Tag Archives: Advertising

Lebanon: one of the five leading countries on social media in the ME

The number of Facebook users in the Arab world reached 27.7 million by the end of Q1 2011, an increase of 30 per cent since the beginning of the year, according to the second Arab Social Media Report (ASMR).

This edition monitored the growth of Facebook and Twitter in the region, propelled by the uprisings sweeping the Arab world. It revealed a substantial shift in the use of social media from social purposes towards civic and political action.

The number of active Twitter users in the Arab world during the same period, according to the report, was over 1.1 million users who tweeted at least once every two weeks. These ‘active users’ generated over 22.7 million tweets during Q1 2011. Regional Twitter trends during this period focused primarily on events unfolding during the Arab uprisings. The words ‘Egypt’, ‘Jan25’, ‘Libya’, ‘Bahrain’ and ‘protest’ were the top ‘hashtags’ used by Twitter users in the Arab region.

The report noted that though the UAE, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon are the leading five countries in the region according to the percentage of Facebook and Twitter users, social media growth was the fastest in those countries experiencing social unrest. While Turkey continues to lead the region in terms of number of users, Egypt saw the highest increase in the number of users during the first quarter of 2011 among the Arab countries, adding close to two million Facebook users.

A major impact on brands and advertising
Not so long ago, the relationship that brands had with their clients was the equivalent of one-way street. Clients were told what they should love and how to love it. The only thing the customer could control was their own decision to purchase. But this is no longer the case today with the emerging power of social networks and the impact they have on our daily lives. Consumers now have the ability to speak publicly thanks to the features of the Web 2.0 tools which makes marketing teams extremely nervous.
With Internet users increasingly influential and platforms that are multiplying, social networks have become essential for brands. These spaces can now allow them to reinvent the relationship with the consumer.

In search for a real added-value
Brands should provide real value in order to foster affinity with Internet users and get them eventually to become the brand ambassadors. Social networks are primarily focused on the individual, so brands must place this individual at the heart of their strategy even if sometimes they can be considerd as intrusive.
Between Facebook and Twitter, user profiles and expectations are very different. The first is rather considered as a medium of belonging. Its members display their affinity with certain groups and certain interests.
On Twitter, however, the content is designed to power a community of opinion leaders, prescribers, etc.. So many brands have chosen to use it as a platform for customer relations.

Companies are increasingly likely to launch “Like pages” on Facebook. But what is the real benefit of these pages for the company, particularly in terms of customer loyalty vis-à-vis the brand?
Brands are seeking to promote themselves on social networks, but are still struggling to get results. Some brands do not know how to approach this young medium.

What is the real problem? Interaction.
A simple photo or video are not enough to interact with users of social networks and other social websites. To ensure the success of a campaign (to get a good return on investment, to start a positive buzz around a product, service, initiative), it is necessary to involve the user, to capture his attention, arouse their curiosity. So what should brands actually do? They should create specific web pages and original multimedia content, including videos and contests – even if the theme is not directly related to the core business of brand. The main objective is to create co;;unities around the brand or product. When people find it of value, if the brand pages are relevant to their interests and if they can act on such content (comments, play, create …), they can be ready to accept the fact that they are liking a page that is promoting a brand. In this case, users of social networks do not consider the branded pages as advertisements meaning that they do not want to switch to another page as the case may be faced with banners and pop-ups.

In order to reach their target and drive traffic through social networks, advertisers must encourage interaction with users and rely on advertising. It would be a mistake to limit to the word of mouth or viral marketing. All of us, Internet users, websites, brands, agencies and advertisers must learn to move forward and live together worthy experiences, let them be digitally or in real life. What are your thoughts on the subject? Any Lebanese brand you feel is doing the work properly? 🙂


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? 🙂

| Le bijou est aussi un droit | Really?

It’s been a while since we’ve bashed on a campaign on here. I was starting to miss it. Clementine (agency) has just made the job real easy.

This campaign is wrong on so many levels I wouldn’t know where to start.

Let’s go for the creative concept: so “A jewel is also a right”? I realize this is a literal translation, but I have to say I really tried digging deeper to translate more meaningfully; didn’t find anything there. So a jewel is also a right. As in, a jewel is so many (obvious?) things, but what we hadn’t realized is that it is also the right of every woman. Please note that “a right” here, actually takes on the same significance as it would in “women rights”. Kind of pretentious if you ask me.

At this point, i thought I read “Le bijou aussi, est un droit”, as in “jewels too are a right” which in many ways would’ve made more sense if backed with the proper execution. That would be a woman actually taking advantage of all her rights (voting, working, gender equality in general…) and then signing with a slogan that would imply something like: “you fought for your rights, you obtained them, today you can’t live without them…well, treating yourself (or having your man treat you) to jewelery is also your right. Take it”. Now , I’m not saying that would be a good concept, but it could make sense on a certain level. “A jewel is also a right”: means absolutely nothing.

Now as if this wasn’t enough, the ad actually includes a call to action: “reclame-le”, as in “claim your right to a jewel”. Beyond the blatant lack of subtlety required for a luxury brand, the very concept of claiming your rights implies claiming them from someone. In this case, the only interpretation I can find is for a woman to claim a jewel form her husband/boyfriend (who’s been holding back?)… This, in the 21st century, from the agency that gave us “sois belle et vote” is sort of aberrant. If you’re going for global brand image, try shooting ahead of the traditional, patriarchal society’s mentality. How about empowering the woman to believe she can actually cater for herself, even when it comes to luxury items? But moving on…

So the copywriter sucks, we’ve established that. Now on to the art director and the brilliant execution. The first word that came to mind was “whaaaaatttt?”. I don’t get it. I really don’t. If someone does (or if one of the creators happens to stumble on this page, please enlighten me).

A woman, sitting alone. She’s sad? Maybe nostalgic. She’s pensive. What is she thinking about? Her lack of jewelry maybe? Notice none of the women is actually wearing any piece of jewelry. Ballsy, but you gotta have a concept behind it. In this case, paired with the solemn piano music, it looked more like an awareness campaign for breast cancer than anything else.   What’s with the closed, confined, dark spaces? Not a smile, not a single shiny object, not one of these women emits any positive sentiment whatsoever. Basically an ad for a jeweler that lacks all communication codes of the industry.

While most clients in Lebanon probably lack that kind of insight, agencies are expected to know better.

Watch with moderation. Seriously damages eyes, ears and brains!

Online Marketing and Advertising: Why is it growing slowly in Lebanon?


Online advertising is still in double digit growth worldwide: after a 19% growth in 2008 and a 9% growth in 2009 (yes it is due to the crisis and NOT to the market saturation) worldwide online advertising growth is expected to reach 11% in 2010 (according to e-Marketer). So yes, the spending on online advertising is very healthy ($64.69 billion).

Online advertising and communication include many frameworks. Whether it is to create a website, an online newsletter, to launch banners on many existing online sources (newsmagazines, diverse websites, social networks…) or to monitor what is being said about your brand on social media and to engage online communities in your brand’s (or company’s) project, online media are very efficient (if not the MOST efficient) when to comes to acknowledging reputation (by mastering word-of-mouth), targeting people according to their interests, and measuring the impact of your campaign, especially for small businesses (contrary to what one may think)

But why are we still behind in Lebanon?

There are about 1 570 000 internet users in Lebanon today (for a population of 4 million people) against 950 000 in 2007 according to Internet World Stats. Despite this growth of 65%, the online advertising market is still behind especially compared to other forms of advertising. It appears that one of the main reasons comes from the advertising agencies themselves that are still reticent which is why they do not always include an online section part of the global strategies they sell to their clients.

Why? Simply because there are two types of clients: the ones who have caught the importance of being present online, because their marketing executives are young and they were born with the digital era, and the ones who still don’t see the interest in converting to these new forms of marketing because the traditional means are enough for them. They do not understand that internet is the unique mass media allowing a direct interaction between the brands and their consumers. Will all lebanese based advertising agencies will be able to sell cross-media campaigns to their clients when it is the right thing to do?

The main obstacle to an unstoppable growth of online advertising strategies in Lebanon is essentially (and unfortunately) structural. It comes, and it is no surprise for anyone, from the underdeveloped telecommunications facilities. Without the appropriate infrastructure, internet will never become common practice whether it is for the ad agencies, their clients or the consumers.

The explosion of the number of Lebanese on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter  and the emergence of bloggers and other digital influencers talking about subjects other than politics as well as the majority of newsmagazines going (or growing) online is, without any doubt, the main signal that the Lebanese audience is ready, not only for online advertising, but most certainly for a web 2.0 revolution.

Let’s just hope that broadband won’t be arriving very late…

New 2009 Campaign for The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism

If you are a Lebanese living abroad, you will surely be impressed and thrilled because of what you feel while watching this commercial. Aiming at promoting the image of Lebanon, this ad has successfully amazed everyone because it is based on an authentic, genuine and hard feeling shared by almost everybody a few days before they have to leave Lebanon and go back to their “real life”.

Each and every Lebanese living outside Lebanon has already experienced the “I don’t wanna leave” syndrome. But why do we feel so good in Beirut? Is it because it is our home, because we are very well surrounded by all our friends and family? Not really…. Because even tourists will tell you: they have never felt as welcomed, cherished and taken care of, as in Lebanon. Then why? Is it because of the weather or because of how much the living is easy? Is it because of the amazing beach resorts, the tremendous night life, the country’s incredible cultural and historical dimension, the sensational art of receiving people and taking care of them as if they were part of our own family?

This commercial made by Impact BBDO Beirut and produced by né à Beyrouth for The Lebanese Ministry of Tourism really promotes Lebanon as one of the most wonderful destinations for holidays especially during summer. Taking advantage of all the articles or videos about Beirut that figured in many various very well-known Medias (New York Times, CNN, Paris Match and many others…)

It is true that we only realize the value of what we have just when we are about to lose it. Even though I found this ad really extraordinary, I find it a bit weird the fact that it is targeting young Lebanese since it has been produced in Arabic (with no subtitles or anything). As if young Lebanese did not know what were the assets of their own country….

|Khédé Kasra| or how to launch a successfully integrated communication campaign


The “Khédé Kasra” global communication campaign made by Leo Burnett Beirut (no I do not work for them, I am just really appreciative and fond of their work) for the Hariri Foundation and their Women Empowerment Program, was released in June 2009 after a big buzz was generated on all traditional media and public sphere.

hakk hakkik








The Women Empowerment Program aims at raising awareness on women’s status and rights in Lebanon and incorporating gender equality in the social culture

I find it brilliant the idea of the simple “kasra” used to encourage Lebanese women and inspire them to bring gender equality in the society. The whole creative concept on which the campaign was based is very simple but yet you really had to think of that since it is based on both common sense and something people are not really aware of: the idea that all men and women read words in Arabic as being automatically addressed to men.

The increased buzz as the result of a massive street marketing strategy (posters were set up, stickers were distributed in all areas on the streets of Lebanon) generated growing interest of journalists and other opinion leaders such as online bloggers who adopted the campaign and decided to promote it.

This video explains how the whole campaign was executed. Its whole success relies on how each and every mean was leveraged to serve the other. “Khédé Kasra” was awarded with PR Lions in the “Charity and not for profit” Category at the Cannes Lions 2009

This campaign comes in a context where Lebanese women need to actively participate in society and stand up for themselves since they are deprived of many essential rights:

– They cannot give their nationality to their children if they are married to a foreigner

– They automatically lose custody of their children above 9 years old in any divorce battle

– They are still very frequently victims of domestic violence