Monday, August 18, 2014

"How to succeed in blogging without really trying" Auditions now open.

Auditions for "how to succeed in blogging without really trying" now open. #freebies on the way out for everyone. No previous experience necessary.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Supporting wine and Lebanese religious contradictions

"From the harvest of our grapes, the joy in our wine" - such is the new campaign from the Ministry of Agriculture dubbing itself "the national campaign for the support of Lebanese wine". Never did one visual encapsulate all Lebanese contradictions in one go - let me explain: this campaign is supported by the taxpayers' money, a respectable chunk of whom is Moslem, and assuming that a solid proportion of which is against alchohol consumption due to religious reasons (notice I am measuring my words very carefully, using abstract and generic terms due to absence of any statistics or reliable surveys), then we deduce that the money these people put went to promote an industry they vehemently oppose. Go figure! All this at a time when one of Lebanon's big cities (Tripoli) took it upon themselves to ban beer ads over there

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Fenicia bank, continuity via Chinese whispers.

Fenicia Bank (formerly known as Bank of Kuwait and the Arab World) is emphasizing its heritage with a cheesy ad. I think though not sure that the client is actually old and the "client service" people (just look at the name card in case you did not get it) are young to emphasize continuity? The line is "lifelong relationship" - for a more confusing take, check this on their own homepage. Under the line of "there are things you'd rather not inherit". Only to come to the visual above with "some things you'd want to inherit".
Of course what the bank did not bet on is that when you open the page the images start scrolling randomly which makes it difficult to understand the visuals being displayed. Frankly, if you did not want your clients or potential clients confused, maybe you should not have changed your name in the first place instead of emphasizing on heritage and continuity.
The other issue is that in Arab society, it is very taboo to speak of "inheritence" especially when related to a bank, because of the view of life and not wishing-ill on anyone (especially not your rich fat uncle as he appears in the ad). Hence the words "be3d el char" (may evil be averted), or "Allah ytawwil bi 3omrak" (may God give you a long life) etc.... whenever unintentionally a death reference is uttered.
Funnily enough, the game "Chinese whispers" (or telephone cassé) is also commonly known as "telephone Arabe" in France. So this might explain it then!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Picon fails on all counts

Picon, the popular spread cheese, is reintroducing the large portion. Actually, this is the shape we have always known Picon in until a smaller portion was introduced (sorry, not able to pin back the date). And so now Picon is going back to a larger shape with a drastically silly campaign.
My first question is - who are they talking to? The visuals (the cut cucumber to make it a "balance" and in another visual cut in the shape of a boy showing his "muscles" made of cucumbers) are silly even to kids by today's standards. If they are adressing mothers (or parents at large) it's also a fiasco. And - if - as they did with the Picon melting blocks - they are adressing hipsters in rock bands (with girl groupies preparing cheese sandwiches - yeah right), then...
OK, and the visuals suck too.
So what's left?

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beautiful graffiti vanishes in Hamra

Hamra mural before (1)
Hamra mural after (1)
Hamra mural before (2)
Hamra mural after (2)
My most preferred piece of graffiti in Beirut has been painted over "warning from the ministry of heath, thinking can lead to dangerous and deadly diseases" - now it's been painted over as "Parking". The other graffiti which was done by Yazan Halwani (adorning the parking's ticket booth) and which was already defaced (I think by the same nutso who was defacing all graffiti in town with Christian religious stuff written with his handwriting next to them) is now gone. Fayrouz, our national diva which was on the original is now back though, albeit on a while background.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Farah Samman's great design for Julia's album

Let's face it, Arab singers have horrible designers working for them - it is so very rare for the albums to be well designed and what's worse are the concert promotions which are usually horrendous collages of photos of several people badly cropped and intermingled mish-mashed together. Sure, you will now accuse me of being biased considering the new album by Julia Boutros has been designed by Farah Samman - someone with whom I have collaborated frequently in the past. Actually, it's the other way around it's because I was so impressed with her work that we started collaborating. So there, the design of Julia's new album and concert promotions are stunning! Everything from the typo to the choice of images, to the overall feel and positioning of the artist (if I am not mistaken the images are by Mokhtar Beirut - actually, if the choice was mine I'd have put the image of Julia in that majestic Tom Ford gown on the cover of the album).
Failing to find the original here's a snapshot of the photo in question from Julia's website
In other words it's a very refershing change to have an artist in the Arab world who cares enough to give a distinguished package - not just a singing product.

Satrbucks is lost in (Arabic) translation

"Yes to an all-time favourite" is according to Starbucks "The drink of choice for all times" in the Arabic version - notice the subtle but drastic difference? "all-time" becomes "all times". Still don't get it? An "all-time favourite" is a "classic" or something that has been enjoyed for a long time, "all times" refers to the hour of the day of consumption, or the occasion in which it was being enjoyed.
So basically, the Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappucino is not to about enjoying it whenever one desires, it is more that so many people enjoyed it in the past it is now a classic drink. Now, can I have one please? (I'll skip lunch to compensate the calories). 

Of blue vintage cars in Beirut.

Alfa Romeo
I did the yellow series a while back, now I am covering from my archives the blue vintage cars all over Beirut. In various shades, from flashy to tame, from glossy to matte, from perfect condition to just scarping by. Another carcheology post!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Pop art invades the city via Roy Lichtenstein

Khoury Home as inpired by Roy Lichtenstein

Khoury Home as inpired by Roy Lichtenstein
Pop art is invading town. Between BLC and Khoury Home we can sense its presence big time all over the city. And just in case you want to file this under copycat, the answer is no - since the use of pop art (specifically Lichtenstein and his benday dots) has been quite common in advertising. Between the two ads, BLC has a more solid concept (using the O to indicate 0%).
And just for artistic reference, here's a work called "Explosion" by Lichtenstein.
Explosion - Roy Lichtenstein

Beirut Beer redeems itself in English.

Research credit: D.P.
Now that established that the Arabic version of Beirut Beer was close in spirit and expression to Pepsi, it seems they redeemed themselves with the English version which is more Whisky worthy (no direct corelation but reminds me of Chivas "live with chivalry" and Ballentine's "some things are worth doing" in terms of positioning and upscale tone of voice). "We've got what it takes" which is a better English adaptation for the Arabic line "ne7na adda". So apparently this is the silver lining of the campaign and a redeeming effort.