Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Ikea - the royal wedding ad

Ikea hit on the royal wedding with a snarky funny ad "don't worry, harry is still available" - the "Harry" in question whereas it comes with an established pedigree, does not include nobility titles or being hitched to a certain actress. Still, the word play and ad are perfect! This ad reminded me a little of the Norwegian Airlines "Brad is single" masterpiece, and whereas lovely still does not beat the Ikea own ads (such as this and this)

Monday, May 21, 2018

Alternative uses of a bathtub

Creative is what creative does! People in Achrafieh have found alternative uses of a bathtub and goof for them! In a previous edition of finding alternative uses of things, why not check was that small shop did to an old bomb!
Whereas we, as ad people, think creativity is basically exclusive to us (and judging by how mediocre the work is in the market I wonder why we would think that way!), it always astounds me how much homegrown creativity goes a long way.
When NASA uses duct tape in space, this itself is a lasting testimony of how the mundane can prove that creativity is rampant and that it is not just for the pseudo-creative.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Akher eyam el sayfiyi - last days of summer (new artwork by Tarek Chemaly)

The last days of summer - the club, the tennis matches, the boy scouts camp, the tape in speeding cars (with teenagers just learning to drive), the fog, the lost loves, the parting friends. Appropriating memories of others and claiming them my own. Inventing events to suit them, and fading faces to fill the scenes.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

On the liberty of a well-defined brief

"Go that way" artwork by Tarek Chemaly
Two days ago I was apologizing for my digital consultant who is running a campaign on my behalf. Being introverted yet on the social media is not easy for me. His reaction however, took me by surprise: "You are the dream client. You know exactly what you want, and - even it happens to be within your jurisdiction - you never trespass and let me do my work in peace".
To be honest, he does have a point: I was very clear about what I wanted from the whole operation, my objectives were defined in an unambiguous way. He proposed certain means and combinations, we explored them. The substandard products or those that performed below expectations were replaced with replicas of those that did - swiftly, rationally with total disregard to the but-I-like-this-one factor.
It was obvious a change in strategy was required once half the tight budget was spent, he made suggestions - I did my own bit indicating my preferences from the already present products doing my homework diligently. I realized he did not take my own suggestions into consideration but I also knew he was trying to achieve my targets for me so did not meddle.
The same two days ago, a client was driving me mad. His product has no name, but it had to imply no less than a million different directions. As soon as one was covered, a hoard of other directions would still remain unattended to. As much as I told him that he should be single minded, my words fell on deaf ears. When - miraculously - a name was found due to the intervention of someone more senior than him, the logo and selling line proved too much of a hurdle to go on without (and I am quoting Queen here) "going slightly mad".
Trying to make my client understand that names are no literal interpretations of his business, or that a logo should not say "we open till 10 P.M. and have a 6 branches covering the Lebanese territory" was - alas - a usual experience. In short, clients think they know what they want. But they do not. Trying to convince them that their name is not their trade, or that their selling line means what they inspire people to feel rather than dictate mundane facts, or that their logo should not be formulatic but rather representative of their character is something akin to impossible and often people working in the communication industry end up with totally jumbled briefs landing on their lap.
About 15 years ago I was in a meeting with a very informed British adman and he spoke of a colleague who said "give me the liberty of a well defined brief". A paradox? Not at all. When the brief is clearly articulated, when the objectives are clearly set, it becomes easier for the creative to find a way to get his ideas across not in spite of the hurdles but because of them. Such and such words cannot be used to cultural sensitivity? Very good, at least you know that, so you imply the words without saying them. Socially it is unacceptable to show this and this part of the body? Again, you chose a different angle. And so on and so forth.
The more the brief is "well-defined" the more the creative is able to be -duh! - creative, within a predefined set of constraints. But throwing a million directions in the face of a creative while still claiming it is a brief and that he should work with it is not it.
So please "give me the liberty of a well-defined brief".

Friday, May 18, 2018

BLC - loan for those who did not sell their votes during elections

I actually thought this ad was funny! "Because you did not sell your vote and you need cash" written on a banner-style way (reminiscent of the old way electoral slogans were done - of which this is an example), a real situation in post-elections Lebanon where some people actually did not sell their votes. Well, BLC Bank are quite active on the advertising front and some gems are bound to be produced - this indeed is one!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Depot-Vente launches its fragrance 5 1/2....

Do you want to smell like "pineapple, lavender, dried fruits, geranium, sandalwood, incense" all at once? Well, I do! Ladies and gentlemen please calm down but.... Depot-Vente has launched its perfume! (Scream!) Being a vintage store, these smells remind you of your grandmother's house, a beach outing, cozy afternoons with friends, languid summerish siestas and make the perfect Proust madeleine for your memories to come by (it has been scientifically proven that the olfactory sense is the one that triggers memory the fastest).
The perfume is called "5 1/2" (because 5 was taken - no points for guessing who took the 5!) and to me it conjures all the beauty of the poem "Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias" known for its first line "at five in the afternoon" which was turned into a beautiful movie by Samira Makhmalbaf. As with everything with Depot-Vente the price is criminally low (25,500 LBP or 17 USD for a 50ML bottle which is a unisex blend mind you). I for one am in the queue already!

RDFL brilliant move in post-elections

I am seriously impressed, easily one of the punchiest ads to come from the elections. RDFL basically turned the slogans of the political parties and directed them towards them. They promised women's rights in their campaigns? Good, "now is the time for actions" underneath the RDFL want to set the marriage age at 18. ALL political parties have been targeted in the campaign which you can see here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Nutella - not different, unique

Nutella is releasing half a million unique jars under the headline "I am not different, I am unique" to let people pick and chose the jar that represents them best. Whereas the initiative is indeed laudable, I would have loved if Nutella has specifically targeted people who are indeed trying to fit in society when they are not complying to its norms - autistic people, people with Down's syndrome, people with specific sexual inclinations and the list goes on. Maybe the campaign would have been too much for the audiences in the Arab region but simply putting half a million jars without thinking of people who really are "unique" as opposed to "different" is a little odd. Still, view the video here.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Helem #idahot ad plays it too literal for lost rights

The ad for the lost rights of the LGBTQ+ community, plays it very literal - several characters are looking for something and not finding it (to be clear, the characters are quite flashy, a little bit homo stereotypical and borderline caricature even if they do exist as such) only to find it that they are looking for their rights, the ad goes "now is the time to bring them back" - interestingly, I am not aware that the community had rights to begin with, so how can they bring back what never was to start with. I am a little bit confused - please watch the full ad here.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Even after the fact, Deadpool 2 plays the card of the elections!

Well, the elections are over, and - believe it or not - Deadpool 2 is still playing that card all over town. I an understand during the heat of the elections - but now that they are over the ads appear as an oddity especially that they are portrayed everywhere - "undecided? #votedeadpool" says the ad above "now is my time to come" says another. Strange to be honest.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Almaza - making a building out of a molehill

Apparently, Almaza has a recycling program whereby its bottles become sand for building bricks and so "it is the dream of every bottle to become a building" as the line says. The said recycling is located at the point between Mar Mekhael and Gemmayze both still going strong as pubs and clubs areas. Prior to bricks Almaza turned its bottles into recycled cups. So I am all for that - even if beer is not my drink of choice.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Creditbank offers Z Generation youth account

You know the brands that are always trying to catch up with the latest fad, the newest hashtag, trying to be always hip ad cool? Well, Creditbank is not one of those - what I like about them is how laid back they are, they work at their own pace, never rushed and never putting out products just because. And their latest Z Generation youth account falls in that same vein. Plenty of banks offered it before, they did so at their own timing and with a campaign which - even if not award winning - also gets the point across easily, with a fresh summer vibe (which is right around the corner). My favorite is "many destinations one drive" - again the zen element always makes me at ease with Creditbank. They do things when it feels right.

Saying thank you after the elections

Now that is a nice gesture, there are several campaigns and parties already saying "thank you" after the elections for the people who voted for them - I got three samples above:
Fouad Makhzoumi went with "thanks to you, now it is our right to believe what can achieve" (rhymes in Arabic).
The Lebanese Forces smartly played it with their own "sar badda" (now is the time) which placed in a different context becomes "when the time came you proved worthy, we thank you".
And then we have Nicolas Sehnaoui who again referenced his earlier slogan "for Beirut to become first" (since he is running in the first district) and his line is "the first thanks is to you".
See? It costs nothing to be polite!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

PETA #grabapuppy campaign

PETA has a new campaign in the DC area in the US - one which obviously is political and is inspired by the fact that the current occupier of the White House does not have a dog - Andrew Jackson the last president not to have one 130 years ago got impeached. “Dogs don’t care if you’re a Republican, a Democrat, or neither—they just want a good home,” says PETA President Ingrid Newkirk. “And the White House could be as good a home as any.” Paradoxically #grabapuppy which is an endearing sentence, is of course inspired by the Donald Trump tape and his "grab them by the pu**y" Access Hollywood tape - so am not sure the sentence is pro-republican.... 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Almarai pre-Ramadan CSR regarding obesity

It is no surprise that the Arab region has a staggering rate of obesity - among both men and women. The reasons are a mixed between social, religious, lifestyle-oiented, and many other factors that go into the mix. So Almarai the leading dairy company in Saudi Arabia has come up with a Corporate Social Responsibility campaign about the mortal dangers of obesity - and it involves a tiger chasing a zebra, and you'd be surprised at the twist in the end. Very well done as an effort, of course, on the ground not sure how this will be of help if they cannot go out to walk due to heat, or social norms (am taking the easiest activity that could be done) - specifically if they are women. Watch the video here.

Monday, May 7, 2018

In the aftermath of the elections

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly based on the classic French comedy
"C'est pas parce qu'on n'a rien a dire qu'il faut fermer sa gueule"

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Waiting for Godot by bus or train: On why I am not voting today.

Le Pouce - Cesar
So there, today I am not voting.
I had three options, either to vote (full list plus one preferential vote), or to vote a blank ballot (which this year is not even allowed), or not to vote. I am choosing the third option. At this stage my faith in the system is close to nil.
Obviously you are going to ask - why not vote civil society?
OK, there was on candidate I seemed to liked, and was wondering is he/she could sway my vote (for a full list only to vote for him/her).
I went to his/her facebook page and it seems that he/she found the perfect solution for the traffic jams in my region: The train.
I am an engineer and an environmental economist. So honestly I find this pseudo-appalling on the same level that Kataeb wanted a metro in Beirut in the last elections in 2009.
Why is this appalling for me you ask?
Because as someone who does not drive, and does not live on the main arteries where public transport - contrary to myth - is incredibly easy to navigate and is super efficient and eco-friendly, once one goes out of the highways, it becomes nonexistent. In the 2009 elections I was promised a bus that would go from the nearest main city to the place where I live.
Wonderful! Even the last bit of distance from the drop off point to my house, I could walk and do my sports with it I thought.
I am still waiting for that bus to materialize.
So if a simple bus route took forever no to materialize. Why revitalize a defunct industry just for electoral hype?
So there, the one candidate I might have voted for turned out to be a lunatic, and I am still waiting for Godot to arrive by bus - or train? Or am I waiting on the wrong platform altogether?

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The winners for best and worst ads for the elections!

And so here it is one day before the elections now is the time to announce the winners - at least in the advertising category for best/worst ads this year. Do remember though, ads have three functions: to introduce a product, to entice the consumer to want it, and to tell the consumer that the product is available in the market (now that he/she wants it). Based on this, whatever happened was not advertising - not sure what it was but it was not advertising in the classical/academic sense.
Without further ado here they are!
Winner for best party campaign: Hizbollah
Winner for worst campaign: Al Mustaqbal
Winner for best personal ad for a candidate: Ragy Al Saad
Winner for the worst campaign for a candidate: Roger Azar
Winner for the best single ad for a party: Amal
Winner for the worst single ad for a party: Kataeb
Winner for the best spoof: Bonzai Travel

Friday, May 4, 2018

A note of caution about the elections

Found on a bridge in Beirut - "he who buys you with money, sells you wholesale" (obviously it rhymes in Arabic) - not signed and no idea who put it (although I think the municipality of the area there might be involved). So there, note of caution to everyone involved!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Noel Nasr/Chris Coekin "The Distance Is Always Other"

All above images copyrighted to Noel Nast/Chris Coekin
Opening tonight at ArtLab, "The Distance is Always Other" a photographic tour de force by Noel Nasr and Chris Coekin - the title is also the first artist book by Dongola (with a text by Fadi Tofeili, and a design by the incomparable Reda Abedini in addition to a curation by Abed Al Kadiri). The background of the story is this:
The project started with the appropriation and subsequent investigation of a photographic archive originally produced in 1973 by an elderly American couple, identified only as Bob and Ann, documenting their journey from Beirut to Baalbek. The couple used a basic stereo camera, which produces two images, one just slightly after the other, from the same viewpoint. The archive comprises vernacular images capturing the Lebanese landscape through various prisms—urban, domestic, exotic—revealing details of a country on the brink of civil war.
As seen in the images above, this is a forensic study of how "tourists" view the land, when it was already caught in a turmoil which will come to blow over two years later. Beneath the usual landscape and attractions, there was a hidden simmering heat of a volcano about to erupt dressed up in a pristine layer of what is today known as Instagram-ish colors.
But aside from the curiosity of the Bob and Ann trip which was painstakingly recreated, Nasr and Coekin provide crucial evidence of the social, demographic and architectural changes caused by the lengthy civil war and subsequent reconstruction. These various layers of evolution are identifiable through the juxtaposition of archival and contemporary images. Far from the kitschy element of nostalgia, the images ask pertinent question as to the nature of change - most crucially and majestically in that image of the Phoenicia pool shot which is no longer what it was, and yet always a cornerstone of a romanticized past that the Lebanese believe in at the detriment of its veracity.
The photographers, by studying the past using real images, are also questioning the present and the reasons and consequences which brought about the events that exploded two years after the images were taken, in addition to the effect on the aftermath of the many seismic shifts and changes that the Lebanese society has witnessed.
It is to note that a custom-made stereoscopic viewer and reel accompany the book, recreating the experience of the original Viewmaster through which Bob and Ann’s archive would have been seen. The reel contains the seven images from the original archive. The book is sheathed in a box-cum-camera bag, complete with shoulder strap.
An exhibition and book certainly not to be missed, specifically when the fake history of the land does not portray its present. And art is left to answer the "alternative facts" which were constructed for narratives with bizarre purposes.