Monday, February 26, 2007

What's left of the brand and the man....



Spot the differences between image 1 and image 3....
1 - To begin with, Rafic Hariri (Slain prime minister), was moved from fourth from the left in the lower row to second from left in upper row.
2 - George Hawi (Politician, also killed) was moved from second to the left to second from the right.
3 - To still make up place for six people, another figure was added (Dany Chamoun), second from the left - lower row in image 3.
4 - Two other people were added in image 3, elected president Bachir Gemayel and sworn-in president Rene Mouawad. Both of them vicitim of political assassinations.
All three above images were billboards plastered all across town for the politcal rally of February 14th, the second commemoration of the slaying of prime minister Rafic Hariri. The analysis of the above photos, including image 2, testifies to the mixed messages being sent - litteraly - all over the spectrum. Many of the people in the billboards were at one point bitter enemies (Trying to physically liquidate one another, think Bachir Gemayel and Dany Chamoun for example), the others were - to say the least - political nemesis of one another. But in order to get the many different political fractions to show up, each one of them had to be reminded of its own martyr... Lebanese Forces had to be invoked the memory of Bachir Gemayel, the "Ahrar" (Liberals) were to be reminded of Dany Chamoun, people from the north please remember Rene Mouawad, all you dissident Communists never forget George Hawi, and all those teenage hearthrobs who fantasized about the "intellectual" look of Samir Kassir do show up when needed, and so on and so forth...
One of the most interesting aspects of the campaign was that image 2, which says "we really missed you" talking of Rafic Hariri, had three other executions: One which contained a part of the "Hadith Sharif" (Or talkings attributed to prophet Mohamed which went "Justice is the balance of God on earth), one which headlines a saying by Imam Ali (The grand figure of the Shiites, the chosen saying was "He who fights the right, gets knocked down"), and one which displaying a fragment of a letter by St. Paul in one of his dispatches to Christian disciples (And you know the right, and the right will liberate you). Going across religions to revive the memory of his father was a far fetched attempt by someone who gave 84,000 US Dollars to a Sunni Jehadist organization to train (according to The New Yorker).
Yet, the above are typical examples of political advertising in Lebanon where religion, nostalgia, tribalism, and anything else which stirs up emotions, are mixed in a pot to appeal to audiences. The long term effect on the "Brand" at large (In this instance the "Hariri" brand) is totally neglected as long as this one-off event is a success. It is to note that most of these ads were burried somewhere between a new washing powder and a special offer from a fast food chain...
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