Saturday, December 2, 2023

Aishti campaign, new but not so for end of year

This is what Aishti did for end of year in 2021, then 2022, then this for 2023. Look, maybe, just maybe, there was some sort of animation in those 2 years, but for some reason when I saw the above I gave me a distinct impression of deja vu (OK, no jokes about reloading the matrix, than you). It is indeed, very close, as in very, very close to the two former campaigns which also included window dressings for its various stores including the flagship which got damaged in the 2020 August explosion in downtown Beirut. But all this is to say, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". But even the town's most upscale retailer is not immune to the catastrophe that befell on the Lebanese economy. Surely, it has its VIPs and big spenders, but knowing that the aspirational consumers are no longer there nor are they accessible must have hurt. But well, still, launching a small end-of-year campaign when all merchants are telling me that the second half of the year was completely abysmal is commandable.

Friday, December 1, 2023

Oatly is somewhere between graffiti and trompe l'oeil

So Oatly wanted to launch in Paris, which apparently could only have billboards with more "art-oriented advertising" (that's the story I read anyway). So the trick they resorted to? They went all out with negative messages about advertising on that specific wall... Only to subvert the message by different means. Either a forklift with boxes, a porta potty, or a full van. Now of course, with Paris inhabitants actually speaking French, it is interesting that the ads are in English - but side note: Cannes juries are often anglophone (cough, ahem!). 

Well of course, the campaign is indeed thought out well creatively, that is for sure. Whether this drives sales or is just a gimmick remains to be seen!

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Krispy Kreme invades Paris via Buzzman

Ah and what a treat this is! Buzzman aces the Krispy Kreme Paris opening... The best croissant in Paris? A munched donut. "We should have opened in Trouville" (trouville is hole-city), "Macaron Demission" takes the cake (har har) because it is a riff on "Macron demission" except targeting the popular delicacy, "Pain au chocolat ou chocolatine, end of the argument" - yes, because the French could never agree on what to call the chocolate bread... There was one which is not featured in the collage above "number of pastry chefs better than our donuts? (the answer is a donut - or zero)"... So yes, Buzzman went all out for Krispy Kreme and it did make a lot of sense.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

On the Samira Toufic, Sabah, and the Ayyam el Loulou debacle

Bassem Feghali impersonating both Samira Toufic and Sabah on The Stage (LBC)

Well, this has been sitting on my chest for a while. In 1986 our late national diva Sabah released her hit single "Ayyam El Loulou" written by the late Elie Choueiri. Not only that, she followed the hit with a film as well, staring her and the late Karim Abou Chacra (here). Whereas there were many "versions" to this story not the late of which is the one told by female impersonator Bassem Feghali recently in "The Stage" which is broadcast on LBC and hosted by Carla Haddad (and due to a directing trick he impersonated both divas singing the hit at the same time as the image above shows), the original story goes like this:

Elie Choueiri first sold the song to Samira Toufic. This being the war, the artists could not easily go to studios and record and release new singles or albums or whatever. So Toufic took her time. Choueiri ended up selling the song to Sabah, who promptly recorded it and released it. Toufic started singing the song live in her own repertoire (interestingly, the first instance of Toufic releasing the song officially was 1994 even if by then it was a staple in her concerts). So in that summer - there was the same hit by two different singers. Both had their fair of success mind you.

Sometime in the 90s, both singers were reunited in a TeleLiban program (if I am not mistaken with Abdel Ghani Tlais), and he asks them point blank about the debacle. Toufic simply says:

انا شتريتا بالاول وما سجلتا وكانت ايام حرب العالم بدها تعيش

(I bought it first and did not record it, and these war times and people needed to live (meaning make money - pointing to Choueiri selling the song to both of her, and Sabah))

To which the Sabah retorted with:

ايه بس انا بحبها بصوتك اكتر

(Yes but I love it in your voice more than in mine)

Seriously, what should have been major drama, saw the two artists - who at the time were still making new music - instead of pulling each other's chignons, they simply dismissed the whole incident.

If both singers took the highroad about it, I remember a different story when Dominique Hourani released her song "Wawa Ah" (booboo too hot) followed very closely by Haifa Wehbe releasing "El wawa" (the boobou), both singers went into a mediatic war about the term and really went all out berating the other. When to begin with it was not even the same song. Which is why the Samira Toufic/Sabah issue still impressed me of how they settled things and moved on, demonstrating how much of great ladies they were.

Monday, November 27, 2023

On that Zanussi jingle by the Rahbani Brothers

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
In case you have not been living under a rock, Ksarak (the beautifully named Arak from Chateau Ksara) had an iconic ad (which you can still see here). The ad had the highest budget at the time and in many ways helped usher the Lebanese advertising industry intro new grounds. But also, it had a jingle/song from Mansour Rahbani. Just to be clear, the brother in the family who specialized in ads/jingles was Elias producing such incredible specimen such as Picon, Re-O-Vac, Tatra, Nido (yes, that Nido ad!) or the Barilla masterpiece (which had a curious double life as I spoke of here). So for the great Mansour to do an ad jingle was a rarity.
However, Mansour (RIP) was actually known as one-half of the duo "Rahbani Brothers", the other half being the late incomparable Assi (who died in 1986). But here's a small unknown story: the two brothers actually composed a jingle (which sadly I do not have in my archive), long, long ago for the electronics brand Zanussi. The jingle in question went: 
زانوسي زانوسي بالدار بيرقصلي
Zanussi, Zanussi dances for me in the salon.
The reason this analogy was used is because old refrigerators used to produce a great "shaking" hum whenever their generator would work.
So, whereas Ksarak is indeed a masterpiece - there has been a precedent.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

1750 Water - independence day through difference

Sorry this one slipped through the cracks yesterday, but here it is - again, so very few brands did the effort to come up with anything so this is worth a mention. 1750 Water decided to reference the national anthem which believe it or not begins with the "given" "koulouna lil watan" (we are all for the nation). Yes, I know. Anyhow 1750 Water went "no matter how much we differ, we are all for the nation" - interestingly, they decided the reference the different water bottles present in the market. A well-thought ad which integrates what 1750 Water sells within the festivities. 

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Hallab 1881 - Independence Day goes mercantile

File this under "I didn't get it but I am sure it means something and it comes from the right place" because honestly, I didn't get it. "We love you till the last piece" all this with the piece in question being baclava - a specialty that Hallab 1881 sells. I didn't get the cause to effect truth be told, and apart from the fact that as a diebetic now I want baclava and I can't have it, I am not sure how this leads me to Independence Day. Still, I guess this is a time where you take what you can advertising-wise.

Ksara continues its great streak for Independence Day

No surprises here, Ksara did a wonderful Independence Day ad via the always reliable Mink. The trick? Ksara does wine. From what? Grapes. The copy? Our strength is in our unity. The visual? A grape with no space between the buds and done in the shape of the Lebanese map. Any questions? Maybe it is not as wonderful as their Army Day ad from 2020 (here) or their 2023 New Year ad (here), but a very solid showing nonetheless. Because after all, Mink set its own bar too high.

IDM - does a great independence Day ad

Now that's an unexpected - and good one. Based on the design of the ubiquitous coffee cup in Lebanon (here), IDM comes with this lovely ad merging the wi-fi signal with the design in question. An Independence Day ad you never knew you needed until you had it. The copy goes that it is "keeping us all united anywhere everywhere". One thing is sure, no two Lebanese ever argued over coffee.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Chateau Ainata, an offer with no headaches

File this under the usual "I didn't get it" but also under "I want one (or make that two)". To explain the ad, for Chateau Ainata, says "Lebanese and doesn't cause a headache" which immediately assumes anything Lebanese does cause one. If this is a double-entendre for their wine not causing headache, or competitors' wines doing so, not sure it is working. The silver lining is that their offer is 7 USD for 2 bottles which is extremely cheap mind you. So again, not sure about the headache part but quite sure about the offer.

PS - it has been pointed out to me that perhaps the headache in question is "financial" - meaning that this being a local wine it is cheaper for the consumer.

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Why is an ad about 2006 war leading me to the US department of State regarding Gaza?

So how does this get me this? (Here). 

The still above is from an ad that popped up as a I was browsing. It is about how devastating the 2006 war in Lebanon was. In numbers. Interestingly, when I pressed on the offered link I got the page of the US Department of State about "humanitarian assistance to Gaza". I am not going to say anything here (about supplying bombs to one side and humanitarian assistance on the other), but what I am trying to understand is: why is it that an ad about the effects of 2006 war and the tagline to "choose security" gets me to a link about Gaza and humanitarian assistance. Who is paying for this ad and why? Also about two days ago I got a message on my phone with a hashtag: #Lebanon_does_not_war. Well, mass messages on phones cost money - who paid for those?

All am asking is - what is the relation between the cause and the effect. And how come an ad about Lebanon ends up linking me to Gaza?

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Al Taghziah goes back to school (belatedly)

Well, back to school has been on for quite a bit of time, but well, seems Al Taghziah is late for class. The ad goes "sar  wa2t yghayer ta3met temmo" (now is the time for him change his palate's taste) a local expression about changing what is on the menu... and the menu? Labneh (solid yoghourt) and cheese (as written on the board). Of course the ad reeks of all the signifiers related to shcool breaks (where kids get to have their home-prepared food). Interestingly, Altaghziah went - for a very very long time - with the line "Awal min al mortadella halal" (the first to say halal meat - here) but what's with everyone offering halal options now I guess now that positioning is obsolete at this point.

Monday, November 13, 2023

KFC - sharing is caring

KFC has got a campaign running, based on the concept of "for sharing" or in Arabic "tastier together" (which implies that not only the meal is shared but that there is a certain mix in the meal, which is misleading: there isn't). Still, it is interesting that fast food joints are running campaigns concurrently (see Pizza Hut and McDonald's). Granted, each has their own reason but their presence all together on the market seems to indicate that the market is thriving and doing well. Please note, I rarely go out to begin with, and much less to fast food joints - so yes, maybe they are all doing brisk business. But all signs point to a market that has collapsed at this point.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

So apparently, we now have our "singles day" in Lebanon

Well, yesterday was 11:11 (11th of November) otherwise the "singles day" which originated in China by some university students in reply to February 14th. People are supposed to treat themselves that day. But hey, as I previously mentioned here several times, we have the art of importing outside traditions without the accompanying rationale (see here for a good example, and here is another). So "singles day" became just another excuse for dropping limited sales, flash sales, sales for one day etc.... Of course, the market is doing incredibly bad. A local brand I know has gone on the sale for the first time since 2013 (its inception). Others are doing the same - under different guises ("black" so and so - here is a good example from this year). 
The market did show slight signs of recovering (I insist, slight) but there we hopes here and there. And now, what's what is happening in Palestine/Israel and even in the south of Lebanon where the situation is volatile and unpredictable, everyone is going to panic mode somehow, suddenly the population has gone back to basic consumption (food, medicine, basic necessities etc...). So far the weather is clement, which means that heating bills still did not factor majorly in expenses, but should cold really start creeping in officially, this will only add to the expenses of people and families. 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

McDonald's Lebanon and 25 years come in a checkered festivity

So lately McDonald's Lebanon is celebrating 25 years in the land, but it has also been embroiled in what is happening in Israel-Palestine (here). So not sure about the timing but these are festivities dipped in controversy what's with brands being boycotted left and right due to the support of the Israeli side of the issues. Whereas 25 years calls for celebrations and if instagram is any indication, the ad dates back to October 11 (here) - which is after October 7 when all hell broke lose - and already the comments beneath it are very telling. Well, McDonald's Lebanon has been dragged into this big time, whether they wanted it or not.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Pizza Hut, back to the market in full force

Hey, is Pizza Hut back in force in the Lebanese market? They do have a digital campaign running (pity could not photograph it, it just says "follow the slice" - OK fine, not that great of a campaign). But this prompted me to look for them on social media - they seem to have a page on FB which has not been updated for years, but an instagram presence works and seems active (here). Do note that on that page they clearly say "we are back" - but this dates back to (as of today) 95 weeks ago. That's almost two years.

Again note it might be my mistake considering I rarely if ever go out, and less so for pizza joints. But Pizza Hut did leave the market when the crisis started escalating in pulled the plug in 2021 (here). But truth be told, if their "we're back" dates to 2 years ago, then frankly their hiatus was just a few weeks or just a trimester at most (May 2021 they're gone - January 2022 they say they are back).

Interesting, many brands pulled the plug on the Lebanese market but also came back in different shapes or through different dealers or perhaps franchisees etc... So again, here they are with a new so-so campaign on the streets but they seem to mean business.

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Domo - let the hot chocolate season begin

Domo seems to be serious. So serious they are introducing an incalculable number of flavors for their products and letting everyone know about it. Not that the campaign is sexy or anything but it is widespread and it does what it says on the tin - many, many flavors of the hot chocolate is now available. Interestingly my first reflex was to dismiss the ad as "overdone". The art direction is all over the place and there are too many conflicting messages on it - 38 cal per cup, 13 flavors, light, hazelnut, new flavor. But also, on second thought, whereas the ad is all over the place, it did make me look and now I want a Domo hot chocolate cup. See? It worked.

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Nahnoo - goes for municipalities (again)

Well Nahnoo is going for the municipalities again (first recorded round on the blog is here). And so here we are again this time they go for "powers proportionate to the burden". All right, it might just be me, but I did not get this one. Does it mean that municipalities are doing too much without having the appropriate powers by law, or that they should have more powers to do more, or - in reverse - they have too much power and doing little with them? Again, it could be me, but I am not sure what they are invoking in the ad. Municipalities for sure, but the rest seems vague to me. 

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

All Brands teams up with Caritas

Now that is a good news. All Brands, a popular outlet store in Lebanon is teaming up with Caritas in an operation called "All Brands, w enta, w Caritas" (All Brands, and you, and Caritas). The principle is simple, people bring in their old clothes, donate them on the special Christmas donation booth - granted people get 15% discount on new items by doing so. 

Well should you think that suck clothes collecting initiatives do not work, Fabricaid has its giant collecting boxes filled to the brim. Mind you with FabricAID you don't get discounts or anything. But mind you with Lebanon being in such an incredibly bad state, being a cohesive and helping unit won't hurt anyone. And even very minimalist people like me, who barely buy anything still end up with things that grew too big for them etc. So here's hoping the All Brands initiative will be the success it deserves especially that Caritas has always been very active with the needy on the ground.

Sleep Comfort - still doing "black" whatever

Ah so "black" Friday/November/whatever else is still going it seems. And so here we are - Sleep Comfort is announcing major sale using that gimmick. I have spoken prior about how we imported the black Friday thingy without the accompanying "thanksgiving" and how this ushered the Christmas sales period (here). Interestingly, I just read an article (here) about how people have switched back to essentials and how many businesses are shuttering, including the HORECA (Hotels, Restaurants, Cafes) sector which has been hit (again) - I have written about this prior (here):

"Also, according to figures - whereas more than 500 HORECA (hotels/restaurants/cafe) establishments closed down following the explosion of 2020, figures indicate that in the last few months 280 new restaurants have popped up in Beirut as of late. Batroun is now booming with restaurants, guesthouses, and other assortment of touristic establishments."

And so now we are back to the yo-yo game again what's with the Palestine repercussions on Lebanon are causing. Especially with the Christmas season coming and many people/businesses were relying on it for an influx of cash.