Category Archives: Only in Leb

Cultural terrorism prevents Mashrou3 Leila from opening for RHCP in Beirut

I haven’t posted here in a long time but this grinds my gears so i’m typing again.

Context is here for those unaware.

Disclaimer in expectation of simplistic, partisan comments: I am not an Israel supporter, I am not a traitor of the Palestinian cause…yada yada yada

Seriously? Simply because RHCP won’t back down on performing in Tel aviv, you’re arrogant enough to be self-righteous enough to pressure the band from opening for them in Beirut? Are you forgetting the essential part of the story here? They’re performing in Beirut!!!

Whether you like it or not, Israel is a nation with an economy, a government, and an influence in today’s world as well as a diaspora (and hence consequences around the world) that far exceeds the Lebanese one.

(Update): The band is also to blame here as they may have caved a little too easily.

Many have tried before to use cultural sanctions as an answer to the Israeli government’s political and military actions without success. You, ‘activist’, are willing to deny an up and coming band with a great opportunity ahead, the chance to open for one of the greatest bands of the past twenty years because you don’t agree with the Israeli government?

‘Cultural terrorism’ is the word you’re looking for. I saw you, activist, request they cancel their Tel-aviv concert. I didn’t actually see you ask them to *choose* between Beirut and Tel Aviv. Even after they tweeted their “joy, pleasure and excitement at playing in Tel Aviv,” as well as their “great love for Israel.”

But of course you can’t ask them to choose. No artist would ever perform in Lebanon again if that was the choice offered to them. Every single artist you can name who’s ever performed in Lebanon, by the way, has also performed in Israel.  Every movie you’ve seen has been aired in Israel. Every series you’ve watched has been aired in Israel. Every product you buy is on sale in Israel…

Where is the logic?

But it seems, unfortunately, but unsurprisingly, you do have somewhat of a reach, to pressure the local band into pulling back. Despicable.

How would you have felt if Israeli activists had decided that Lebanon, being a ‘terrorist country’, they wanted to pressure them to boycott their concert in Lebanon?

Rhetoric question, i guess… not even really expecting this post to make a difference, but wanted to write it…


How MEA should have handled the bad buzz around the on board passengers’ fight

I think that most of you have already seen the video that is buzzing since last weekend about a man going nuts on a MEA flight from Paris to Beirut. In case you haven’t, here it is:

110 000 views on the Youtube video and more than 250 conversations on Twitter about the fight in 3 days and a very visible digital footprint on Google thanks to a number of blog posts about the subject… I keep on repeating it, despite the evidence of facts: today, information travels incredibly fast thanks to the Web. Social networks, real-time information, user generated content: All these innovations make the communicational context both exciting and dangerous.

A crisis around a brand on the social web can happen very quickly.

How MEA Air Liban should have reacted to all these negative messages associated to this video? So for the next crisis (even if they still might have a chance to handle this one properly), here is a list of tips and advice for MEA people on how they should handle the bad buzz on the web without worsening the situation.

Once a bad signal is detected and before the crisis :

Be present on social networks rapidly: Have a specific plan and set up a Social networks monitoring team in order to be aware of everything that is being said around this specific issue on all social media channels (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube…)

Build up your message carefully: Don’t have an excessive reaction, just try to be honest and transparent. Imagine the list of questions that could be brought up by this issue and the impact they can have on your internal organization and bring the appropriate answers.

Stay available to all questions even on week ends

Accept to lose control and assume your mistakes: You can’t control every conversation. If you want people to trust you and broadcast your message, you need to trust them: listen, be inspired, let yourself go and engage. The customer will be reassured and will provide more trust in a company that agrees to take responsibility rather than a company that says nothing.

Engage conversation and create relationships: This needs effort so don’t focus on talking about your brand. Ask questions, listen to peoples feedbacks and insights and try to adapt your organization accordingly.

Think on the long term: Don’t expect immediate results. Its takes time to create a community of brand advocates who trust you especially after this type of incident that brings up the very serious question of passengers safety on board.

Good luck!

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? 🙂

The “new” communication strategies of Lebanese banks…

In retail banking, the communication strategy of credit institutions is facing new challenges. Beyond the cyclical impact of the crisis, new ways to “consume” banking seem to emerge. Lebanese banks should definitely start thinking how to redirect their traditional communication campaigns and tools.

Communication strategies are usually required to follow the development of new technologies that impact the consumers’ behavior. All around the world, it has even become common to use the Internet or mobile phone for banking transactions.

However, in Lebanon, we are still at, lets say, stage 1 (or you can call it web 1), where banks’ certainly do have websites (at least…) but where these websites are definitely in need of some renewal or should I say revitalization. Let’s take a quick look on what is out there:

Remarquable Design on « Microsoft Paint » for SGBL


Moderate-purple static inkblot for Byblos Bank


Rather kitsch animation and pixelized logo for Crédit Libanais

Strictness and severity for Bank Audi

Kind of appealing and dynamic home-page for FNB

(but don’t bother clicking to see what’s behind the images)

A bit of interactivity but lots of ambition for BLF

(these guys are great: they have even created a Facebook Page, a channel on Youtube and a group on Linkedin and everything is actually linked to their website!! :p )

So even if all the major Lebanese banks have created web portals, they are far (faaaaaaaar) from being present in all territories that new technologies have created. These territories include new audiences generated by social networks that are growing surprisingly.

The challenge for the banking sector lies in the conquest of these new spaces and the seduction of their audiences.

In this context, banks should be wondering about new ways to attract and develop customer’s loyalty. Communication campaigns based on a general message and distributed exclusively through television and advertising are no longer covering the entire customer base and have stopped responding to the changing selection criteria. The « revival », (which is starting to emerge with BLF’s campaign around « Ambitions »), should be structured around 2 main axes:

First, banks should start positioning themselves on the new audiences crossroads that are distinct and separate from traditional media’s audience. Social networks are new contact points banks need to exploit. These channels should be progressively integrated to communication strategies because they allow banks to be visible among a population of Young adults, which is a particularly attractive target for banks. But beyond visibility, these new means of communication offer the opportunity to interact directly with customers.

Secondly, banks should really be thinking about developing real branding strategies, stop acting like companies only and start acting like real « brands ». While they have almost all a very strong reputation, only a few banks have managed to build a strong identity around specific and distinctive attributes easily identifiable by the client. The promotion of a brand is only possible if it is linked with a promise and values that are in line with customer expectations. In this framework, communication actions taken by banks should above all, relay and make the brand promise more credible.

In this era, consumer’s behavior and clients fields of expression have radically changed. So why not use the web to set the tone for a new more collaborative customer relationship?

Fashion Daze Beirut – Positioning Beirut through fashion?

From September 16 until September 19, local and international emerging Fashion designers and photographers join their talents to re-interpret Beirut in a raw forsaken urban space within Souks Beirut, that will be exclusively revealed for one weekend. Their work will be discovered through a series of mixed media installations unfolding into moments of Beirut.

Fashion Daze changes the face of Beirut for a whole 4 days through fashion; exposing Beirut’s vernacular and glamorous culture to the world.

Creating moments of Beirut through fashion…
Celebrating Beirut glamour through urban artistic languages…
Fashion, creativity, music, cocktails, workshops…
This is what Fashion Daze is all about. Check out the teaser below

The event is brought to life by Aishti, Made For Beirut (Raya Tueny) and Solidere. Can’t wait to see what it’s going to be live 🙂

What is Made for Beirut ?

MFB is a fashion movement that situates fashion in a schizophrenic city that is in constant (re)construction. “We stitch vernacular with glam; we sew; we emphasize authenticity.” MFB is a collaboration amongst people who love Beirut. It is a call for action. It is the platform that will allow change to happen.

For more information you can check out the Event on Facebook or follow the Fashion Daze Beirut blog.

week&groove – Made For Beirut

This week’s track is Made For Beirut by Marc Codsi. When designer Raya Tueny offered me to collaborate with her on her narrative project, I couldn’t say anything but “Wicked!”. Made For Beirut situates fashion in a schizophrenic city that is in constant (re)construction. We stitch vernacular with glam. We reposition Beirut as a sustainable and creative hub through fashion. Codsi did a spectacular job (as usual) in composing this eccentric teaser-soundtrack that forces me not to answer my phone when it happens to ding. No one said that week&groove ain’t also about sending you a sassy ringtone to plunge you in my city’s peculiar mood.


Made For Beirut – Marc Codsi

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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?