Sunday, February 18, 2018

I do not need your permission to give my opinion

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly (based on vintage Monopoly card)
Dear everyone involved or concerned,
Dear people in the communication industry,
Newsflash: I do not need your permission to say your ad sucks.
So when you - frequently - ask me (in less polite, less verbally-coordinated forms) "who died and made you king?" - here's the answer: No one died and I am entitled to my (very informed, very unbiased) opinion.
The usual question runs in the form of "min kallafak ta3te ra2yak?" - the best translation could be "who (the hell) allowed you to give your opinion?". Notice the "allow". To begin with, I did not ask for permission. I love it mostly, when it involves stolen/borrowed/copied/inspired ads when I can procure the original from my archives and flaunt it in the face of the (un)creative people who did the stolen/borrowed/copied/inspired ads.
I hear the words - no kidding here - "iza el adi radi inta chou jeyik?" (if all parties involved are OK with it, what's in it for you?) - when I expose an ad done before in point-blank proof. Seriously, you expect this to be your defense? That everyone is OK this is a copy of a previously done ad and we should be OK with it because you know "damn ethics and who cares anyway?". Seriously?
At this stage, I do not even know who is worse: An advertiser who copies an ad or a client who buys it knowing it is copied.
The irony? These are the same people who lecture on integrity on forums and in conferences. An Arabic saying goes "wa ma ablagha al ka7ba2 3indaman tou7adhirou fi al 3afafi" - how eloquent is the whore when she lectures on chastity.
In a symposium on plagiarism a few years back an advertising agency had not just one, but two, speakers lecturing on integrity on the first day. On the second, during my own conference I showed the agency no less than three blatant examples of how they plagiarized other ads, in design, copywriting and concept.
It did not go down well with them.
I also love it when it involves a major, huge, flagrant strategy issue. When a brand tries to re-position itself in the market targeting an audience which is incompatible with it mission/vision/values, or perhaps playing a fake hip card that is too stale or already worn out. A little like when an uncle tries to act in a way that is incompatible with his age or starts imitating whatever singer he thinks is in vogue.
You cannot imagine how many calls I get from ad agencies trying to save grace in front of their clients because I happen to voice loudly what other people are whispering. Anyone connected to the communication industry would tell you the "hyped" new logo that a certain brand came up with is a fiasco. We all speak about it among each other. But surely, no one dares to say this loud because they might move to the agency that came up with the substandard job. Me? I am not looking to be employed thank-you-very-much, you can keep your 8 in the morning till midnight working hours, the meager pay, the inflated egos and the rest of the charade.
Advertisers like their clients to live in "Potemkin villages". The term comes from stories of structures which were built to impress Empress Catherine II during her journey to Crimea in 1787. Grigory Potemkin, who was a minister and the Empress' lover, erected decoy portable settlements along the banks of the Dnieper River so to fool her to think the situation was better on the ground then it really is.
So piecrcing that echo chamber is not a very welcome act.
So again, why am I giving my opinion? No, not because anyone "allowed" me (repeat, I am not seeking permissions), not out of personal vendettas (seriously, the paranoid individuals who think I have time for that simply are not aware of how studded my life is), but - shock! horror! - for the betterment of the whole industry.
Seriously I started blogging because I noticed that we did the ad, sent out the press release, and believed our own hype. So at one point I wanted to pierce that echo chamber, and be a dissenting voice.
"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" the saying goes. So indeed, I can stand the heat and been in it since January 2007. It is OK I have thick skin and no, you cannot bully or harass me and hope for me to fade in the background (or as someone did, sue me (twice)) - you see, my principles are non-negotiable it turned out.
It also turned out, that when attacked, I get enraged.
And trust me, you do not want to see me enraged.