Monday, November 20, 2017

Banque Audi Independence Day - everybody take "note"

This is how we do it.
Yes, this is indeed - OK it is a pity they had to insert a disclaimer that said "listen with sound on" for the hearing impaired people such as myself, but damn it that was worth the sound! I loved it even if at times a bit hard to decipher - but that is all right the meaning is all there safe and sound. Brilliant work. Too early to tell if it reigns in the top of spot of this year because ads are still pouring in. 

BLOM bank Independence Day - ho hum...

Look, somewhere, somehow, there was an idea. But Blom Bank blew it off - perhaps due to budget constraints or too much interference from the client or too this or too that. The film is watchable, the idea interesting, the animation neither naive nor stunning, which bring us back to - where did it go wrong?

Bank of Beirut reheats a 2005 event for Independence Day

Well Bank of Beirut has this concept of its staff doing the Lebanese flag in cardboard.
Interestingly, the same event happened in the 1rst of March 2005, here's the proof:
The Bank of Beirut line is interesting though as it mirrors their "banking beyond borders" line which is in the ad "and we will stay with you to the farthest border". Pity that, not just it has been done before, but in Lebanon as well.

Touch Independence Day, common denominator emotions

There are a million reasons why I should have loved the new Touch Independence Day ad, but - and that is my opinion - it failed to strike a chord. Yes, yes, the kid, the army, the cameos by leading pop cultural figures, the ending and so on and so forth. Maybe it was the utter predictability of it all that left me so un-touch-ed (sorry for the pun). Now if only we had the kid kissing his father who happens to be in the parade like this incredible shot taken from the video clip "Miracle Of Love" by the Eurythmics:
Now that would have been emotional as hell...
Otherwise, if you really want to do the salute gimmick look no further than this gem....
This year, I seemed to have missed the memo - all Independence Day ads seem to come with extra serving of cheese.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Byblos Bank Independence Day with extra cheese.

And then sometimes, it just does not happen. The Byblos Bank ad for Independence Day seemed great on paper, but there had to be a "lost in translation" somewhere. Expats praising Lebanon for its independence looked like a good idea, pity it turned out to be with an extra serving of cheese on top. Watch the film here. As a source told me off the record lately "grant you, not all of our attempts succeed, but at least we try with our communication". Try they did. Succeed is a different story.

Khoury Home hopeful Independence Day ad

"There's always room for hope" - at least Khoury Home gives a very proud take on Independence Day. Away from the mediocre ads who wish to insert their brands opportunistically in all national events, at least Khoury Home remained dignified in that perspective. OK, perhaps "room for" was a wink that they sell household goods, but it is all right, it is not overt in terms of implication. 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Khoury Home black Friday - Thanks but no thanks(giving)

Add this to the bastardized Lebano-International feasts such as the Halloween-Berbara mish-mash. Khoury Home is running a Black Friday, without us celebrating (or most of us understading what) thanksgiving holiday is. Label that under #confused - I mean, I am not against reductions and sales espcially when the market is as stagnating as it is today in Lebanon (just speak to any merchant and they will tell you!), but dipping this in such sauces is a bit bewildering. At least it is better than the sexual innuendo they did unknowingly.

Unica has a very funny "brotherhood love" ad.

Unica has a new ad for what seems to be the "friendship code" series, to back up their line "3al helwe wel morra" (for sweet and bitter times - referring to their two chocolate variables - or metaphorically "for better or for worse"). The main protagonist is an excellent actor, the back-up is one notch down, but even the supporting cast is good in their roles ranging from "what is that teacher saying?" to "give me a break with the bro thing". A incredibly well-written ad actually with - believe it or not - a credible dialogue taken from every day life (Rana is that you?).

Friday, November 17, 2017

Celebrity endorsements from years back #flashback

Originally published 22/4/13
Empire Magazine ran a wonderful story years and years back,: They commissioned their writer to go to Rodeo Drive armed with just 5 Dollars and see what he could buy with it (the idea was inspired by the movie "Pretty Woman"). He tried several shops including a perfume store which was selling the Micheal Jordan perfume and the writer wittingly asks - "so when I wear it, I end up smelling like him?"... An exasperated shop assistant answers, "no, but you will be endorsed by him". So for those of you who think celebrity endorsement is new to the region, check these vintage ads.
Singer Magida is the face of Coca-Cola - I guess she must have been the Nancy Ajram of her day back when she was single and cute (Nancy not Magida).
Aziza Amir (dubbed as "the premiere star of the Middle East" in the ad) and Chadia (famed singer and actress) are sleeping on a bed from Mobilia Abbas. I am trying to fend off ideas of lesbianism, but I can't.
And even the Grande Dame of Oriental singing was not immune to this! She was selling "Naboulsi Farouk" (Naboulsi is the soap made from olive oil and originates from Nablous in Palestine)....
See? All of these are good reasons to end up buying the product. And if you must know, the writer from Empire Magazine ended up buying a cup of coffee (without tips!) with his money.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Alternative Facts - art project by Tarek Chemaly

Alterative facts: Lebanon's history via pop culture. A project by multimedia artist Tarek Chemaly.
Rationale: Since Lebanon still lacks a unified history book for the period that covers the war, due to the absence of a winner and therefore the prevalence of a single version of the events, and as time goes by - instead of losing all traces of the past - why not replace the divisive "politics" by the collective memory which emanates from pop culture? This is a project to (re)write the history of Lebanon in a perspective everyone agrees upon.
The video is made up of 186 "lessons" (a lesson being an artistic series containing 9 different thematic artworks) with each lesson symbolizing a month of the 15,5 years war in Lebanon which started on April 13th, 1975 and ended on October 13th, 1990.

Some of the Lessons include:
Abir (Harlequin, Mills and Boon),  tele Liban, achille lauro, Baalbeck, Al Watan Al Riyadi, Alice (bibliotheque verte, Nancy Drew), Japanese Anime, Takaya Todoroki, Belle and Sebastian, Treasure Island (Jazirat al kanz), Antinea lingerie, Rans Car (rent a car), Corm House (first skyscrapper in the Middle East), Azel al Layl, Abedl Majid Majzoub, Hind Abillamah, Dallas, Dynasty, Knots Landing, Mind Your Language, Ban Abi Nasr, Barbara Cartland, Comtesse de Segur, Martine, Collection Farandole (castermann), Beach resorts, Beau Rivage, Carlton Hotel, Phoenicia Hotel, Hilton Hotel, St. Georges Yacht Motor Club, Zaytounah, Blue Bat Operation, Bye Bye Ya Helwin (Maha Salma), Noha el Khatib Saade, Joseph Nano, Elsy Ferneini, Hekmat Wehbe, Gaby Lteif, Dolly Ghanem, May Matta, Said Ghrayeb, Yasser Arafat, Nido Milk, Yes detergent (Abou Fouad), Anais Anais, Colors de Benetton, Jacomo, 114 Amatoury, Bien-Etre eau de cologne, Advertising, Bic, Waterman, Parker, Carioca, Kit Kat, Leo Chocolat, Nouba, Catch, Crunch, Nestle, Pierrot Gourmand, Franco Gasparri, Franco Dani, Marina Coffa, katiushcia, Simona Pelei, Al Chabaka, Fairouz a l'Olympia, Sabah, Houwaida, Remi Bandali, Grendizer, Goldorak, Astroganga, Jonger, Toblerone, Otto Dix (der Krieg), Casino du Liban, Old Currency, Poster, Propaganda, Jana of the Jungle, Jeanne D'Arc Fayyad, Akram El Ahmar, Elias Rahbani, Majed Afiouni, Layla Karam, Incredible Hulk, Six Million Dollar Man, The Equalizer, Crest toothpaste, Signal 2 toothpaste, Carol Saker, Hadi Sharara, Lydia Canaan, Ghassan Rahbani, Abdo Mounzer, Rock, Music, Dance, Nadia Gamal, Louis Delamare, Jean-Paul Kauffmann, Terry Waite, LBC, Nadia Tueni, Exotica, Dewar's White Label, Excelsior Hotel, Gondole Building, Garconne, Globetrotters, Moda Cafe, Horseshoe Cafe, Wimpy, Holiday Inn, Hot Wheels, Matchbox, Kassatly Chtaura (liqueur, Jellab), Khabbaz, Zahar, Ghada Al Samman, Lego, Loulou, Cacharel, Lucky Strike, Madona (not Madonna!), Marlboro, Middle East Airlines, Lego, Meccano, Mum21, Murr Tower, Nisr Al Zahabi, Oscar Niemeyer, Pampa Juice, Peugeot 504, Kim Philby, Picon Cheese, Postcard, Python Jeans, Rambo, Rothmas, Royal Crown Cola, Crush, Pepsi, Coca Cola, Sindibad, Stimorol, Swatch, Tramway Beirut, TWA 847, Zeina (Maya l'Abeille).

BBAC Bank rebrands, "phones home" in a new ad

BBAC Bank has changed logo into a more dynamic entity, less rigid more "infinity" based with two interwinding semi-circles. The font is even more robust but also a bit more "open" and enticing. So on the whole an interesting job in tune with what other institutions are doing. Not only this, they also have a new long TV ad to celebrate this, which is one of those inspirational content jobs that - again - other institutions are doing. At least their Voice Over is a bit more down to earth than their pompous competitors, but since such ads end up running in loop on screens and without sound in the bank's branches, not sure this will create any difference in the long run. Thing is, apparently they ended it with an ET movie shot - so perhaps they were saying "phone home" but unable to articulate it. Mothership landing to follow.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

La garde meurt, a fable about....

Artwork by Tarek Chemay based on Pierre Cambronne
I still have this text from a forwarded email (FWD was the pre-facebook "Share" - I say this to whole generation of readers who know not what I speak of!)
Il était une fois un petit oiseau, qui avait très froid dans son champ.
Vint à passer un paysan qui, pris de pitié pour le petit oiseau, le déposa dans une bouse de vache encore toute chaude. Le petit oiseau tout heureux d'avoir enfin chaud se mit à chanter très fort... ce qui alerta un renard, lequel voyant le petit oiseau, le pris dans sa gueule, le secoua et le croqua!
La morale de cette histoire:
1.- Celui qui te mets dans la merde ne te veux pas nécessairement du mal.
2.- Celui qui te sort de la merde ne te veux pas nécessairement du bien.
3.- Mais dans tous les cas... quand tu es dans la merde: Ferme ta gueule!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Lebanese Army ad - with an Arabic mistake

I am in despair. The Lebanese Army just released its ad for the Independence Day "give your country you heart" with a classical fighting scene (with a flag included). The problem? It has an error in the headline! Sadly this will be almost impossible to explain to my non-Arabic speakers but if you do know Arabic here's the issue. Instead of قلبك they wrote البك - is it a big deal? You bet it is. My taxi driver and myself both misread it and it confuses the written with the spoke Arabic giving credit to neither. Pity!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Burger King - prelude to Independence Day ads

Burger King already started the prelude for independence day posts o social media. Apparently people should share their Lebanese Burger recipe to be cooks in the Jal El Dib kitchen of the brand. Regardless of the competition, frankly at this stage, Independence Day is Nov 22, 9 days from now, so it is a tad too early for this. Plus of course we are all sick and tired of all brands jumping on any bandwagon to make periodic ads happen with no link to the strategy whatsoever.

Mazar Oum El Nour, fundraising for a religious purpose

Our Lady of Oum El Nour will be having a shrine soon, mind you it will be the biggest shrine in the south of Lebanon (so says the ad). The construction will begin (or technically has begun) in the summer of 2017. Well, if a new expensive shrine is needed, is not up to me to decide, but obviously someone thought it was very important to get it done. On your wallets, get set, go!

"To the Syrians, we are all like Ants" Rafic Hariri

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
Few days before his assassination in 2005, late Rafic Hariri told a Lebanese politician visiting him "to the Syrians, we are all like ants" (bil nisba lil souriyin nahnou jami3an kal niml). I wonder if Saad Hariri remembers those words these days and if he does, what does he think of them? Except of course, we need to exchange "Syrians" with "Saudi Arabians" for a better understanding of what is happening here.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Uber Express Pool is Lebanese "service" (with a fancy name)

So Uber launched the cheaper "Express Pool" - which basically means you walk a few blocks to a "smart spot" and join the ride with other people - you will be dropped off to a location easily accessible to your final destination and save 25% of the fare. So far, so good.
In 2001, Agnetha Stahl explained the same principle while lecturing at Lund University. Her remarks were that "people spoke much more to each other" (at the time they were using Fiat Multipla to pick people up and were experimenting it in Malmo in Sweden).
So at the end of Stahl's lecture, I raised my hand and said "but this is what we call "service" in Lebanon!". Service or share Taxi are cars that run along certain circuits and you can pay 1,33 USD for it.
Just like Bodega, the app that turned out to nothing more than a vending machine, this is another invention that has been done before. I guess the digital world is simply replicating preexisting analog models and calling them "inventions" and "breakthroughs".
All of this reminds me of the joke about the invention that lets you see through a wall.
It's called "window".

Georges N. Frem Foundation, the mission statement

I saw this on a bus for the Georges Frem Foundation, and I think it is rare for a mission statement to work as a selling line. But well, there it is! "Hang on to you mountain, fly with your education" - the following below is taken from their website:
"The Georges N. Frem Foundation is a non-profit Lebanese Non Governmental Organization (NGO) committed to improving the economic prosperity and quality of life of the Lebanese people.
Following in the vision of Georges N. Frem, the Foundation continues to pursue its mission through implementation of effective programs targeting economic, agriculture, education and community development.
The Georges N. Frem Foundation dedicates its efforts to enhancing and strengthening the pillars of our pluralistic, democratic and civil society."
So basically if you distill this and apply to their education department you get the statement above.

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 71

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.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Hariri's absence unifies Lebanon - when his presence did not.

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
My former bank director friend is convinced Saad is "free to go in Saudi". My other friend is convinced he is "being held at the Ritz". My third friend is convinced that "he is not that close in running the business, he has nothing to fear". Notice everyone is "convinced" of his theory and no one has a proof to whatever.
Interestingly, people from all over the world are reaching out to me with the question "what is happening to your Prime Minister?" - it is difficult to answer such a question so I always reply "my theory is...." since truth be told, no one seems to know anything, no one seems to be basing their assessment on hard facts. I have personally heard, and read no less than half a dozen versions as to the wherabouts of Saad Hariri - our current Prime Minister (apparently he is still so, because one cannot resign from such a post just from TV, it is unconstitutional).
But here's the oddity, in his absence Hariri managed to do what he never did in his absence: Unify the political factions demanding his safe return - I guess "safe" is the issue here, after all, no one wants anyone to harm him but themselves (where's the fun in that?).
Seriously though, for a figure that never achieved the charisma or had the unifying factor that comes with their aura, for everyone to be so "concerned" about him is nothing short of miraculous. It is the same guy that ended up where he is because he is "son of" and who during two tenures could not solve (unsolvable) problems, who was part of the local political machinations (not accusing him, everyone else in Lebanese politics is!), and who basically was - well - a politician with shifting alliances a la 1984 (again not accusing him of anything, now everyone wants him back).
I got this joke via whatsapp this morning, from someone who is not exactly a Hariri fan but who seems concerned about his whereabouts anyhow.
This probably sums up the situation. Note that Christmas is still some 45 days away....That's a lot of time for Santa Claus to get him back - or manufacture a new one.