Friday, March 29, 2013

Marriage equality ads (with one local)

Advertising has always been the barometer of people's values - this much I know. The current debacle in the US over marriage equality between heterosexuals and homosexuals is not an exception. Since the predominant mood in the US population is to back the equality, advertisers have been scrambling to show their support for the (now politically safe) cause. Here are some examples:
 Bonobos menswear site
 Bud Light
 Huffington Post
 Kenneth Cole
Martha Stewart Living

I wish to emphasize at this stage that these brands take almost no credit for their support. They did long after the issue became mainstream and almost non-controversial in the sense that for the first time the majority of the US audience approves of supporting marriage equality.... 
Since Beirut/NTSC is focused above all on local advertising, the question is - would any local or pan-Arab brand or even a multinational pull this trick in the region or Lebanon? I know that the obvious answer is a big resounding NO... And yet, and yet - hold your horses! It's been done already. Done in a tongue-in-cheek manner but done nonetheless in a major advertising campaign that hit the Lebanese billboards... To their lasting credit - it was Aizone!
And here is the culprit:
Whereas I am the last one to defend Aizone or its parent company Aishti (which I once called Aishit), to their lasting credit, the ad above had all the innuendos without pushing the envelope too much for it to be censored. So it played that fine line between suggesting and not overtly showing - and this in a country from the Middle East. I must admit that this ad, with all my usual reservations towards Aishti and its ethics and especially customer handling, deserves my utmost respect as it was done at a time when the brand was not riding on the bandwagon of a popular issue.
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