Monthly Archives: August 2012

Pepsi Lebanon – Surprising Elio

By Admin I: Whether a look in depth would reveal negative aspects or not, I’m just too relieved seeing a brand like Pepsi getting rid of celebrity endorsements for once, and reaching for a real interactive marketing approach; it’s definitely the new age of advertising hitting international brands in Lebanon; this time it’s not even 1% of the budget they used to assign for their plastic botoxed dolls! This time they didn’t need to pay a fortune for silicone lips insurance (you know, stuff might explode while drinking from a can), it’s a merge between online-interactive-and online again!

Elio won a football through a Pepsi promotion but didn’t know where to collect his prize. The team at Pepsi were touched by his message and decided to give him a little surprise!

Scripted or not, original or not, who cares! The campaign shows that an international brand really cares about consumers even if we all know it doesn’t! They didn’t choose a blond ‘cute’ casting material child, and didn’t go for the pop ‘visually interesting’ neighborhood, the whole approach looks authentic and transparent (annoying loud microphone guy included!)

Whoever handles Pepsi’s account in Lebanon (not sure if Impact BBDO still does or not) the campaign is a delight to see and a positive vibe to be spread for an audience that is constantly bombarded with fake advertising promises!

From Gladiator commercials, overdone celebrity merges and a promotional movie to cost-free interactive virals, drastic indeed! It is when marketers give us a valid reason for their overpaid positions! Good job!


Photos by: ©Tony el Hage/Toromoro

part 1: link

Lebanese Film Festival 2012: barely an attempt 2/2

By Admin I: We’re wrapping up our previous review post, skimming through the Lebanese Film Festival from our very subjectively objective design corner, and umm we were talking about the movie selections; Here we go!

Une journee en 59’ by Nadim Tabet is a black and white silent movie happening during 1959, a la ‘the artist’ which seems visually interesting with lots and lots of Arabic spelling mistakes: if you’re too frenchy to use Arabic, just don’t do it.

Blue Line’ by Alain Sauma was already awarded internationally, but still, this is exactly the caliber of movies to be seen at a festival (when you feel the hate, you know the movie is worth it)

Jasad and the queen of contradictions’ by Amanda Homsi-Ottosson is an interesting documentary about sexuality in the middle east, fine, typical and fun using the right blend of content and commercial, that did honestly get too commercial/promotional at some point of the work.

Aftermath’ by Wissam Tanios, a documentary with a drama overdose and a roller-coaster between the emotional and the cheesy totally showing an amateur student work (which is not denied) that usually fails to fine-tune drama, and gets too involved in the content forgetting about dosage. The movie is a good element in the whole disturbing set of selections, but somehow should’ve only participated to a student film festival.

The documentary was awarded ‘best documentary’ at the closing event; weird enough.

Taxi Beirut’ by Hady Zaccak was probably one of the most interesting selections of the year. Hilarious, culturally engaging and REAL. It’s the amount of hyper realism that drives you to react and interact with an everyday topic that indirectly tackles bigger socio-economic issues. Brilliant!

The ultimate catastrophe

Despite the very low number of attendees at the screening of ‘The story of the virgin butterfly’ by Walid Aouni, people started leaving the theater minutes after its start. Expecting a piece of oriental dance, art direction and classical oriental music, the crowd was shocked by the an old play, poorly shot and visually over processed that drains all your senses until you mercifully end it.

Pierre Abi Saab, why don’t you talk for 3 days, it would still sound more interesting than the whole festival (long title, we’re biased, I know)

One of the most interesting events of this festival was a conference entitled ‘images et imaginaires, quelle place au cinema? By Pierre Abi Saab, Gerard Bejjani and Simon el Habr, even if it shifted from its title to talk about the Lebanese cinematic attempts in general, still the debate was highly interesting especially when lead by Abi Saab, an art critic and journalist (way beyond other specific jobs and titles). The conversation was rich and passionate but too short, constantly interrupted by the unorganized organizing team.

Rencontre Avec Nadine

Whether you think Nadine Labaki’s attempts were bad, too commercial, unoriginal or flat, she’s probably one of the most controversial figures especially if you were attending the ‘pre and post’ her event at the Lebanese Film Festival. Everyone hated Nadine, everyone criticized her work for too many reasons and still clapped after every answer of hers: hypocrisy at its best. Nadine was highly realistic hiding the enormous gap between her and her fellow local filmmakers, the gap initiated by the fact that she managed to drag 113000 then 350,000 human beings to the movies, the same audience that ‘failed’ making this festival exist the way it should be.

Dear Lebanese cinematographers: the key is to work on your audience, your egos won’t keep paying for production costs.

Anticipating next year’s reshuffled festival!

Photos by: ©Tony el Hage/Toromoro

Lebanese Film Festival 2012: barely an attempt 1/2

By Admin I: So as you all know, the majority of us ‘brofessionals’ comes from a design background and believe me, reviewing a cinematic event makes us somehow feel random, simply because we do not tolerate when general blogs tend to review design, so we’re here reviewing the filmmaking industry in Lebanon at a very specific ratio from a design point of view. (Which doesn’t make us less diva-ish by the way!)

A disappointed audience

This year’s Lebanese Film Festival was our first, we went having the right expectations for an event that takes an official label and sticks it to a non-official festival; and here you go: there’s a major gap, a major clash, a major whatever happening in this field making it disconnected from its own audience!

Let’s not blame the audience anymore, there’s clearly an issue emerging from the industry itself. Have you ever been to a design event? Have you ever been to TEDx Beirut and seen the crowd?! The disappointed crowd is clearly showing attitude, and you as filmmakers should really reconsider choices, strategies and organization.

Let’s Blame Nadine

“We have no money” is probably the ultimate excuse that can save anyone’s ass in this country; well listen: we don’t have money either and Beirut Design Week was one of the year’s most successful events even if it was full of flaws and missteps, even if we bashed the hell out of it for its own sake.

There’s no excuse, no excuse at a country where good marketing can really push an event to its extents and make full benefit of it. Let me state it clearly: you just do not care; you do not care enough to let go ego and join forces even with your audience. Filmmakers in this country are constantly making movies to fulfill their own desires then forget about a whole industry and audience; it’s easy to blame the government, the cultural level of the audience, the Nazis, globalization and even Nadine Labaki, oh and that’s for sure your win-win non sense reach for blame! If I were to entitle this year’s festival I would’ve called it “Let’s bash Nadine Labaki, and then kiss her stardust to attend it”, “Let’s feature her in our official posters, and then gossip about how bad she is all through the festival”, this is how things go in this country, this is how hypocrisy reigns.

Bad selections with minor exceptions

 Again, we’re not pretending to be art critiques, we’re just stating our minds from a design perspective:

The first movie we saw was ‘Messages from an alien’ by Christophe Katrib, a short movie that makes you wish Marcel Duchamp was still alive to poke fun of how ‘conceptual’ this work of ‘art’ is; it’s just the dose that makes you feel stupid because you’re not getting it. With all due respect to my dearest aliens, no.

I told president Moubarak’ by Khaled Ramadan is a documentary about an Egyptian figure from pre-revolution, showing how this scene was getting gradually charged to claim its rights; interesting, but why is it festival material again?!

Checkpoint’ by Ruben Amar showcases an interesting merge of cultural, political and ritual system of behavior that is definitely a must see. Beautifully shot and highly engaging talking visuals, script and cast..

<To be continued>

Creative Space Beirut exhibits : Seascape / F12

By Admin I (Exhibition photos by Admin N): It was last Thursday that Beirut suddenly got reshuffled by a New York-ish vibe hitting the concept store 6:05 Depechemode! Creative Space Beirut – A free non profit Fashion design educational program – launched their Fall 2012 collection “Seascape”, inspired by the sea’s color palette, shapes and textures.

What was super interesting about this particular Creative Space exhibition is the audience: this time, everyone was there: hipsters, fashion enthusiasts, designers and high end clientele. This time, it wasn’t only about how genius the program is, but about potential talents truly finding a spot, where handmade couture is finally getting some credits and students/designers starting to reach a level of signature looks, even if it’s still somehow naive and primitive.

It is truly immense, how an experience founded by Sarah Hermez and Rania Dalloul and guided by Caroline Simonelli From Parson’s New School of Design (New York) , can reshape design minds that even lack the basic tools; No ESMOD involved, no Starch and no marketing! A true challenge is taking place everyday to sustain the program and make this design guild a reality.

‘Seascape’ focuses on different design inspirations, from patchwork to dyeing and direct printing techniques reaching a very exotic use of prints and volume, using expensive fabrics donated by international designers such as Donna Karan, Diane Von Furstenberg, and Derek Lam.

It’s all happening following this expected pattern: earning international exposure while local media and designers keep disregarding this project’s urge for support and recognition. Typical Lebanon, no?!

Dresses are still available for sale by silent auction (link)


Creative Space Video: Roody Khalil

Creative Space  Poster: Imad Gebrayel

Alfa ‘Midline’: talking success

By Admin I: Whether this year was as doomed as it looks for this multinational or not, it’s pretty obvious that the Alfa account managed to balance some missteps and failures.

Alfa brilliantly managed to tweak the competition into a winning card; instead of competing with ‘touch’ on who’s paying more for a non-sense social awareness campaign, the telecom company decided to reach for the opposite direction: a genuine, fun, super-well written tvc for the launch of 2 new lines “U-Chat” and “Midline”.

If you thought “U-Chat” was a hit campaign, you’ll definitely agree that “Midline” could probably be one of best local campaigns of the year, and cheers to a nomination!

The new TVC totally showcases some skillful copywriting efforts, depicting a set of Lebanese known cliches and using a very natural play on words attributed to the middle child; the blend came out to be a win-win whether you’re a depressed ad man, or an angry copywriter, I can bet you had a good laughter on loop.

A good concept, and a meticulously well art directed execution, highlighting a strong pop-vintage feel that we all identify with, without the instagram-ish overdone effects.

Whether you like or hate us (probably hate us), you’ll be credited when doing such a good work!

Well done!



Identity Crisis 01: Lebanese Film Festival 

By Admin I: Sometimes you ask yourself those dumb questions with the “why not” formula, emerging from an ego that is practically born with every Lebanese: Why can’t we have an international film festival, why can’t we invest in our local talents and why can’t we relate to our culture, at least on a design level.. Answers remain very well known but unspoken.

Our quest this time is not bashing bad branding, even if this post might look like a branding post, but it’s not.. It’s exactly having this never ending conversation about a brand and an identity, when people fail to distinguish between the two.

The Lebanese Film Festival is a yearly event that dates back to 2001, that we chose to cover for this year simply because it seems as engaging as Beirut Design Week, especially that both ‘unofficial’ events carry the huge ‘official’ name of a country.

A week before the event’s launch at Metropolis Empire Sofil Cinemas, we must take you on a flashback to check 10 years of rich content, but a huge identity crisis! LFF failed to develop at a visual level, starting with a design chaos, reaching a level of visual cliches (a tarboush with popcorn, really?!) until this year’s identity reveal.

LFF 2012 looks serious, promising, even if the visual challenge isn’t that present (black and white is a win win card when it comes to cinema) but the whole identity based on the featured filmmakers creates a sort of strong appeal that makes you go beyond the ‘hipsters’ meeting ‘Rue Huvelin gars’ label, to a more credible promise. The grayscale interesting portraits look very expressive, well except Nadine Labaki’s over processed image (someone enjoyed creating a plastic digital face, and no it’s not God! As if He knows photoshop! pfft)

Having to cover this year’s event with a series of posts, I must note that such a big festival needs huge efforts, and I’m mainly hinting design. There is no excuse for not having a decent website, decent interactive program and a designed press kit; having no sponsors is not an excuse being in contact with nearly half of this country’s so called designers!

It is when you separate identity from branding from design that you can’t really reach a solid ground for such events… It is the answer for the “why not” formula: simply because we suffer from an identity crisis that we are stuck where we are. *insert: dramatic sound effect (calling Khaled Mouzannar)*

__Press Release__

The Lebanese Film Festival celebrates this year its tenth edition, which will be held from August 23 to August 26 in cinema Metropolis Empire Sofil, Ashrafieh.27 films, including 16 in competition, will be presented.They will be judged by a jury of four members: Christopher Donner, writer and journalist at “Le Monde”, Ibrahim Maalouf, trumpeter, Suzanne Khardalian, filmmaker and journalist, Ziad Antar, photographer and filmmaker. … Moreover, big names will gravitate around the Festival. Nadine Labaki will exclusively meet her public and Ghassan Salhab, will honor us by giving us a free access to the “Black Panthers”. We are also proud to welcome “Cultures of Resistance” and some members of “The Suffering Grasses” team, a documentary by Iara Lee, based on the Arab Spring that sheds the light on refugee camps.To close to the Festival we will have the pleasure of presenting a new film, “Children of Belle Ville” by Asghar Farhadi; a film that will pave the road for a new section of films that will be created next year.