Category Archives: Advertising

Yes I’m a blogger, but no thank you…

I recently received an email from an agency that I will not name asking me if I could give them the visibility over my blog stats to assess whether or not engaging a relation with me and my blog would be interestinf for their clients!

Actually this subject about relationships between brands and bloggers has been making some buzz lately. These relationships can be both exciting and ambiguous and sometimes difficult. But the main issue here is that brands (and therefore their agencies) are not getting the fact that a blogger is a person who writes about a specific subject by passion and deep interest. Therefore, they should respect their privacy and their opinions by acknowledging the fact that bloggers can do whatever they want whenever they want. Also, their level of influence (and of course their visibility) is not always linked to their blog stats and doesn’t depend on the number of actual readers they have on regular posts.

I’ve been reading so much nonsense about bloggers waiting for brands to offer them gifts and money in order to write about their brands on their blogs, but no, it doesn’t always work like this. So I think this deserves some clarification.

How brands must manage relationships with bloggers?
As a blogger, I am often approached by companies, agencies or brands that want me to talk about their product or service.
In most cases, this first approach is materialized in the form of an email, usually non-personalized, which contains a press release or an invitation. Some of them, very clumsy, might also send an email by copying several bloggers, or they might also put the wrong name or wrong address of the blog. No Comment!

So… Here are some recommendations if you guys (companies, brands and agencies) hope to have a chance with bloggers.

Practice the direct approach: Avoid mail for initial contact. Instead, send a short tweet with a link… The blogger will then remember who you are more easily

– Then follow up on the mail, once the initial contact is established, send the blogger an email with the most personal information. Do not copy and paste the press release (again!!) but explain succinctly and clearly your service (or the things you want to talk about) in your own words.

Stay within the themes and topics; target bloggers that match your theme: If you want to announce something related to what’s new in your restaurant, do not waste your time trying to convince a tech blogger to write about your news, because even if he is a client, he won’t talk about it on his blog.

Do not force hand: bloggers feeling compelled to write an article will never do it or worse, they might be “evil” and tell their bloggers friends about their experience with you, and then BAM : bad buzz. So try to establish a real relationship with them, without expecting something in return. Ask them for their opinions, offer them your test, invite them to meet you. Be cool, frank, honest and transparent. Do not over-play, do not try too seduce or mislead about anything you are talking about.

Let go: if you see that the feeling is not there, it’s not worth insisting. Check back regularly to them when you have an update or a news you want to share with them but do nothing more.

– Actually, the real thing, and what brands should start doing ABOVE ALL is to propose an experience, a real project in which the bloggers will be proud to participate. This way you can be practically be sure that they will be talking about their experience with your brand, sharing with their readers something they actually liked doing. This way you are sure you would have created the best brand’s ambassadors.

Bank Med Beirut goes green

More and more companies jump on the trend towards environmentally friendly. Going green is not just a trend of the future. It ‘s just the only option that we survive on our planet.

Environmentally friendly actions don’t have to be large to have an impact. Consistently reducing the amount of energy, water, and paper our businesses use can make a huge difference, both to the environment and to our pocketbooks. There are simple, easy things you can do to go green. How much paper would you save over the course of a year, for instance, if you always ran doublesided copies? A small easy way to go green – but a big result! This is what BankMed is trying to tell us with this campaign.

But are they really going green? It’s a good thing they started to raise awareness for a healthy and clean planet by introducing environmental friendly initiatives Are they offering eco-friendly credit card? Are they launching a complete online-banking service? Or is it greenwashing and the only thing they are trying to do is to promote some sort of nice green corporate image?

What do you think they could do in order to become an eco-friendly bank?

Check out the video. They are part of the “Happy Planet” global campaign made by Impact BBDO Beirut in 2010!

Go viral and Keep Lebanon Walking with Johnnie Walker

Have you seen the latest Johnnie Walker campaign in Lebanon? I am sure you all did, at least on Facebook. A great example of how a brand can produce content and go completely viral. Lets have a quick review at the campaign created by Leo Burnett who once again marvels us with their great work.

Today, (almost) all marketers (and therefore advertisers) are seeking to leverage and intensify the reach of their communications by creating ads that become viral even though the viral potential of a campaign is fairly rare.

In fact 4 ingredients are necessary for an ad to become viral:

– The awareness index which is a measure of the engagement potential of a campaign and its connection to the brand, used for a long time y advertisers to predict the success of the TV campaigns

– The buzz which identifies wether an advertisement or a communication campaign is likely to naturally spread or not

– The potential of the featured celebrity and his profile when used in advertising

– The distinction of the campaign and the measure of its originality

Actually, the thing that is great about this campaign is that it generates a great deal of emotions (the music is really great) and raises interest by touching a large audience. Architect Bernard Khoury clearly gives scope and carries the brand message.

The campaign is integrated into many media a part from traditional TV/and press. The website is actually very well conceived since it delivers branded content from one part (videos telling the great stories of Bernard Khoury) and “social” functionalities from another (integration to Twitter and Facebook) to disseminate this content.  The campaign also calls upon user’s imagination in the creation of small sentences in order to “Keep Lebanon Walking”.

The small films are also easy to find on the Youtube dedicated Keep Walking channel which makes it easy to predict the viral success (only it’s just too bad the channel is not branded Johnny Walker)

The last (but not least) thing I would like to point out, is the fact that the concept, as amazing as it is, reminds me of the Journeys campaign launched by Louis Vuitton with ad agency Ogilvy Paris in 2007, one of the greatest campaigns in terms of branded content that simply tells the story and reveals the wonderful journeys of celebrities (such as Catherine Deneuve, André Agassi, Keith Richards and many others…) who made it out there with great achievements.

“Adapt locally and keep Lebanon walking…” 🙂

Advertising in Lebanon: TV remains n.1 and internet is inexistant!

I just came through this article on the Commerce du Levant website about the advertising spending in September 2010 in Lebanon. These expenses are down 8% from August and 4% compared to September 2009. Despite this slight decline, the third quarter was relatively good with an increase of 8%.

OK advertising is still growing, even if it is growing slowly. But the thing that hit me the most is the fact that there is absolutely no spending for advertising on the web or that it is really really insignificant. Check out this repartition:

As I was wondering about the average time that lebanese people spent watching TV, I guess I have the answer to my deep concern. Television takes it all and it is still the number 1 mass media. Will the web ever kill the TV stars?

Throughout the world, the strong growth of the Internet, and the development of its uses, confirms the mass media crisis (for the press and TV in the first place).
More profoundly, the belief in the mainstream media is dramatically affected by a movement that sees the legitimacy of traditional media organizations disintegrated by a permanent suspicion particularly related to a certain political affiliation.

Considering that a mass media (according to Marshall MacLuhan) is characterized by a communication of one-to many and by a one-side message (the public does not interfere with the message vehicle) we can of course question the belonging of the web to the “mass media” category. The web in its core, and thanks to the massive user generated contents created by the audience via blogs, wikis, social networks etc… creates a new situation: the communication pattern which used to be from one to many (vertical) has completely evolved to many-to-many (horizontal).

My main point here is that these new models of direct production of information are drawing an innovative media landscape, and advertising investments should definitely be following this trend.

Ghandour wants us to eat “Tarboush” instead of “Ras El Abed”

I think everyone knows Tarboush… or should I say “Ras el Abed”?

8 years ago, Ghandour, the leading producer of Cocoa based products, Bakery, Confectionery, as well as Food and Beverage items, launched a school contest in Lebanon asking students to propose a new name and a new design for one of their best selling products, the famous “Rass el abed” (“Nigger’s Head” for the English translation). The main challenge was to erase the “racist” overtone of the “abed” part, so people had to propose something significant, catchy and new. And that’s what I did. Actually, me and 5 other random people had the great idea to propose the name “Tarboush”.

Why? First, because of the “approximate” resemblance there is between the tarboush and “Ras el bed” shapes. And second, because of the strong relationship between the word tarboush and what Ras El Abed represents as part of the “Lebanese heritage”. Crunchy on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, everyone who grew up in Lebanon has tasted this local “delicacy”, or is just addicted to it (yeah I know some people who are and actually, 38,903 people like this on Facebook).

Let’s go back to my story: 2 years after sending my proposition, I received a phone call from someone at Ghandour telling me that my project was selected. They had organized a small gathering, in order to give away the rewards, during which they made it clear that the new product identity will not be adopted directly, but that it would take some time to completely change the identity and that this refurbishment will occur step by step. Fair enough. They didn’t want their customers to get confused with a brand new product, and they didn’t want them to think that Ghandour had abandoned the famous Ras El Abed.

The changes first appeared on the packaging on which they started adding a tarboush, and then, only five years later, they launched a big (?) communication campaign around the new name.

Too slow?   I think that indeed, they could have established a communication plan on a shorter period of time, because I personally can’t wait for the new packaging to be launched.

How much time will it take you to start calling it Tarboush? 🙂

What would you do If you won the millions ?

Amazing commercial for Le Charcutier Aoun. 100% Lebanese. The characters are so authentic and typically lebanese. Memac Ogilvy did a really great job for this special operation “Win over 300 millions lebanese lira with Le Charcutier Aoun”.

And you? What would you do if you won the millions?

“War – What is it good for? – Absolutely nothing!”

Along the lines of the Lebanese reconstruction after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, The Lebanese Republic Higher Relief Commission (go check their website, it is AMAZING :p) has created an anti-war commercial which compares the visual effects used in Hollywood, to the violent reality that happened in Lebanon during this war.

With the tagline “Act Now”, the spot aims to raise money for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Lebanese infrastructure.

I really don’t know what agency is behind this commercial or when it was produced so do not hesitate to share!

Watch the spot.