Ramadan 2018 - Post 1 - The good, the bad and the really ugly..

Hello hello old friends,


After a small poll I’ve done, decided to ditch video and go back to written blogs, it’s “my thing” apparently.


Kol sana wento tayyebeen,

So we live to see another Ramadan, with apparently a new set of ads (or are they the same?)


SPOILER ALERT: This is not a very happy blog post, if you are a client, creative or executive in agency waiting for “mabrook, el e3lan kassar el dnia ya m3allem” or to forward the article to your peers at work.. you wont find that here, not this time at least..

If you are in for some constructive criticism, please read on.


Sitting in 4th day of Ramadan, we haven’t seen a massive flow of ads yet.. just the big telco’s, a teaser from Pepsi and some random copies here and there.

Overall honestly, I feel the creative output of the Egyptian ad industry is becoming more frail year after year... We have generally been known to be the strongest creative hub in the region, but with such outputs, I unfortunately feel we’ll be taking a back seat very soon and lose leadership in one of the very few industries we’re still ahead at.


If everyone wants to play it safe and keep doing what has already worked on the premise that “if its not broken, why fix it” aw "إللي تغلب به, إلعب به" y2ba 3aleih el 3awad.


I’ll be mainly talking about Telecom ads in this post, cz its too long to include anything else.. Honestly speaking, they all feel the same to me.. take out one logo and put the other and u won’t feel a hint of a difference, they’re all saying the same thing without a fraction of brand character infused in the copy..

Overall the star-studded song concept feels too bland after EIGHT YEARS of running the same idea, since Etisalat started this wave with their “2alo Magnoon” copy in 2010.. To put it in perspective, 8 years ago we were still kings of African Football (Captain Hassan Shehata’s crew), Hosny Mubarak was still president and Instagram was still an idea in Kevin Systrom’s sketchbook (the pre-influencer era, fakreeno? haa7!!)

That’s nearly a decade ago, a decade where we see the same ad with a different cast and lyrics.. come on!

Every year since then we have seen the same concept replicated one way or the other, get the hottest celebrities on the scene that year, put them all in a 2-3 minute song and ur set for the season.. Setting aside any regard for endorsement value, ROI, brand role, message association or even distinction from competition.. Just something to win over the crowds w khalas..

But seriously, 8 years later, I think it’s a shame for our creatives not to be able to come up with something different, OR to put their foot down and tell their clients “Sorry, we will not do another celebrity song”.

Why Etisalat was so successful in 2010 was because the novelty factor was there, concept was fresh, you were eager to see what they have to say and the happiness that came with it..

bas el kofta di is becoming too repetitive and tasteless.


A very harsh introduction to a more lenient deep-dive, I hope. Don’t get me wrong, the ads are not bad (not all of them, at least), and I actually enjoy them, but I’m just addressing the fact that life has to go on beyond Oprette el 7elm el 3arabi that we see every year.

If people see it coming already, you have less chances of scoring with them.


1.     Orange – جاري يا جاري



The closest to my heart, the one with the strongest insight; that while your neighbors are literally the closest people to you, yet you feel very distant to them.. So take Ramadan as a good chance to reconnect and get close to them.. Mixing the most prominent neighbor types (the noisy, the nosy, the grumpy, the silo-ed and the trouble maker) along with a personal favorite of mine; Hani Shenouda’s score forShams El Zanaty’s OST makes the ad an instant fan favorite (gotta give credit to my good friend Hisham Kharma for seeing the gem in this track and remixing it twice; a techno remix in 1998 and a tribal chillout version in 2017).

Maybe this feels a bit off Mobinil/Orange’s Ramadan look and feel of the past couple of years, we’ve seen them do their version of songs with an Egyptian taste, real people, real cast; real stories be it with Dayman Ma3 ba3d in 2012, Fa3el Khier in 2015, Mel madfa3 lel madfa3 in2016 and so on.. but with changes in communication management heads between telco’s, its normal to see a different flavor to what was originally a consistent brand tone.


2.     Vodafone – نجوم رمضان السنة دي



The buildup there was quite nice, when they released pre-Ramadan copies for Saad Samir, Ahmed Hegazy and Ahmed Fathy, then followed up with the full song showing us how the story builds up.

The link is nice, and the connection between teaser and revealer copies is quite neat honestly. But I’m not sure how are football players Ramadan’s stars if the World Cup starts on the first day of Eid, so why would I see them as Ramadan stars? They should be training in Ramadan.. lol

A bit of a distant link for me, but I won’t be too anal about it.


But as far as I’m concerned, it’s the same ad of the last 3 years, with just new faces, refresh your memory with below

ڤودافون، قوتك فى عيلتك رمضان 2015 –

 ڤودافون – العيلة الكبيرة رمضان 2016 -


3.     Etisalat – احنا مش بنهزر



Wallahi shakloko bet-hazzaro bel e3lan da..

The only thing that I see consistent in it is el mobalgha.. overdone in every way.. Random Ramadan stars overdoing everything in an overdone copy.. although Sherine Reda of course soft-spot gamed.. still doesn’t justify, I don’t like the ad nevertheless..

Also I am really, REALLY bothered by the fact that Mohamed Ramadan is being over glorified in every appearance, be it a movie, series or ad.. The guy is talented, gotta give him that, but he’s not God, because apparently that’s the direction we’re heading; being last in line-up of the ad, King Tut’s casket, the music crescendo, the lyrics.. la2 mesh Michael Jackson tale3 fel e3lan ya3ni..

In case you haven’t noticed, he referred to himself as possessing “شعبية إلهية” in the last copy


Also, what the f*** is wrong with Samira Said’s voice.. I was listening to it in the car and I thought it was a Minion sound effect.. howa fi eh?


4.     WE – Mobile Internet



Remember when I said not all ads are bad, this is the bad one.

I honestly have expected much more of them on their launch year, but looking at what they’ve done with their logo design for starters, then the Montakhab Airplane design (let alone the Salah fiasco), this is not too surprising to me now..

Anyway, let’s not grill them much, with the competition they’re up against, the ad will probably die out very soon.. And that is when competition is really bad this year, let’s hope they learn the lesson by the time competition get back in shape.


Brand specifics aside, and along from the repetitive song concept which I’m sure I made very clear, there are some other factors that I see are


Copy duration


Kheir ya gama3a.. shwaya shwaya you’ll stop competing in Lynx and Effies and go head to head in short movie festivals..

Copy durations are becoming TOO long.. 2 and 3 and 5 minutes are NOT OK..

What kind of story are you trying to tell anyway.


I don’t believe this is the biggest bang for your buck, in a country where there’s

a.  No TV rating system (in case you didnt know, TV ratings in Egypt have been suspended since May 2017).. Agencies have been sadly relying on Twitter to know the good programs; Twitter, a platform of around 2 million users in a country of 100+ million.. So you really don’t know if your ad if being viewed or not, just qualitative assurances.. and dont fool yourselves with trending reports and view counts on Youtube, you know its all paid, so its a show of who has more digital budgets, nothing else.

b.  An economic crash after floatation

c.  A generation of viewers who are not on TV in the first place, paying money for programs, platforms and bypasses to watch content without the interruption of your commercial messages, and if they sadly sit through it, either they skip it, watch the first 3-5 seconds of it or they watch it with sound off.


Copies should be crisp, to the point yet entertaining to the audience you’re addressing..

Over the past year, I’ve been in sessions with Google, Facebook and the likes talking about 6 second ads... and we’re serving 120 second++??


Literally money down the drain.. I’m sure there’s a lot more you can do with these production, celebrity royalties and airing budgets… a LOT more.


Choice of celebrities


When we were studying celebrity endorsement in marketing and advertising books, by definition the celebrity should


a.    Be unique in some aspect of his persona (look, character, attitude…something).. Johnny Depp with Dior Sauvage masalan.. perfect fit.

b.    Have something in common with the brand

c.    Add to the brand

d.    Most importantly he should not have done any advertising work with competition.. preferably no advertising at all kaman, then people would remember him for your brand only.


Look at the George Clooney-Nespresso partnership.. George Clooney has been doing Nespresso ads since 2006, so for 12 years he’s been consistently hammering on the Nespresso offering, taking it from a brand no one knew to a household name with a machine in most of their target audience’s homes.

He even took it a step further, George Clooney also serves as a member of the Nespresso Sustainability Advisory Board, collaborating on ideas and solutions towards improving the lives and futures of coffee farmers (check full story here).
So he literally became part of the company, because their agendas are so in line that he can confidently represent the company as part of his belief system and encourage people to buy its products because he trusts it so much.


Taking it closer to home, when Adel Imam introduced Vodafone’s “Power To you” concept in a 1 month stint that ended with the Jan 25 revolution (which I think was their strongest corporate copy to date), that was f***ing powerful, the biggest Middle Eastern star with the biggest Telco in the region, the marriage made sense…


Neboss b2a 3al konafa bel renga that we have here.. just topline examples, I’m sure there will be more if we dig deeper.


- Donia Samir Ghanem and Hend Sabry both being featured on Etisalat’s “2alo Magnoon” copy, then again in this year’s Orange copy.. 

- Hossam Ghali did a couple for Vodafone himself as part of Al Ahly (since VF is lead sponsor), then appeared solo in Orange.

- Zafer Abdin in Orange this year.. already was in OrangeEagle just a couple of months ago and previously playing the exact same character in Vodafone Him/Her a couple of years ago (the suit, the watch, the boat, the girl.. the whole shebang really, just with a different brand)…

- El King b2a qessa tania.. Mohamed Mounir, didn’t feature in one, but TWO competitor ads, he did “2alo Magnoon” also (which was massive because he never did ads before that, novelty factor again).. Bas el zaher el le3ba 3agabeto, cz Vodafone did a yearlong campaign with him before he featured on Orange’s ad this Ramadan… eh ya gama3a.. el brand maloosh ahl yes2alo 3aleih?


And I honestly don’t think its any of the celebrity’s faults.. at the end of the day its business for them.. if brand X comes and offers me money for representing their brand while knowing that I’ve already worked for brands Y and Z, then why would I care about your brand, if you apparently don’t.

So I think we should trying thinking harder about who would be a good fit to your brand and message rather than recycling celebrities who have been overused time and time again.

Also one last thing… not everyone can sing guys, Nelly Karim was a pain to listen to..


Lack of brand role

None of the songs (I wouldn’t say ads, because they aren’t) have a clear brand role defined in the copies.. With the exception of Vodafone that maybe linked it adequately by saying that “Elli gay aqwa” reference to the World Cup, which takes me back to the point that it isn’t Ramadan relevant.. lol
But generally speaking the copies should serve as a strong linkage between brand role, celebrity and ad format.. So if the ad format is already مهري to its core, celebrity usage is as illustrated above.. a natural result would be a lost brand in the middle.

At the end, really sorry about the long article, sorry about the harsh critique, but even more sorry for the state we’ve reached... I’ve been a proud member for this industry for the past 10+ years (with no interest in scrutinizing these ads, I have no competing brands on the scene) and I would hate see it heading to a position where we are just recycling ads.. we are better than that, YOU are better than that.

Hope it’s a wake-up call to all my friends and colleagues in this realm.. 
Not to belittle all the hard work put into these copies, I know how many sleepless nights between briefing, ideation, approvals, production and post it took.. but i feel it would be much better utilized over an original idea/concept.
Let’s reclaim our glory in this industry, we really do kick ass work.. let’s show it!

Till we meet next time, promise it won’t be that long.
Hope you found it useful,

VodaCoke..Red vanguards inspire

Hello friends,

It's been a while since I've written here.. in a blog format at least..
Due to a lot of reasons:

  • Mashaghel el dnia, work and the usual rat-race
  • The current happenings around us weren't too suitable for an ad-critique.. falls to the bottom of the priority list in such circumstances.
  • While there were numerous pieces of work in 2016, good pieces of work that sell a product or a brand.. There were little that inspired people.
That was until yesterday.. when (by coincidence) two of the biggest advertisers in the country released 2 beautiful pieces of work to charm us, intrigue us and most importantly inspire us to be a better version of ourselves.


Evolution is a trait of life, we all evolve everyday.. 
Our minds, bodies and talents evolve.. till we reach a peak, the pinnacle of our accomplishments.. before we pass on the torch to a new generation, to pass the learnings and have them build on the foundations we've laid.. this is how humanity works, each one continues on what their predecessors have started.
Vodafone touched upon it beautifully with a spot that touches the hearts of many, playing on sports, art and dance, in an attempt to gather as much interested audiences as possible.
While the idea is not totally fresh, the craftmanship of the copy is beautiful.. and the space that online viewing provides (vs TV), gives more space for longer ads to tell more beautiful stories.
The choice of cast is very smart too, celebrities that people aspire to, consider to be their pride and joy in a time when there are little idols to look up to.

I think the only flaw of the ad is the release date, a time where people are already not too happy with the quality of their 4G connections, even at test phase.. 
I personally was very cynical about it when I shared the ad after seeing it.

Maybe they should have waited till the service is 100% up and running, for people to experience the strength of a 4G connection to feel the evolution highlighted in the ad... and to dodge a couple of sour comments...

*NB: Vodafone being Vodafone, can afford pretty much anything and anyone, no-brainer.. We've seen that time and time again.. they even signed THE ONLY non commercial celebrity in their beautiful 2011 spot with Adel Emam.
Makes me question the stopping power of any VF ad... is it always about who VF paid to come feature in their ad? or will we see a VF ad that is more reliant on the idea than the mouthpiece?
Not to belittle the impact a celebrity has on pushing a commercial message, but I believe an idea should live at the core of creative message, not the celebrity.

Food for thought :)


Coke has always been a driving force in this market, as well as globally.. Time and time again they have proven their innovative approach to marketing in general and their campaigns in specific.

Over the past years, they have cemented themselves as راعي المشجع المصري.. a non-existent space they've carved for themselves and pushed away any other brand that would dare assume the same (including their big blue rival).. No one owns Egyptian football like Coke.. no one.
This time wasn't any different, similar to VF they have used a star-studded spot but solely focused on football.. Mido, Medhat Shalaby, Hazem Emam, Zizo, Karim Shehata...etc.. Difference here is, the IDEA is the hero of this ad, not the celebrity.

We all love Egypt, whether you want to admit it or not.. with all the shit we're going through, we still love it and believe in its people and potential.. else we wouldnt be still here, or all stand in solidarity whenever we're hit by crisis, or shed a tear when moved by a patriotic song... Deep down inside, this country lives in us.
And that's what Coke played on, let me hypothetically jump in their brainstorming meeting room there and reenact the discussion:

"if we cant talk politics, why don't we use football to remind people of how much they love their country"
If we can't use a flag as a country mnemonic, use the football jersey.. 
But not everyone has a football jersey, right? Well why dont we just give it to them.. 
Will cost us a lot? who cares, for the coming years anyone who will see Egypt's football jersey will remember Coke... Its cheaper than a TV campaign for sure.

While looking fairly simple, I'm sure there's a logistical nightmare behind it.. when to exchange, how to exchange, what will happen to the old jersey.. a lot of questions that make the execution hell-like for the marketing team and their agencies.. but i'm sure it will be well worth it.

The conclusion of both campaigns is that in times like these, recession, devaluation, social depression and terrorist attacks.. The mass morale levels have hit the floor, people are looking for inspiration anywhere around them.. anyone that says anything positive will get superhero support.

"Never waste a crisis" is a very wise saying that can apply to pretty much any field of business, in times of crisis there will always be opportunity.
As you see below, there a general slowdown in adspend in all of MENA, not just Egypt, each market for its own reason, falling oil prices, conflict in Yemen, political instability...etc. That said, 2017 won't be any better as there will be more pressure on brands to cut on costs, the obvious bucket.. guess what... advertising :)

With that in mind, there are less players on the advertising scene.. Therefore with less noise competition, those who play with smart strategies and placements will win BIG in the hearts, minds and pockets of consumers

While it would be absurdly naive to assume that brands create heartwarming ads from the goodness of their hearts, there has to be a commercial win obviously. But a marketer that achieves that commercial win while inspiring people and winning over their their hearts, would've achieved the holy grail of marketing.

Bottomline: Bravo CocaCola, Bravo Vodafone... keep them coming!

Top 10 ads of 2015

Search This Blog

Blog Archive