how versatile it is. This is who we are as Lebanese, through the words that go out of our mouths. All artworks by yours truly.

Nescafe snubs diabetics, talks to women

Ever since I got diagnosed with diabetes, I ask for a 2 in 1 whenever I am outside the house - I have my own artificial sweetener tablets for in-house use. So the Nescafe ad which says "forget sugar and enjoy the greatest taste" - except as written in Arabic "talazzazi" means they are talking to females who apparently are worried about their waists or whatever. Diabetics or males who simply do not like sugar be damned!

Monday, February 19, 2018

Careem campaign to drive instead of you.

Careem is having a campaign to dissuade people from driving, obviously, it wants people to hire its services. "Some broken things cannot be fixed" goes one ad, "don't have a heartbreak", they both end with "keep your car safe and have your rides with Careem". It is actually the tagline that makes laugh "let the driving on us" which for me is so close to the Poppins cornflakes "let the breakfast on us" (no this is not plagiarism as they are not even competitor products but every time I read it I remember the Poppins TV jingle!).
Interestingly, in Lebanon, both Uber and Careem drivers are simply regular taxi drivers who moonlight for either or both of these two ride-hailing apps.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

I do not need your permission to give my opinion

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly (based on vintage Monopoly card)
Dear everyone involved or concerned,
Dear people in the communication industry,
Newsflash: I do not need your permission to say your ad sucks.
So when you - frequently - ask me (in less polite, less verbally-coordinated forms) "who died and made you king?" - here's the answer: No one died and I am entitled to my (very informed, very unbiased) opinion.
The usual question runs in the form of "min kallafak ta3te ra2yak?" - the best translation could be "who (the hell) allowed you to give your opinion?". Notice the "allow". To begin with, I did not ask for permission. I love it mostly, when it involves stolen/borrowed/copied/inspired ad when I can procure the original from my archives and flaunt it in the face of the (un)creative people who did the stolen/borrowed/copied/inspired ads.
I hear the words - no kidding here - "iza el adi radi inta chou jeyik?" (if all parties involved are OK with it, what's in it for you?) - when I expose an ad done before in point-blank proof. Seriously, you expect this to be your defense? That everyone is OK this is a copy of a previously done ad and we should be OK with it because you know "damn ethics and who care anyway?". Seriously?
At this stage, I do not even know who is worse: An advertiser who copies an ad or a client who buys it knowing it is copied.
The irony? These are the same people who lecture on integrity on forums and in conferences. An Arabic saying goes "wa ma ablagha al ka7ba2 3indaman tou7adhirou fi al 3afafi" - how eloquent is the whore when she lectures on chastity.
In a symposium on plagiarism a few years back an advertising agency had not just one, but two, speakers lecturing on integrity on the first day. On the second, during my own conference I showed the agency no less than three blatant examples of how they plagiarized other ads, in design, copywriting and concept.
I did not go down well with them.
I also love it when it involves a major, huge, flagrant strategy issue. When a brand tries to re-position itself in the market targeting an audience which is incompatible with it mission/vision/values, or perhaps playing a fake hip card that is too stale or already worn out. A little like when an uncle tries to act in a way that is incompatible with his age or starts imitating whatever singer he thinks is in vogue.
You cannot imagine how many calls I get from ad agencies trying to save grace in front of their clients because I happen to voice loudly what other people are whispering. Anyone connected to the communication industry would tell you the "hyped" new logo that a certain brand came up with is a fiasco. We all speak about it among each other. But surely, no one dares to say this loud because they might move to the agency that came up with the substandard job. Me? I am not looking to be employed thank-you-very-much, you can keep your 8 in the morning till midnight working hours, the meager pay, the inflated egos and the rest of the charade.
Advertisers like their clients to live in "Potemkin villages". The term comes from stories of structures which were built to impress Empress Catherine II during her journey to Crimea in 1787. Grigory Potemkin, who was a minister and the Empress' lover, erected decoy portable settlements along the banks of the Dnieper River so to fool her to think the situation was better on the ground then it really is.
So piecrcing that echo chamber is not a very welcome act.
So again, why am I giving my opinion? No, not because anyone "allowed" me (repeat, I am not seeking permissions), not out of personal vendettas (seriously, the paranoid individuals who think I have time for that simply are not aware of how studded my life is), but - shock! horror! - for the betterment of the whole industry.
Seriously I started blogging because I noticed that we did the ad, sent out the press release, and believed our own hype. So at one point I wanted to pierce that echo chamber, and be a dissenting voice.
"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" the saying goes. So indeed, I can stand the heat and been in it since January 2007. It is OK I have thick skin and no, you cannot bully or harass me and hope for me to fade in the background (or as someone did, sue me (twice)) - you see, my principles are non-negotiable it turned out.
It also turned out, that when attacked, I get enraged.
And trust me, you do not want to see me enraged.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Almaza seems to be enjoying the weather

Almaza beer seems to be enjoying the weather - yes, we need more rain that is for sure - but this being said, "for every weather its pleasure" gives us the choice between the three products Almaza brews. Almaza made it a point in its strategy to comment on anything going on, leaving major events to billboards or the huge unipole on their brasserie in Dora and other more immediate events to social media that require no booking or printing. Rare are the brands who actually have a social media strategy with a purpose as opposed to haphazard attempts to just "post something".

Pierre Sadek at his best (circa 1992): In honor of the rains #flashback

Originally published 15/11/2012
And so there it is, in honor of the first rains which as usual clog the streets and make waters overflow and cause (even more) traffic jams.... A caricature by Pierre Sadek which goes way back to (circa) 1992 when he was still doing the LBC nightly caricatures. Back when Solidere issued the line "madina 3arika lil mustaqbal" (an ancient city for the future - which was a very lame translation in English from their part) he just added one dot and it became "madina gharika lil mustaqbal" (a drowning city for the future).
Please note that above is NOT Pierre Sadek's original work, simply a mix and match which I have done myself based on my self-assembled logo and selling line straight from my archives.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Elections bribes 2018 model

Insert LOL here.
First sorry for the bad camouflaging of the image to avoid the name of the party in question be seen. The bribe in question consists of 25,000 LBP of petrol (17 USD) but the loveliest part is that the offer is only applicable till May 8th which is two days following the elections. Usually politicians asphalt roads when elections near - this time this party is focusing on the vehicles that go on the un-asphaleted roads. Neat!

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Medco Electric Vehicle charger

I am not sure if there are already any electric cars in Lebanon. If there are, good news! Medco has now an electric charger for vehicles of whatever brand as long as they are electric. Medco is touting this a the "future" (hint, please look at this preview of the wonderful movie "Who Killed The Electric Car?" - which details how old the concept is). Still, electric cars or no electric cars, Medco is doing something - but unless you are in the downtown area little hope for you to charge your vehicle.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Barbar wins Valentine's Day ads

So I suppose this is what is called "it came right out of left field". A brand not known to advertise outright wins Valentine's Day ads! Barbar, a joint that sells cocktails and sandwiches - albeit good-quality ones - goes out with an ad that shows a tape (or rather one of those 80s ubiquitous "cassettes") with a title "the Valentine's cocktail". Cocktail is the slang name for a mix of songs. And cocktail is the fruit chops drink they sell. Easy! Yes so incredibly fantastic. Kitsch goes a long way - now try finding a radio tape player that still works!!
PS: There is a small typo it is "Valentine's" not Valentines, but I am not going to let a small error ruin my joy for the ad!

Pepsi, a cold heart for Valentine's

Unfortunately this Valentine's produced a rather meager crop of ads. Still, Pepsi managed to have a good one: I love your cold heart. I mean, seriously, don't we all? In a landscape full of rather bland stuff, at least someone tried to think creatively here, and it worked! 

Lebanese Army for Valentine's!

I guess this is one of those "I have lived long enough to see it happen". The Lebanese Army has a Valentine's day ad. The movie is obviously self-made with very limited resources, most likely with a real-life couple cast. On the plus side, one can interpret this as having women in the battlefield - which is a major feminist move. On the other, when the headline says "my heart is with you, I am with you" it is simply a fallback on the usual "the people support the army, specifically their significant others".
Maybe the idea was nice, you know, to "humanize" the army. And make its members relatable to the public. Maybe it is the acting that has let it down. Still, I would love to see a read, fuchsia and pink camouflage for Valentine's - that should sell like hot cakes!

Alfa - real love is not blind for this Valentine's

Alfa is playing a real slice of life card this Valentine's. Going through the story of Saria who has glaucoma (a disease which makes vision foggy and which has no cure). Whereas I loved the concept, the story and even the execution, I thought it would be nice to understand what the special glasses they offered her do (remember I have a heavy scientific background so I was left a bit left-out not knowing how the tool corrects or adds to her vision). Still, the effort was done and as the hashtag says "real love is not blind".

Beirut Pride x Tarek Chemaly for Valentine's (14/14)

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
This year, Beirut Pride is teaming up with Lebanese artist Tarek Chemaly to bring you a celebration of the 14 degrees of love in the Arabic language leading up to Valentine's day. In a world that makes it a sports to bully, harass and belittle anyone who is not standardized, it is good to remember that love comes in all shapes and forms, so to anyone who feels something special to any other individual, regardless of race, gender, or whatever "attribution", this one is for you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Rosso Nero does Valentine's Day

Rosso Nero does Valentine's day, because - whereas the slogan is "dites le avec des fleurs" (say it with flowers) - ultimately it is the piece of jewelry that stays. Rosso Nero apparently has a special heart-shaped design for the occasion and even a cute (even if unpronounceable) slogan: C'est love vie (no, I am now sucking on a candy). Apparently the design has an edelweiss flower in it, that rare flower which grows in the alps and it is said that bringing it to the beloved is a proof of love. Interestingly there is even a song called "bring me edelweiss" (but the tune was a rip off from the SOS monster hit by ABBA and the group Edelweiss was sued accordingly).

A.R. Hallab 1881 joins the wagon of calling lent, lent!

Further to yesterday's post, it is comforting to find Hallab 1881 (Abdul Rahman Hallab & Sons) calling "lent" as is. No beating around the bush in obscure allusions! Apparently the sweets in question are milk and butter free (many people abstain from "whites" - i.e. milk, cheese etc....) which makes them "siami" (lent-approved). Great! And I had decided to abstain from sweet stuff throughout lent - but then maybe this does not count (drool!)....

Hariri assassination commemoration - 2018 edition

Another February 14th, another Rafic Hariri assassination commemoration. This year, more than ever, Saad Hariri needs to draw on his late father's credentials to establish his legitimacy under the general title of "mustaqbal" (future - which put everywhere, from the name of their political party to their TV station and newspaper going through all else in between). "The future has a title, protecting Lebanon". It rhymes in Arabic even if they could have disposed of that. Still, they needed the presence so here it is!

Beirut Pride x Tarek Chemaly for Valentine's (13/14)

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
This year, Beirut Pride is teaming up with Lebanese artist Tarek Chemaly to bring you a celebration of the 14 degrees of love in the Arabic language leading up to Valentine's day. In a world that makes it a sports to bully, harass and belittle anyone who is not standardized, it is good to remember that love comes in all shapes and forms, so to anyone who feels something special to any other individual, regardless of race, gender, or whatever "attribution", this one is for you.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Le2metna joins Classic Burger Joint calling lent, lent.

Bah! Fast food outlets have started their "fish" this and that. Why? Because fish is what meat-fasting Christians eat during lent. But do they mention lent? Surely not. What bugs me is this - as a Christian no one forbids me taking the special Ramadan meals, which are advertised plainly and simply as Ramadan meals. So why should the outlets be ashamed of calling lent, lent?
Which brings us to Le2metna which simply and clearly says "Fasting Menu". There, it wasn't that difficult, was it?
Previously the honor was held by Classic Burger Joint. For the ad below:
So congrats for Le2metna and Classic Burger Joint calling lent, lent and fasting, fasting.
No shame!

A phone loan from BLC - should we be worried?

I am aware that Lebanese banks are required to ask for a tonne of collateral when someone applies for a loan. And that the rate of default, as is, is not huge. But this ad causes me worry. If one can secure up to USD 100,000 from a phone call to the bank, then he.she already has enough to secure reimbursing it. But this also reminds me of the way banks in the US were acting before the bubble burst. Now whereas "Phone Loan" rhymes (yes, even in Arabic "loan 3al telephone") I am a bit worried at this stage if we are acting recklessly - even if, to calm me down, I always remember the Central Bank has strict rules for any loan from the bank.