Sunday, February 26, 2012

MENA Cristal Festival Day 1 and 2

Just got back from the MENACristal awards in Lebanon. I had a blast!!
4 nights of seminars, cocktails, food, awards, and partying. I stayed with my entourage in the Le Royal Hotel, a good 1.5 hours away from the peaks of Mount Lebanon where the festival was taking place.

HIGHLIGHTS

Day 1: Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, was there. He gave a great talk about failure and how you shouldn't give up, because with every failure you learn something. He's also a very down-to-earth guy and was partying and dancing with us all night.

I also rubbed shoulders with the CEO of Digital Republic Karim Khalifa who was on the Arabic Culture Jury. I had a very interesting discussion about the work on display and the future of digital in the region.

Day 2: The first seminar I attended was for Dan Funderburgh, international illustrator, artist and wallpaper designer, invited by Pernod Ricard to give a talk titled the "Grammer of Ornament". Yes a very strage yet intriguing title that obviously a lot of marketeers didn't understand, hence the half empty seminar room. It was their loss, as it was an eye-opening journey into the art of illustration with stunning examples in "Guerilla Wallpapering". The guy is a detail oriented perfectionist in decorative arts.








Fernanda Romano, former Global CD, Digital & Experiential for Euro RSCG, started her talk by saying how she hates advertising, the word digital, and departments. it led me to start up the #FRomanoHates on Twitter. As much as she hates certain things, she was trying to teach us all a lesson that as an industry, we all really do need to hear. I had a talk with her in the after-party at night, when I saw her preaching to 3 ad execs, their puppy like faces nodding in unison, I told her to stop preaching and start drinking, to which she laughed and we had an interesting discussion about creativity.

Next up was the digital discussion panel that featured the talkative spot-on Rayan Karaky from Starcom, Yousef Tuqan the CEO of of the newly Publicis-acquired Flip Media, Hussein Freijeh Commercial Director at Yahoo Middle East, Arielle Steinmann from BNP Paribas, and Gilles Babinet from the French National Council for Digital. In the middle, there seemed like there was going to be a fight between Fernanda Romano and an old geezer from Leo Burnett. Highly entertaining stuff, especially when the old guy told Romano that she had no clue what she's on about.

After some alcoholic networking, it was time for the the first Award Ceremony of the festival that included Cyber & Mobile, Promo & Direct, Media, Production, Young Director and Young Cristal Competition.

A tall blonde by the name of Jennie or something was presenting the awards. And her blondness radiated throughout the evening. Why they didn't get a hottie Lebanese chick to present is beyond me?

It was apparent from the beginning that Leo Burnett were going to win everything with 'No Women No Rights' and 'Fake it all'. At some point they should have just had chairs for them up onstage instead of going up and down all the time.

It was rather disappointing that there were no Gold, Silver or Bronze Cristals, but rather only a Cristal and a finalist certificate (and a special mention). To put things in perspective, the whole Cyber & Mobile category only had 4 Cristal winners.


'No Rights No Women' by Leo Burnett Beirut for themselves :)
This won the Grand Cristal.




'Fake it all' by Leo Burnett Beirut for the Brand Protection Group




'Digital Love' by French agency Buzzman for Durex




'Cheyef Halak' by Impact BBDO Lebanon for LBCi



Stay tuned for a roundup of the last day at the MENACristal awards
and the big winners of the night :)

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