Wednesday, June 23, 2010

(RE)Archewallogy and Masmou7 lasek al e3lanat from 7UPstairs publishing

Welcome to the new 7UPstairs publishing release, a year later what do the walls of Beirut tell us? Come and find out more in the new 293 page release (featuring a 10 page spread of exclusive collaboration with graffiti-hip hop crew Ashekman) and many more gems. Farah Samman is at the helm of the design once more and manages to outbeat the original book design (something incredibly difficult to do).
As for the usual video clip which is usually released with every book, well, you're in for a super treat: I have gathered the best and most memorable advertising jingles from the Lebanese archives and put them in a monologue which is delivered by illustrator-copywriter-actress Deborah Phares entitled "Masmou7 lasek al e3lanat" (think Pampa, Top Juice, Paul Jardin, Gelati Cortina, Reovac, Kassatly Chtroura all in one place).
The video which is edited by Fayad Saab very much in video art style focuses on the concept of Zapping. After all, we do not ask "what's on TV" but "what ELSE is on TV" and playing with the remote control has become a national habit!
As Lebanese people we argue about Dabke, Feyrouz, politics, football... but we all seem to agree on Tapirama.
Well, now that the work is done, the dues paid, I urge you once more to share this work which is freely available online. Considering this is a self-financed effort, please share this on facebook, twitter, whatever else social media. As things stand, this might be the last Archewallogy product you will see in a long time!
Enyjoy and spread the word!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A superhero with a Cappe

The launch of the Cristal Club at the Ecole Superieure de Affaires (ESA) which took place on June 18th was an even that gathered the best and brightest of the advertising industry within a very convivial setting. I must first though mention that the whole enterprise took me by surprise, for the advertising industry I have come to know was based on hypocrite individuals, backstabbing people who wouldn’t miss a chance to play a dirty trick on an opponent – yet the face I witnessed during the event was frankly civilized enough to make me reconsider my positions.

I must at this stage mention Christian Cappe, the CEO of the Cristal Festival Network, who reminded me of the many people whom I see daily opening their facebook accounts at the university lab where I teach and who have nothing to do with their photos (the original being far worse than the photo), except in Cappe’s case the reverse is true. The photos I have found of him over the internet show a very “corporate” side, one that basically says “the photographer made me look nice and cheerful in this”, yet in real life, Cappe is certainly a genuinely upbeat and spreads a very sincere welcoming atmosphere around him.

Not only this, but Cappe could easily be one of the very few people I know who can get away with doing something utterly clumsy (in this case, a miserable English pronounciation) and then even get away with being the butt of their own joke over the clumsy act (he self-ridiculed himself for the afore-mentioned miserable English pronounciation), all without losing face or the respect of the audience which was cheering him all along.

According to Cappe, the aims of the Cristal Club (which is a direct descendant of the Cristal Festival) are to: “prolong networking between members all year-long; rhythm the year through meetings bringing together creatives, agency leaders and clients; allow partners to increase their visibility during the year; ease contacts within the same community of interests, thanks to social networks and the festival website which will propose a dedicated section for members, offer high-level conferences held by keynote speakers on today’s hot topics; and highlight Arabic creativity and cultural specificities in advertising.”

The Cristal Club shall be composed of two colleges, “the creative college and the production college” the former including agencies and clients in the region, the second producers, TV producers and technical industries. One of the major aims would be to “expand the young directors’ recruitment for the Young Directors Forum including a final selection by Mid October 2010 judged by regional producers and TV producers.”

On that last point and under the emblem of “Love advertising and share it” many creatives took the stage to showcase their work including agencies: B, JWT, Leo Burnett, Impact BBDO and Grey Worldwide. Most of the work displayed was a major hit and has left high visibility among the community (specifically La France Au Liban ads by B and Khidi Kasra for women’s empowerment by Leo Burnett), but seeing these works again was a pure delight specifically in an ambiance that was truly more camaraderie than cut-throat.

It is quite difficult to have a few moments alone with Cappe, considering that not only was he the main attraction of the day, but also the large number of people who count among his “friends” (supposedly real friends rather than an extension of some abstract social network), but still at the end of the lunch Beirut/NTSC challenged Cappe on some of his bon enfant notions regarding the business at large. For Cappe, it turns out, “advertising is a vehicle for a whole culture. Think L’Oreal or McDonald’s they do much more than to sell goods.” Unfortunately, the sentence was interrupted repeatedly by well-wishers and friends.

All right, but the whole industry in the region is used to treat festivals as some gigantic exchange of favors (give me this award and I will give you the other) so how does the Cristal Festival differ in that perspective, “we brought it the clients to remove that first degree that creatives have. Clients tend to judge a lot more than just the creativity.” Cappe goes on saying: “Actually, I think we should go back to basics – to the fundamentals.” More interruption is recorded at this stage.”

“So where was I? Oh, the fundmanetals. OK, an ad should be useful, beautiful, truthful and socially relevant. As simple as that. It should say something to the consumer, should be well-done and produced, and then should not be telling lies and eventually ought to be make sense to him within his local context.”

I try to convince Cappe at this stage that I have first-hand knowledge of an advertising industry in the region that thrives on cheating, throat-cutting, pitiful practices and what not. Cappe remains undeterred of his own vision: “But you saw the whole ambiance today. Everyone was friendly and chummy and so there could be a chance for these people to be out on an honest competition. Actually, I think that the quasi majority of advertising members in the industry do it just for the love of it.” And then he added “personellement, j’adore!” (personally I just love it).

However making a financial sense of loving advertising is not an easy thing, just ask this blogger who is earning nothing out of his own endeavor. Fishing for some tips from Cappe, he humbly says “it is all the product of this girl’s genius.” The girl in question is Lara Krumholz, the business development manager of Cristal Festival SA, “she’s the one that made it all happen.” So the passion alone doesn’t quite cut it, I volunteer. “Well, nothing happens without passion, it keeps you moving through the ups and downs and yes, there are down periods you know!”

Realizing at this stage that the material I had was substantial enough for a blog post, I took my camera out and snapped a photo of Cappe which again made him seem human, genuine and affable. The next thing I knew was him pulling me close, with my arm outstretched, and I snapped another one of the two of us – him still human, genuine and affable, me equal to my own self – and then he says “this is the one you should use on the blog.” Who am I to argue?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

USEK - The graduates - Elsy Nohra

Project: State busses
Selling line: Na2le w naw3iye (a transport in quality - a shift for a
better quality)
Graduating top of her class, Elsy managed the unthinkable - to revitalise the image of the state busses by emphasizing their qualities (which combine the comfort of a limousine, or the agility of a Mini, etc....) And then she went on to describe what happens when cars become so dispensible - they die!... "7ded w boya" which is a word play of "new paint job". I love the "my key is a buspartout" (a take of the french word Passe-partout). No wonder she came out on top!

USEK - The graduates - Costa Costi

Project: National Library
Selling line: 2raye bel jemle (English adaptation: Reading, etc).
Well, if tarot readers, palm readers, and whatever else are starting to read books - what are you waiting for? Not only this but if every other movie is based on a best selling book, then why not cross-compare by reading the original before seeing the celluloid adaptation? All these questions and much more make Costa's project a very refreshing take on what could have been a boring campaign for a very "preachy" topic.

USEK - The graduates - Dalia Fadel

Project: Sarah's bag
Selling line: Hold an idea
Sarah's bag is a commercial entity with a human side - how to show both of these - all while affirming the exceptional hip factor of the brand is what Dalia did by first saying "hold an idea", then "hold your own idea" and then "hold an ideal" - the last message was due to the fact that Sarah's bags works with women prisoners and so Dalia thought that since prison is not the end of life she emphasized the case of many previous prisoners who went on to win Nobel prizes. And YES, that is me there with my own idea....

USEK - The graduates - Yahya Assaf

Project: LibanPost
Selling line: Turbo
To rebrand and make a new campaign for LibanPost is indeed a challenge. Yahya met it with panache! His visual interpretation of the line turbo is a stroke of genius! The tilting tower of Pisa goes straight, the statue of liberty has its light burned out, and local landmarks shift in shape and even place all due to the sheer speed at
which LibanPost is operating. Turbo indeed for him!

USEK - The graduates - Marilyn Daibes

Project: Ashekman rap and graffiti crew
Selling line: Khouzou al kawa3ed min fam ashekman (take the rules from the mouth of Ashekman an outtake on the sentence "take wisdom from the mouth of the madmen)
Marilyn set out to rebrand Ashekman which is no mean feat considering they have an already high powered and well-hyped image. What is interesting is that she manages to keep the flow and yet make a departure. Just her even "ashekman mafkhout" (or muffler with a hole in it) is a continuation of the Ashekman strategy, though is conceptually very strong as it emphasizes that ashekman are actually twin brothers. Well done!

USEK - The graudates - Joelle Zakaria

Project: El Mouneh El Batrounieh
Selling line: Bint Ayleh (Well brought up)
Contrasting with the image that a woman who does traditional stuff is old and has a bun, Joelle portrays  funky and youthful women who have daring hobies and yet specialize in things like "fig jam"... Also, she
manages with brio to show these women so entrenched in the lifestyle that they would hold an assortment of vegetables as a wedding bouquet. Finally a departure from all those boring sepia images of the past for a product that remains traditional!

USEK - The graduates - Georges Serhan

Project: Libby's canned foods and juices
Selling line: Chreyto w la terbeyto (Purchasing it rather an raising it - a Lebanese expression to emphasize convenience)
Using the easy open as a symbol for convenience, George manages to make everything look easy and accessible for today's housewife... His Libby's diet tacticals drip of eroticism simply by placing two juice
bottles sideways. The line is "lebsik libby's" a double entendre that means "suits you right" and "Libby's is it".

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Great minds think alike and fools seldom differ?

I am not too happy with this meeting of minds! I was jubilating over the use of the word "darreja" for the event I blogged about previously... With its double meaning of "bicycle it" and "make it fashionable"... It turns out a group has been using it for at least six months earlier in Tripoli - and theirs is even better - because "baskle" is the Arabic slangish name of a bicycle and "eskleh" is the Mina part of Tripoli.... Sorry guys, you ought to have done a better research prior to releasing it. Thanks Farah for pointing it out and providing the material.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

ACT NOW: Postpone the Vote on the E-Transactions Law

Today, the Parliament is scheduled to vote on a new E-Transactions law that could have terrible implications for the Lebanese economy and for professional and personal privacy. To date, private sector and civil society have not been allowed to comment on the the law.

Among the articles of concern are:

Article 92, saying anyone providing online services must apply for a license. Result: More paperwork, more bureaucracy, more delays, less revenue.

Article 82, allowing for the warrantless search and seizure of financial, managerial, and electronic files, including hard drives, computers, etc. Result: The government has pre-approval to seize your company and personal assets and information, without cause.
Article 70, establishing the Electronic Signature & Services Authority, a new regulatory and licensing body with practically unchecked powers. Result: Another agency, who can make or break your organization at their whim.
PS: At a time when other countries such as Bahrain has abolished the need to get a government application to open a blog, Lebanon is going the other way around!....

Monday, June 14, 2010

Sassine (not so) square

Right there on Sassine Square two installations face to face. One that says "enjoy your green space" (with the green space being nothing but  a small straw mat now yellowed by the sun), and the second is more of a CSI kind of thing with "don't kill your language" priinted on the yellow tape and a letter from the Arabic alphabet lying there dead. And you thought Sassine was square indeed!

Mon bijou, mon doigt

Many of you will remember the pointless "mon bijou, mon droit" by Joaillerie Moukarzel which I reviewed in Communicate magazine. Bernard Hage a student at USEK has come up with a much smarter alternative to it, poiting out that he "did it to remind people that women doesnt really care about jewelery when they're being beaten and violated everyday"... Finally someone understands about the rights of women. Pity that in, the meantime, the whole budget was squandered on a pityful and simply non-comprehensible campaign.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Darreja event

Date:Saturday, June 12, 2010

Time:10:00am - 12:00pm
Location:Departure point: Beirut by Bike - Biel entrance
City/Town:Beirut, Lebanon
Would you like improved public and alternative transport in Lebanon?
In most cities around the world, people have a choice in how to get around - walking, bicycling, driving, or taking the bus, tram, train, or metro.
We Lebanese love to brag that we're the greatest in the world in just about everything, but to be completely honest, our transportation system could really use some help - some of YOUR help!
Here is your chance to get involved: Come join us in our first event, درِّجا (Darreja)
We'll be touring Beirut on bicycles from Biel to Luna Park - Manara and back again. This will be to demonstrate just how easy it is to get through areas of our city by bike, and show our public officials that providing bikeways is an inexpensive, healthy, and environmentally friendly way to ease our traffic.
Places are limited, so register early. Bicycles will be provided by Beirut by Bike for free, but due to limited availability of bicycles, there will be no registration on the day of the event!
To participate in Darreja, please register before June 10th at Cafe Younis (in Hamra or Sodeco) by paying a L.L. 5,000 deposit, reimbursable on the day of the event, and by filling out the registration form there.
This event is open to anyone who is over 18 years old and can already ride a bike.
Please try to be there between 9:30 am and 10:00 am!!
This event is organized with the support of IndyACT, the sponsorship of the Netherlands Embassy, and the partnership of Beirut by Bike.
Fast Forward is Lebanon's new advocacy group for sustainable, alternative transportation - like transit, bicycling, and walking! Join us on Facebook on the group: Fast Forward >> All for Public Transportation in Lebanon
Looking forward to seeing you there!!
The Fast Forward group

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Chicks rule at Le Mall!....

As with everything else in Lebanon, all brands tend to jump on the bandwagon of whatever important event is happening (elections, etc...) The World Cup is no exception. And with every other outlet - restaurant, pub - hanging flags and organizing projections, and with every other ad having a football refernce in it, the result ends up with too many balls and too little stamina (pun intented).
Then a breeze of fresh air! Le Mall is organizing the games with the interntion of bringing the female element into the crowd: Bring her to the game. Obviously, for girls football is whatever their boyfriends or partners do when they are adjusting their mascara, applying night cream, or gossiping on the phone about the latest news with their own female friends (whose partners are naturally watching the game).
Le Mall, through playing on the cliches of what girls think about football is about to change the game. Using girls in the form of babyfoot players, the three most popular teams are described: For Brazil the misconception is that "Kaka" is seem as synonymous to a bad word when he is one of their most important players, for Italy it is the ridicule that these guys - whereas handsome - are there to play and win, and for Germany the "mannschaft" - which means team in German - is equated to the word "mannschafe" or towel.
JWT produces a gem of art direction and copywriting most needed when all other ads are copycats!