Monday 7 May 2012

A Look At TV And Online Ads Of Egyptian Presidential Candidates - قائمة إعلانات مرشحي الرئاسة المصرية

NOTE: This post will be updated with any new ads that appear. Stay tuned.

The Egyptian Presidential elections are happening, so it seems, and we're less than 3 weeks to go before the "official" dates for the first round of elections, May 23rd and 24th. With the official ban on campaigning over, here are some of the ads by the main candidates thus far.

1- Hamdeen Sabbahy: "Egypt Wants A Fair President." 

The ad stresses his background as an activist, as "one of the people", his focus on "Social Justice," "dignity," the "rights" of the people, and his non-Islamist, non-military and "centrist" alignment. The visuals are also what you would also expect in such a campaign ad, with pictures of him with all segments of society, all apparently supporting him. You can see how tight-budgeted the campaign is as all of the ad basically relies on archived material rather than anything new. He will definitely need to make another one as well, especially without the not-so-great shot of the "Eagle" at the end, alluding to his electoral symbol.

2- Mohammed Morsy and the MB/FJP: "The Renaissance... The Will Of The People."

So far, the campaign has two ads, and you can see a good production budget, and an overall good execution. The first is "We Want A President," wherein a series of citizens representing different segments and groups within society state what they want from, and in, their president. Such demands include a "fear of God when dealing with us," "one who can unify us," "believes in our revolution," "respects our history... and looks forward to our future." The second ad is called "The Time For Work," focusing on the "Renaissance Project" of the MB and Khairat Al-Shater, and shows different groups of people working and participating in various ways within society, then ends with a short zoom out of Mohammed Morsy in what is supposed to be a presidential frame. Two comments that were often raised by many who saw the ads: 1) You cannot see an unveiled girl anywhere in the two ads except in shortly in the first one in the group picture in 00:21; 2) Unlike most other campaign ads, you only see the actual candidate except at the end of the second ad, and not at all in the first ad, and he does not get to speak in either ad. This was argued to be due to a growing belief that Morsy is not the strongest candidate when it comes to his personal charisma, and greater emphasis is thus put on the MB and the Renaissance Project.

3- Amr Moussa: "We Can Face The Challenge."

Here, Moussa is featured quite heavily throughout the ad, uniquely with specially-recorded material, and the ad is generally well produced. Expectedly, the ad features those same different segments of Egyptian society, with them and Moussa completing each other's sentences. Typically, Moussa begins a sentence and then a group different "citizens" complete it. For example, Moussa says "we will not move forward until," then a citizen says "we utilise the capabilities of every Egyptian." The ad makes the standard references to "Education," "National Unity," power of work in society, and such other values and key terms one expects to see in a campaign ad. Expectedly, Moussa and the others highlight the "challenge" we are in, and then they ask people to "truly" consider who has the "experience" and "knowledge" and "willpower" and other characteristics needed to face such a challenge, implicitly signifying that he is the person capable of getting Egypt out of its current woes. Throughout the ending of the ad, everyone then repeats "We Can Face The Challenge." The production and direction are quite good, but the one major drawback is that the photography fails to present Moussa as energetic, but rather frames his non-youthful age with the very pale background he was placed in, and the dark tint of the overall frames he was featured in. This was the same mistake done in Moussa's posters.

4- Abdel Men'eim Abul-Fotouh: "President Of Egypt."

Abul Fotouh says he is an "Egyptian citizen" who has "lived for" his nation all of his life. He then says that he wants to work to make Egypt one of the strongest 20 countries in the world within 10 years, then highlights his belief that "Egypt's Human Wealth" is its greatest asse. He also highlights that he will restore "security in the first 100 days," the importance of Education, and speaks about how Egypt "has a right to be strong with its values and its Islamic Sharia of which the Muslim and the Christian are proud." The visuals otherwise are self-explanatory. The main problem with the ad, which is otherwise generally good, is that it is...sad. It is just eerie, dark, leaves you rather depressed towards the end. This is not how you want to leave people after a campaign ad.

5- Ahmed Shafiq: "I Will Vote For Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shafiq." And "Egypt Is For The Egyptians."

First note, other than stressing his military credentials, "Lieutenant-General Ahmed Shafiq" actually rhymes in Egyptian Arabic, so he always uses it as such. It sounds like "Al-Farie' Ahmed Shafie'." Starting out with the first ad, the visuals are also mostly pretty standard and self-explanatory. The ad begins by showing quick flashes of what has happened throughout the year, with a focus on the "chaos" and uncertainty that has been taking place. Shafiq then drops a title card with a very tacky spark animation below his name, then begins talking about the need for "security," on all levels: "physical, health, livelihood, etc..." Shafiq then is shown surrounded by audiences who support him, with people telling him "we are behind you" and "we love you and we want you." Of course, the reasoning for that, beyond what is normal for every campaign, is to confront the reputation that he is the unwanted candidate of the former regime, being Mubarak's last Prime Minister and close confidante. The second ad is more of a quick spot highlighting his electoral symbol, the ladder, and suffers from being perhaps a bit too "urban." Much of Shafiq's as well posters suffer from being a bit too upper-classed and urban, as I argue in a previous post about the posters of the candidates. One question though that some have asked: was the word "Chaos" heard within the first seconds of the ad actually taken from a Mubarak speech? We'll find out.

Verdict: I'd say Moussa's ad was the best overall.

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