Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Mobinil: 20 Million Pretty People

So it's becoming a bit of a conspiracy theory in Egypt about telecom companies running the show behind the veils of government and all that... looking around it's hard to dismiss that idea. Everything you see these days, every product or event seems to be assured of Vodafone or Mobinil's well-scrubbed fingers in there somewhere. Kinda makes you feel if either of these companies should decide to declare war, they'd have an army at their disposal - a WELL-CONNECTED one, at that. Scary.

And so, when Mobinil's 20 Million campaign came out all I kept thinking of was that scene in Terminator 3 when they turn on the Skynet program and it begins its little world-domination plan; needless to say, the reaction was "And it begins..."

Seems that public opinion of the ad is generally positive; the word frequently used in blog reviews is 'inspirational'. Speaking in very broad terms, I agree with that; it'd be nice to think that if 20 million people decided to get off their asses something good may come out of it. I also like the 'imagine' concept here; it gets my attention without too much negativity that usually comes with it due to my distrust of words like 'imagine'.

(yeah sorry, I'd like to give a fully positive review for once but not this time)

It's a shame that the campaign has flaws, it really is. But most of them wouldn't even be negatives if it weren't for Mobinil's blatant ambition that radiates from the ad. Let's start with the message itself; some of the voiceover's words sound well enough, keeping your attention with some innovation coupled with realism - but others are just weird.

20 mil can cultivate the country in a month? Fair enough. 20 mil can dig a Suez Canal in less than a week? Um I dunno why we'd bother to do that, but cool. 20 mil can link up hands and span the globe? ...This is getting a bit silly now. (Never mind that someone calculated that 20 millions average adults lined up would not, in fact, be able to do it.)

Speaking of people, the 'human factor' could really have been put to better use. I saw the billboard before the TV ad, and every time I see the model with the tagline '20 million Egyptians' I can't help but finishing it with ',none of which look anything like this.' You have to admire make-up artists for the work they do, cause it's ads like this that remind you how easy it is to go too far with ensuring that facial features show and neglecting the prime purpose of any make-up at all: to make the people look real. Mobinil failed in that sense; the 'fellah' they have on there just looks like he's got his business suit lying underneath the galabeya, for example (and Egypt's got pretty girls here and there, but not THAT pretty). Looking at the TV ad, with so many oh-so-pretty faces hording my screen, I felt like I'm in that movie Gattaca.

This wouldn't have been such a huge issue for me normally - but the line '20 million Egyptians' sets a standard that these models just don't meet. As an Egyptian I don't feel like I have anything in common with these people - which for me ruins the campaign's core concept.

So yeah I have to wrap it up simply: the idea for the campaign is good, really good - but its execution just doesn't meet its standards. With some good copy editing and a better direction in casting or make-up, this could've been a truly inspiring ad. It's a shame that it tried to settle for cute.

Basha Rating: 6.5/10

1 comment:

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