Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Ch. Corm & Co vintage advertising and the story of the first skyscraper in Beirut

I saw this ad in the Classic Car Show running in Beirut Souks. Along with it the story of Charles Corm and how he imported Ford to the region (not just Lebanon but Syria, Transjordan, Palestine and Turkey too) and the Fordson tractors as well. Interestingly, this led to the first skyscraper in Lebanon (the image of which was below) which was the assembly plant for the cars and tractors.
Corm the "reluctant tyoon" made his fortune and retired at the age of 40 to focus his life on writing, arts and philanthropic activities.  

#makesmallvictories with The Makers account of Byblos Bank

This is interesting: For once a bank is thinking on the ground. And it is talking to youth at the same time. The Makers account aimed at the youth who are just starting out from Byblos Bank is emphasizing change, but not in the let's-invent-an-app-then-sell-it-for-a-billion, no it is really advocating smart, manageable change, one that be integrated within the current lifestyle one leads. The ad above says "change hobbies", so yes, explore photography all while working from 9 to 5, or wherever you are. Fulfill your ambitions but don't let them derail your current job - in other words? Be responsibile! Or #makesmallvictories - who said "think small" does not sell?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Genius aims for quantity as a selling argument for school bags

There are currently several competing ads for backpacks for the back to school period. Only Faber Castell distinguished itself by suggesting something with a concept, the rest are aiming for a hard sell. Including Genius which suggested their product is "easier on the back and on the pocket". Apparently there is a "buy 1 get 5" offer, no no, not 5 baclapcks but 5 elements accompanying the bag (pen holder, smaller bag, water bottle, a pochette). So I guess it is attempting to sway the students and their parents with price/quantity ratio.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What does ABBA have to do with university lecturing?

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
These days, I am going through an ABBA period. Yes, that ABBA. The two couples, who later divorced, Agnetha (the soprano blonde) and Bjorn (the lyricist and sometimes (though rarely) singer) plus Anni-Frid (or Frida the mezzo-soprano brunette) and Benny (the composer). Remember, since I was born in 1974 ABBA was a very popular group when I was a small child so by the time I was interested in music the group had disbanded, so they were never really on my radar. But with time, and especially recently, I am rediscovering their archive.
The first glance would make you root for team Agnetha, the stereotypical Swedish blonde (and has a soprano voice to top it!) with a svelte body after two children with Bjorn and so on an so forth. He lead vocals on songs such as "The Winner Takes It All" or "Chiquitita" prove how high she can go or how good she can be at interpreting sad lyrics (interestingly, "The Winner Takes It All" was about a divorce, not her divorce from Bjorn even if it was released after the fact). But the more I watched ABBA, the more I realized that apart from the fact that the two exceptional singers could harmonize and blend their voices so perfectly (even live which is an exceptional feat for the two of them), Agnetha was less assured in her body movements, could use her voice perfectly in studio or on stage but was less able to be at ease away from the microphone.
Frida on the other hand, was incredibly comfortable in front of the flashlights, could dominate a stage without even moving, and let's not even start with what she could do when she moved. Such as when dancing and singing side by side with Agnetha on "Take A Chance On Me", one could immediately see how much more relaxed and coordinated in terms of body movements she is or how powerful her stage presence was. She was so gracious that merely a week after her husband at the time (Benny) told her he was having a baby with his mistress, and while taping a live show for Amercian audiences she still found the guts to look at him while performing just because "the show must go on" and spectators had nothing to do with the breakdown of her marriage.
Not only that, her crystal clear and earthy voice could be very versatile, from her lead in the melancholic "Fernando", to the deadpan irony of "Money, Money, Money", going through the bitter sweetness of "Super Trooper" to the bitter bitterness of "When All Is Said And Done" (which Bjorn wrote about her divorce from Benny) or the majestically uplifiting "I have a dream".
So what does this have to do with teaching?
Teaching as a friend told me long ago "is like show business, 10% is about the information, and 90% is how you deliver it". In today's world, students having to live by my draconian rules of no whatsapp, no eating, and no drinking in class start to experience withdrawal symptoms, they are not used to concentrate so long on a lecture. So the main task of a teacher today is actually to make the students focus on him, by the way he or she is delivering the info in question. And the more I watch ABBA videos (especially Frida) - be it live or in the studio - the more it hits me how much I apply this to lecturing. The "stage" is small, sometimes one can move sometimes one cannot, the info is there to be dispatched - but the mood of the class differs from one second to the next - so we must catch up with that too.
The ability to convey complex messages all while keeping audiences entertained. Audiences who have paid expensive tickets to come and see you. It could be a concert ticket, buying or streaming a song, or a credit at university.

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 67

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, September 16, 2017

Ariel comparative non-comparative ad

Well Lebanon has a law where a brand cannot name a competing brand (there were a couple of exceptions - such as an ad for Nokia which cites Blackberry by name and a Dunkin' Donuts citing Starbucks as well). So for Ariel to say that they are the best "for real not just in words" is a jab on Persil - their main competitor in the market who als claims to be the best for removing stains.
If you wish to see the Nokia and the Dunkin' Donuts ads here they are:

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 66

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.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Fairouz a l'Olympia - questioning history (27)

Artworks by Tarek Chemaly
Fairouz, our national diva was on a self-imposed embargo from doing concerts in Lebanon during the war, so when she was invited to the Olympia in Paris, the furore was obvious and palpable. The concert was often broadcasted on tele Liban during the war, as a sign of good things to come.

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 65

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.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

PerrierxWild goes on wild spirit mode with designs by Juan Travieso


Juan Travieso designed six bottles and three slim cans for Perrier as part of their celebration of wild spirit via majestic animals. The bottles emphasize the animals in the dark rendering them (the animals, and the bottles) even more imposing. The designs are indeed a step in the concept of wild spirit which leads Perrier. Brilliant concept and execution indeed.

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 64

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.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 63

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.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 62

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.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Abou Fouad: Lebanon's identity via language 61

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.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Lebanese Forces annual mass advertising: A masterclass of propaganda

The Lebanese Forces know how to talk to their people, it is a fact. The ad above is for their annual mass for their martyrs during the war. Women clad in black are brought in busses holding photos of their dead sons (I see no images of daughters usually). This is a major political event and every year the Lebanese Forces advertise it in fanfare (full disclosure, I myself was responsible for doing such ads when I was working at a certain agency and I managed to produce hits which took their base by storm). And the ad above is another proof - "for tenacity, for martyrdom, for integrity, for a brighter tomorrow, we are here". Beat this! 

Al Harb by Tarek Chemaly after the Otto Dix "Der Krieg" series (10/10)

Otto Dix - The Second Company Will Be Relieved Tonight
Otto Dix - The Sleepers of Fort Vaux (Gas Victims)
Otto Dix - Transporting the Wounded in Houthulst Forest
Otto Dix - Visit to Madame Germaine’s in Mericourt
Otto Dix - Wounded Man [Autumn 1916, Bapaume]
Otto Dix - Wounded Man Fleeing

Saturday, September 9, 2017

On La Piara pork shoulder being gluten free

La Piara has "ongoing summer offer" - but that is not why the ad interested me. The bottom of the ad specifically points that their pork shoulder is gluten free. Let me tell you this parallel story, when I was student back at AUB, I was walking with a friend who was studying nutrition and we encountered a sign for a potato-selling shop on Bliss Street claiming that their product is "cholesterol free". I saw her shocked reaction and since nutrition was not my forte she said "Tarek, min wayn baddo yeje el cholesterol?" (Tarek, where is the cholesterol going to come from?). So basically I had to Google the question "are pork shoulders gluten free?" when I came back home. So yes, pork shoulder is gluten free.
So, like the SNL joke went about gentrification, "You acting like someone put gluten in your muffin or something" - what is riling me is that, technically, this is not a false advertising. The La Piara pork shoulder is gluten free. But "min wayn baddo yeje el gluten?" is a different question altogether.

Al Harb by Tarek Chemaly after the Otto Dix "Der Krieg" series (9/10)

Otto Dix - Surprise Attack
Otto Dix - Tangled Barbed Wire Before the Trench
Otto Dix - The Madwoman of Sainte-Marie-a-Py
Otto Dix - The Outposts in the Trenches Must Maintain the Bombardment at Night
Otto Dix - The Ruins of Langemarck

Friday, September 8, 2017

Bell Pottinger, the Islamic State and Bette Midler...

Arabian Inquirer apparently had to apologize for an article it ran which said that PR firm Bell Pottinger was representing the Islamic State. No it does not, however its roaster of clients includes: Augusto Pinochet (Chilean military ruler), the Gupta Family in South Africa (has has strong ties to Jacob Zuma), Oscar Pistorius (who basically was found guilty of killing his girlfriend), the United States Department of Defense (which commissioned the company to create fake terrorist videos for 540 Million Dollars), and the list continues. But no, they do not represent the Islamic State.
As Bette Midler said: "I have my standards. They are low, but I have them."

Castania airport ad - lets Al Rifai feud with itself.

First Al Rifai was bitter about losing its airport concession to competitor Castnaia, then it escalated the bitterness by offering full packaged and delivered nuts (at the time I even designed an ad to show an alternative response to the situation) - now Castania bring in its much awaited reply. And of course, it chose for it not to be a reply at all keeping Al Rifai feuding with itself. "Castania now at the airport" with a tag on the handle of a duty free bag. Simple, elegant and totally non-referential to Al Rifai. OK, as Michelle Obama said "when they go low, we go high" - Castania went high indeed, high enough to fly considering it is at the airport now.