Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The City of Hope... and Nunchucks

Advertising Agency: TBWA\RAAD Abu Dhabi
Creative Director:
Martin Lever
Art Director/Illustrator:
Sherif Galal
Martin Lever, Farrukh Naeem


We now reach the conundrum that surfaces when worldly events make a good ad campaign obsolete. Here's the deal in this campaign: the photos are designed to show how a gruesome and stupid social problem like domestic violence can be so torturously subtle. And they do that well, good job TBWA.

The problem here is, these ads were uploaded in March. A rather funny thing's happened since: a few top Muslim scholars and Sheikhs in Egypt, Saudi Arabia (!) and Turkey have stood up in the summer and said that if a wife is assaulted by her husband, she's got a right to fight back. A very positive step in Arab culture I feel, but it ruins the point this campaign wanted to make.

Why am I so sure of that? Because if I were a woman now in the Middle East, and am getting hit by my husband, then I see an ad for a place called the City of Hope, I wouldn't be thinking that they're there to give me solace or peace of mind or whatever; I'd be thinking that they supply a rather crude (yet stylish) assortment of blunt(ish) objects that can be 'utilized' upon my misdirected man. Oh I wouldn't use them to hurt him, Allah forbid - they'd merely aid my cause as I very calmly explain the errors in the notion that violence is an exclusively male pastime, and proceed to advise hubby that by understanding my perfectly logical point he'd avoid several inconveniences in his short-term life... such as having to eat through a straw, forcing oneself to sleep on one's back, and screaming forever more at the sight of a bottle of Pepsi (those last two are linked, think about it...).

So maybe the ad hasn't become obsolete; perhaps it's the City itself. But don't worry boys, I've given you the perfect deviation in merchandise which will help you maintain your noble cause and, more importantly, stay in business! You can thank me later :)..


  1. Well just because women were given the right to fight back doesn't mean they're going to use it. Laws have changed before but more importantly the culture needs to change with it. Go into an Arab home ask an abusive husband what he would do if his wife ever hit back and it's very likely he'll say that he'd kill her.
    You need to take into consideration that battered women generally display very low/close to non-existent self-esteem and have become shadows of their former selves. A battered wife could end up living in perpetual fear and would probably not do anything that might jeopardize her family.
    That's why it's good to have a safe place for women to go to when all they can do is talk and possibly get some consolation or help. The more the options the better, because not all battered will fight back when given the opportunity and most battered women couldn't bring themselves to fight back even if they wanted to.
    Whatever they choose to do, whether it is fighting back or just talking in a safe place, more power to them.

  2. I couldn't agree more, and I apologise if my sense of humor implied that there's only one way to respond to violence. Of course it's much more complicated than hit/hit back, but as an idealist it would be nice if things could be kept so simple (and as a man I usually can't be bothered to think of alternatives :)... I had to throw a joke in).
    Like most of the social problems here in the MidEast the issues are rarely about the direct participants but rather about the secondary bystanders around (family, friends, El Nas, gossipy relatives etc.). The verdict the sheikhs gave doesn't solve that problem but at least women can begin to have a hope to be able to stand up for themselves, and more importantly hope that the public view on these things changes and people would begin to realise that sweeping atrocities like domestic violence under the carpet won't solve things.
    More power to them, as you said. I sincerely hope they get it in this lifetime.

  3. 福~


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