Monday, November 30, 2015

On why my respect goes to L'Armoire De Lana

So it is now "official", l'Armoire de Lana is in the top 10 of fashion bloggers in the Middle East. Mind you every other girl who has a skirt in her closet calls herself a fashion blogger, a brand ambassador (I was asked to be a brand a brand ambassador just for attending an event - a non-fashion one mind you), they claim to be doing "collaborations" while they are simply wearing clothes (no more, no less, this is not a collaboration - this is mercantilism), etc.... Lana herself got attacked by another blogger (although she might not be aware of it) when she said she was "founder of l'armoire de Lana" and "content provider" (I measure my words as I have seen the tweet that attacks her!).
Please note, apart from an archaic tweet conversation with Lana, I do not know her personally, nor for that matter her so-called "competitors" (which they are not). And if I am writing this today, it is from what I specialize in - the marketing/branding/image angle. Once more, in the crowded field of blogging where everyone is aiming for the same target audience, it is difficult to make a stand. And no, the "age" of the blog does not matter a lot, because after some point no matter how "popular" you are on Facebook (or paid to buy fans or whatever) if there is no interesting content your audience dwindles down.
Also let it be known, when bloggers move to an independent platform (i.e. their own blog) I am not impressed with the results, and sadly in that respect, I am not a big fan of her site (PS: I told her before, if her website is in English why is the "presse" section title is in French), but you see, most blog audiences come from the "here and the now" and if anyone wants something from the archive they will use Google to get to it without resorting to the "sections" (Fun fact: This is how Google was invented when the founders were creating a search engine which would let them look for their own references as they wrote their thesis).
So why am I writing this? Because Lana turned herself into a brand. Which is no mean feat in a field where everyone is vying for attention. Yes, I can see people now saying, "Oh if I had her money and connections I could have done much more" - really? How come not every society girl is blogging tastefully about fashion then? "If I was invited to the Paris Fashion Week like her, my reviews would be better", seriously? NY Times critic reviewed the Saint Laurent collection all while being banned from attending the show by Hedi Slimane, so the attendance itself could be superfluous, but still if attendance there is, how many can secure a selfie with the lead designer of a fashion house such as Lana did.
She did this all while remaining above the fray, she just does her own thing and does not go into the "she said" "she said" thing which is rampant in the blogosphere in Lebanon. Here's a hint, Lana managed to secure a sure footing in a very competitive field, she knows her strengths and capitalizes on them, she turned her name into a sure brand (styling Nancy Ajram, doing windows for ABC, cresting a shoe collection for Poise design), she did that all while remaining the sweet attainable girl next door (I once saw her shopping in downtown Beirut and even if I did not approach her, I really felt I could have and that she would have met me with that charming smile she flashes frequently in her photos).
Making a brand is tough, creating one that lasts is even tougher, still Lana did this with charm, grace and elegance. Honestly, what's there not to love?

Saturday, November 28, 2015

B-Qa de Marsyas the genius of naming

Out of nowhere comes a beautiful surprise! For a long time wine advertising was synonymous with earth tone colors, boring as hell names, etc, etc... Then Ixsir broke the mold, and now Chateau Marsyas is calling its new offspring B-Qa should you not get the funkyness it is simply a rappel of the Bequa'a valley where vineyards are grown. Oh and if you think it is an easy name, how come no one came up with it before?

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Abaad the anti-Vileda ad from Lowe Pimo

Remember that silly misogynistic ad from Vileda? Thankfully Lowe Pimo are more enlightened than that. The Abaad NGO for women's rights has this beautiful ad above "men are for politics, women for logistics - Say who?" (or for brooming) shows how had women are treated through popular sayings. The "badda maw2ef" signature doubles as both "needs a strong stand" and "needs a parking" something they used in the "Parking for men only" TV ad. The campaign for parking reminded me of this one by 05 Amam but in a different context. But the Lowe Pimo effort for Abaad is laudable following fiascos such as Vileda!

Smurfette doing things behind Papa Smurf's back

Smurfette has been caught doing things behind Papa Smurf's back and in Maameltein, Lebanon, no less (locals will understand the insinuation!). Smoking shisha or hookah that is!.... Kids these days!!

Monday, November 23, 2015

This is a detailed list of people's demands in Lebanon!

No, we do not want a new president.
No, we do not want the government to be functional.
No, we do not 24 hour electricity.
No, we do not want running water.
No, we do not want the corruption to stop.
No, etc....
Diab seems to sum up all our requests as a Lebanese populace in one central, defining, summarizing sentence: The people wants Christmas ornaments.
There. In addition the ad assumes Santa Claus speaks Arabic, is Lebanese and speaks on our behalf.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Exotica strikes a masterpiece for Christmas.

First, let me say I am not a hard line Christian nor do I believe that Jesus was born on December 25th, still this is a good advertising for Exotica who found the wisdom to go back to basics without trying to please all Lebanese including non-Christian ones and therefore end up with bland ads as in the years prior. The ad speak for itself and the headline "Happy 2015th birthday" reminds me of the oh-so-forgotten Benetton ad "si en l'an un Benetton existait, les rois mages n'auraient pas hesite" (if Benetton existed in year one the Magi kings would not have hesitated). An all-round triumph for Exotica this year, long may it continue!

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Sohat independence ad - no, really!

Sohat has a nice independence day ad, not as good a Pepsi but a nice one still. It plays on the lyrics of the national anthem substituting "to the height to the flag" with "from the height to the flag" since Sohat supposedly comes from the high source up in the mountains. Now here's my million Dollar question: Who is Sohat talking to?

Pepsi - the only good independence day ad

Independence day is tomorrow and everyone is jumping on its bandwagon and falling flat on their face. Which is why it was refreshing to see this - orphan - Pepsi ad (in front of spinney's on Debayeh - correct me if you know of another one). It simply says "from the independence days" with the old bottle of Pepsi which was reissued a few years back to celebrate.... err,  forgot what! I am not here to fact check if Pepsi was in Lebanon in 1943 (the year of so-called independence) but at least it makes sense one you take off the stupid #meshghalat thing.

Gala reuses the same headlines I used a year ago! :)

"Aux larmes citoyens" a line I blogged about but used on twitter even earlier is now the headline of the French magazine Gala for their tribute for the Parisian terrorism. I am glad I got the idea earlier than anyone even if at the time I was talking about how difficult it was to get a visa to France, now almost impossible I guess.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Bowie written in the (black)stars!

David Bowie has released a new single from his forthcoming album. Called Blackstar, the song has an art design featured above. What struck me is how minimalistic the whole thing is. A black star to indicate the song's name and underneath the letters "B-O-W-I-E" written underneath in a star-shaped typography. Beautiful is an understatement!

Call me unpatriotic but the national anthem as ringing tone annoys me.

Image source

So my mother has a new ringing tone.
My friend has a new ringing tone.
The head of our department has a new ringing tone.
Whenever I tried calling anyone on mobile today, be it on touch or Alfa, the same ringing tone came.
I was like - what is happening? Why does everyone have the national anthem on ringing tone? Until, dumb as I am I figured out it was our national carriers celebrating the independence holiday by imposing this on all phones.
Call me unpatriotic, it is irritating. It takes the dignity out of the anthem - which like it or not - does have dignity. It makes it banal. And frankly it makes it irritating. I do not want to hear the same strophes repeatedly when I am anxious to speak to a client, or want to see how a friend is doing.
Hey, if you really want to celebrate independence dear touch and Alfa how about scarpping 22% (because of November 22nd connotation - our independence day) from my bill or better, 43% because had our independence in 1943? Food for thought! black Friday white Friday

So in the Arab region we have so many bastardized concepts, we mix and match festivities and appropriate signifiers from different cultures as our own. So why not Black Friday as well. Except, how can you sell a "black" Friday. No, it would be dark, pessimistic and superstitious. So found an easy trick, make white! They are holding a major sale from 25 till 28th of November under the umbrella of "white Friday", I mean seriously between white and black, there's no difference. No work yet if any major supermarket chain is having offers on turkeys though....

Vileda: When the stereotype is appropriated.

I know this ad is old and someone else reviewed it before. What made me remember it today is a gallery of racist, crude ads published by the Guardian and necessarily thought of as belonging to the past. Is the Vileda ad which says "for Lebanon to be clean, let the women handle it" sexist? Yes. It is not-very-clever? Yes. Did it stir - for better or worse - a controversy? Yes. And that is not always good for the brand by the way contrary to the idea that "any advertising is good advertising". My problem today is elsewhere, it is when the stereotype is appropriated, would this still be sexism? Racism? Denigration?... Look at this photo taken from the Vileda sponsoring of the avant-premiere of the movie Neswen (women). The woman is proudly holding a sign which says the same thing as the ad above, flashing it proudly and smiling to the cam. She obviously agrees to the message, endorses it, and thinks the joke is funny.
In this case, can we still call it sexism?
If the person belonging to the cultural or gender related section being targeted by a stereotype actually wants to be part of that stereotype, can we argue over the identity belonging bit?
I was accused twice of not being a feminist (actually, the second time I was accused of being a misogynic person). The first time for commenting on an ad about football, the second time for my artwork at my Beirut/SECAM exhibition where I depicted women in kitchens taken from vintage white goods catalogues.
But when a woman asks a man "hey, get out of here, what are you doing in my kitchen?" it becomes difficult to counter the argument of appropriating that stereotype, after all, if these people want to belong and identify with how they are socially and publicly portrayed who are we to argue!