Thursday, April 24, 2014

Some facts about Blue Gold

Here are some facts I have come to know about the Blue Gold project:
Blue Gold will be cheaper that the current proposed plan for water management which requires 44 dams with limited life and drastic effects on the environment.
Blue Gold aims for a National Water Council, which will all stakeholders, will have a say as to how to manage water resources including citizens, activists, and NGOs plus the several concerned official bodies.
Blue Gold aims to change the legislature to better manage water in a partnership between public and private entities but is not a privatization operation.
Blue Gold project got endorsed by politicians across the spectrum & they even wanted to appropriate it fully. It was a no go.
Blue Gold is part of the "federative economy" which is non-political & centers around citizen emancipation and participation.
Blue Gold is NOT a privatization initiative; it does not seek to turn water into a private entity benefiting the elite.
Blue Gold got its funding from private donors and Banque du Liban through publishing a very lengthy scientific document.
Blue Gold is not driven around the ego of one person, nor is it a stepping stone to someone's public career but the product of the CIH (Civic Influence Hub).
Blue Gold is not a political party. Members of Civic Influence Hub (parent NGO) do not seek to be elected anywhere.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Memac Ogilvy: The art of being sore winners.

First I'd like to congratulate Memac Ogilvy for winning, not one, not two, but three Dubai Lynx. Now that this is done: what on earth were they thinking?
A billboard has suddenly sprung in town containing the anonymous faces of about a gazillion people, with too many words to read if you are speeding on the highway, and  with totally incomprehensible messages, not to mention a bizarre targeting for the wrong target audience.
So what does the ad say? "3 Memac Ogilvy victories" then it goes on "1 - Eddie Moutran advertising man of the year 2014 2 - Memac Ogilvy Dubai agency of the year 3 - Memac Ogilvy & Mather Network of the year MENA".
I, here refer to the words of an advertising great called - darn! - David Ogilvy "A good advertisement is one which sells the product without drawing attention to itself." Considering he gave his name to the agency, he should be rolling in his tomb right now. Or if I am to be clement to Memac Ogilvy, maybe "Advertising is only evil when it advertises evil things." Again according to Mr. Ogilvy himself - and in this case - the evil it was advertising was "pride" (I kid you not, one of the seven deadly sins!).
I hate to break the news to Memac Ogilvy but.....
People do not exactly care what you won.
Even if they care what you won, don't rub this in the face of others who did not.
And when you rub this in the face of those who did not, try to be discreet, witty and gallant about it.
When trying to be gallant about it, try to advertise this to the correct audience.
When trying to advertise this to the correct audience, try to to design a good ad (you're the network of the year bummer, you can do it!)
When trying to design a good ad, make sure the "advertising man of the year' is smiling and does not have his teeth clenched.
When making sure the "advertising man of the year" does not....
Oh forget it, you know what? You ought look at your own archives. Below are three wonderful ads done by Ogilvy & Mather to promote themselves. Why not take a hint from them? Otherwise, you're appearing as sore winners who was doing "wizzak wizzak" (or rubbing things in the face of their competitors cheaply).

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sweet rivalry - Baabda edition.

Photo credit:

Remember the Hallab vs Douaihy sweets rivalry? Well, just did a fantastic re-edition because of Henri Helou's nomination (via the Joumblatt led parliamentary bloc). One goes for Samir Geagea, head of the executive committee of the Lebanese Forces (in this case Douaihy "you'r late getting to Baabda sweetie" - refer back to link for full info) and the second representing Walid Joumblatt himself with a mock of the Hallab ad ("now there's a sweetie in Baabda" - again log in to original link for the double-entendre).... I admit, I was about to do it myself, but I was still researching the original fonts of the ads when Imad Bazzi ( beat me to it!

Rectangle Jaune goes on a bigger splash

It has been brought to my attention today that the new Rectangle Jaune catalog is based on the work of David Hockney they man who epitomized California cool (all while coming from damp Britain). I know in the past I was not too kind to Rectangle Jaune what's with using Oscar Wilde (an admittedly homosexual man to promote clothing for the family-oriented customer) and - horror of all horrors - their usually knowledgeable creative director Maya Metni did not know that the Hockney passed by Beirut and produced some incredible gems.
The funny banter on twitter between "concerned parties" led Rectangle Jaune to offer me my favorite piece of the new summer collection - the "Byblos Yachting Club" polo in white (I say this because I believe in the policy of full disclosures between brands and bloggers).  

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vero Modca by Tarek Chemaly now live!

For those of you who did not get to see Vero Modca and the installation that accompanied it, the video is now live and uploaded! Enjoy it....

From around town....

I have not done the usual tour of ads in town for a while now, and here's some of what has been missed...
 Let's start with this anti-corruption campaign. A good example if any of a horse drawn by a committee (which ends up a camel in case you didn't know). There are simple ads and simplistic ones - this clearly falls i the latter category. But hey, if the gazillion sponsors are happy, who am I to argue?
 And then there' Cortas which does not often dip (sorry, a pun) into ads. "Behind every great table is Cortas" - and they you have it, the cans of the products sold by Cortas (chickpea dip, etc....) show from behind what is supposed to be a curtain. I guess they ought to advertise more to establish a pattern.
 Why is it that every time I look at this ad I get disgusted? A shoe made from veggies and healthy foods? All of it courtesy of Diet Delights. I know it's supposed to entice you to "take a walk inside" (the store) but - for me - it disgusts.
 Let it be known, I love retro sunglasses with huge frames. So the last thing I would want would be to "unshade" that woman in the Eva Atallah ad, with this horrible art direction and messy layout. On the other side of the giant board is another ad for her tattoo and make-up course which makes the first facet seem civilized in comparison.
The flower market at least knows its audience - it does appear tacky but I am sure there have been ooohs and aahhhs - for this one "we want flowers not destruction" (perfectly rhyming in Arabic as "badna azhar mich damar") - the flip side of the board shows a version with a small boy wearing a military helmet by the way (I guess small boys are more inclined towards "damar" rather than girls attracted by "azhar".
Ah! The classic example of an ad done in English only to be redone in Arabic for a pan-Arab market. What works in the GCC ladies and gentlemen appears - at best - corny in Lebanon. The lingo does not work, the words do not resonate, and the copywriter has to redo an English ad (I think in English it is "taste the brightside") which in Arabic became "live it with a shining taste". As I said, corny.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Je vous salue Paris pleine de...

Ah, so Rami el Khoury strikes again! In a very efficient poster - he knows how to make his visuals simply and straight to the point all while keeping the fun in (my opinion is biased though as I have collaborated with him on several projects) - which plays on wine, conviviality, and overall good mood (yes, with the tricolor motif) the ad simply hits where it should!

Too much dairy and the lactose intolerance.

So many dairy ads are almost giving me lactose intolerance. As to why all of them initiated campaigns is a bit of a mystery - perhaps it's simply that there's little turn over on the billboards and unipoles so much that their campaigns stayed there unchanged.
Center Jdita goes "when the Lebanese vote, it's normal for the healthy option to win" a reference on their "Product of the Year" win (not much of a credibility there but I shall let this one pass).
 Khoury also stresses that its products is also "the healthy way" to enjoy one's day.
 Taanayel les fermes also goes "fresh tasty and naturally strong"....
As you can see, the claims are interchangeable, the brands could have been either one of them on any of the ads... Basically little or not demarcation!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

#InMediasRes and a fitting "closure"

Photo credit: Anthony Karam

One of the most recurring themes of #InMediasRes was surveillance, seeing and being seen (I am one of the ones who drifted off in my work into an analysis of the conflict of identity - specifically collective memory and national identity - but that's digressing), so yesterday when the "Vero Modca" store performance finished at Station Beirut and as I was gathering my backpack to leave I was approached by a man to whom I had been just introduced some 10 minutes earlier.
It turned out he was Anthony Karam.
And it turned out Anthony took a photo of a man walking on the street earlier in the day.
And it turned out the man being observed on the street was none else than myself.
Asking Anthony why he would take a photo of a perfect stranger on the street (in an act of unofficial surveillance) he said there was something "compelling about a man walking purposefully on the street holding "something" on his back" (that would be my colourful special edition Eastpak backpack).
Since one of the premises of In Medias Res was "no ends, no beginnings" "only middles", the photo marks such a fitting "closure" (not "end") to that roller coaster ride this show has been for (practically) all participants (but mostly initiator Miha Vipotnik).
So there, my photo was taken "in the midst of things" on the final day of #InMediasRes - coincidence? Or an ironic act of cyclical art?