Friday, May 26, 2006

Snafi -- the Saudi Viagra

On a lazy Friday afternoon, while flipping through the endless commercials on Showtime, I came across a commercial for Snafi. DMO loves the TVC. I have yet to see an English version of it (and I am glad there isn't, it would look wrong).

The TVC begins with the husband checking on his kids and their homework. The wife assures him that they are doing their homework and reminds him to do his. The husband looks around as if making sure no one has heard (subtle).. and then the Snafi packet comes up. Sits there and then is put in a 45 degree angle, signifying an erection.

Not sure who the advertising agency is, so if anyone knows, please let me know.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

CAIR -- someone finally figured it out

6Days had an interesting article earlier today (technically yesterday) about CAIR commissioning Hill & Knowlton to defend Islam's image. The article goes on about how CAIR are learning their lessons from AIPAC.

DMO is pleased to see that someone finally figured that whining about how the image of Muslims in Western and American media is not going to do anyone any good. It is in fact in the hands of Muslims themselves. The budget: $50m. Not bad for such a major campaign that would result in better business opportunities.

Unfortunately though, Etisalat seems to think that we should not be able to see what the Anti-CAIR have to say.

Hill & Knowlton have a huge task in their hands. Persuading Americans that Muslims are not dangerous, but are a part of the American culture is not going to be easy. They also have several organizations who are more than happy to see the anti-Muslim (or as CAIR likes to call it, Islamophobia) thrive among the American population.

What I don't understand is why CAIR thinks Dubai should foot the bill. I also don't think the DP World connection is a fair one. The DPW fiasco could have still happened, even if it were pre-9/11.

DMO applauds CAIR for their initiative. However, don't insult our intelligence by making it look like it's Dubai's problem. Any country with business interests in the US that calls itself Muslim should contribute to the funding of the campaign.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Battle Co. -- trouble in the island kingdom

Apparently Battle Co. decided that they weren't making enough money so they created new Internet broadband subscription packages with thresholds (ridiculous ones at that).

Mahmood seems to lead the campaign against this with a very interesting site called Boycott Batelco.

First of all, DMO must make it clear that we find Battle Co's behavior greedy and uncalled for. It is this kind of abuse that strifles economic growth in the region. Having said that, we would like to look at the situation from a PR perspective.

Batelco found itself in the middle of a storm that it did not expect. It assumed their customers are ignorant. They are not. The TRA was also involved in this. The situation was getting very messy.

Batelco's policy became that of engagement. They engaged the complaining customers, in public and did not proceed to block the site. Batelco's CEO personally replied. That's a huge step that is very unlike any other corporation in the world, let alone here in the GCC.

DMO salutes Batelco's initiative in engaging their customers in a civil manner while allowing them to voice their concerns in public without attempting to block their means of communication. This is something that we highly doubt Etisalat here would do.

Interestingly, the campaign's site mentions Etisalat several times in good light. What the customers in Bahrain don't seem to know is that Etisalat still places thresholds on business ADSL susbcriptions with no options of 'unlimited threshold'. In effect, Etisalat too, are guilty of strifling growth of businesses in the UAE.

The problem is that a grassroots movement like the Boycott Batelco campaign is led and followed by citizens of the country whereas in the UAE, such a campaign would most likely be an expat affair, getting much less attention from the government and authorities. After all, expats are temporary.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Dubai firms take Bahraini papers online

We've always been criticized of being critical (how funny.. people complain that we complain that others complain...). So, DMO wants to give thumbs up to a firm that has been doing it right. Flip Media, no less.

As reported by AMEInfo, Bahraini broadsheet Akhbar Al Khaleej has signed on with Flip to take them online. Looking through Flip's portfolio and set of awards, one must admit that they have been doing something right.

Perhaps other agencies that look down on Online-based agencies should take a harder look and see why Flip is becoming the hottest agency around.


ART -- the FIFA 2006 rip-off

DMO doesn't care for sports, but loves the World Cup. As the countdown begins, I called up eVision to subscribe to ART's FIFA channel. I read an interview with one of the ART guys defending the subscription rates. I remember making a comment about it to someone. I really did not expect the price I was quoted though - a whopping Dhs. 1,764. You have gotta be kidding me!

ART's explanation? The World Cup comes once every 4 years and you must respect the world cup! While I understand that the World Cup is an important event, I do not respond very well to demands of respect. I have a few gestures I would like to make to ART, which would end with me saying, "Respect this!"

I am very confused with this price though. Does ART have a deal with pubs, sport bars, cafe's, etc.? It really doesn't make much sense to think that the average viewer is going to be willing to fork out that much money to watch a one month event? Especially that just about everyone in this region will be glued to the TV watching every game.. and when not watching, they will be discussing the results of the game they've last seen. It's the WORLD CUP!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Promax -- do we have an attitude problem?

DMO is not entirely surprised but disappointed to see a letter to the editor on the latest Campain edition from Dahlia Haleem (Sr. Communication Consultant) of Promax. Let us be clear here, we firmly believe that MEPRA are pulling those figures on the growth of PR industry out of their ass.

So, make no mistake about it, we don't think very much of MEPRA.

However, for you to come out and say that you are proud to work for a company who refuses to join MEPRA is, and excuse my French, idiotic.

Promax's Cem (Managing Director) came out and said MEPRA is crap, we're here to start ABCA for practioners and not an elite club. I disagree and think that we should have had a restructure from within MEPRA, but fine. However, Promax' PR brief for ABCA appears to look like this:

Objective: Position ABCA as the rebellious group that is going to save the PR industry

  • Diminish all or what's left of MEPRA's credibility

  • Continue to bash on MEPRA and how they suck

  • Call for practioners to join, while bashing at MEPRA

Yeah, I'm not sure that's the best strategy guys. You might want to stop taking things personally and actually care about the industry a little more. Get a grip, will ya?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

6Days -- kill the trolls!

An electronic mail message, Usenet posting or other
(electronic) communication which is intentionally incorrect,
but not overtly controversial (compare flame bait), or the
act of sending such a message. Trolling aims to elicit an
emotional reaction from those with a hair-trigger on the reply
key. A really subtle troll makes some people lose their

I am truly baffled by the amount of trolls in 6Days' Letters to the Editor. It's as if someone is saying, "Hey, this is a completely ridiculous letter. The writer must just be trying to mess with us! Let's mess back with them and actually publish it!"

Well, it gets published and then people start writing about how outraged they are. For someone looking into this from the outside of the UAE, they would think that a bunch of morons live here. While I do not want to get into such a debate, I would simply say that there surely are better ways to keep a couple pages of a tabloid paper interesting. Perhaps publishing actually intelligent letters might work?

Not to bash on 6Days alone, Emirates Today is no better. Their solution is better. They say, let's publish stuff that says how great life here is. Super! So now we have a newspaper that publishes complete absurdity and another that is entirely delusional. Makes one wonder. I'm not even going to try and look at KT or GN.

Monday, May 15, 2006 -- a flop?

When I met the guys responsible for, I expressed my excitement. The idea is not new and many friends have toyed with it for years. The problem with it is that it had to be done with someone credible and/or with deep pockets. is just that.

For a long time I waited to see their advertisement campaign, but nothing came out of it. Then I started seeing it around the free zones (DMC/DIC/Jebel Ali/etc.) That was nice, but hardly enough. Maybe they wanted to test the market. It didn't really pick up though. You need critical mass to make such a system work.

Finally, I noticed their outdoor ad on Sheikh Zayed Road. Not sure who their agency is, but I would fire them immediately.

You need to raise awareness and hold events. A lot more PR is needed here. Education of bidders is key as well. People are still not able to grasp the concept of bidding online. I'm not sure why, but that appears to be the case.

For example, someone would put up an item for a price that's too high. A price they think is what it should fetch. People don't bid up, they 'comment' to make a deal. So, the bidding is actually downward and not upward. Really odd.

The market needs a lot more education to make it work, because if you are advertising and people are logging in to find a non-functional system, they will not come back. You are, in fact, losing customers while spending money on advertising. Bad bad strategy., I urge you, think again. is worth it, don't waste it.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Campaign Middle East, what is that?

After months of trying to understand what Campaign stands for, I have come to this conclusion: It is the media's equivalent of Kerrang! magazine. In short, garbage.

Yes, I know that I've given them the thumbs up in the past. But really, the kind of trash I read in their pages is something that you are most likely to see in a rock magazine.. or even a blog like this.

so and so calls a spade a fucking spade

I mean, really? You absolutely had to use that language? Hey, don't look at me, I use it all the time. It just depends on who you're talking to, eh? Let me put it differently, I don't want such a casual relationship with Campaign. I just want someone to tell me what's going on and hammer those who need some hammering. I don't want you to be my buddy. I don't want to go drinking with "The Spin" and I sure as hell don't care for your editorial staff.

But, hey.. it works for people here. So, where's the problem?

Mike Gillam a crook?

Well, I don't care what you think about Mike Gillam, he's still my hero. It's like a bunch of thieves all of a sudden point out that one of them snatched a purse. Anyone in this industry will tell you it's a dirty, dirty game. There is no question about ethics, it is just how unethical is everyone. How low will you go?

I have no idea what Mike said over the phone.. but I do know that whoever taped it is most likely more of a crook than OJ. Good job guys.

Let's get back to guessing how things have been going. Let's just guess what the circulations were and keep at it. After all, who cares? The clients will continue to pay and they don't understand what circulation means anyway. Besides, people can't read, so even if it is circulated, there is no readership.

Reminds me of how those PR people assume that the readership is 2.5 or 4 times the circulation. Yeah, cause everyone is reading the latest copy of KT in the bus on the way to work.

What a crappy industry, led by an incredible mass amount of ignorance.. or is it arrogance? Cause, a lot of the people running the show are not entirely idiots. They just are as likely to get into more trouble than Mike Gillam, had they upset the right people.

Philips, are you people CRAZY?!

I cannot believe the stupidity by Philips PR people. Unbelievable. Just.. beyond belief. It is one thing to blatantly offer to bribe people, but to continue to insist that you are in the right is an amusing demonstration of complete incompetence and stupidity.

Of course the jokes at Campaign ME spared no chance to parade them all over their magazine. GMR were a bit more conservative in their approach and completely avoided to mention their name. I guess GMR is still hoping to see some ad revenue from them. Well, the Dubai Media Observer is happy to declare that no one is interested in reading this, let alone advertise. So, DMO will say whatever it pleases.

A more appropriate system is a long-termish one. Do not offer people tickets to the World Cup in Germany. Instead, see who actually gave you the most coverage.. and reward them. Word will spread quickly. Now, next time there is an event, do the same. What do we have here? A pattern. Journalists will know what to expect if they do good. That's how you deal with journalists. You don't insult them. Just because they are cheap and hardly competent, doesn't mean you should point it out to their face.

A MEPRA rival? Pellease!

So, the Arabian Business Communicators Association (ABCA) is set to rival MEPRA, eh? Well, that all sounds great, except that it is exactly why both will fail.

Look people! If you are going to fix problems by continuing to fragment this industry, you are not going to solve anything. Join MEPRA and be a part of the solution. What gives you the right, to say that you have waited for MEPRA for 4 years to do something? Excuse me, but aren't you supposed to be a part of this association if you were hoping to have it do what you want it to do? This is like the people who don't vote and then complain about the people voted into office.

Don't call it a rival to MEPRA. From what I am reading so far, all you want to do is setup some sort of night school to teach the badly needed skills to the so-called PR professionals out there. Good job.

MEPRA is by no means a healthy association. Don't get me wrong. I think they have some serious issues. I don't even know if it has the proper leadership or the stamina to do what it is set out to do. However, if you want it to change, do it from within.