Wednesday, May 21, 2008

LIL201



This post is a difficult one to write because prior to it, one must take a prerequisite course "LIL201" (Living in Lebanon 201) to understand the real meaning of the slogans... Still, it's a difficult job and someone must do it.
The first ad above is one for Ariel(New New Ariel, but since there's a "new" one coming out each month it is difficult to know what one is talking about) whereby the slogan is "put your laundry in cold water" in reference to the Lebanese idiom "put your hands in cold water" (i.e. "rest assured that this is guaranteed to happen"). Whats' guaranteed to happen in this case is the cleaning of the tough spots. Actually, the TV spot shows exactly that - a split screen and two brands (One of them being Ariel and the other is "another cleaning agent").
In that perspective, I am reminded of the VW Tuareg ad which headlined "go where no other VW has gone before" - at least they had the decency to do an "internal" comparison in the brand itself whereas Ariel keeps comparing with "another cleaning agent" which could have been the month-old "older" version of Ariel for all I know!
The second ad is for fast-food restaurant chain "Zaatar w zeit" (Thyme and oil) which are two basic ingredients in the making of "manoushe" (A popular snack made from dough, thyme and oil and heated in the oven in its most "basic" form but which has now become a delicatessen which can involve bacon, halloumi cheese for more "upscale versions" made popular by joints such as Zaatar w zeit). Well, to explain the ad is tricky because it requires the explanation of the word "sh'hede" which means both "a certificate" and "a testimonioal" - so the original idiom "sh'hedetna maJrouha" (Notice the capital J) means "our testimonial is biased" which is said when one is asked to comment about a work in which one had a stake in the making. Now the word "maSHrouha" (Again, notice the capital SH) means "elongated" which is a version of "manoushe" elongated to include more "content" (Be it thyme or caviar! :) )... So Sh'hedetna mashrouha is a double word play about how proud they are of getting the ISO certificate all while pointing out to their product.
Notice the use of "latinized Arabic" which was a written language invented by chatters to talk in Arabic while writing latin - and making up by numbers (7,3,2) for the sounds which do not exist in the latter language (Incidentally, these numbers also resemble the shape of the sounds when written in Arabic).
Naturally, all of this could have been explained easier had the prerequisite course LIL201 been taken before.... or over an inexpensive manoushe - not from "Zaatar w zeit" but from any other small time bakery for which Manoushe is still not synonym to crab and salmon canape....
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