I’m not sure what the overflow of excitement around Ramadan TV ads says about us as a culture. Oh, wait, I do know; it says that we’re a nation of shallow cultural consumers who’s collective consciousness continues to be used as the diaper of Egypt’s creative industries.
Maybe I’m being a little harsh. I suppose the influx of new, festive commercials provides a welcome respite from Ramez Galal’s violence-inciting face. But as with all things in life, not everyone can be a winner and this year’s efforts have provided a veritable kaleidoscope of the good, the bad and the maddeningly bad.
Universally lauded as the best of Ramadan 2014, Pepsi’s Yalla Nekamel Lametna ad was all over social media platforms within minutes of the release and has racked up an impressive 3.2 million YouTube views. You’d be forgiven for missing them on first viewing, but the ad is steeped in little cultural references and you can’t help but be charmed Samir ‘Fatoota’ Ghanem’s immense jet black toupee and comedy legend, George Sidhom’s first TV appearance in years.
Bad: Coca Cola
The novelty of the whole Coca-Cola a7la ma3a [insert name here] malarkey ran dry a long time ago. I hate to be a party-pooper, but I get more excited about seeing my name on an envelope than I do about seeing it on an aluminum can. People saying their names while sounding like Stephen Hawking on auto-tune for 90 seconds is, surprisingly, rather grating.
Good: National Bank of Egypt
It takes a couple of seconds to realise the the plot device used in National Bank of Egypt’s surprisingly whimsical ad, but its charmingly unsophisticated humour makes it – at the very least – bearable. Short, quick and simple, it’s tone is almost reminiscent of the classic Panda Cheese ads and proves that you don’t need a Mickey Mouse degree in filmmaking to make an effective commercial.
Bad: Banque Misr
What in holy hell is going on here? Nonsense – pure and utter nonsense. Looking like a mix between a cheap ghee advert and the weird schedule-filling clips you used to get on Nile TV championing Egyptian industry, Banque Misr’s efforts in convincing anyone that there money is safe with them is so bad that it makes me a little angry. Nonsense.
I know that guy in the Mobinil ad, because I am that guy. Again, there’s nothing spectacular going on here, but it gets its message across and triggers a few – just a few - inner LOLs without resorting to the kind of pretentious claptrap we usually see from mobile networks.
Speaking of pretentious claptrap we usually see from mobile networks, say hi to Etisalat’s Ramadan ad. Now say goodbye. Unoriginal, derivative in the worst of ways and just downright boring, I forgot this ad exactly two seconds of watching it. Even now as it sits playing in front of me, I have no idea what’s going on.
Good: Mountain View
Mountain View’s commercial is a little schizophrenic – how can you advertise the peak of luxury with slapstick, Hulk-inspired humour? You can’t. But who among us hasn’t ‘hulked-up’ in traffic only to be hulked-upon by an angry blonde and a angry granny? The ad also gets extra points for Mr Pecks. I just want to bite him. Lightly, at first, then a little harder.
Where do we start? There’s so many things wrong with Swani’s ad that it literally gives me a panic attack every time it comes on. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the meeting that this shocking excuse of a commercial was pitched. “Listen up guys – we’re gonna have kids, young couples and old people dancing to a upbeat, generic sounding song. And if we show a clip of a group of friends taking a selfie, people will think Swani is super cool. Also, can we please have someone write SWANI in the sand for our awesome crane shot?”