Audi: Not good enough for Admir 2

When a few days ago I caught a glimpse of the new TV commercial, for yet another real estate project about to set-up shop in one of the few green spaces left in Lebanon, I had the usual "meh" reaction. Yet just into the ad, something felt off, so I kept watching, until I reached a scene where two children were disembarking from their parents' vehicle. And then it hit me (the idea not the vehicle).

The ad executed by Adrenaline had repeatedly shown that same car throughout the TVC and in every sequence they had gone into great length to obscure the brand on the front grid.
This was an Audi A4 or A6 with its distinctive nose, as you ca see below from a random picture I picked up from a site using Google images.

Now, I am not debating their right to show or hide the brand of the car, but I find it a bit odd that they think the car is good enough to appear in a TVC that is supposed to promote a luxurious way of life, but not good enough to be shown for what it is.

Kettaneh Motors are Audi's official representatives in Lebanon. I don't know how receptive to such ideas they might be, but it would have been worth a shot for Sayfco to discuss product placement with them.
That would have been a welcome change from traditional advertising tactics we see all the time.

You can watch Admir 2 TVC below

UPDATE (2014-07-03):I don't know how related this is, but three days after I released my blog post, I managed to catch the TVC again on one of the local channels and that version clearly showed the Audi with its logo on the front grid... perhaps someone else also whispered the same advice or was it a limitation set by the broadcaster, I am not sure we'll ever know.


The Battle of the Digital Kimonos

A while ago, as I started actively using Google+, I came upon a list of agencies that I could import to create a circle of digital professionals to follow. I did exactly that, and have since enjoyed a lot of posts shared by digital marketing experts from around the world.
Surprisingly enough one post caught my eye. The logo of the person sharing it looked way too familiar. The post came from a Mexican agency called "Black Belt Brands" and it only took me a few seconds to realize why their post had sparked that reaction.
Their identity is highly reminiscent of that of "COM FU" a Lebanese digital agency headed by friend and fellow blogger Ralph Aoun.

These two agencies, thought completely unrelated and thousands of miles apart had managed to reach an identical concept without any of them being a copy cat of the other and I find this delightful.
So, without further ado..here's the head-to-head visuals from their digital presence:

The Mascots

I am rooting for the home team here, but the Mexicans do walk away with the more geekish award in this round although they do loose in mascot doodle vs real design.


I would call this one a tie, especially that none of the paid any attention to the overlapping elements on their cover page.


BlackBeltBrands loses points for not having any cover picture but COM FU also loses because their cover picture seems broken and is not loading so it's another tie.

I think this give you an idea on this Asian/Latin-American/Middle-Eastern digital martial showdown.
I really enjoyed checking both brands back and forth and watching how they both evolved separately but along the same lines. Who knows, maybe one day one or both brands will be big enough to compete on a common turf and then we'll really get to enjoy a Battle of the Digital Kimonos.

Meanwhile, all I can say to them is:  好工作


Busted: Boom Boom copies Japp

There's always a special flavor to the act of busting someone who has blatantly copied someone else's creative work without any attribution. Just ask Beirut/NTSC, he specializes in hunting these down.
Of course it's not always black and white like with the ad mentioned in my recent post Candia With A Chance of Meatball.
However, when my good friend Hady Chandler Chehlaoui (some of you might know him from his funny videos as part of To Dum Brothers) showed me this ad, by yet another energy drink manufacturer, there were no grey areas and no hesitation, that's plain plagiarism.
I am not a fan of energy drinks and prefer to stay away from them altogether and this is why I probably missed this ad but here it is for your viewing:

Now jump ahead and watch this ad for chocolate energy bars called Japp.

As you might have seen the original Leo Burnett ad was done back in 1995 as part of an original 4-ad series revolving around the same concept and characters ( You can watch them and more here).

As many have highlighted before me, it's amazing how some people still think they can get away with such flagrant copying at a time where everything is one Google page away.
Seriously, stop insulting people's intelligence!


Facebook Launches Instagram Connect for Select Pages

I am sure many of you are already familiar with the twitter connect inside Facebook which allows you to connect your business page to a corresponding twitter account by visiting this page: facebook.com/twitter

With the rise in Instagram's popularity and after it was acquired by Facebook a question lingered on on whether deeper integration was going to happen. This question is still hanging although we saw several areas where the knowledge exchange took place. Brand, however, were still obliged to jump through several hoops inside the Instagram app to connect and share to the brand with no equivalent to the Twitter connect page (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iiq43A0v6-s) .

A few days ago, while accessing one of the page that we manage, I was surprised by a prompt that appeared on top of the page inviting me to click to link the client's Instagram to the Business Page.

I followed the link and landed on this page:

The Connect Page with the client's page name hidden

The page is accessible via the following link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/instagram/
At the very bottom was the client's page name listed next to the "Connect to Instagram" button but I have chosen to obscure that name for the time being.

Interestingly enough the link is not generally accessible and other pages could not be connected to Instagram using this technique. When asking a friend who shares no common pages with me to try the link out he obtained the standard Facebook 404 page not found.

My best guess is that Facebook is rolling out this feature as part of an A/B test or for select high profile pages. I should mention that this specific client has well over one million fans with a very high engagement rate.

We have reached out asking some more info from a Facebook representative, no answer has been received yet.

Have you also encountered this? Did you connect your Instagram? Let me know in the comments.


The 5 Interns That Give a Bad Name To Everyone Else

An intern is defined as a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, at a trade or occupation in order to gain work experience. Simple, don't you agree?
A clear-cut exchange of services between an establishment looking for additional (wo)manpower and an individual seeking to put themselves on the line in exchange for some notches on their belt.

My experience has taught me otherwise. In fact offering internship programs or accepting interns into any company is a far more delicate task than what we are led on to believe.
There are fine intricate mechanic at play here that on the surface might seem quite similar to the normal recruiting process of a full time employee but not quite if you dig-in deeper.

Internships can be excellent means to discover and acquire talents fresh out of grad schools. They are very useful to alleviate pressure when your staff is stretched out too thin in growth periods, or when the business cannot justify the extra expenditure in human capital.
Bringing in new blood into a team can always shift things around even if the intern is often not taken too seriously by the veterans.
Through my long years working in the telecom sector I have had exceptional interns who played key roles in helping us "take that baby home" when projects were running on very tight deadlines.  And then you have "the others". So how do we actually end up having these others on our hands?
  1. The Hand-Me-Downs:
    Someone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone higher up on the food chain, and that big fish just decided that the flimsy fluke who cannot stop giggling and putting pink ribbons in her hair would be a great addition to a team consisting of hardcore coders. In a country like Lebanon, one of the "someones" mentioned above is bound to be either politically affiliated or part of one of the neo-feudal families in our pseudo-westernized society.
  2. The Razzle Dazzle:
    There's always that someone who can put up the greatest show on earth during an interview. While this is usually all they are good at it's often good enough to allow them to pass through the cracks by what seems like sorcery. You are then stuck with them or the duration of the internship if you are not empowered enough to cut them loose. Ah, where is Gandalf when you need him...

  3. The Pity Intern
    Every now and then, in some murky corner of a night club or a cafe, you will run into that shabby looking worker that will strike up a conversation, then round up their eyes and tell you how they are working hard to make ends meet in the hope of making a career at some point when they graduate.
    You'll feel sorry for the little thing and try give him a break. Don't!
    An intern is not a protege and you are not a mentor, unless they can bring some added value to the business you will only be spending your resources on someone who is just an opportunist.

  4. The Johnny Bravo
    More interested in impressing members of the other gender this person is always trying to be the hero. Under-qualified and overzealous, they will always take on tasks that are just way out of their league so they can brag about it later to their person of interest. It's an accident waiting to happen not to mention a walking closet with perfumes, ribbons and all the works.

  5. The SKIA
    SKIA is short for stubborn know-it-all. This intern is often the biggest disappointment of them all. They often possess great potential but somehow are too busy hearing themselves talk than listening to others. If the whole purpose of internship as we said is an exchange of expertise and (wo)man-hours then this internship is often dead before starting. An intern not willing to listen and not willing to change their mind once they do are just better off becoming freelancers (more on those in a previous post here)
The truth of the matter remains that when external factors such as corporate and political agendas are set aside, the selection of an intern is often flawed due to the very nature of the position itself.
Internships are transitory, non-permanent positions, most line managers in businesses are not willing to spend enough time screening the candidates and conducting proper interviews. This allows for several false positives and often leads to frustration down the line. The intern should also be aware of what job they are being handed and whether it fits their profile and more importantly their aspiration. It's not mandatory to accept any internship offered as it is not mandatory to accept any intern being forced on you.

I, for one, would rather not have those extra helping hands if they come with a price tag as high and as frustrating as with those mentioned earlier.


Candia With A Chance Of Meatballs

Libanlait-Candia have recently ventured into the juice industry by launching 4 flavors (Orange, Mango, Apple & Pineapple). They have enjoyed a solid reputation in dairy and the expansion was only a natural step. A large campaign on various channels was orchestrated and crowned with a TV commercial which you can see now on their Facebook page but unfortunately not yet on their YouTube Channel.

The animated TVC is nice and well rounded but something about it was too familiar. From the second I saw it it felt like I had seen this before. Maybe not the exact same thing but the whole feel.
Then it hit me. I did see something very similar and I believe it was probably the inspiration for this ad.
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs was an animated movie that came out in 2009 (with a sequel in 2013) about a young odd genius who invents a machine that transforms water into food . You can see the trailer here.

I think the TV commercial stays far enough from the original not to fall into plagiarism and close enough to make it familiar especially for younger audiences who might have seen the movie.
Here are two stills from each side by side to give you an idea on what I am saying.

Candia (Left) - vs - Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (Right)

So what do you think folks? Too close for comfort or just right? Let me know in the comments.


Live Die Repeat: Afterthoughts

Many of you who follow me on social media or read the blog know that I am quite passionate about movies. I watch a lot of movies, good or bad regardless of style unless it's a beautiful Italian movie that's been ripped off onto an egyptian version. As a techie (see I avoided using geek) sci-fi has always held a special place in my heart and when I got the chance to get a sneak peak at Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt's latest flick I didn't mind throwing a few elbows to make my way into the movie theater.

I don't want to go throw in any spoilers as most have not seen the movie yet, also since I strongly believe there is a special place in hell (or somewhere in Beirut Traffic, whichever comes first) for people who giveaway plot details. So here are my 2 cents on what I got to watch tonight.

This was an entertaining movie with some cool visual effects, acceptable plot line (with only one major hiccup), some curved balls that break away partially of the Hollywood stereotypes and the same action movie quality performance we have seen before from either star.

The hook, however is in the title and the trailer as you might have already seen it. The possibility of living, dying then repeating things has been toyed with for a while. The temporal loop has been explored before in many movies, my favorite being still "Ground Hog Day" (1993) with Bill Murray.

Although the comedy of Bill Murray does take a jab at analyzing life and exploring the intricate emotions that connect us humans, "Live Die Repeat - Edge of Tomorrow" takes a darker approach to this from the start by setting the action in the midst of war, where there are far worse odds to come up against than meeting Ned Ryerson.

This movie offered a nice trip into a darker future world where hope was scarce but human spirit prevailed but the roller coaster it took me on was not on the silver screen, it was mostly in the afterthoughts of "what if".
What if we were given to relive the same experiences and learn to correct mistakes?
What if we were not able to learn?
What if that was a punishment and not a blessing? I know a few people I would not want to be reliving the same day with and I am sure they feel the same.
But then again, if you really think about it, sometimes real life does need an undo button .