Thursday, June 13, 2024

Bed & Bed, optic illusion does a disservice

Try as I must to read it as it should be read, I always feel back on "Deer Sleep Relfection". Yes, I know it is deep not deer, but optic illusion simply played a disservice to Bed & Bed. Interestingly, long long time ago Bed & Bed was a client to an agency I worked in, and their brief was simple - do anything but avoid showing someone sleeping on a bed. Which makes it a very exciting brief to work on, so exciting that... The thinker of Rodin ought to be included. Pity about that optic illusion though!

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

So I ask once more - is Lebanon at war?

I asked the question before (here). And it becomes even more pertinent at this stage. I ask again who is financing this, with what money, and what for. I have not seen this mega ad prior and well, I want to know who posted it and for what motive. It goes like: Applying international decisions (laws/decrees) increases trust in Lebanon. Which international laws specifically is a bit vague - there's a whole lot of them, and Lebanon is not the only country in the region (cough, ahem) which is not applying international decisions/laws/decrees. So again, who put this, and why? And the tag - #لبنان_لا_يريد_الحرب (Lebanon_does_not_want_war) only adds to the melee of the confusion.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Toters celebrates 4 years with Bertilicious (Y? Because of MCA)

Remember how harsh I was on Crepaway, am eating my digital words currently. Because Toters just took the cringe crown by a mile. Before anyone tells me I am fatphobic, or anti-influencer or what not. Miss Berthe's weight has nothing to do with my finding the ad beyond the pale. Where do I start? The Indian film ambiance (which mind you I love, had it been an Indian film because kitsch is great when done well), is it the use of YMCA with modified lyrics in June (OK, I can say if you know, you know but damn it this is Pride month!), is it the so-over-the-top ambiance where everyone is pitching in without realizing they are in on the joke? Is it because - add about 136 more reasons? Please see the original here at your own risk and peril.

Beirut Beer clear (or cold brewed)

Beirut Beer is introducing its "clear" iteration or what is supposed to be its cold brewed option. Now, let me be honest, the ad is incredibly underwhelming. "It is so fresh, drink it and get refreshed". I mean - seriously? Already the ad is pretty unremarkable visually, and with this lame copy it makes it a very "meh" to be honest. Look I wasn't a big fan or last years' summer campaign (here) but comparatively, the idea and execution were miles ahead of this one.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Tekram, lovely name for a me-too product

Goods delivery companies are already too common at this point. But well, a good name is a good name. Introducing "Tekram" (how come no one thought about it before it beyond me!). Tekram is Arabic for "may you be generous with it" a classic retort for almost any sentence which involves anyone doing a favor to you. All right, the ad is as gimmicky as they come down to the shorts-clad delivery boy holding the stuff in one hand and - not even sure if this is a safety helmet or a bucket hat he is wearing. But hey, they did it in a local believable way... So voila, Tekramo!

Aquafina - and the Al Shouf cedar nature reserve

Well, you know some ads just don't need much explaining because well, they make basic sense? "From the Al Shouf cedar nature reserve. To your house" - "the water source". There - plain, simple, easy and damn effective. Sometimes I wonder why brands just don't admit that easy does it. I see so much convoluted "creativity" which is not so, and which leads nowhere, and which adds little to the brand positioning and value. All for the sake of some sophomoric word-play or photoshopped image beaten till death. When frankly, an ad like Aquafina makes total sense.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Tawfeer - who wants to be a billionaire?

Millionaire is now kiddy stuff what's with devaluation of the Lebanese currency. Interestingly, this is one of the first times (and I stand corrected) where the ad is limited in time clearly on the ad (this is something required by the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in the United States but in Lebanon it is not - and in this case until the 30th of June). Tawfeer is offering all this for their 11th year and again I am not too sure about what the gifts already are or what is the mechanism for winning them. I suppose though this must be clear for the users of the Tawfeer app. 

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Kit kat cereal - have a break-fast

Kit Kat is now in cereal form. Interestingly, I believe there's a mistake in English as in should have been "as cereal" or "in cereal form" (the Arabic passes the grammatical bit though). Interesting, after Ice Cream flavor, Kit Kat now goes cereal which is often associated with breakfast, hence my tongue in cheek "have a break-fast". Oh well, I guess if there's an audience to a deep friend Mars Bar then why not cereal-shape Kit Kat.

Friday, June 7, 2024

Puck vs La Piara - compare and contrast

At 100 years, La Piara comes late to the party. I am not saying they did, I am not saying they didn't, but the trick has already been played (and very well!) by Puck in 2011. Which makes La Piara a bit too late. In case you need any explanation - "arous" means both "tartine/sandwich" and "bride" which both brands used in their ads. Again, Puck wins easily.

Thursday, June 6, 2024

And now for the Crepaway 40th anniversary TVC

After being underwhelmed by the 40th anniversary unipoles for Crepaway, now comes the TVC (here). The visuals are OK - I mean most of the ad is taken from above (a bit too long as one immediately understands where this is going) so that the faces are only revealed in the last shots, but it's the copy that's completely horrible (sorry there's no way to sugar-coat this). My take? They missed using the goldmine images of the past which they allude to in the ad. Beautiful images from back way when, which, with today's technologies would be easily manipulated and brought back to life. Look, the ad is technically sound color-wise and all (I do like the mood of it to be honest - meaning that softish pseudo-sepia ambiance), but I still think there is something that went wrong with the brief or the agency interpretation. 

On the Almaza front, good and bad news (Update)

Well, finally some good news on the Almaza front - they are back to the red background and the white texts. The small bad news is that I have no idea what they are referring to - the line says "first love". OK, I get it, it is the introduction to the beer thing to anyone in Lebanon, but - what's with the doors of summer opening wide, not sure this was "it". Still, after the many misses in the past (here), it is refreshing (har har, a pun!) to see Almaza at least do what it does best visually - plain red background with white typography. Now, with some organization from the agency/client side they might be back to their glory days. Here's hoping at least.

Update: Well, seems I was too harsh on Almaza, apparently there IS a concept there. For the regular beer there is "awal hob" (first love) for the light "hob 3al khafif" (a lighter love) and for the unfiltered "hob jdid" (a new love). Not an earth-shattering concept but heck, a solid one at least. So voila, good to know some thought was included. (thank you Geoana for notifying me about it).

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Dark Blue vs Pepsi - compare and contrast

Am not saying they did, am not saying they didn't. But this new Dark Blue drink in Beirut hinted to an old Pepsi line. You compare and contrast and be the judge. Interestingly, Beirut Beer did exactly the same line previously (here).

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

On ambition: Not exactly Hikikomori but also not a rat

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly

Ambition is a beast. Did I have it? Yes, and in spades. Yet paradoxically I also had something else - knowing how much it costs (one is not an economist for nothing I guess). Hikikomori is a form of severe societal withdrawal - one where a person isolates him or herself from society for extended periods (from months to years). The phenomenon was observed in Japan mostly. Do note I am not advocating that at all. I am just pointing out the extreme of the scale am trying to talk about.

The other end of the scale? It's what Lily Tomlin once said "the trouble with the rat race, is that, even if you win you're still a rat". Few industries are as fickle as the creative industries - to requote that famous line from Project Runway "one day you're in, the next day you're out." Maybe it is not as automatic as that but the creative world - and here I am thinking of the advertising/communication world - is full of has-beens. Worse, people who are so has-been they have no idea they are so.

Funnily, a long time ago, someone called me "a washed up advertiser turned blogger". I later reconnected with the owner of the magazine of the person who called me so and not only he had no idea, but actually apologized about it. I still smile when I quote that line. Simply because I went from advertising in agencies to teaching it for a long period of time at universities. I am periodically contacted by acquaintances or former students who vent out about how badly they are treated at agencies by higher ups in the food chain. You know the quote - what a slave wants more than freedom is to own their own slave.

This in effect explains how, by ascending the ladder, and again am thinking mostly of advertising/communication, people become meaner and meaner. Instead of saying - I do not wish to treat anyone the way I was treated, they end up doing exactly that, and worse. To make up for what they endured themselves.

I think I got lucky myself. Picture this situation. The agency I was in was responsible for a mega project. Huge. And one day before the opening, something like after two months of working very diligently on the concept, execution, visuals, texts, in comes the owner of the agency. The meeting is 2 P.M., and here he is - with his big gut and accompanied by a woman who works at his office (high heels, short skirt, and also the fiancee of his son to boot). So anyhow, he starts with - the whole text needs to be rewritten (mind you, the text was perfect), to which I said "so, you come in, one day prior to the opening, and you want the text rewritten?"... And this is where things went even more south. The girl simply said "eh wbaddak tel7a2na" (yes, and you will need to follow us - or follow our directive).

There was total silence. The owner shoved her slightly and bit his lip to indicate that she should stop talking. I gabbed the table, and with full force, I pushed my wheeled chair away from it. And looked at the girl not even hiding my disdain. And then I said "you know what? I am a part-time here. My day ends at 1 P.M., it is now after two. My day is done. See you tomorrow". I turned and left the conference room not even glancing backwards.

Again, maybe it was the antics of someone who was young of age (though I wasn't a spring chicken when this happened). Or those of someone who was rash and bold. Or someone who was able to procure money, or thought he might - in other ways. But, it was also a pattern - despite my ambition, I also knew of the price of it. And how much I was ready to pay, or not.

Look, is it worth it? I mean is it worth injecting all those extra hours for idiotic clients (and I have too many stories to corroborate my words), for hormonal marketing departments, and subservient client-servicing individuals who are more royalist than the king? If you want to do that - be my guest. Perhaps you have insurances to pay and food to put on the table. In my case I always knew when to stop. To go back to that Lily Tomlin quote, I did not want to end up a rat.

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Crepaway - 40 years down the drain

Photo credit Bassam Karam

Remember yesterday I shared some images from Crepaway (here). I am still not sure of their context but compared to what is Crepaway 40th anniversary those images were masterpieces. I don't mind if the 40th anniversary was done with or without a budget, but for it to look so cheap is an oddity. That it has no concept is also beyond the pale. I am really, really intrigued what the brief was. What was the brand trying to convey and how the advertising agency (Feer McQueen in this case) managed to translate this into the current (rather non) creative entity we are seeing. Once more, I am not sure about the budget injected but for the ad to end up spineless is a throwaway of whatever budget was included. Pity.

Friday, May 31, 2024

At Crepaway - image is everything

So Crepaway has a new campaign? I am not even sure. All I know is that they have a new set of images. Well, as far as I know the images are just there. Unlike Roadster (here) which made a killing with its self-depreciating campaign, Crepaway seems to just... display items. Convincingly? Not so sure. Anyhow, on Facebook, one of the images says "We all want that person who looks at us the way this guy looks at this burger" (here). The problem is that his eyes are closed. Or "You won't use cutlery with this platter, just saying" (here) when the plate seems to be roast beef... So I think somewhere, somehow, there is an irony that bypassed me. Am trying to keep a - very - open mind about all this. But I am not ever sure what I am seeing, or worse, why I am seeing it. As photos, they are appealing, but... Where is this going is a little beyond me at this point.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Pepsi pulls all the stops, still attracts controversy

Pepsi just went mega (here). Using Amro Diab, Mohamad Salah, Ahmad Saka, Karim Mahmoud Abdel Aziz, Nawal Zoghbi, Kosai Khodr, Roberto Carlos and Sami Jaber. Interestingly, the stars in questions hail from different sectors - actors (Saka, Abdel Aziz), footballers (Salah, Carlos, Jaber), and singers (Diab, Zoghbi, Khodr - who is a rapper). By the way, AI was used to digitally de-age the stars in question depending on the era they were supposed to be representing in the evolution of Pepsi identity (which is the ad is about).

Heavy guns all the way. Interestingly, this did not stop the stars in question from ending up in a controversy considering Pepsi is one of the brands being boycotted for supporting Israel in the current war going on in Palestine. Apparently the ad was shot prior to the beginning of the war (meaning before October 2023) but still some fans are up in arms against the stars in question for their "collaboration" (with the brand in question). 

This could explain why Pepsi closed the comments on the ad and none of the stars reshared it on their own channels or social media accounts. 

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Zod Security is hated by criminals

Interesting, I kept seeing this campaign wherever I went online. As to why I am being targeted is a bit of a mastery, still, I tried to compile several visuals of the campaign. Zod is a security systems company, and in case you did not get the message, they repeat it ad infinitum on their website (here). Actually the campaign has one more visual - that of a prisoner carving "I hate Zod" on a hard surface (presumably in prison). Interestingly, the campaign seems a bit cooked in-house and if not so, at least does not have the fingerprints of some major company and whereas up to my knowledge, Zod is a local company, they did manage to assemble all the cliches of prison/police etc... (I mean even the car portrayed seem to be ne in the US). Look the campaign has a concept behind it, and as I said it goes to the site to reiterate it again. And despite the small "cartoonish" element (read that stereotypes) there is something endearing about it... unless you are a criminal of course. In this case... you "hate Zod".

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.