Questioning Arabic Copywriting

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!)

  1. HishamAD said:

    Those who will be calling you hypocrite will not be able to type in arabic without their very best friend YAMLI
    بعدين خليهون ييجو يحكو

    I like ARABIC and I consider myself from the few who can still read and read Arabic properly, and I CAN TYPE IN ARABIC pretty well.

    I wish for more culturally related Arabic copy to be introduced more in our life, in ads, magazines, books, or elsewhere.
    We cant let our language while other civilizations are resurrecting their long dead languages.

    Good post 🙂

  2. Tarek said:

    Hey! What about… MOI! Ana (in Arabic!)… The guy who gave so many slogans in my advertising career starting 2001…. And bummer, if I am not on TV or on your radion station currently, it doesn’t mean my Arabic copywriting skills have vanished or weakened: just to name but this as Exhibit A… And yes, I agree with you, anyone who does an Arabic rhyme thinks it’s copywriting. It’s much much more complex and subtle than that. Here’s what we are missing: Respect for the language and the socio-cultural background. I refer you to this link which is very dear to me, the final project of Reem El Assal in her master’s at USEK: Enjoy!

    • Admin I said:

      You are Elitist Tarek! No one denies your contributions but we were highlighting the generic role of copywriting in the mainstream.. We’re indeed backing up one purpose, whether here or on NTSC 🙂

      • Tarek said:

        Oh bummer, can’t one pull your legs? 🙂 Actually, what I was trying to do is lament the state of the affairs. What puzzles me is this – graduates I have been supervising are very talented when at university. Then in the “real world” they encounter, silly and uneducated clients, ignorant and fearful client servicing, egocentric and pompous creative art directors and so they end up joining the melee of stupidity and come up with horrendous taglines….. Hmmm, now I am a bit down. 😦

      • Admin I said:

        True, but the problem is that they don’t function in groups. Whether designers or advertising grads, they all fail at joining efforts when in real market. That’s probably the reason.

  3. copywriterjobs said:

    I just came across this blog. I find it very interesting! Keep up the great job guys!

    • Admin I said:

      Thank you very much! Keep in touch.

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