Friday, July 28, 2017

Byblos Bank expat loan: What if kitsch works in advertising?

The above images depict the new campaign of Byblos Bank expat home loan. Standard, lowest common denominator, but with a nice TVC, I have heard many people speak ill of the campaign - that music, manoushe and what not are not the proper elements to brand a nation. I have heard also that the TVC could have been interchangeably done with any other bank and that the VO is a bit Darth Vader-ish. Thing is, it got me thinking: What if kitsch works in advertising?
Kitsch is defined as "art, objects, or design considered to be in poor taste because of excessive garishness or sentimentality, but sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way." And before anyone jumps the gun look at my artworks and you will discover how kitschy they are - nothing wrong with crying while your mascara drips. I am the first to admit that, while commenting on ads, I am often "out of tune" with the general public - I see innuendos that it does not, I see suggestions of racism when others assume it is just a benign statement, I sense companies missing the marketing mark when the average Joe might not give a hoot.... Blame it on me being an engineer and an economist who is now a con man, ooop, sorry an ad man.
So with this, try as we might to philosophize things, what if the lowest common denominator of emotional stimulation is the one that works. In a new survey it turns out that a Banksy Stencil (Girl with Balloon) is Britain's best loved work - a plain, two-dimentional, emotionally straightforward, intellectually non-challenging, pinch-me-till-I-cry kind of work. Victorian art critic John Ruskin wrote: "it is not because the average intellect and feeling of the majority of the public are competent in any way to distinguish what is really excellent, but because all erroneous opinion is inconsistent, and all ungrounded opinion transitory" - which, in plain terms means that the public at large is incompetent to judge what is excellent. Then again Ruskin was not looking for an expat loan, was he?

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