Sunday, July 21, 2019

An apology to my 1.5 million readers after my Annahar op-ed!

So there, today I am apologizing to my 1.5 million readers, which is the amount of visitors this blog got since its inception in 2007. Yesterday, as some of you may have heard my "opposite the editorial page" (op-ed) was published in Annahar (the English online version), in two hours it stormed up the charts, and became the most read piece on the website. Here's a direct link should you wish to read it. Without being dismissive, and yes, I was humbled that it took the top spot, I wish to apologize to my 1,5 million readers - you guys are the ones who made this an overnight success. And I am sorry that, this one article caused so much feedback and brouhaha, as my phone was ringing off the hook, my social media aflame, and comments popping up everywhere.
Perhaps the article was too scathing or came from a place of disgust or it hit a nerve or reached people who otherwise would not bother reading my blog, no matter the reason, me being as analytical as ever here's a couple of things I learned:
- Traditional media are not dead, specifically the newspapers (see my own article here). But to quote Star Trek "there's life Jim, but not as we know it". Meaning? Well, had my article been in the print edition  no one would have read it. As a matter of fact the whole writing, editing, sharing the article took place without a simple paper print. Annahar still has weight apparently, but online that is.
- I also learned our industry - advertising industry - is full of hypocrites. Here's an example: A heated conversation a few weeks back was quoted in the article, and the same person whom I am criticizing in the article (one of them at least) is the same person who made every visible effort to appreciate the article. Listen up, I can see through you. There's no hiding. You've shown your true colors, and there's no turning back.
- There are still a lot of idiots who got no courage confronting the people who steal them, as I said - you deserve your ads to be stolen.
- The article brought me some closure. No, it did not solve my issues with the industry, but it certainly brought clarity not just in showing me those without balls, the Janus-faced deceitful ones, but also, revealing some who were hiding in the bushes, the ones who usually do not overtly support or encourage assuming I do not need support or encouragement. It was a pleasure to have heard from you, how all of you - not necessarily in the ad business - have identified with this issue and brought out the pom poms for a round of cheering.
- For all the negativity and the tension, and despite all these setbacks listed in the article, advertising was kind to me, it enriched me (not just financially, which thankfully it has!), and it has provided me with all sorts of adventures. And to quote Mad Men - that wonderful piece of poetry about advertising, in the words of Betty Draper Francis (in her final letter to her daughter Sally) "I always worried about you because you march to the beat of your own drum, but now I know that's good. I know your life will be an adventure."
- Buckle up, more adventures are to come!

Saturday, July 20, 2019

BOB Finance - Western Union: When a creative concept goes sophomoric

When a student comes up with such a concept, we usually give him an average+ grade. The design is excellent in this ad, but the concept too first grade. So the idea is, whereve you are, you can send money online. But the "done" added to the already crowded sapce cheapens the idea and make its too "first degree". Still, had the idea been used to its 

Friday, July 19, 2019

IDM goes gaming and streaming from dusk till dawn

Ah IDM has a new offer, 8USD per month from dusk till dawn. OK, the classical expression in Lebanon is (I work) "from dawn till dusk" so the creative flip is nice. Naturally I don't understand why anyone would still do "teaser/revealer" technique (which initially is supposed to make the viewer "wonder" about the brand but is too depasse today as no one does an is just a waste of money). Still, whereas I am not the target audience to this ad, I still think it has something interesting in it.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hey buddy, you deserve your ads to be plagiarized!

"He who does not speak about the right is a silent devil"
Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
In Arabic there is a saying: "He who does not speak about the right is a silent devil". And how true that is! In a campaign that was run lately, there was a line/concept which was identical to another campaign which appeared more than a decade ago (both are civic awareness campaigns). I had the original in my archives, did a composite of the two one on top of the other - it would take an idiot or a unethical person  not to notice they one and the same.
By sheer chance, the person who did the original ad saw the composite image and told me it was him who had done it on a freelance basis and specifically told me that the person who copycatted his ad was aware of its existence.
I naturally suggested he should confront the person who copycatted his ad, because otherwise he would be complicit in the theft on an ethical standpoint. A heated exchange followed and he said he could not do it because the person who copycatted him was his "friend". With friends like these who needs enemies? And to subvert the known saying "keep your enemies close and your friends closer",
Indeed, now the person who was copycatted is part of the theft because he knew about it, but did not have the balls to say anything about it. Again to go back to Arabic sayings, there is a nice one that goes "ya antar leich inta antar? Antared w maha raddne" (Butch, why are you so Butch? I got Butch and no one stopped me). So the person stealing all these ads is running rampant  because those who can (and have the moral right) to confront him are not doing so.
There is a brilliant article in The Guardian about poetry plagiarism, just the title is itself is wonderful: "Plagiarists never do it once" which is a quote from Ira Lightman. You don't want to stop plagiarists who steal you because you got no guts? Don't worry, I will.
Oh and in this case, yes buddy - you deserve to have your ad plagirized.

On that Kefraya Moment where nothing much happens

Thankfully wine brands are breaking away from that silly burgundy earthy color palette to go wilder, bolder, more interesting and in the case of the new Kefraya moment (yes, with a hashtag #kefrayamoment) quite colourful and a bit pop. I like the concept a lot, the Kefraya moment is - well - that moment where nothing much happens. You soak up some some sun? You are on the terrace? You share a bit of gossip? All while holding your Kefraya cup in hand? I could argue and be a party spoiler that I am not a big fan of how "moment" was written but that is OK, in the end this is a beautiful summerish campaign designed for what wine is really for - nothing much. And that is the beauty of it. It is nice someone finally figured it out.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Joe La Pompe celebrates 20 years "en grande pompe"

Clint Eastwood (Actor/Director) - John Hegarty (BBH)
Peter Graves (Actor) - Maurice Levy (ex worldwide leader Publicis)
Joe La Pompe famous copycat catcher since 1999 is celebrating 20 years "en grande pompe" - he sees copycats everywhere in the advertising industry! I mean, can you blame him - not just that the same festival gives prizes to ads which won it several years back (Hello Cannes!) but creatives looking at previous ads and copying them thinking no one will notice (in Lebanon some reach to students' portfolios, preying on the creativity of innocent kids! What a shame!). The above are a firm proof Joe La Pompe is correct, would you be able to tell these people apart? Luckily, we can tell copycated ads however, my own site is full of them. So happy 20th anniversary Joe La Pompe, and here's to many more! Enjoy the complete campaign here!

Did Nida Al Watan just go publicly anti-Hizbollah?

Nida Al Watan, now has a new campaign rolling - with the "pen" breaking down so many ills in the Lebanese society, things like "fasad" (corruption), "mou7asasa" (power division due to sect), and other things including "sila7 ghayr char3i" (illegal weapons) which is code-word for Hizbollah arms. I went back and searched on all platforms if there is any wink (overt or otherwise) about where they stand politically and there was none. Their manifesto says nothing about it. So it is intersting they jumped the fence so early in the game declaring themselves as anti-Hizbollah. This in itself delimitates its audience and who reads it and follows it online.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

August 1st, Red Cross fundraiser at The Gärten!

Join the Lebanese Red Cross - Gemmayze for a party that will get your blood pumping!
When? August 1st
Where? The one and only: The Gärten
With whom? Bring yourself and your buddies to see acts by LaToya, Ralph Nasr Music, Rea B, Rolbac, Eli Atala - ELI and DnK
Drinks? All tickets include premium open bar
Rides? Free Uber rides!!! (you see with the premium open bar we do not want to need the Red Cross should you get an accident on the way back!) 
The noble cause? All proceeds will go towards the expansion of the Emergency Medical Services' station - Gemmayze
How to book? Here!

Dine with strangers, a new social concept in Lebanon

A long long time ago, when a restaurant in Lebanon wanted to put itself in an old house, they had to renovate it as it was pseudo-torn down. When they encased it within an iron cage, which is the classical method of rebuilding, a light-bulb lit inside the investors' heads. Why not transform this into a mock prison with a gigantic solo table on a first-come first-served basis where strangers simply were forced to mingle with one another simply by the virtue of geographical proximity. Alas, the idea did not last. But here we are, in 2019, someone else trying to pull a similar feat to an audience which hopefully is more receptive. Introducing "dine with strangers" the concept where people who do not know each other go book a place around a convivial table with limited places, where a nice menu is set, where they enjoy the venue, with people they do not know, and indeed - the food. Places are limited it seems so it is quite an intimate affair. Find them and book the on their instagram account.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

ISF - no shooting: using humor works. بتقبل_تقتل#

Civic campaigns share a similar trait in Lebanon - they are all glum and on dark menacing backgrounds so much they become indistinguishable, boring, and to be honest - not noticeable. This new campaign from the ISF against shooting (which is not uncommon in celebrations making them tragedies, and in tragedies making them tragedies due to stray bullets), marks an interesting departure. The background is colorful, the message is funny - "even if he invented gun powder, do not shoot for him" (with the image of a proud graduate). The tag used بتقبل_تقتل# (do you accept to kill) is just a usual add-on. I do like the ad a lot, as I said it marks an interesting departure from the prior attempts which all governmental organizations and NGOs were using. Maybe it is time someone used humor!

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

McDonald's simple does it.

Well, McDonald's used the easy way out, and it worked. The summer is hot, the temperatures soaring, you want a refresher badly, and it helps it is photographed on a sandy background. "Keep your cool" - again a lowest common denominator copy - helps spell it out. The ad has almost no concept, and it works in its favor, because well - all McDonald's had to do is just show nice, appetising things one wants to eat in the summer. I think I am calling 1297...

Sunday, July 7, 2019

AUBMC - WISH: don't silence sexual health

The above is but one visual from the AUBMC and WISH (Women Integrated Sexual Health program) - all tackling taboos and unsaid words with the line that goes "don't silence sexual health". Interestingly, all ads seem to be in English and I am not sure why is the case as it seems to speak of women belonging to a certain socio-economic class as opposed to women at large in Lebanon. Still, at least there is a start of a something going on, so every little helps.

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Bankmed - using Latino-Arabic to sell a new account

Before Arabic was used for chatting because it was non-existent, Arabophones used to chat on MSN (yes, MSN!) using latinized Arabic, and the missing letters which could not be written was replaced with an Arabic numeral closest to it - ء by 2 ح by 7 and so on. So BankMed is capitalizing on this slang to write "Me7rez" (worthy) which is an account which offers 7 free services (and 1% cashback). I am assuming, youngsters are the target of the ad and the account though I am not sure as I do not know the eldest category of people to whom such an ad appeals while written this way. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

Kotex #هي_تقدر a revolution in how sanitary napkins are advertised

"Some believe that there are days in the month that hinder the women from doing their job
Yet I am sure that there are some who are unaware of that"
So begins the ad. So far, interesting, but wait - the Arabic language demarks clearly between male and female and so when the copy says "Yet I am sure" it is said in the masculine mode which clearly implies that the "some" at the begining are a bunch of ignorant men who know nothing about periods! The ad continues with two examples - a female chef and a female film director.
Interestingly Kotex has one of best transpositions of their selling lines from "Kotex fits. Period." to
"كوتكس بتناسبك. متل العادة"
The ad above ends with a # that goes: #هي_تقدر or #she_can - yes, indeed she can! 
Watch the ad here!

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Ksara and the taste of the Lebanese summer.

From the Santa Monica pier colors to the almost not-available activity of paddleboarding with their ultra sexy bodies (he does not have a protruding gut!), the "Lebanese summer" that Ksara shows is a mix and match of things not Lebanese, paradoxically and ironically, that is why it works. The whole ad, with all these imported things does reflect what "Lebanese summer" is. I actually like it to be honest! Now, "strawberries cherries and an angel's kiss in spring, my summer wine is really made from all these things"... Bonus points to anyone who knows where these lyrics come from.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Nida Al Watan a new printed newspaper in town.

So there's a new printed newspaper in town. No wait! Listen, my position about the issue is well-known and documented so how will a new printed newspaper survive the trend when others are closing is interesting to see. "No just a newspaper. A cause" so says its bold headline. Today marks the first issue - so let us see how things go. On their Facebook they say they intend to be the voice of the silent majority, an echo of the "the voice of those who have none" (sawt allazin la sawta lahom) which was the selling line of the Assafir newspaper which now ceased its printing operations. 

All Lebanese politicians are stupid except the one you follow


No matter what the real or official or agreed upon version about what happened in Lebanon yesterday one thing is for sure, there's so much foreplay the Lebanese population can handle before and excuse the term, ejaculating. The last thing we need is another war, thank you very much.
Every politician is now issuing his unasked for two cents about "keeping calm" and "restraint" and all those flat platitudes which we are used to. As the former correspondent of the New York Times Bill Farrell said "there's no truth in Beirut, only versions" which I transformed into an art installation under the title "there's no truce in Beirut, only virgins" because I deeply believe we are not at peace-mode in Lebanon but rather at non-war mode, and because everyone is a "virgin" from wrong-doing since it is someone else's fault, or as  said in the title of this post, "All Lebanese politicians are idiots, except the one you follow" which - when looked at collectively, they all are.
People, no matter what you hear, and take it from someone who lived the entire Lebanese war - no, we cannot afford to start another war. I work deeply on the collective memory through my art, and I can feel the trauma of it being transmitted from one generation to the next as trauma often happens.
Sadly as skirmishes escalate, and due to our checkered past (a large war as ignited in the past between the Druze and Maronites in 1860 because of two children fighting while playing, and as the uncle of two nephews and a niece I can tell you that children fight and reconcile and gang up on you when you try to break it up!), so anything - and I mean anything - can become a trigger, and when the trigger happens the politicians will realize we are at the point of no return. And the crowds they thought they could ignite and calm down repeatedly, or what I called "foreplay" earlier will can easily turn into an "ejaculation".
So there, that's my unasked for two cents, because everyone is doing it so why can't I?

Saturday, June 29, 2019

The critical condition of hospitals goes public

"Our condition is critical - hospitals towards closing down" this according to the Snydicate of Hospitals in Lebanon. I am not sure which hospitals are being talked about to be honest, I am simply looking at the ad as is, with a doctor sitting on the patient bed with a deflated attitude. Do note that usually hospitals are being seen in Lebanon as cash cows, so I am not sure there will be a lot of sympathy from the public towards them, plus - the other intriguing question is - why is this ad being targetted to the average Joe on the street and is being plastered publicly. Shouldn't the matter be taken on a political level? With the Lebanese knee deep in problems at this stage on all fronts, I doubt the desired reaction will be produced.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Sohat goes for a safe option

These days, I am starting to differentiate between two things: Client intentions and capability of carrying out such intentions. All clients want kick-ass campaigns, when offered such a camapign, they tone it down to - well, what Sohat has done. You see, there's nothing wrong with it. And that may be the problem that there's nothing wrong with it. Just like the content of the bottle it advertises, it is "incolore, inodore" French for bland. And the line "from our source to your bottle". Again, too safe to be noticed.

Teleferique eventually advertises

Teleferique (or cable car) is a highly enjoyable, panoramic, and yes - romantic, trip between Jounieh and Harissa (Our Lady of Lebanon). But this is an institution that rarely, if ever adertises. Does it need to? I know not. Up to my memory, only did I see an ad for it.
In an episode that happened a long time ago, a couple was riding one of their cable cars when the power broke down, normaly emergency generators take over but these failed. The couple stayed above the highway several hours, and the girl was given a pseudonym in the news Chadia Harissa. One person who was close to the situation told me, "if this institution was on better terms with journalists and media, they would have covered this under a better light". Which brings us to - an ad for the teleferique - funnily right next to the highway exit that leads to it (which makes me wonder, does anyone spontanuously say, "oh let us take a ride and go up the mountain by cable car?") but still, it is such a rarity that it is worth reporting.
"See the world from above" - it could be interpreted as "look down on the world" but that would make it a bit snobbish which I doubt is the purpose.
Still, an ad for the teleferique! Yay!
And before I go - enjoy this image from 2011:
That beats any wedding limousine!