Deconstructing the ‘Lebanese bimbo’
Women have long been stereotyped as blank bimbos or kitchen cleaners in Lebanese advertising. Industry watchers say this is gradually changing, but few are clamoring for liberation, says Communicate magazine.
June 3, 2009 9:13 by Nathalie Bontems
The easy way
Work such as this is the exception to the rule, though. Most campaigns for local products are based on a catalogue effect, instead of addressing women with a concept or a message. Their point is generally to sell, rather than build brand loyalty. “Local jeans brands, for example, don’t care about their image,” says El Hachem. “What they want is to sell off stock. And their core targets – 14- to 35-year-old women – buy these products regardless of the quality of the ad.”
“Almost systematically, end users ask for the exact product that is displayed in the ad,” says Brenas. “Eventually, it may lead to a snowball effect, with consumers discovering the brands’ other products later on. But still, that’s no reason for not presenting the product in a minimally intelligent context.”
Creative teams should shoulder part of the blame, says Brenas. “Due to new computerized tools such as Photoshop, and to stock image libraries, creation is no longer based on finding a concept and then a way to visualize this concept,” he says. “Today, the contrary is true. A picture is picked from stock images and a concept is developed around it. Digital retouching allows us to make women look perfect. But it hasn’t made them more attractive.”
Both clients and Lebanese society itself are also responsible, says El Hachem: “Why should creative teams bother if nobody drives them to excel? Why would they go through the hassle of being creative when the client doesn’t want anything that might be considered sophisticated, and when the public is not asking them to? It’s not the job of brands to educate the masses anyway, especially if nobody complains about this. Where are the NGOs, the women’s lobbies, the public awareness campaigns?”