Monthly Archives: October 2012

Let’s welcome back admin R y’all! She’s back from the hypothetical coma to rock again!

Le Charcutier Aoun and ‘real’ insights

By Admin R: What to do with a mainstream client, a supermarket chain that drained mainly all advertising approaches to make people believe that they could win a fortune just by grocery shopping? Go to ‘fun’! Well, ‘fun’ definitely went downhill in the previous ‘Le charcutier’ campaigns, ranging from the cheesy to the vulgar, getting gradually better with their latest versions “paying bills” and “back to school”.

It is important that humor appeals to the target audience so they identify and react; otherwise, it is just useless! Well, in Le charcutier’s case, it’s indeed comic and amusing but most importantly ‘insightful’. Memac Ogilvy illustrated the critical situation of the Lebanese society in a humorous way along with the key to their hard financial circumstances. We all suffer from the ‘moteur bills’ haunting every house while every family is really struggling with the painful schooling fees.

‘Le Charcutier’ is launching a promotional campaign, offering 300,000,000 LBP, playing the ‘awwh’ sympathetic role showing social responsibility (blabla, bullshit), marketing all the way!

The ads are well executed, the cast was funny and the exaggeration came spot on *starting to write my own ‘how to get away from moteur bills’ already!*

Finally, the tagline “fi nes byefeljouk w nes byeferjouk” came smart and true, taken from the Lebanese casual lingo, addressing the right audience, the right way, even though the concept could’ve been taken much further, and not only relating it to money (go a bit lateral guys!)..

Wait! What?! 300 000 000 LBP damn it now I’m obliged to shop there, I’m getting married soon you know! (You don’t have to care, pfft)


Brand Agency: Memac Ogilvy
Production House: Wahm Productions
Director: Amanda Abou Abdallah


“The funniest Nissan Ad” NOT!

Our first radio spot review! 

By Admin G: I thought it was interesting. Speaking with the “Flash news” tone of voice and the noisy background; daring to speak out when others are quiet and trying to give some secure feel among the turmoil that we are facing… but then… then it comes out:

مع وجود انتشار كثيف لعناصر الحماية من :

ABS, 2 airbags, EBD, Brake Assist

لحفظ أمن وأمانة كلّ المواطنين..”

Thank you Nissan. Thank you for the new safety technology that you are offering. The funniest* ad of all in the current situation!

It is true that brands should not remain silent during a certain crisis but for selling expired technology I advise you to! NO, I forbid you!

The relation between the current situation and the new Nissan Sunny release does not make any sense; it just sounds like a cheap investment in the unstable shit we’re involved in as Lebanese. Sorry to be the party pooper here, but I can’t really find any positive aspect of flattening a socio political situation, using it in advertising, and claiming to be funny!

We know Radio ads are not by any means easy, but you gotta brainstorm harder guys!


Men El Ekhir TV promo: Inspired* (more like a copy-paste)

By Admin I: It is when a show discussing originality, success, creativity, innovation, artists, designers and creatives goes downhill hitting rock bottom even before starting its 3rd season.

Yes, it did get redundantly boring in its 2nd season with many promotional segments that made it look  like the old Morico Tv-Shopping, but at least it remained one relatively interesting show, or maybe the only prime time that is watchable on local TV. But no. You cannot copy a famous video that got virally spread on the web, you just cannot, simply because your audience is not the typical mainstream. Your audience is exposed to international creative work and you cannot act with such an irresponsible manner! (Someone got too arrogant to think originally i guess!)

It’s maybe okay, or what you’ll just call “ca vaaa, it’s just a tv promo” but for me, it’s way beyond. It’s more of a reflection of what’s happening in all creative fields. Copy paste Copy paste with no alterations!

Let’s just cut the crap!

Cheers to originality peeps! 

Questioning Arabic Copywriting

By Admin I:  I’ve been asking myself those questions for almost a year: what’s going wrong with Arabic copywriting? When was it going well in the first place? And why rare are the cases where it works the way it should be: witty, relevant and ‘true’ to the target audience?!

Being one of the very few left divas that still read, enjoy writing and fluently speak Arabic, copywriting truly revolved around 3 main calibers:

The good, aka Rana Najjar (Ex-Leo Burnett, FP7 now) and Tania Saleh (Leo Burnett and my itunes library), and many successful campaigns such as ‘Khede Kassra‘ and ‘Alfa U-Chat and Midline‘. Those two examples proved at one point that Arabic should play its main role, which is dealing with insights, in a country that lacks a unified cultural understanding. Lebanon is clearly not Egypt, and Melody Drama Hugely successful TVCs dealing with the Egyptian somehow unified culture cannot be applied here; Those smart players knew the trick, which is playing safe but witty, without overdoing the twist.

The okay and sometimes Blah, talking Intermarkets, that is probably one of the local agencies dealing most frequently with Arabic, especially for their Almaza, Domo and Master Chips accounts. Twists came smart sometimes, cheesy, forced and ‘constructed’ many other times; some people just don’t know when to stop!

And yes, the one and only Sami Saab, Clemetine’s Mastermind (don’t tell me you missed the sarcasm) with the many advertising 101 NO-NOs “Teta w sejjedeta”, “El Jamel nader wa saab” and every other broken Arabic idiom that fails at even being funny enough to work for an advertising approach.

What mainly got me to discuss Arabic Copywriting this time is a post I’ve recently read entitled: “Why we need great Arabic copywriters” stating many factual aspects of the scene today:

“I  believe we still treat Arabic writers differently. We expect them to communicate to all readers/listeners using one treatment a bit like speaking in tongues… So we realise proper localisation and cultural insightfulness often only offered by a native speaker is required. Not so for Arabic, it’s more a case of one-size-should-fits-all.

We must attempt to use culturally and geographically aware writers to sell the brands we represent whenever possible as anything else is dilution. Remember, copy isn’t art direction. Although a picture can be worth a thousand words, if you are using those thousand words, they’d better be in a style and a language that the target audience will understand and relate to.”

Yes. This is indeed what I wanted to say. We’re not totally missing the role of Arabic Copywriting but we’re somehow taking it for granted. A primitive skill of rhyming lines is not considered copywriting! If my Grandpa used to do it after a couple of Arak glasses, everyone can! Going sexual and cheesy is easy but what’s missing in this whole erroneous reach for Arabic is a purposeful insightful approach, which some are too lazy to conduct.

Long live Arabic, as beautiful as a language could get! (Save your: how hypocrite: preaching Arabic using english – comments! I rock!)

Ali Café – Pants Down

By Admin I: I guess it’s high time for something interesting, something new, something we made just for you! (we made nothing but this sucky rhyming cheerleading sentence actually). So Ali Cafe decided to jump on the retro bandwagon, following the ‘trend’, with a funny approach giving the brand a point of difference. (I really like starting a sentence with ‘in 2012’) So in 2012, there’s no more room for that coffee that makes you wake up next to a sexy wife, give her a kiss, looking fresh with a wide hollywood smile after tasting the enchanting morning drink, no! In 2012 (again), advertising is becoming a ‘yes’ or  ‘no’, either it works, or not, and the new regional campaign for Ali Cafe by ‘Livingroom’ Dubai did really depict a very interesting approach to a classical product.

Manipulating a scientific fact related to smell, those guys tailor-made an entertaining twist, with a vintage art direction that went on solid grounds from the video direction to wardrobe, typography, background music even reaching the irritating voice over. (Ending excluded, cheesy indeed!)

Everything looks perfected and well thought of!

‘Pants Down’ might be silly, but it’s the fun amount of silliness blended with a super smart marketing strategy pushing everyone to change a habitual consumerist behavior and go for the more fun daring coffee brand facing the boring classical competitors.

Very well done you crazy set of falling trousers lovers!


Project Pants down
Client Ali Café
Creative agency Livingroom, Dubai
Creative directors Martino O’ Brien, Mansoor A. Bhatti
Art directors Carlos Khoury, Mansoor A. Bhatti
Copywriters Martino O’Brien, Wissam Smaira, Ahmed al Masri
Brand guardians Danny Oneissi, Fadi Nakhle, Arthur Chin
Production company The Talkies
Director Wissam Smaira
DOP Pierre Mouarkesh
Producer Sabine Farah
Music composer Harry Hadeshian
Exposure TV, online

“SHOW US YOUR TYPE is a project about type and cities.
We started this project to provide a creative platform for designers to share their talents and explore cities from a different perspective.”

Show us your type /// Beirut

By Admin I: I’ll try to be clear and brief this time; when those posters came online, they kind of confirmed what we know but keep denying: we cannot design! And by ‘design’ we’re not really hinting the cliche definitions of ‘problem solving’ or ‘visual communication’. Design should do what societies have been doing since ages: finding means of communication emerging from their own cultural attributes (yes, i just invented that, but it works, at least to me and my alter ego).

We cannot design simply because we cannot culturally communicate our beliefs and thoughts, and that was very clear looking at the submissions for ‘Show us your type’, and I’m here talking about both Lebanese and international posters. Why?! Because local submissions – in general – lacked the core of the subject: INSIGHTS. Most of Lebanese submissions came from shallow perceptions of Beirut (the tires, rooftops, cityscapes…) and lacked a true reach for what Beirut really reflects. Only Maajoun’s submission came to visually reflect a cultural aspect of what looks like a blend  between religious stained glass and Islamic Arabesque, in what is visually one of the most interesting looking posters I’ve seen since quite a while (and yes we have to mention those guys in every post, go die if you don’t like it!)

A poster by 44flavours also depicted cultural aspects, even if designers don’t really identify with ‘our’ city, meticulously done illustrations, and a very engaging visual treatment. Wael Morcos did quite a good job on the visual and conceptual level, in a work that diffuses a certain cultural feel through mere abstraction while the rest looked unfinished, hasty and very few showed potential.

Our personal selection is displayed above while the whole set of submitted posters can be found here

Cheers to a failing/falling chain of cultureless Beiruti Design!

Commune goes beyond conventional ‘Design’: The next Dialogue

By Admin I: Back in June, the first ‘Creativenights’ event was held at Atelier Nawbar, Hamra, introducing ‘Commune’, an NGO that summarizes itself as a motivated team of designers believing in “Design thinking” methods. The event attracted a group of young local designers to attend an open dialogue with the international speaker and design thinker ‘Paul Hughes’ and ex ICOGRADA vice president ‘Halim Choueiry’. The talk went on for 3 hours, engaging the audience in several topics and design matters.. Okay, let me state it the ‘brofessional’ way for those of you who don’t  know ‘Halim Choueiry’: the debate was on fire! a wave of controversial thoughts and a very impulsive rational were exposed all through the night; and yes, the event proved huge potential even for those who do not believe in today’s hip polished trend called ‘design thinking’ (I raise my hand!!)

Creativenights – the second event – will be taking place tonight and tomorrow night (Oct 12 and 13) at Alt City, Hamra, through an interesting set of 2 workshops with Ezio Manzini an international name linked with design and sustainable means, and Salam Yamout, an activist in the Lebanese entrepreneurial eco-system (as if it really exists, the system). The event is moderated by the controversial Choueiry as well; guys, such events don’t happen on a daily basis in Beirut! It’s not the typical let’s preach design, or the launching of something that will become cliche or be proven inspired* the next morning, this event is more like a reach for the new age of what’s beyond aesthetics so that ‘design technicians’ can know where and how to work (or just die, who cares!).

It’s indeed the right time for someone to take the initiative of educating design professionals at an age where ‘trend’ is invading all fields with no respect to the thinking process and the studied cultural aspect associated with every practice.

Let’s be positively ‘primitive’ and go back to thinking as a basis to our work. Join Commune on their a-bit-too idealistic quest!