Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Perishable Products

Listen to this old song and enjoy:

Love is Free For All - Gus Farah (edited version, but no download needed)
Love is Free For All - Gus Farah (download the first song from the list)

This is a tune on which anyone in his 20s in Lebanon can easily sing along to... This once was a successful song; perceived as a classic by many. Often placed side by side with songs like Hotel California.. However, finding its singer is a challenge!
...and for good reason!!! To most people's surprise, it was sung by a Lebanese. This is far from being the classic, many misinformed thought it was. I was not short from being shocked and had to see this for myself to believe it.
This song is unknown to the international public! It never got the attention it deserves...

Can it still be turned into the classic it once should have been, and reach the position it upholds today in the Lebanese youngsters eyes? Time changed since it was launched.... the environment evolved. This type of songs may no longer be played on the radios.

This is a case where what once was a good product, is no longer so. It could have been an international hit back then, it had all the potential to be one.

I sadly admit that this opportunity is lost.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Print Advertsing: Critique and Correction

The rules for NGO marketing still conform to the norms. Unfortunately, the people involved fail to recognize the rules as they are often inexperienced in the marketing field.

Here is an advertisement hanged in church targeting teenagers:

print advertising

It does not take a genius to figure out that it will fail to reach its audience. Here are the flaws:

First of all, it fails to talk to the customers in their own language. Teenagers do not perceive Arabic as the trendiest of languages. They watch American movies, listen to foreign music, and will NOT expect to be targeted by a poster at church… Especially not with that gothic font style; not to mention that it is almost incomprehensible (ineffective for any audience for that matter!!)
Second, the message has to be intriguing. A bulk of words does not come out as the most attractive text to read…
Thirdly, colors SPEAK, they can even shout! …A combination of matching colors is thus crucial. Colors can even identify the person intended for the message, for instance an emphasis on the pink color says “girls only”.
Fourth, the pictures have to match the message. They are not simply decoration tools.
Finally, the message has to highlight the benefits in order to entice a reaction.

Keeping all that in mind, check the renovated posters:


print advertising

print advertising

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Popular Fraud

explosive detector lebanon

L'hebdo Magazine

explosive detector lebanon

Le Commerce du Levant

explosive detector fraud

L'Orient le Jour

These are just a sample of the many articles that have been written in the Lebanese magazines and newspapers regarding the antennas (rod) fraudulent explosive detectors that abound in Lebanon.

Other articles were written in Assafir newspaper, Al Tamin, Future Newspaper, Annahar and live reports were filmed by LBC and Future TV.

However, this has not translated in any action on the ground. Companies like ABC, Biel, Storium Saliba and several parking lots still use this product... Don't they have any concern for their consumers' safety at all?

These are claimed to be explosive detectors, but what they are is antenna “gadgets”. These devices were the topic of scandals in the international security field. They were clearly identified as fraudulent by many worldly governments.

Even more revolting is a claim found on a Lebanese based company website (I refrain from mentioning its name for ethical purposes):

“The range of detection is around 50 meters with obstacles and up to 650 meters in outdoor parking lots, the unit can also detect explosives submerged in water or buried underground. Detection from a hovering helicopter is also possible.”

Based on the US Navy and the US government related SANDIA laboratory reports, this equipment can’t even detect a highly relevant amount of explosives if it were right next to it! The NIJ (National Institute for Justice) report on explosive detectors only features half a page about these products... and the title start with "WARNING".

Today, these products have invaded the Lebanese and Middle Eastern markets under different names: Mole, Sniffex, Alpha 6, Quadro Tracker, ADE series... etc. However, the device is the same: it is made of magnetic pieces that help sustain an antenna in a plastic case. There are no electronic components, no power source such as batteries, capacitors, solar panels, etc. The antenna swivels freely. It just pivots. All scientific claims that it can detect explosives have been disproved.

This phenomenon is clearly due to consumers’ ignorance, despite the existence of professional and effective explosive detectors in the market…

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Advertising Taboo

security marketing

To celebrate Zod Security's 30 years' anniversary, this advertisement was supposed to be displayed outdoors on the streets of Beirut.

However, it was judged too controversial to actually be used.

After many trials to come up with a perfect advertisement capable to generate word of mouth and yet fit within the company's brand identity, we came up with this (see picture). It was just right, or so we thought.

"Trust in Zod, God is busy".

Zod Security was the second best option to God when it comes to protection. A great message to communicate the upscale image and the incontestable quality of its equipments in a few words.

However, the marketing campaign fell victim to society's norms.

First of all, God is a subject that is dangerous to tackle in the Middle East, as it can easily generate magnified reactions. Things could easily get out of hands. It is a risk one would be taking.
Second, This was to be printed during a hectic period in the Lebanese history. It was a time when explosions were abounding on the streets. Could the public be offended by this message in such times of crisis?

The decision was taken.... The project was put on hold.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Marketing Security

Did it ever strike you that in order to market an insurance policy or a security service, you need to first market insecurity?
Is there any ethical issues lying underneath it all? ...and to what extent can this actually be efficient?

I have realized that in order to reach their customers the companies in these type of industries strongly rely on salespeople or brokers. Could this actually have anything to do with it, or is it just the need of knowledge and expertise that makes this strategy the driving force in these industries?

Security remains a basic need (if you refer to Maslow's hierarchy of needs). Would advertising insecurity lead to an increase of sales in the security industry?

In order to send an advertising message and attract consumer interest, agencies tend to link the product to one of the needs, sex being the most popular tool used but it is not the only one. The human need for belonging is often successfully addressed... Why not security?

Friday, April 4, 2008

Play God

All the hype around Web 2.0 and interactive marketing is making me wonder: How good is this in building goodwill? It might generate word-of-mouth, possibly brand awareness... but what happens to the brand name?

If you're already big in the industry then this could be a good solution for you; but can smaller or medium sized companies resort to this marketing means effectively? Contrary to what the experts are saying, I think not.

A brand needs to be seen as an unaccessible superior power of some sort. To create a brand name, you cannot go to the consumer on a one on one basis. You should not come up as "human". Humans make mistakes.

However what the web 2.0 can actually provide is an all-knowing and all-seeing omni-potent presence to the company, that was never there before. Companies can now monitor their environment closely. Knowledge... that's what this information era is all about.

The industry lacks experience with new technologies, and I am afraid that many have gone wrong. Spamming is one offensive and detrimental mean that has previously been used under pretext that it provides measurable results. Pop-ups is another. Those have already been proven to be ineffective.
However, the inclusion of forums on official websites, or the company web logs and personal involvement of the corporation in these are quite demeaning. the brands are being downsized. If such activities are not carefully done, great damage can be caused.

By getting involved, you're making your brand "human"... and thus subject to criticism.

The correct way to deal with interactive marketing is to use it for information gathering, customer monitoring, catering to consumer needs and responding to critics. In two words, play God. Be the good, knowledgeable, capable God who answers prayers not yet formulated.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Flash Mob... Future Marketing Tool?

Mobbers… That’s what they call themselves.
(check this out: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flash_mob)

It’s hip, it’s fun and it’s secret; and it just got into town! Emails have been spreading around about a crazy event in Beirut. The date is set. The people are being gathered. The actual act… is still to be disclosed.

… and all I could think of is …. What a great concept for guerilla advertising!!

What if one company would sponsor those acts, provide them with all the stuff they need in exchange for some limited exposure?

Mutual benefit… sounds doable to me.

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