Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Noblesse Difficile: The difficult art and science of political advertising in Lebanon

Whenever I tell someone I am covering the media aspect of the elections, invariably, during the conversation the name "Noblesse Difficile" comes up. Noblesse Difficile is the translated name of Nabila (Noblesse) Saab (Difficile) - that would be "Nobility Difficult" in English, except that the French translation is just so much more on the spot. If there's anything that can be called kitsch, Nabila Saab might have invented it. Not just her passport photo complete with glittering 80s pendants, or her hairdo or those pastel color clothes, it's that je ne sais quoi that completes the whole picture. And then underneath, is a rose-colored paper (At the time she was running for a seat in the Beirut town hall, but she also ran for parliament with same photo and message) which detailed her principles... Faith in God and man, education and culture, (in) love and love, Full building = Woman + Man. Then there's this candle on the side which shows a statue of liberty drawn by hand but with the candle being the torch which the small fonted words: A Beiruti that melts to give light. The ad was so memorable, years later, people still talk to me about it. Good thing I had the clout of taking it off the walls and pasted in cardboard as a perfect example of how to get one's name memorized in the annals of political advertising in Lebanon - for better or for worse. As the nation goes to the ballots this Sunday, the name of Nabila Saab does not figure anywhere - pity, she'd have given everyone a run for their money and some a run for cover!
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