Sunday, August 20, 2023

What the Sohat ad tells us about today's advertising industry.

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly
To say I collect old ads would be the understatement of the century. I once watched a 3 hour tv show on a youtube channel merely to extract the advertising breaks. So when the Sohat ad fell into my lap the other day - the iconic 70s ad with the small boy trying to catch the bottle - I was elated.
The issue? The issue is that by no means the ad was brilliant, or very creative, or what we call today stands-out-from-the-crowd. Truth be told, the ad was ... Let's admit it, average. Long time ago I was asked by Ghida Younes on her show "baddak totla3 3al television" (so you want to be on TV) about why such ads remain in our collective memory when they are far from award winning. The answer was very simple: You don't remember the ad, you remember what the ad reminds you of. 
I know it sounds confusing but it is not. You truly do not remember the ad, but you remember "Oh we were watching it when our neighbor came and offered us ice cream", "oh I was watching it when the girl next door winked a me", "this was on television when the big explosion happened in Achrafieh" etc - because you remembrance of anything is tied to an emotional state or event.
The other factor? The campaigns used to run not just for months, but literally years back to back. So eventually what they lacked in super creativity they compensated with hammering people with the same ad over and over.
In a world where all ads seem disposable and transient, it is truly nice to go back to something you know it worked. Something that does not start with "we gather 7 influencers to..." or "after gathering data about drivers". A tiny gem of an ad - one where Tante Blanche did offer me ice cream.
Please watch it here.