Thursday, May 23, 2024

Wrapsters - self-censorship has never been so glorious

Maybe you did not know this fact, but prisoners in Saudi Arabia are enlisted to help censor magazines coming into the kingdom. By censor I mean coloring with a sharpie all sensitive material, especially images (you know hands and legs of women, lingerie ads and so on and so forth). So much that when Links - not sure if the agency exists any longer or not - in 2002-3 had to do an ad for men's underwear, the shot a man wearing the product and... censored the image itself with a sharpie all over. The headline? "So intimate it should be censored". I was floored when I saw it.

Cut back to today's Wrapsters ad... A censored photo like the ones instagram censors. You know "sensitive photo - this photo contains sensitive content which some people may find offensive or disturbing" (yes, it was used and over-used when anyone posted anything about Palestine). But this is the kind of ad that makes you do a double take. "Delicious content - this photo contains delicious wraps that might make people crave a tasty escape".

Once more, another case of self-censorship but one used to beat the system. Lovely! Find Wrapsters here.

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Mechwar ray7in mechwar? Ministry of Tourism knows kitsch works

First it was Ahla Bhal Talleh (2022), then Ahla Bhal Talleh Ahla (2023), now? Mechwar ray7in mechwar. First a background, this was a hit by Ronza and Wahid Jalal from the movie Akher el Sayf - the end of summer (here). The translation is literally "a trip, we're going on a trip" (alternatively it could be a joyride, journey, spin, hanging out or simply "take a breath of fresh air"). Is it cliche? By God it is. But if Ahla Bhal Talleh proved anything it's that kitsch works. But hey, common denominator always works, especially in Lebanon. So here we are, a "mechwar" it is and the Ministry of Tourism in Lebanon has adopted the idiom (the song dates back to 1980 and is credited to Ghady Rahbani - lyricist and composer). So onwards we go... to a "mechwar".

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Mega Ice cream - Nancy Ajram, Nizar Qabbani, or how Egypt is going bonkers over copyright

Remember the De22ou el Chamasi saga (here)? Now watch the Mega ice cream film here. To be honest the film is well done, very hip and stylish and cool. The issue? Well, apparently Nancy Ajram interprets the song that goes along with the film. Now, the association of artists in Egypt is suing Mega Ice Cream or the company that did the ad (it is not clear from the words of the legal counselor of the association Hussam Loutfi) to the tune of the 10 million Egyptian pounds. 

Here's the background: The song used in the ad was a hit for the late Farid El Atrach, except they changed the words to fit the product. Now, the original song was written by the late Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani. Logically, the estate of the late El Atrach is the only one concerned legally. But nope - the daughter of Qabbani said her father's name should not be put on a product - well, for all his prouesse, mind you the whole song was rewritten so that Qabbani has no legal claim whatsoever. Here is the El Atrach song (here).

Honestly, how all this became a legal saga is beyond me. Because legally, if the rights were bought from the El Atrach family, then everyone is in the clean... But seriously, copyright laws are just so insane in the Middle East as I said prior.

Monday, May 20, 2024

The Guardian adds its own entry to the self-depreciation pantheon

On this blog, I have already wrote about self-depreciation in advertising (here), it is indeed, an art - not everyone has the courage to delve into. For all their self-importance, Lebanese brands rarely trod that route, but hey Roadster came and saved the day (here). Which brings us to The Guardian. "Support the most misanthropic publication on earth" (as part of their widely successful reader-funded support campaign). How come "misanthropic"? Well, a certain "Elon Musk" thinks so. So why not use his words against him in a very dry British humor masterpiece. And yes, it works - splendidly.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Atelier Miqias x Warde - Warradit is how sustainability works

You can call me ignorant, but it was only yesterday I was aware of the presence of Atelier Miquias (here), and in their own words here is how they are implementing sustainable policies: 1- sustainable material options 2- pattern optimization 3- circular design principles 4- reducing overproduction 5- consumer education 6- closed-loop systems 7- zero-waste practices. 
Interestingly, they seem to have teamed up with Warde, one of the leading fabrics dealers in Lebanon - apparently the company has been around for 150 years and Gabriel Warde is the 4th generation to be on the helm of it - for deadstock fabrics.
So... What's deadstock you ask? Again, in their own words, "deadstock fabric is surplus and available for reuse, offering a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to producing new materials." And just for you to know, even giants like LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Dior, etc....) have their own deadstock company Nona (here).
ِAs someone who only owns one article from a fast fashion house in all his closet (and not that the closet is that developed for someone my age mind you!), I try to steer away from such items. I also try to buy second hand (hello Depot-Vente Beirut!) or vintage (Vintage Something) or nothing at all mind you. Unless the item is truly needed, I tend to forego buying it.
But going back to Miqias - they provide: A-Z fashion production services, sketching and visualization, pattern making and sampling, production consulting, sustainable material sourcing, and deadstock management. 
By the way, a lovely thing about the Miqias and Warde partnership? The name: Warradit! Warradit is obviously a derivative of the Warde name (which means flower) and warradit means "blossomed". How cool is that?

Louis Vuitton wins core values game, set and match with Federer and Nadal

It is refreshing that a brand knows who and what it is, ladies and gentlemen please welcome: Louis Vuitton. Well, in case you do not know it, at the heart of every brand is a set of core values, and for Louis Vuitton here they are: a journey beyond the physical, a commitment to excellence and a transmission of dreams.
Of course, when you are one of the world's largest behemoth, you can afford people like - Angelina Jolie, Bono, Sean Connery, Steffi Graf, Keith Richards, Muhammad Ali, Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Sally Ride, Buzz Aldrin (yes, the astronaut and the second person to ever walk on the moon, that Buzz Aldrin). And now to continue the series? Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal - for some statistics they met 40 times, with Nadal leading 24-16 including 14-10 in finals. 
It is interesting for a company as huge as Louis Vuitton to still know its identity - because many companies/entities end up diluting themselves so much they lose track of that: think Versace post-Gianni's death even if the company is now back on track as a prime example, or any pop star once their initial zeitgeist is gone with Madonna being a poster-girl for the movement.
As I said, it goes better when the budget is there. Federer and Nadal are not going to just join the campaign for pennies, both are still - even if Federer is now retired and Nadal no longer at the top of the ATP ranking - incredibly popular figures in the game and of course, in the world at large as "brands" (note that Federer has a line with Uniqlo and is a partner in On - the sports brand taking market shares from Adidas and Nike). 
So here we are, the campaign is back and - with the force of Federer and Nadal - Louis Vuitton won game-set-and-match.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Apple, Coca-Cola or when copying ads is reassuringly inexpensive.

Well, how about that? Apple has launched its ipad campaign and Coca-Cola launched its own "taste can't wait" for its Coke Zero. Turns out both ads have been done before. First look at Apple (here) and LG (here) - note that the LG dates back to 15 years, then look at Coca-Cola and Stella Artois (here).

For two major brands to send out copied ads is - to put it mildly - alarming. It is as if no one even bothered to do basic research, not only from the ad agencies, but also from these giants' marketing department. That no one has a memory of already-done ads (and ads which won major awards mind you - the Stella Artois was a gold winner at Cannes Lions 20 years ago) because everyone was too young is not an excuse. Today, all you have to do is type the descriptive of the ad on Google and bam, you have exactly what you were looking for, in addition to many many other resources online and offline.

Yet the question is, when two major brands basically - knowingly or unknowingly - copy two previous ads, can we still blame smaller agents who do the same? I was taken to court twice for exposing theft by certain agencies - the funny bit is that the courts did not argue if the agencies in question were stealing ads but rather if I was allowed to call them "thief". Just to be clear you cannot copyright an idea what you can copyright is the execution of the idea which both Apple and Coca-Cola have infringed upon, and by copyright it is simply the notion of "hey, I have seen this done before" as opposed to legally "copyrighting" the product.

So now what? Do we go the "everyone is doing it, so why can't we?" route? Or do do we tell both giants that they were in the wrong? The only silver lining is Samsung trolling Apple with "creativity cannot be crushed" (here).

Monday, May 13, 2024

BYD Seagull is... a Lamborghini-mini

Well, remember those cute ads - such as "Picks up five times more women than a Lamborghini" for the 1996 Daihatsu Hijet MPV. Well of course, those were done in jest. Actually that whole school of ads is no longer used - actually too many automakers dabbled in it including the classic "faster than a Ferrari - as many wheels as a Rolls Royce - more room than a Porsche" (discover the Citroen 2CV ads here).

But again, all this was done with a joking tone.

Which is why the BYD ad (here) is - at best, alarming, at worst a brand-use infringement. First read the text: "Designed by former Lamborghini designer Wolfgang Egger, the BYD Seagull has the sharp, edgy exterior of the Lambo, the spacious and comfortable interior of a sedan, along with all the perks of an EV; clean, green and serene." And then... the tag? #lamborghinimini much like the headline.

Well, I truly do find this very disturbing, because the difference between this ad and the ones stated earlier (there are many others mind you) is the tone of voice: the BYD ad takes itself seriously. Because even if the car was indeed designed by the former Lamborghini designer this does not allow the company to use another brand's name as if it was its own. Just to be clear Lamborghini is not owned by BYD but rather by Volkswagen Group through its subsidiary Audi. So legally this is truly baffling.

My research on the net has shown that the ad seems to be Lebanese - BYD does not in any of its press releases or anywhere on its website actually compare the car to the Lamborghini. But I guess in Lebanon anything goes.

Thursday, May 9, 2024

That majestic Arabic copy for the iPhone15

Some words are not translatable. Nor they should be. Whomever done this has my utmost respect. And no, the English does not begin to express how incredible the Arabic is... Small hint: unimageinable would have been a better and more fitting English line, and yes, you're welcome.

Embrace aces its new suicide prevention ads

First see the ads here and here. Well, I know what you are thinking: How difficult is it to do a suicide prevention ad? The answer: very. How come? Because to begin with, forgettable ads with corny scripting are a dime a dozen and they are as pinch-me-to-cry as anything. Embrace however (if I understand correctly these ads were in collaboration with Origin agency) managed to do the unthinkable: By resorting to real and tangible slices of life and relatable scenarios.

There's Abou Karim who obviously longs for Oum Karim who seems to be dead - he is a taxi driver who looks at lovebirds and feels extremely sad. The casting is superb truth be told. There is another story about Feryal - a couturiere and what appears to be a single mother for a small girl, also overwhelmed by the million things she needs to do daily to make ends meet. Can one ever go wrong by getting the one and only Christine Choueiri to be Feryal? She plays the character with minimal acting which makes the whole thing much more believable. OK, to call a spade a spade, Abou Karim, at his age is a bit less credible that he would call the suicide prevention line (by that I mean the number could have been included differently in the ad), it seemed a small dissonance in an otherwise very believable two ads.

So there you go, ads can still be credible - and the topic, for a population carrying cumulative and generational traumas is only too serious and needed to be talked about.

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

The world keeps on turning: Rafah crossing and the Met Gala

Yesterday yahoo headlines were:

Israel seizes control of Rafah border crossing, what all stars wore at  last night's Met Gala - and more...

Already, some people I follow on social media were up in arms about the Met Gala to begin with, and even the organizers of the said event were curling their toes for many reasons: Conde Nast which publishes Vogue (the Met Gala in case you did not know was headed by Dame Anna Wintour who also is the global chief content officer of Vogue) struck an 11th hour deal with employees threatening to disrupt the Met event, and pro-Palestinians were having a manifestation right across apparently. All this without even broaching the topic that the main sponsor of the event was Tiktok, which president Biden had signed into law that is either needed to be sold or banned due to the fact that its parent company Bytedance was Chinese.

The fashion gods were apparently clement and the mega-event went without issues.

Which brings us to the Rafah crossing and Israel.

I already said it that as a Lebanese 2023 was incredibly triggering as a year (here), and considering that - like most Lebanese - I lost all my money at the bank, I am dealing with all the other issues Lebanese are dealing with in terms of shortages (even if they are less acute than before), and since the market is in a disastrous state still, adding the Palestinian plight to my own is taxing and draining no matter how emphatic I am.

As a matter of fact, yesterday I had a row with a German person I know - the man had certain circumstances but his country pays for his hospitalization, his housing, his cleaning service, his transportation, etc... Trying to make him understand that I am flying without a parachute was just too much for him to grasp. I was trying to make him understand that he had a very sturdy safety net, one that is not there for me. He even implied that I should rest on my social security, only for me to gently explain to him that his too evaporated. 

All this is to say that whereas I am expected to be on the camp that it is sacrilegious that the Met Gala is happening right at the same time as the Israeli offensive in Rafah, believe it or not, I am not. Remember, war in Lebanon was not this eternal doom and gloom despite all the casualties that happened. We watched "al hijra min Dallas" (hehe "exodus from Dallas" or "Knots Landing" on a TV in the shelter wired on the battery of Ayoub's car stationed above), there were discotheques (though I was too young to attend), radio stations which played both local music (Jabal Loubnan), or foreign (Radio one, Pax, Magic 102, Fame, etc...), and so on and so forth.

I previously spoke of the demise of Kaslik (here) but the mere existence of that street and its accoutrements of luxury shops and beach resorts and night life was a proof that even in the midst of a war there was money to spend and people spending it. Fouad ElKoury has this image which sort of encapsulates this mood - in the middle of a war-torn Beirut a man - presumably a driver - changes the wheel of a Cadillac as two other men (one of them in a fancy coat) stand looking (also presumably one or both are the owners of the vehicle) - see the image here.

Life does go on - in both in its atrocity and sublime. And does it make sense? Well, who said it should anyhow.

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

KFC Cheetos, am sure it was supposed to be funny

You know when there's an idea that sounds funny on paper until you actually get it done? Well, I think this was one of them. Theoretically it works, on the ground I seriously have my reservations. I mean it comes from an agency in the region, and I am sure there is a lot of technical aspects that were tricky to get done, but I still find the end result underwhelming - check for yourself here. Look, I know you're thinking I am being harsh but in the top5 ads gathered by AdForum this ad scored 2.4/10 as an average score which means other people found it very bland.

So who knows? Again, not every idea which works theoretically ends up being cute or funny or palatable (no pun) on the ground, and KFC Cheetos seems to be one of those. Am still wincing at the scene where the colonel and the Cheetos tiger are seen "wiggling" their behinds. Really, it's pseudo-traumatizing.

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Shrinkflation: Try Gandour 555 for size

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

You know shrinkflation? If you don't now is the time to explore the concept here.

For some odd reason, lately Gandour 555 biscuits were not being stocked in the shops near me in the village where I am. I am not sure why though they were for a long time. Mind you Gandour 555 biscuits are a staple (or were) in the Lebanese diet. You can fill them with loukoum, put them next to coffee or tea, have them on their own, insert them at the bottom or top of custard bowls - the possibilities are limitless.

Long story short, I found a box just a few days ago and it said "15% free". Well, even with the 15% free I am having my doubts. Why? Because, when I opened the box the biscuits were... minuscule. As in almost Oreo small, brittle, and... not very filling.

Long time ago, Patrick Chemali - my digital consultant and no, no relation apart from friendship - came up with the joke that "Daher foods" (which owns Master potato chips) has bought Gandour because both products shrunk in content and offer much less "inside" despite keeping the same packaging.

So the 15% increase could - barely - recup the losses when compared to the original product which was known to the Lebanese for such a long period of time (very oddly the box I currently have does not list the weight per packet on the outside). And if you do not believe me? The current (or at least newer) box of 555 is 82 grams x 8 packets (here)... versus 107 grams x 8 packets long ago (here). So the newer box has 76% weight per packet of the old one - so no, I am not imagining it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Cosmaline pulls an IKEA for Labor Day

Remember that IKEA Bahrain "same but in Arabic" thingy (here)? Well, we just had ours with Cosmaline. In French they say "faute avouee a moitie pardonnee" (a confessed thin is half-forgiven), but this one is funny. On the official insta account of Cosmaline (here), you have the full exchange between Aida and Vanessa (the graphic designer) whereby Aida asks for a Labor Day message, but only after Vanessa had sent a missive that she was off for Labor Day. Aida cops to her mistake if you want to know. All in jest, all funny and damn it much better than anything Vanessa could have come up with!

Being an artist is not for the faint of heart - especially not financially

Grendizer 7ay fina - artwork by Tarek Chemaly

Larry Gagosian opened a gallery in Rome just for him to represent Cy Twombly.

But the lot of us are not Twombly, and rarely do we get to deal with Gagosian. Someone told me that famed gallerist Leo Castelli (yes, the man who launched the pop art movement to great heights) was "the best boss to ever work for". But again, artists rarely land on such a gallerist.

My first proper exhibition dates back to 2001 - it was a collective. The artwork was printed by someone else, and in January 2002 - I had my first solo. SupermARTket at the now defunkt SD Gallery. Long story short, artists need warehouses to keep their unsold work, because inevitably they are going to end with a lot of them.

One of the main reasons I moved to multimedia/digital art was because - even if lucky to live in a duplex house where I can store my unsold pieces (most of which thankfully is printed without being stretched on wood - which means I can easily roll it and store it). Just to be clear, I have no hick up about me not selling and having a backlog: A long time ago famed gallerist Saleh Barakat, during the opening of one of the exhibitions he was hosting, told me to look at the pieces shown, then he said even if they were great, they will not sell. And then launched the bomb "Tarek, there are artists who sell, and artists who don't, this artist does not". Well, just for you to know in all this life Vincent Van Gogh sold just one piece, in comparison I have sold more.

I know when I say multimedia art, it sounds snotty and pretentious. Believe me my art is not once you forego the original medium. In 2013 I had the pleasure of being the opening exhibition of the - again, defunkt - 392Rmeil393, as I was installing the work there was an installation among the lot. Fragments of a Grendizer (Goldorak) sculpture mounted on sets of old soft drink crates (both items stolen from original locations). 

The Syrian workers who were painting the gallery asked me what it was and I answered "Grendizer 7ay fina" (Grendizer lives in us - which is a riff on the Bechir Gemayel slogan after his assassination) and I explained that in the Arab world we needed both martyrs and causes for little or no reason. I think they laughed heartily for several minutes straight. At that moment I knew that the exhibition was going to be a roaring success - all right I sold nothing but the amount of people who visited was astonishing.

The leftover work is now stored upstairs.

But people fail to understand that as artists we need to pay (depending on the gallery) - a percentage of the sale of the works (which varies from 30% - a common number in Beirut - to 50 in places like New York), rent of the premises (sometimes electricity included, sometimes not), opening cocktail, this, that in addition to having our own list of people to invite on top of that of the gallery. Of course, the works need to be printed - sometimes framed - at the expense of the artist. 

I have a specific exhibition I would like to mount. And I am trying to fish for venues. I contacted one recently and - without delving too deep into the numbers, turns out I need between 4000 to 5000 Dollars for the exhibition. Considering that my work is digital to save on the expense of printing and eventually storing and therefore there is nothing to sell, it means all this is incurred from my pocket without any revenue.

No thank you. Because all this financial strain just does not make sense. Truly, being an artist is not for the faint of heart, especially not financially.

Friday, April 26, 2024

Spinneys goes all out for Earth Day

Spinneys just celebrated Earth Day in a big way. They just unleashed their eco-friendly reusable bags with - what I assume is 3D animation - of a sea turtle delivering the goods. Interestingly, Spinneys has many other initiatives - they partner with ACT for zero-waste policy donating some 500 tons of left-over vegetables, fruits and bakery items, they have a FabricAid container in every branch, and their Jbeil branch runs on solar power. Oh and actually, in 2010 when I needed to move, I went to the roof of the Spinneys branch in Achrafieh and got myself as many boxes as I needed to place my stuff in them.

On all accounts, here's an anecdote: Long time ago Spinneys offered tote bags to people so as for them to reuse them for their purchases. A friend of mine would go to Spinneys and invariably would forget the tote at home so she would place her merchandise in plastic bags. So here's hoping people will be more vigilant in the use of eco-friendly bags this time around!

Thursday, April 25, 2024

It's Lebanese Youth Day! Rethinking Lebanon does great copy

Yes, I learned it like you did last year (here). But it's Lebanese Youth Day again, as per Rethinking Lebanon. The novelty this year? Some kick-ass copywriting. Apparently it is Jihad El Hokayem who helms Rethinking Lebanon who came up with the line "chajjer w tjazzar" (which means "plant trees and grow roots") and it seems he knows - not just copywriting, but Arabic copywriting. A much rarer variety I can assure you. Yet this is a great line for a nice initiative - with Rethinking Lebanon trying to focus on the youth as well as other economic issues (here). I just spoke to Jihad and we both agreed that apart from trying little else can be done. So, voila, happy Lebanese Youth Day!

Monday, April 22, 2024

AnNahar AI president? Great until things get real

So AnNahar introduced the first AI president for Lebanon. Look on the one hand this is a very laudable initiative in a country with no president, a caretaker government, and parliament which - well is not very active. In their own words: The new AI president of Lebanon has been created by training Large Language Models on 90 years of impartial journalism from AnNahar since the 1930's. It analyses not only the historical data provided through the pages of AnNahar but also current events, and formulates answers for all political, legal and government questions. By tapping into this vast knowledge base, the AI president has a deep understanding of Lebanon's past, as well as an unbiased perspective on the challenges that the country faces today.

Now, I am going to bypass the "impartial journalism" thingy because I know things that are not fit to print which might make one reconsider the term. But still, I can understand the hype and the innovative aspect of the operation. Good on them doing it.

Now, big question: Why not apply that to real life? I mean if you already did it in the abstract why not apply it on the ground. We already have the perfect president allegedly so let's go and just elect the "person" (note I am not specifying the gender - here's hoping!).

Which brings us to how murky the Lebanese politics is. I am often asked about the late Rafic Hariri and my answer is always that watching politics from the sideline in Lebanon is one thing, being involved in it is another. Hariri was a prime example of that - he was eager to join the Lebanese politics, until he did. And discovered how everything was a gigantic quid pro quo - every project, no matter how beneficial to the population became a quagmire of profit-sharing, every this, that etc.... Which again divorces the theory of politics from its practical aspect.

Actually the word politics stems from Greek - polis and ethos: polis is the heart of the fortress and ethos is ethics. So the word basically means "the ethics of living in a community", which basically does not account for the former and current and most likely future politicians in Lebanon. But still, here we are. 

In a post dating July 16, 2015 I suggested the following about Abou Fouad, the (now sadly dead) face of Yes detergent:

So there, Abou Fouad goes to Washington, or rather Baabda.... Our household extraordinaire is exceptional in being cost-efficient, multitasker, a good council, he is diplomatic, has a million tricks up his sleeve. And frankly, between the available options, I says "yes" to Abou Fouad (pardon the pun!)... The campaign is on ladies and gentlemen!

Alternatively we could always have... (image dated May 24, 2014)

Sunday, April 21, 2024

The line has been erased

Remember The Line? That major humongous project of 170 kms in the middle of the Saudi Arabian desert? The one that flooded us with sci-fi imagery, a full city encased in reflective walls, where humans would not need cars because their needs would be met in a 5-minute walk? And a high-speed rail system would tie it from one end to the other? The one where all energy was renewable? The one that was 500 meters in height but only a width of 200? Yes, all that. Well, it seems that the project has been drastically scaled back. Scaled back to the tune of 2.4 kms by the end 2030, it would end up housing 300,000 people apparently instead of the promised 1.5 million by that time.

You can read what went wrong here. It follows the many projects which touted cities as lines, yes - the concept existed prior and no, it did not work out. You might enjoy this article in The Guardian (here) about the many predecessors to The Line and how they all ended up flat on their belly - no pun, because that's exactly what The Line is or to quote Edgar Chambless who himself dreamed of a linear city "the idea occurred to me to lay the modern skyscraper on its side".

Well, the positive in all this is that the "death trap" the city was to migrant birds is no more - not to mention the Howeitat tribe which will no longer be displaced from their lands (even if some of its members are already in jail for daring to disagree with the project). 

Still, when an architectural project hires people specialized in gaming imagery to release its concept, it does tell you how divorced it was from reality. Also, apparently the mastermind behind the project - Mohammed Bin Salman, the crown prince himself - kept changing his idea about the project which led to a rotating masthead all over the place.

So voila, seems the utopia was just that. And castles were built, not in Spain, but in the desert.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Wingwoman, are NGOs doing what someone else should?

All right, my sample is certainly biased, but whenever I ask any youth where they are working, 1 over 2 of them says the name of an NGO. And yet for many NGOs carry an incredibly bad rap - they are imperialist tools to take over Lebanon sponsored by soiled money, they are inefficient, bloated and self-righteous and carry little difference on the ground.

As I was browsing Instagram lately I came across the case of Wingwoman and their reusable diapers case. The statistics are mentioned in the imagery above. Just to be clear I know no one who works at Wingwoman, and since I have have a long career in development I studied the numbers they offered, the case study - all in colors and well-designed I must admit - and the end result of it. And by Jove they make sense. 

The numbers are all logical, they do not pretend their work was fully adopted by the sample, and yet the marked difference between the before and after of the study (distributing reusable diapers and how this alleviates economic hardship on families) makes total sense. You can see the whole thing here. In their own words Wingwoman are about "Elevating women; Reducing waste; Increasing long term access to reusable diapers, period pads & period education". 

Look, I know some of you might find this risible, but yes, even women need "period education" and no, for a woman to go into a shop and buy sanitary pads is not a socially-approved mission. Many - and I mean many - still face a "stigma" as if menstruating monthly is something to be ashamed of. As I said I hear and read many cases, one girl when she had her first period and ran to her mother not understanding what was happening to her, saw her mother slap her violently as a retaliation.

So, again, as "normal" state agents in Lebanon - read that ministries and official bodies - are hanging by a thread, as their work has been sporadic and not exactly efficient, what if NGOs are actually filling that space on the ground and going what "must be done", one sanitary pad at a time, one reusable diaper at a time? Wingwoman certainly seems to prove the case.