Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Audi and the #landofquattro

Audi is launching the Month of Quattro and a chance to put one's name on map through #landofquattro - according to their website this is the explanation:
"The Land of quattro is a global campaign that showcases the unique beauty of countries around the world. Now, in our region and during the month of quattro, Audi is on a quest to discover and promote the most exciting hidden trails across the Middle East – and we want you to be our expedition partner.
Hit the road with us as we explore uncharted territory. Together we will show the world just how incredible your country is, inspiring them to follow in your path. Best of all you’ll get to name the trails."
I am far from being a car enthisiast, so basically if I am mentionning this it is for the advertising and communication part. I really loved the #landofquattro name for the campaign, it immediately conjures images of outlandishness, grandeur, rugged landscapes and symbolic banner emblems. I also admit that musically, it's very inspiring with deep, rallying and melancolic sounds (I immediately thought of Scottish music - which darn me, they are voting tomorrow to see if they get independence or not! - and the Brittany-originating Breizh music).
All in all, a majestic name very fitting for the campaign.

Home city vs Apple - copycat slogan?

I still smile when I remember that I see similarities everywhere, "laughable" someone recently said. OK, so let's see if this makes you laugh or not. "Live different" for Home City (by none other than the agencies that basically is incapable of coming up with an idea on its own) and the classic "think different" signature for Apple.
My theory about similar ads includes three parts: the theft, the spoof and the tribute. The first part is when the core creative element is stolen, the second is when the ad is being laughed ad, and the third is when the fame of the ad is capitalized on to draw attention to something else (most usually a social cause for example).
One of the first things I detected in the ad, is the repetition in the Home City of the grammatical error in the Apple slogan - because to be correct the selling line should be "think differentLY". so when I read "live different" this is when the similarities started in my mind.
To be fair however, I actually loved the Home City ad - the transposition of the diver to the table as jumping board is pretty lovely. But the live different is the bit that annoys me. Any other slogan - with no references to previous famous ones - would have done.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Libans de Reves: Tarek Chemaly x Charif Megarbane audiovisual collaboration


Based on a title which is a part of a sentence by Rimbaud in his prose poem “Villes I” in Les Illuminations, “Libans de reves” (or “Lebanons of dreams”) is an audiovisual diptych between visual artist Tarek Chemaly and musician Charif Megarbane (the talent behind the Cosmic Analog Ensemble) which includes “CocoCommodore” and “Abou el Rish” – a kind of false introspection for a nation that lost sight of itself (assuming it ever had it).

CocoCommodore tackles the story of Coco, a grey African parrot owned by the BBC correspondent Chris Drake and which sat in the lobby of the Commodore Hotel in Beirut. Coco was able to whistle the Marseillaise, the opening bars of Beethoven's 5th symphony but his specialty was imitating the incoming sound of shells (a trick every newbie journalist at the Commodore would fall for). In Feburary 1987, the hotel was raided and looted by mitiliamen and Coco was abducted in the process. Chris Drake put a reward of 10,000 LBP at the time for anyone who could bring back Coco, but to no avail.
Abou El Rish (father of feathers) is a character that showed up out of nowhere in west Beirut during the war (specifically around 1981) and built himself a cardboard shack net to the American University of Beirut. He would wear strange medallions and a hat with feathers on it (hence the nickname) and would try to play traffic police with a duster. People would give him leftover food, and have pity on him and help him. When the Israeli invasion (the second one) came in 1982 it was revealed that he was an intelligence officer to the Israeli army whose work was to collect information. A mass hysteria happened afterwards with people reporting his sightings on barricades on in patrols. Private information gathered shows that he was a Iranian jew who eventually went to Israel and got recruited in the Israeli Defence Forces.
The original soundtrack by the Cosmic Analog Ensemble can be heard independently on this link.
Original sountrack and sleeve jacket by Charif Megarbane


Saturday, September 13, 2014

Soon, a collaboration between Tarek Chemaly and Charif Megarbane.

Based on a title which is a part of a sentence by Rimbaud in his prose poem “Villes I” in Les Illuminations, “Libans de reves” (or “Lebanons of dreams”) is an audiovisual diptych between visual artist Tarek Chemaly and musician Charif Megarbane (the talent behind the Cosmic Analog Ensemble) which includes “CocoCommodore” and “Abou el Rish” – a kind of false introspection for a nation that lost sight of itself (assuming it ever had it).
CocoCommodore tackles the story of Coco, a grey African parrot owned by the BBC correspondent Chris Drake and which sat in the lobby of the Commodore Hotel in Beirut. Coco was able to whistle the Marseillaise, the opening bars of Beethoven's 5th symphony but his specialty was imitating the incoming sound of shells (a trick every newbie journalist at the Commodore would fall for). In Feburary 1987, the hotel was raided and looted by mitiliamen and Coco was abducted in the process. Chris Drake put a reward of 10,000 LBP at the time for anyone who could bring back Coco, but to no avail.
Abou El Rish (father of feathers) is a character that showed up out of nowhere in west Beirut during the war (specifically around 1981) and built himself a cardboard shack net to the American University of Beirut. He would wear strange medallions and a hat with feathers on it (hence the nickname) and would try to play traffic police with a duster. People would give him leftover food, and have pity on him and help him. When the Israeli invasion (the second one) came in 1982 it was revealed that he was an intelligence officer to the Israeli army whose work was to collect information. A mass hysteria happened afterwards with people reporting his sightings on barricades on in patrols. Private information gathered shows that he was a Iranian jew who eventually went to Israel and got recruited in the Israeli Defence Forces.
The original soundtrack by the Cosmic Analog ensemble will be availabel on the same release date as the video.
Original Soundtrack and sleeve design by Charif Megharbane

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Geely plays insensitively on double-entendres

Photo credit: Georges Najm
Let's recap the facts: ISIS (or da3esh as it is commonly called) is one of the most serious geostratgic threats on Lebanon and the region at large - the way they interpret the Islamic codes and teachings is at best, barbaric, not to mention them kidnapping Lebanese armed forces members after fierce battles whereby they tried to expand to the Lebanese territory. And what does Geely, the Chinese car brand (or whomever is doing its ads in Lebanon) do? They play on words about da3esh with "da3es" (which means pedal to the metal or full throttle ahead). Nevermind the content of the ads once this is done, they are insensitive, culturally and socially inappropriate, and are of extreme bad taste. Unless they are trying to sell it to Abou Bakr Al Baghadi - the self-proclaimed caliph - then these are frankly a disaster!

September 11, 13 years later.

Manhattan mon amour - Tarek Chemaly
I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that all of us remember where we were on that fatidic moment when the planes hit the twin towers in New York on September 11, 2001 (I was on my desk on my first advertising job in an agency in Achrafieh in Beirut). Not having seen the images yet, when the platinum-blonde colleague said that a plane had hit the tower (at the time it was one plane, one tower), I thought it was some light plane which drifted off-course by mistake. Minutes later it was the second plane, the second tower.
And the rest is history. Dark, convoluted, twisted, opaque history.
In 1999, I visited the twin towers (one of the rare touristic things I agreed to do while visiting my brother in New York), actually - one of the towers had an observation deck for tourists at its top, the second had a posh restaurant. Seeing I was going to stand in a huge queue and not being that interested in the first place, I went to the restaurant's elevator, when asked if had a reservation I said "yes", got up to the top floor, was received by a waitress - who told me to have a drink at the bar while my table (figurative table) is freed, and so I went to the edge of the restaurant, looked out the windows, snapped photos, left promptly, without being noticed.
The repercussions of that day still haunt us, and whereas this blog does not focus on politics in its limited sense, as a Lebanese citizen, we can feel these effects on daily basis - have you tried having a visa lately? have you tried going on a break to destress in some neighbrouring country like you used to? have you looked at the people who are now inhabiting your area? have you tried to get a political get-go from (what used to be) powerful nations in our vacinity? have you tried questioning policies or eavesdropping or privacy policies? have you seen if your name is on some terrorist list because of an email you sent or some other act you might have commited or not?
I shall let the puntdits, the talking heads, and the politicians fill the televised air with their ideas and parroted notions, all of which were previously - eloquently and brilliantly - predicted by by Jean Beaudrillard in his seminal essay "l'esprit du terrorisme" written in Le Monde in that year (November 2nd, less than two months after the attacks - read it in French here and in English here).
The above piece illustrating this post is a rework of the only piece I kept to myself from my first solo exhibition "superm-art-ket" (the rest was donated or sold), and is called "Manhattan mon amour" and was influenced by the events of that day (it was done immediately after the event). In 2011, I did a full video art about the topic (knitting 7 of my poems on 2011 frames which were hand-animated on a digital platform) here's the result below. It may not give us visas, but at least this kind of art can give us a voice.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Of Dieter Rams, Apple Watch and Moto 360

You don't know Dieter Rams? I can't blame you. He is the design genius behind Braun. Those sleek, beautifully designed, but very useful products, with minimum fuss and a lot of beauty. The Rams 10 design rules are a thing to behold for every person attempting to do anything related to creating a new product!
By his own admission, the company that upheld his ethos the most was Apple, and it is isn't difficult to find the links visually. Which is why it is shocking to find the new Apple Watch unveiled yesterday breaking the streak of previous Apple designs, and not in a good way. Actually, the smartwatch that resembles the most what Rams - and the previous Apple - would have done is the Moto 360. It subscribes much more to the Rams principles than the product Apple just released.

Barbican steals Carlsberg, "friends" vs "bros".

Barbican ad

Carlsberg
(Research credit MII)
Lately I have been accused of finding similarities everywhere so much a fellow blogger found it "laughable", well, I wish I can find laughter in Barbican stealing Carsleberg ad for their Middle East campaign. The famous Carlsberg friends test (called oh-so-creatively "bro" test for Barbican) about helping your best bud (sorry, that's a reference to a third beverage!)  and bailing them out financially in the middle of the night. The ad has been duplicated almost frame per frame (sure there's no gambling scenes) but the "being-lost-in-the-middle-of-the-night" and the revealer are just plain copied. Now try telling me the "everything is enfluenced by something" scenario, because frankly this is beyond inspiration - this is pure theft.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Diab Alkarssifi and Ania Dubrowska: A Lebanese archive

Image: Diab Alkarssifi

Image: Diab Alkarssifi

Image: Diab Alkarssifi

Image: Diab Alkarssifi

Image: Diab Alkarssifi
A chance encounter between artist Ania Dubrowska and a homeless man in London who would be revealed as Diab Alkassifi was the starting point of discovering his stash of 27,000 strong photo archive from Lebanon. There's a kickstarter campaign that was launched to launch a book based on the project (featuring photos curated by Ania and The Arab Image Foundation), the campaign recounts their story as:
"The book will present for the first time the work and collection of former photojournalist Diab Alkarssifi. Arriving in the UK in 1993, after emigrating from Lebanon, Diab met Ania at Arlington House, a hostel for homeless men, where Ania was running a photography workshop and Diab was temporarily living. Invited to Ania’s studio, he arrived with two carrier bags, containing thousands of photographic prints, and negatives, part of a life-long collection, including his numerous photographic assignments, everyday life in his home city of Baalbeck on the Syrian border and in Beirut, his student years in the early 1970s in Moscow and Budapest and, most extraordinarily his collection of found images from studios in Baalbeck, Beirut, Damascus and Cairo - photographs of society, family and friends, and Arab life in Lebanon, Palestine, Kuwait, Egypt, Syria and Iraq, that he passionately accumulated over his lifetime. These images, all that survives of a much larger collection still hidden or lost in Lebanon, gives an intimate insight into the cultural, everyday and political history of this region, from 1993 to as far back as 1889. Along with Book Works and the Arab Image Foundation, Ania and Diab want to bring this extraordinary collection to life, to preserve a view of modern Arab history, tell the stories that accompany the images, and present an otherwise lost view of this huge, diverse and fascinating region."
For a country that does not remember its past and makes every effort to force-amnesia, this seems like a promising dose of a good cure.


Monday, September 1, 2014

DGGS vs Army National Guard: An ad theft?

Seeing double? And considering each image is cut in half then you're seeing double-double (quadruple!)... Now that we go this out of the way, the new General Directorate of General Security ad (a produt of a certain Phenomena whih is no stranger to borrowing concepts) seems too close for comfort for the Army Naitonal Guard recruitment poster. I know that the US has just given ammunition to the Lebanese Armed Forces, so maybe a poster must have slipped among the ammunition. On second thought, it's just business as usual for the idea thieves.