De-classified: Land Rover’s hit-and-run webisodes
Land Rover and Ali Mostafa’s short series ‘Classified’ leave a lot to be desired for the film critic, but provide plenty of inspiration for the marketer
October 25, 2011 5:14 by Eva Fernandes
Growing up in the UAE and having a strong passion for the art of film making, I approached the screening of Ali Mostafa’s “Classified” with a genuine desire to appreciate it. Due to the sheer lack of grass roots projects, UAE cinema, in my opinion, should be supported and when they can be, cherished.
Five “Classified” webisodes later, I think I might have changed my mind on my stance.
But before I begin to rant, some background: Land Rover recently commissioned City of Life UAE director Ali Mustafa to direct a five webisode-long series for the launch of the new Range Rover Evoque in the Middle East. The webisodes have been released on MBC.net every Wednesday from 28th September to 26th October 2011 at 10pm (UAE time). Land Rover only revealed its involvement in the project one day prior to the release of the fourth episode.
The webisodes, though, falsely described once as ‘The Hangover of the Middle East’ is an action packed mystery movie, that was more like a ‘24’-wannabe. “Classified” follows the story of Adam, a young Egyptian expat in the UAE, whose life is turned into a week-long road trip across the GCC, when he gets a mysterious phone call from a man who tells him his life in danger unless he follows the clues left to him by his dead scientist-father. Enlisting the help of his two friends Badr and Fadi, Adam gets by some clichédly close and stereotypically silly scrapes with the “unknown” bad guys who are following the trio.
Of course, the cryptic codes are too easily broken by Fadi, who I suppose is the ‘computer’ geek of the group because he wears glasses, has a Mac book and oh yeah, carries an USB SD Card reader wherever he goes. To say that the plot of “Classified” leaves a lot to be desired, is something of an understatement—the paltry plot is perhaps, rivaled only by the awkward acting of the webisodes.
But let’s take off our Ebert hats for a second and focus on Land Rover’s rather innovative and out-of-the-box take on launching the Evoque in the region. This entire project marks a decided departure from traditional advertising from Land Rover’s side. Whatever maybe said about the gaping holes in the plot line and the amateur acting, there can be no denying that Ali Mostafa has done an excellent job portraying the Range Rover Evoque as an integral part of the story. Cruising through the sandy dunes of the UAE deserts or the busy streets of Manama, the Evoque looks like a brilliant companion for adventure.
So full points to Land Rover, but I do question the popularity of ‘webisodes’ here in the Middle East. Granted that Mostafa’s strengths lie in the visual aspects of production, I can’t help but think the duo would both stand to benefit more from a 5-part YouTube viral video campaign featuring the Evoke.
But enough of this: have a look through the webisodes and if you manage to make it through the series, let us know what you think of them.