Sunday, June 23, 2019

CTS travel and tourism - a small gem on father's day

CTS travel and tourism comes up with a small gem on father's day. One of the most difficult aspects of linking your brand to an event is how to make it happen organically without just sticking your logo on a nothing. So CTS managed to say "a tribute to th dads who travelled for good". Neat, simple, expressive, zen, touching without being overdone or overly fake emotional. As I said, a real gem.

Questioning history - Zest (97)

Artworks by Tarek Chemaly
A memory that still smells of lemon.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Al Wadi al Akhdar VS Fakhani on father's day - compare and contrast

Al Wadi Al Akhadar (2015) - Fakhani 2019
On the left Al Wadi Al Akhar 2015, on the right Fakhani 2019. Same joke and gimmick - "ghannouj" means "someone seeking attention". Since baba ghannouj is make of eggplants this explains Al Wadi ad. Same trick used by Fakhani in 2019. Compare and contrast.

Epica awards goes tongue-in-cheek in an epic(a) campaign

"Self-love. Leave it for the other awards."
You don't get it - do you?
Sadly the award system at so skewed, it is basically "scratch my back and I will scratch yours". Why? Because juries are creatives making sure their buddies win.
I am a proud member of the Epica Awards jury - and believe me this is not for the faint of heart. Epica is the only award judged by journalists, which means we can get to be unbiased, and we can bash agencies for mediocre ads while giving trophies to others who came from left field. Which makes the Epica campaign this year a total standout!
Let others self love - we are here to butcher. The beautiful op art inspired visual only adds to the understated charm!
Hmmm.... Why not enter this ad in this year's competition, I for one am ready to give it a high grade. But sadly this would be self-love.

Almaza lost its way on father's day

Win the t-shirt with 3 boxes of Almaza.
"Cheers Dad" with the A in the shape of two bottles.
Corny. At best.
The brand lost its way - ever since it moved from one agency to the next.

Arak Fakra - that.iconic.slogan

Nothing much to say:
من تراثنا... عرق مثلث بلدي اصيل
Tripple distilled, artisnal, authentic - words which are now connected in the collective memory to Arak Fakra.
Yes, someone tried to "outsmart" it - my interverting the words, and no, it does not work.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ministry of Labor - hire/buy Lebanese?

"No one pushes your work but your compatriot" - so says the Ministry of Labor in Lebanon. This is a thinly veiled buy/hire Lebanese message, as to what prompted them to do that move - perhaps the super bad economy is the answer. With the rate of the economy, unemployment, businesses shutting down as it is, perhaps the ministry thinks that by encouraging people to hire/buy Lebanese the circle will open. Now here's a question? Who will hire when businesses are scraping by, and who will buy when there is certainly no liquidity in the market? If the solution was that easy, the situation would not have been so tough as it is.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Pepsi Abou Jumbo now 2,5 Liters

Well, a long - long - time ago, Pepsi came with with the Jumbo bottle (the 1,75 liters) which was dubbed Jumbo (as in Jumbo jet!), then it followed it with the 2,25 liters calling it Abou Jumbo (slang Arabic for "father of Jumbo"), now - at the same price - Pepsi is marketing the 2,5 liters saying "Abou Jumbo got bigget, get a bigger fridge". Do note, international standard fridges are only able to house the 1,25 liters bottles in the door which makes the 2,25 an anomaly to fit and even with a bigger fridge, there is no way to put the Abou Jumbo but laying down because the circumference of the bottle is bigger than the usual door shelving size. But hey, it seems the 0.25 liters extra come at no price, and a family of 5 can exterminate the bottle without need to stock it!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Nike BETRUE: Kaepernick, Women, and now LGBTQ

First Nike went Colin Kaepernick generating incredible buzz (the athlete was the star of the company's 30th anniversary, with him being the one who initiated the kneeling during the pre-game national anthem to protest police brutality in the US), then it went women (in an incredibly powerful commercial called "Dream Crazier"), now it went LGBTQ with another ad (honestly though, whereas strongly scripted, and with an incredible roaster of athletes it does not reach the level of the two mentionned campaigns).
But still, Nike is on the right side of history and they know it is the millenials who are buttering their bread hence them sacrifing those once-a-year-discount-sneaker-buyers-who-watch-Fox-News with the Kaepernnick and the "backlash" they faced with conservatives burning their Nike goods - fact: Nike sales increased following the Kaepernick ad.
Do note, Nike is surely not the only brand to bank on LGBTQ and pride month in the US (here's a small recap!), so with the company knowing their target audience, it now becomes bona fide to sell them what it knows they will buy - some "progressive" values which their buyers already believe in.
Or to misquote the Kaepernick ad: "Believe in selling something, even if it means not sacrificing everything".
Nike knew what it was doing, and now it is the turn for an ad for the LGBTQ community. Do watch the ad here.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Kayagan sees double with Youssef el Khal

Kayagan, the men's clothing store is displaying its wedding collection (do note it is usual for the groom and best and best man to buy matching suits or close-enough suits from the same shop). Actor Yousef el Khal has been an ambassador to the brand since - well - forever. And this year, they doubled down (sorry, a pun!) using him as groom, and "brother" who is usualy the best man, making him and his "twin brother" one in the ad. OK, it is a case of seeing double, and I do admit one does a double take when seeing the ad on the streets, which, is the exact purpose of making and ad: We notice it, and we notice the brand. So? Mission accomplished.

Friday, June 14, 2019

Fiordelli goes Belle Jolie

The more I tried to refute the idea the more it stuck, the more I tried to dismiss it the more it came back. Fiordelli is offering a weddinng collection to men with the line "mark your mark" which is oh-so-close to Belle Jolie (the fictional lipstick brand that Sterling Cooper had specifically the ad "mark your man" in the series Mad Men). Yes I know they got nothing to do with one another but it is one of those uncanny mental similarities which simply happen in my mind at least!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

DeFacto clothing comes with a bold statement on gender equality

DeFacto is here with a bang! "who wears the pants in your relationship?"  wow - bold for sure! Naturally it is a clothing ad so it is a double-entendre, and sadly the slogan is a little to crammed in the layout to pop up as much as it should. To those who do not know the meaning of the expression, wearing the pants (a piece of clothing associated with males) means "the one who takes decisions". But this indeed is a very provoking message. This reminds me of an old caricature in La Revue du Liban where a woman is telling her friend - "It is Bernard wears the pants, but I am the one who tells him which ones to wear". When it comes to the equality of the genders, DeFacto just opened Pandora's box!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

On an efficient way to ban plastic bags

So how about this as a cute way to ban plastic bags? East West Market in Canada decided to print odd messages on the bags so much the curstomers would not feel well carrying them around. It seems the issue became a double edge sword, people liked them so much they wanted to collect them all. The owner of the market says it is still a win as people would ask where one got them and the whole rationale had to be explained so a conversation got started.
Here in Lebanon Beit Mery will force consumers to buy the bags at 250 pence which is 1/6th of a Dollar! Here at home, we tend to ruse the bags in all possible ways and what is left is sent to the recycling bin. We do what we can!

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Chateau Musar Korai - the interchangeability of the wine ads.

If you exclude Xisir and its logo, and B-Qa from Chateau Marsyas, wine ads are interchangeable: Burgundy and earth-tone colors for winter reads, summer horizon (beach-ambiance) for the white and the rose so much they are actually interchangeable. Same mood, same colors, same tones and concepts or lack of - the new Chateau Musar Korai might be tasty but judging from the ad the only thing that might distinguish it on the supermarket shelf is the shape of the bottle. The ad? Quite forgetable alas.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Sesobel gets itself a winner due to a sad reason.

An institution like Sesobel that cares for children with disabilities can do any spot and still stir "pity". So what do they do? They went the harder way, the one that goes "dignity". Children in a classroom, yes at times throwing tantrums (trust me, all children throw tantrums), seconds later they go to laughing mode with their friends - like their real, kind, embracing friends. Sesobel scores its winning by adding a line on Instagram "if those on earth abandon us, those in heaven will not". What is sad is that it seems Sesobel is closing due to lack of funds, hence the bitter tone of the line. The beauty of the ad is the simplicity, the emotion, the rawness, and - naturally - the dignity through it all. Do watch it here.

Questioning history - Beirut 68 (96)

Artworks by Tarek Chemaly
Sweet dreams are made of this and who am I to disagree.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Death becomes the ad industry: What is wrong with growing older?

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
Le nez Libanais (the Lebanese nose) - so was the title of a reportage done by a French TV station on the ubiquity of plastic surgery in Lebanon and the uniformity of the nose that came out. Plus, I always go back to that FNB ad (dating back to 2007!) that gave you loans to do plastic surgery. The "legal excuse" girls opt to get the insurance to pay for the operation is "3indi lahmiyye" (I have sinusitis). Please look at the image below from my book "The "hole" truth" published with Fady Chahine in 2011 which you can consult here.
Artwork by Tarek Chemaly and Fady Chahine
When I was 15, I was on the balcony of our family my (now late) father approached me and simply stated "by the time you will be thirty, you'll already have grey hair". And indeed, by the age of thirty my hair was greying - the problem was that my face remaining not just youthful, but a bit childish, so much that when I cut my hair incredibly short (which I did since 1989 so much that I do not even own a comb!) and ergo the greyish patches got shaved off, I was once denied entry to a nightclub because I was too young (while already 32 years old at the time).
Forward to present time: You know the saying? "The bags under my eyes are, Prada"? Well, my jacket is Prada but the bags in question are not, and no, they have nothing to do with an insomniac night (at my age - born in 1974 (you do the math) - all-night ragers are not even a question so it has to be insomnia) and are basically caused by looking my age. The thing is, the bags in question adjusted themselves in a flappy wrinkly droopy mass under one eye (the right eye, thank you for, not just asking, but noticing), so much that my dear aunt kindly suggested on my last visit to her "Tarek, did you consider a night cream?" - but to be fair to her she was more worried about my wrinkly forehead which has a gesticulating life all to its own rather than the said bag under my eye(s).
If I am raising all these issues today, it is because we do live in an society where growing old seems to be still a no-no, especially in the media or ad industry. Face it people. We do grow older, some more gracefully than others. The Lebanese saying goes "El chaybe haybe" - "greying hair gives you gravitas", and whereas I did see plastic surgery save lives and restore long-lost self-confidences (I think perhaps of the supermarket check out girl who had a crooked nose but otherwise a lovely face), I cannot but go back to what model-turned-designer (and longtime Chanel muse) Ines de la Fressange said: "for the time being I have not seen any convincing results" - when quizzed about her lack of enthisiasm for said surgeries.
Hollywood at large is experiencing a major form of de-ageing. Meaning digitally, "enhancing" not the best word with actors geeting their wrinkles erased digitally (this The Guardian article cites examples and a lament from Martin Scorcese). And yes major brands are now launching men-centered creams and treatments (Armani just announced it is jumping on that bandwagon while Nivea had ex-James Bond Pierce Brosnan as a spokesperson for its male line). It is also known that men once they understand that a trend has become socially acceptable they tend to follow it (case in point, several years back a student was explaining to her boyfriend what "metrosexual" was - men who are not gay yet tend to themselves and their appearances - after laughing it off he goes back at the end of the dinner and asks her "so, do you think my nails need a manicure?").
And just to be clear, selling hope through creams is wonderful, if you want to go and get yourself a surgery please be my guest (and this campaign comes to mind!), yet - please do pay attention: Anthropologically, small "retrousse" noses mean gullibility, whereas large lips mean fierceness and boldness. So women who go to surgeries and cut down their noses only to inflate their lips are sending anthropologically mismatched signals.
But all this is to go back to the original point: People, there is nothing wrong with growing old and showing signs of it but the ad industry is certainly not a place to look for such people (hint, neither are Ramadan soap operas for that matter). By that I mean neither in front of the camera where everyone is either barely legally young (or wanting to look the part!), or is being digitally enhanced/photoshopped for the purposes of some poster or promotion; nor behind the camera where fifty-something "creatives" wear Chuck Taylors (which they cannot see due to their inflated guts) as they cover their thinning hairlines with backwards-worn trucker hats.
"Old age ain't no place for sissies" said Bette Davies, which reminds me of the movie Death Becomes Her, where Isabella Rosselini takes a break from selling Lancome to sell the serum of eternal life to Goldie Hawn and Meryl Streep with hillarious consequences. Rosselini will later be kicked out of Lancome for being too old (she was 42 when the Lancome contract came to an end).
The only silver lining is that now that Rosselini is older, she is the face of the cosmetics brand once more - at the age of 65.
So perhaps there is a bit of hope, somewhere, after all.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Almaza re-does its diamond competition (with a misleading slogan)

Almaza has a new diamond-winning competition (there is even a website for that!).
To begin with the competition is not new - it was done before under the slogan (chrab Almaza rba7 almaz - drink Almaza win diamonds). Almaza litteraly means diamond in Arabic. So the competition is a re-heat of a previous effort. But the thing is - why do it with a misleading slogan? The slogan says "a diamond inside every Almaza". Actually the diamond has been the symbol on the cap of the bottle and whereas we are not in the US - where a disclaimer needs to be put to avoid being sued due to misleading - it also not too smart to imply it with such a ho-hum slogan. Sure there are - with a smaller font - exapliners as to what is being won (diamonds worth 200,000 USD), but well, maybe they should have stuck to "drink Almaza win diamonds". At least there is no quid pro quo on that one!

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wooden Bakery - 50 years!

Well, Wooden Bakery is celebrating 50 years in the market - yes I was amazed as well until I remembered their original name was "afran al hatab"! But here we are - there is even a TVC which you can see here (surprisingly, it does not feel contrived and rather runs smoothly) - the whole campaign pushes the concept of family - and even the line goes "our story is that of every family" (with the hands of and adult and that of a child baking the dough). The campaign aims towards the emotional that is sure, and within its framework it works - pity there is no mention of "afran al hatab" just to insure the perpetuity in the mind of the consumer! 

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Almosafer - Ramadan spirit travels far

Can you really stop a determined child do what they want? Almosafer shares this incredibly touching, well-executed (I love the bit where the adults dismiss the child and her silly map only for kids to help her). Where is she going? Where does the map lead? And who is that person she wants to meet and with whom she want so share her iftar-starting dates she got on the plane? Almosafer brings a world of joy. Best wishes to anyone celebrating Eid today. Watch the inspiring movie here!