Monthly Archives: April 2012

Blom Bank’s Alfa Blom MasterCard: Inspired*

By Admin I : If you thought for a minute that the “inspired*” series of posts ended a few weeks ago, you’re probably not very familiar with Lebanese advertising run by many copycatters that don’t even know how to hide their inspiration* sources!

We know this campaign has been covered on other blogs revealing the visual theft, and here we are revealing another, so if an art director got away the first time, I’m sure he wouldn’t survive this other proof. Anyhow, this post is not about copycatting, since you know, case closed, they drained every hope of being only inspired, they got to the point where we can call it theft, guilt-free.

The point behind this post is the “how” and “why” of this hypocrite advertising approach, lacking a clear definition. The layer of concept didn’t even make up for the stolen art, because there is simply no concept. The approach was taken literally “you can talk more, so they doubled the lips” Ha! What are they trying to communicate to their audience? Nothing (unless they’re trying to remind you of the annual eye check). I’m very honest here, if we try to forget the poor visual, this ad remains flat and still fails to deliver any message!!

See?! I was trying to be nice and fetch deeper, but my evil aura refused to credit any detail in the campaign, Well what could you expect from today’s agencies other than cliche commercial advertising vs. well done CSR campaigns simply because it remains an award magnet..  Multinationals gone bad, too bad!

1- Don’t drink and drive – Research credits: A member of our Facebook page

2- Alfa Blom MasterCard – Photocredits:


Exotica Collections, NO COMMENT.

By Admin I : Let me tell you, The minute I saw this campaign I decided not to review it for many different reasons, but then, and like every exotica ad, the visuals went virally, and Facebook timelines started witnessing an active debate between different points of view.

And I still don’t want to comment, avoiding being a hypocrite in a country where criticism is taken personally, where agencies don’t give a damn about receiving constructive feedback, and don’t even acknowledge doing a misstep. I won’t tone down to any agency, to any campaign, to any brand; therefore, I’m not commenting.

Another approach took place this time. We emailed 5 advertising/design experts and amateurs, and we will just feature their feedbacks in this post, trying to provide you with insights.

Guest J :  I liked the outdoors visual although it lacks a concept. The one with a portrait format looks too photoshoped; her eyes are fluorescent green and her hair “Haifa black”, it makes her quite vulgar. In general the campaign lacks a concept, but the outdoors are convenient being a breath of fresh air in the visual clutter than surrounds billboards on our highways.

Guest R :  The campaign is simple and young but slightly boring.

Guest Z :  I don’t really grasp the concept of mixing couture and plants. The campaign seems like a rushed stock photo collage with hardly any clear direction; something I would have been asked to do in a Photoshop course back in school. (@zoozel on twitter)

Guest M : The campaign lacks a second degree layer, “what you see is what you get” and the fashion/flower analogy has been used before by Exotica in last year’s weddings campaign (wedding couture). The visual is poorly processed and using a female body looks tacky in one of the visuals. hinting a silhouette with the use of a plant could’ve been much more interesting.

Guest T :  (talking about outdoors visual) It has nothing disturbing for the eye at least, nothing shocking but at the contrary it kind of hits the message directly and the plant actually looks like a dress and specifically a “couture” one which fits the theme of ‘Exotica collections’ .. I loved the outdoors visual!

In the end, and if you’ve been to an advertising/design jury before, you know the ultimate painful comment: NO COMMENT.

Creative Legacy 1 reviewed

By Admin I: This week was indeed a very busy week for all design and advertising enthusiasts with an exciting event taking place in major Lebanese universities: Creative Legacy… Pass it on.

This 4 days event is simply a forum for creative advertising minds to meet with the field’s students in a casual interview hosted by the one and only Farid Chehab (co-founder, and currently Chairman of MENA and CCO of CEEMEA of  Leo Burnett) asking a series of questions that is smartly chosen to be basic and somehow “conventional” which reveals the true abilities of the interviewees and their “going out of the box” potentials.

To be honest, I only attended 3 interviews:

Areej Mahmoud(Creative Director, Leo Burnett) Mo Al Ghossein (Creative Director/Partner, Interesting Times)  Jimmy Francis (Creative Director/Partner, Interesting Times) and  Ramsey Naja (Chief Creative Officer, JWT).

Being biased to Leo Burnett’s quality of work in general, the edits played showed a high level of work to students that might not be well exposed to advertising, the engagement was built little by little, yet Areej’s interaction with the questions was formal and perfectionist, with one very ironic answer revealing that he cannot name a bad campaign not done by Clementine “high five bro!” The whole talk was totally rebutted my the next interview where the “Interesting times” team proved a high level of spontaneity, being very cynical answering the  “idealistic” questions by Mr. Chehab. The crowd felt engaged, and answers were more “true” in terms of today’s challenges facing hypocrisy in advertising, the talk was more like “99 francs” by Frederic Beigbeder, after having a moment of “Advertising principles” by Leo Burnett.. Two very diverging approaches, both working for two separate audiences.

The second day started with Ramsey Naja, and let me tell you, the talk was interesting as content, with too much sugar in the tea, a Nobel prize and an advertising perspective that can be read in any related book. Mr. Naja was maybe very excited to inject some of his ideas into young minds, but the talk came too perfect,  too ideal; believe me guys, we all know that all multinationals are “Devil wears Prada / Ugly Betty” on loop, with no polishing potentials, so let’s not fool anyone..

In the end, we would like to sincerely thank whoever contributed in that event, making it the talk of the town and a fruitful platform for all of us.

A side note:

Audiences come to such events to know “what’s beyond”, to discover a long journey of creative work, and to be exposed to a realistic perspective on advertising. Let us be more honest, and feature free minded people from all sectors next time, let it be less preachy, waaay less preachy, simply because the majority of this field’s practitioners fail to practice what they preach.

Until the next “Nobel prize” session, Oh I mean Creative Legacy session!

Check the campaigns video edit on: unlockbeirut A must!

Smart cars “Unlock Beirut”

By Admin I : So after a series of shocking local campaigns, and a very calm season in advertising and design, what could make your critical minds go back to the buzzy pattern of work other than putting an award winning campaign under the spotlights.

Smart launched “unlock beirut” a while ago and was able to win a gold at the Dubai Lynx award show, proving that multinational advertising agencies in Lebanon can achieve big even with commercial brands like “Smart” and without the reach for the big Oh-so-NGO campaigns that are usually treated as potential award magnets.

The campaign was tailored to reach a young audience and fit a small budget (typical reach for online from cheap clients) rather than running a traditional ad campaign, a competition was developed using Facebook, allowing consumers to experience the car themselves. was launched, calling on 18 locals to uncover new shortcuts, parking spots and landmarks in the smart for two.With the incentive of owning the car for 6 months. For a period of one month,each of the selected participants got the smart fortwo and an iPhone for 3 days. And through a specially designed geo-tagging smart app,all their discoveries were instantly pinpointed onto a map on the smart-Lebanon Facebook page.

Bla bla bla, By the end of the competition, more than 400 new city treasures were unlocked in Beirut (a city of 67km2). The smart-Lebanon Facebook page received more than 32,000 active users, bla bla, and a map was launched with all the landmarks on it. A note on the side, and a topic we’re tackling very soon, what you read earlier is an “edit” done by all agencies, with high levels of not-so-accurate numbers, figures and irrelevant associations to prove the campaigns “success”.

To end it here, the campaign itself had a very design oriented purpose, even though I’m sure the client had no intentions to adopt this design mission, since info graphics is still underestimated in this country.. Well everything is!!

The mapping job proved successful and highly interesting even though it’s indeed an award show oriented campaign that wouldn’t change behaviors. A Smart car target audience wouldn’t even care about mapping Beirut, since it’s not by any means an added value for him, being a spoiled brat wanting to buy a car that fits anywhere, even under a six wheeler.

Good job and long live clients buying information design for all sorts of purposes (weird sentence!)


Agency: JWT Mena

Creative director: Iyad Zahlan

In the name of graffiti, online activists and chicken sandwiches!

By Admin I : 

Well it’s Lebanon.

It is where everything loses its true value in a matter of hours, where trends rule and lead, where people are driven by impulse, opinionated to a point where they can act, react, rebel and go party in the same day. It is where Adele became a cliché after 2 months of her worldwide fame, where everything is very common, a land celebrating hypocrisy and the highest levels of nonsense consumerism.

I’m doing this whole monologue about my country and I know I sound like another desperate blogger that thinks he can criticize a society that he already belongs to. I know it’s super cliché by its own, but let me tell you, what happened in the two previous days with the graffiti artists Ali Fakhry and Khodr Salami made me speechless. (Relax; it was only a 2 days thingy).

It’s a typical Lebanese ritual. 2 artists get in trouble and the whole online community jumps to protest and rebel, a very healthy indicator of a strong online and social media presence, and a communal relationship between local activists.

But what If we cut the crap for a bit!

Graffiti is already an illegal form of art, just for the fact that it uses public places. Believe me, a Lebanese police man cares more about a chicken sandwich than about suppressing art, believe me it’s already tested, but the sandwich should be “toum extra”.

The whole dilemma here is that thousands of graffitis have been done in Lebanon and no one got caught, things were just fine, and even books were made about the subject. No one cared. I’m not saying we go blame Khodr and Ali, I’m saying that what happened was normal and could’ve happened in any other country.

This whole nonsense analysis, is to reach a question:

What is the responsibility of the Lebanese general security, in a country where film, design and even art is censored? Oh, even anti-censorship articles are becoming cliché. So Wait let me change the question:

How the hell does the general security office monitor Lebanese advertising and fail to stop atrocities running all through this countries roads and tvs, while whatever soldier succeeds in stopping a whole process of expressive art.

Why the hell do we have “puke-material” sexual ads on tvs (cough-smeds-cough) while we consider graffiti, a crime?

Why the hell do we have naked women used for advertising all sorts of junks on roads, uncertified medical herbs getting sold at every corner and spoiled food everywhere?

I’m just saying, no really, I’m just saying, It’s a matter of a 2k quantity of chicken sandwiches and we can take control of this countries general security. In end online activists proved a high level of awareness that they wish, they wish they could compete with.

Kudos to every lazy couch potato running a blog (a diva couch potato is an option too) or even a twitter account, because this country needs you.

Read more about the Ali and Khodr case:

Cafe Najjar: Someone has a budget!!

By Admin I : It looks like finally another coffee brand decided to ditch the conventional “heritage+well shot coffee beans= buy our coffee” advertising approach and go for something interactive and very present in today’s society. After a series of hit campaigns by Cafe Super Brazil with a fortunetelling theme, Caffe Najjar decided to stand up to the challenge with a multivisual approach and a social media theme (even though the agency/brand was too lazy to post the videos online in an official appropriate way, a huge loophole in such approach, that could’ve easily gone viral).

3 TVCs were released, and being honest, the copywriting job is what made those TVCs the talk of the town (at least two of them) and a delight to watch, targeting two very different audiences at once: young adults and middle aged women/housewives.

Online chatting visuals have been used quite a lot lately, in many different campaigns whether locally (Lapiara) or internationally, but the use of such art direction came very useful to the proposed concept “Wen fi Lebeneh, fi Najjar” which is based on how Lebanese stay true to their rituals, especially the coffee “Subhiyyeh” no matter where they are. Another visual depicts a grandmother chatting with her granddaughter, following the same concept and a very funny dialogue.

The third visual featuring a young couple texting to set a meeting at Cafe Najjar broke the successful rhythm of the campaign with a failing treatment and art direction (chat symbols differ between the texting couple and the final headline) along with the fact that the whole approach is deja vue, and didn’t add to the previous two; If I knew Najjar had a budget overflow, I would’ve personally suggested a branding job, since the packages and the coffee shop brandings are screaming for a design lifting since ages!

Advertising in such a culturally rich diverse country can reach very high standards if the concept reflected a true contextual approach with a fine line between pop and vulgar (Smeds ad anyone?) since in the end, dealing with such a brand can be a quite good opportunity for storytelling as a medium, to express Lebanese rituals that we still enjoy and cherish.

Smeds @#%$!

By Admin N : What? Why? But why?

My mind is currently unable to form proper English sentences so excuse my language, but these TVCs have left me completely dumbfound! Smeds international released two TVCs starring Antoinette Akiki a popular Lebanese figure (best known for her role as fifi) who seemed at first to be throwing a monologue, mainly about how a man should please his woman using expressions I’ve never heard of before (whatta hell is lakle7a? honestly someone please tell me) then, in the end, she holds the holy bag of shredded mozzarella cheese and reveals what she’s been talking about all the time. As for the second one, and here comes the atrocities, the mother of all vulgarity, the first Lebanese soft porn movie, the boob monologue! Or at least that’s what I thought at first but of course, she was talking about the smeds shredded mozzarella cheese (go figure!). dear inHOUSE communication and the folks over at smeds, not that spring allergies are enough reason for me to give up cheese but thank you for making me think about sex and boobs every time I eat a pizza or crave a knefe.


Using sex to sell just makes you look desperate, like you couldn’t find anything to tell us about this cheese. So the only thing I can conclude from your ad is that this cheese sucks so bad you had to resort to sex to sell it.

And in the end: but WHY?!