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Who do you think you’re talking to?

Who do you think you’re talking to?

With many Arabs today asserting national pride, do marketing communications need to change their tone? Tarek El Jundi reports.

April 6, 2011 3:59 by

The attitudinal survey canvassed 2,000 18 to 24 year olds in the GCC,
Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. It revealed the single greatest priority for youth
in the Middle East is living in a democratic country.

And it can be no co-incidence that the IAA Kuwait Chapter’s Young Creative Challenger is themed ‘democracy’.

When asked about how optimistic they are domestically and financially, 66 per cent of survey respondents said their country is headed in the wrong direction.

National mood then, for the time being at least, has taken a much more serious turn, but will advertising complement that?

Egyptian ads, for example, have traditionally often relied on goofy humour – typically the angry man being the archetypal Egyptian citizen and the kid being silly, insecure and overweight, such as in the Coke Zero campaign.

Then there’s the phenomenally successful viral Panda ads; or the Melody Hits ad depicting Egyptians singing western songs using anything but rhythm, followed by a caption using bad English to amplify the humour. Funny? Yes. But is that type of humour appropriate at this time?

Now that the mood has changed in Egypt, “the current situation requires marketers to fine-tune their marketing activities and be more tactful in their tone. Communication must be inspirational. It must instill national pride,” says Karim Khouri, MD, Impact BBDO Cairo.

(An Egyptian journalist, speaking on condition of anonymity, is contributing to an investigation into the best way to launch campaigns to promote social activism, for example.)

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