Tuesday, 5 September 2006

Johnnie Walker ad in Beirut causes a stir



Bloggers in London were offended by Johnnie Walker's "Keep Walking" ad in Beirut. The image of a bridge which looks like it's been bombed by the Israelis. On the other hand bloggers in Beirut are far more positive as shown in the Adrants forum.

I'm not sure it's being taken as negatively by the Lebanese, I was actually sent the picture by a friend from Lebanon and his note said this:

"The Johnnie Walker whiskey billboard near Nahr el Mot has always been there for years and has become a landmark of sorts as many of you know. This is the new version following the war. I pass by it daily and you can see people smiling as they drive by."

Another said:

"True. The ad is being 'hailed' by Arab creatives and designers on the web... it's actually popping up on many Lebanese blogs and they seem to see the positive side of it.

Let me assure you that Leo Burnett were indeed trying to capitalize on some nationalistic feelings following the conflict.... pushing this Whiskey brand, but also creating an affinity with the locals...

Bombed Bridges-No Problem-Lebanon Keeps Walking."

Sometimes ads need to be viewed in a broader context, this was a bilboard that had been there for years and was changed in many ways as an act of solidarity."

The learning from this are threefold:

1. Different cultures have different attitudes towards things.
2. Blogs and forums are a great way of guaging how a market is receiving creative work - use flickr etc. as an informal but powerful testing mechanic.
3. Context is everything.

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