Friday, November 28, 2014

Dewar's White Label saga 1992

By 1992, the brand was so sure of its stride, that its agency Leo Burnett Beirut drove it to "own" Valentine's day. The result was a smashing mini movie based on an idea by Giuseppe Tornatore, entitled "The Unforgetables" and which chronicled some of the most memorable love scenes on celluloid. Remember, at that time, you could not think of love without getting a hint of Dewar's White Label... Yes, the success was staggering. But also, there was an added plus, there was also something called throughout the year as "love breaks" - very short movie parts where love played a major role, here are some of them below:

Dewar's White Label saga 1991

By now, Dewar's via Leo Burnett Beirut had driven rival Johnnie Walker off the top of the charts and became a super hip label when once it was a has-been. In 1991, amid political tumult, Dewar's came up with a new love episode, back by Harry Nilsson's "without you" (later reprised by Mariah Carey), the theme this time was a love quarrel happening on the streets of Paris. Sure, they end up meeting in the end - we knew that from the start - but every new ad was bringing awe and magic to a nation wanting beauty amid ruins.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Dewar's White Label saga 1989

It might seem surreal, but war was raging on and on in Lebanon and the time, yet we did take time to love and live and experience emotions. Leo Burnett Beirut understood this as they pushed Dewar's even further into the timelessness of the "love" concept. The 1989 ad was set to The Commodores' "Sail On" (making it an instant radio hit). The scenario of this one starts with a neglected female love, she folds her clothes to move out of her lover's apartment. As she goes to give him back his keys, we discover he is a movie director having a late night on the set. As the whisky is poured, defeated, he outstretches his hand to get the key back, instead she hands him a "I missed you!" note. When it's love, it never varies indeed.

Dewar's White Label saga 1981

After the immense saga of the new positioning, the campaign (from Leo Burnett Beirut) went on with another now classic ad. To the soundtrack of Percy Sledge's "when a man loves a woman", this new installment follows a man who sees a beautiful creature doing her morning jog in London. Obsessed with her, he keeps replaying that chance encounter until he finds himself in her presence in the same upscale London party. Actually, at the time, one of the pluses of the campaign was introducing timeless love songs to the Lebanese public (songs which, as we shall later discover, will become staples in the Valentine repertoire of a full generation).

Dewar's White Label saga 1977

People of my generation will certainly remember Dewar's White Label synonymous to "When it's love it never varies", but the saga (immensely successful) started off which this classic. Set to the Bee Gees "how deep is your love", it followed the story of a couple who accidentally met when the girl dropped her papers and the rest is (advertising) history courtesy of Leo Burnette Beirut.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Almaza Faux Pas!

Research credit: GHM
And this is how not to pay tribute to the death of one of our national divas Sabah! Almaza botched it completely. Let's see: Sabah means morning, so Almaza is saying "the most beautiful Sabah/morning".... but, it also means "on the day of her passing we have had the best morning (ergo because she is not among us)"... Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

A tribute to the late Sabah

Part of the Lebanon History Book by Tarek Chemaly
And so she left us!... But her legacy will remain. Bil Amaliyeh sums it up perfectly!
Apart from her being a staple in our collective memory as shown above, the image below is a simple tribute to her long-lasting career and artistic output.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The 2012 Alfa Telecom army line ad

The above video by Alfa Telecom dates back to 2012 but it still works. I admit it's a bit cheesy in the end but the first bit is truly nice with citizens performing army duty. Today it's independence way - or what's left of it - so I guess this prompted them to broadcast this ad which basically adverises as special line for the military.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Independence ads start trickling

Photo: GHM
Research: GHM
Independence day ads (Nov. 22nd) have already starting popping up, the one of the Lebanese Army is a classic - it is based on their motto "honor, sacrifice, loyalty" - so the headline reads "honor, sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice, loyalty" indicatig that they are suffering many casualties due to the political instability storming Lebanon. Spinney's supermarket come up with a great one "artichoke" in Arabic is "ardi chawki" or literally "my land a needle" so the visual (inpired by our flag) reads "My land! A needle won't touch it!". Seems like a vintage year!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Mum 21: Se7rouki bakin se7rouki mum!

Christmas came early this year for me, I fell on a treasure trove of vintage ads. Just as a teaser, how about these snapshots from the original Mum 21 TV ad? Mum mum 21, se7rouki bakin se7rouki mum!

The reason why the Zoughaib billboards are cut!

Image source Najib Mitri
Najib has asked a pertinent question, one that I have been asked previously by my advertising and graphic design students "why are the Zoughaib billboards cut?". Actually, the photo he took is one of the "good" ones, other are so blotched it's pathetic. Naturally, having observed this phenomenon myself I started rationalizing why a supposedly upscale brand would butcher its ads so majestically. The reason I came up with is so benign it is frightening! It's very simply called "recycling". You see, if you look at the way the ads are cut, always omitting words from the brand's name on all of those unfortunate executions, you'd realize "gee! if they had a little more space they could have save the day, maybe one more meter!" - so think about all those cut ads, add a meter or a bit more in certain cases to them and you will get the standard size of a unipole! The 14x3. Yes, these ads which are currently being shown are previous unipoles the brand has used, and so because they are "environmentally friendly" or maybe "cheap" and "not brand image conscious" they decided to recycle them on whatever current size fits - the stretch of the highway between Zouk and Jounieh has the highest casualties.
A reprint could have cost as much as a diamnond necklace they are selling. Did they do it? No, they prefer to be stingy and cheap.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Spin doctor Abou Faour wags the dog.

Image source
The list of establishments which are non-conform (the now classic expression "ghayr moutabik") to standards which has been released by Lebanese Minister of Health Wael Bou Faour has caused a storm on all levels. So Abdel Rahman Hallab had an Ashta (clotted cream with rose water) which apparently did not meet the ministry's laboratory criteria, which promted the above image found on fellow blogger's Patrick Chemali "how do you cover the extension? With Ashta". Interestingly, it's either a) the Lebanese government has become frighteningly great at spin doctoring or b) they watched "Wag the dog".
First let us reiterate with the facts, the Lebanese parliament has extended its own mandate till June 2017, the news natrually was badly digested by the population (or the vocal civil society activists on all accounts), and the news would have trended longer except - bingo - a new scandal, so immediate and so unavoidable broke out: The Bou Faour report.
In itself, the airwaves were owned (according to the known technique of propaganda whereby you go out and state your facts and make everyone else on the defensive), and basically deflect the original scandal into onother one, so that by the end of the process, both would not be worthy of discussion any longer.
So now, bloggers and social media actors (some of them being more royalist than the king) rushed to the rescue of "martyred" brands and "wronged" companies and attacked "non-transparent" (the word "opaque" does not apply) ministry results, The Hallab invited their Heads of Departments to taste dishes with Ashta in them, and some declated they'd trust a "Roadster" chicken strip (one of the accused meals not being conform in the one of the branches) more than a minister in the Lebanese goernment.
#no_to_extension? That's sooooooooooo old news by now.
The movie Wag the Dog starts with a joke: "Why does a dog wag its tail? Because the tail cannot wag the dog."
But of course it can! All it takes is a good propagandist spin doctor and some Ashta... ya 3assal!

Do they know it's Christmas time? 30 years later

The new version of Band Aid's "Do they know it's Christmas time?" is now tomorrow and this time the proceeds will go for fighting the Ebola crisis hitting Africa. It's the song that, in 1984, taught us that "there won't be snow in Africa this Christmas time" (where the hell do you think Mount Kilimnjaru is?) and that they don't know it's Christmas time - forgetting that's Christians galore on the continent, and of course - "no rivers flow" - because we all know that the Nile, Congo, and Niger rivers are indeed.... "flowing" there. Sure there a zillion problems with the song: the patronising imperialist stand, the money that was squandered, the above mentionned errors and naivete in the lyrics, and the list goes on.
But laugh at it if you must, it became a Christmas classic - redone in 1989, 2004 and 2014 - and has in many ways generated memories for generations of people from trying to imitate the Bono growl (now himself a punchline of jokes after the disastrous iPhone launch of the U2 album), to parties with loved one and friends, etc.... The above covers in the photo are for the original single and the 2004 reedition (bought respecfively in 1995 from someone selling his old records and in 2004 on the launch day of the reedition when I happened to be in Belfast).
My own memory of the song?
Our haughty teacher at AUB walks in whistling The Boomtown Rats' "I don't like Mondays"... And very sarcastically asks if anyone knows the connection of that song with soil science. I pitched it saying that Bob Geldof, the singer of The Boomtown Rats actually saw a documentary on TV about famile in Africa due to the eroded soil which prompted him with Midge Ure to write "Do they know it's Christmas time?". Defeated, he said "Chemaly you are usually a pain in the butt, today you are totally right".