Image by The Searcher via FlickrThe region's advertising industy has been oft-heard to complain that it's down to the clients, that the agencies' cool creative teams come up with edgy, smart and clever executions but that clients don't run with them.
I've always thought that was balderdash. I can't understand why clients put up with much of the advertising we see around us, particularly the strange and breathless 30 second outbursts of parping that pass for radio advertisements. And I find it hard to believe that a client wouldn't go with something creative and smart that worked and actually communicated a proposition effectively. I suspect much of the disconnect lies here - that the 'really smart ideas' are great for awards but would fail to do the humdrum job that the client has in mind - actually selling stuff.
I frequently look at the bad ads and wonder how on earth they got made, put myself in the meeting. You know the sort of thing - we're in a boardroom full of pony-tailed goatee beards in open neck shirts and Massimo Dutti jackets and hapless client...
"This is gonna be huge, George. We got a guy in his car, see? And he stops at the traffic light and asks his friend where he's going in such a hurry, isn't that right, Elli?"
"Yes, that's right. See, George, Raymond hit the nail on the head. Guy in car, friend. You can see it there, no? The smell of hot tarmac and exhaust fumes, then the guy revs up and says he's going to the Chicago Beach Hotel brunch and he describes it like it's a really hot woman, kapisch? All signature cuisine this and tantalise your tastebuds that. And at that very moment, the lights change and they both start racing. Over the sound of screaming engines we hear the guy shouting, 'why are you racing me?' and..."
"The other guy shouts, 'to get there first' at him!"
Whole team looks eagerly at client, who grins with relief and says: "Sounds great guys! I'm sure glad you got my account!"
Yes, thank you, I do feel much better now. Anyway, lovely colleague Maha found these ads. They are a wonder indeed. They were created by four-man Cairo boutique agency Elephant for client Arab Dairy and its Panda brand cheese - it was actually the dairy's agency of record, Advantage Marketing & Advertising, that brought Elephant into the room.
Crying with laughter, I have to admit to being blown away that ads this good are coming out of the region. And while I'm admiring of Elephant's creative and execution, I think the award should go to Arab Dairy for going with the whole idea. Why not, ad guys? If you're going to blame the bad clients, celebrate the great ones, no?
There are more of them - see here, here, here and here. (Oddly enough they haven't created a YouTube Channel or done anything particularly 'social' around this other than put it up.) Alternatively, if you want to catch a glimpse of traditional over-produced, drab and lifeless ads more typical of the region's output, here's an ad from last year's campaign.
(BTW, you don't really need to speak Arabic: the Panda ads all follow the same basic idea, person is offered Panda cheese, says no and then the Panda appears, stares at them for a time carefully calculated to induce a strong sense of awkwardness then gets violent.)