Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

Is there a word stronger than “detest” to express my hate for most of the stupid television commercials targetted to Gulf viewers?

The typical TVCs (television commercials) we get to watch on the now tens of satellite channels and ALL of the terrestrial channels in the Gulf I think are so low in creative quality, that they verge on the obsene. Add to the fact that most if not all seem to be targetted to “sub-intelligent” viewers – meaning the Gulf Arabs in particular – that they are downright demeaning.

Worse is the companies that sponsor them, get them made, and disperses them at vast amounts of money are mostly Gulf companies. We should shame them, maybe there is life in that dead horse.


  1. anonymous

    Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    I always wondered that myself, spoke to some marketers from Uniliever, J&J and P&G, the impression I got was:
    Gulf Nationals don’t have choices, not aware of their rights, no consumer rights and so froth.
    Multinationals view us as consumer without rights and tast! Hence, no one is willing to spend much on it. I remember one time Uniliever wanted to launch a product in the Gulf, rather then spend on it, they copied the same marketing campaign from Uniliver India!!! Their explanation was: these two markets have so much in common!

    Yes, this will be a great idea for it.
    Mohammed – Canada.

  2. anonymous

    Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    Brilliant idea! Lets get cheese off the Tv and back on our dinner plates where it belongs. But its not only the ads we are subjected to – BTV itslef is a prime offender on the cheese-ometer. Just look at its own advertising? It has no creativity and the graphics are 1970s. And their spelling mistakes are beyond a joke. Lets name and shame so we can be proud of our homegrown television again. Looking forward to your compilations.

  3. mahmood

    Re: Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    Oh don’t get me started on BTV… the local “geriatrics unit” of Bahrain among other things. How bad it is is blatantly obvious to everyone who stumbles across their waves, but the powers-that-be like it for some reason. This will have to be another article though when I have a bit more time…

  4. mahmood

    Re: Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    hey people listen up, this is an Arab WOMAN who entered the above comment and thank you very much for doing so. It’s not just me who thinks that the advertising industry in the Arab world in general and the Gulf in paricular need to wake up and really get to know their customers. Sexist and dumbed-down ads like the one she’s referring to will no longer sell your products.

    Thank you for sharing your comments! This is the first step in getting the ad gurus to raise their standards.

    I absolutely LOVE the series of ads done for the National Bank of Kuwait. They should be held up as the standard where advertising in this area should rise up to. To me, the NBK ads set the bar. I’ll try to capture a couple of these ads and put them up here for people to compare.

  5. anonymous

    Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    I have a friend who works in Nestle Marketing who previously worked in Publicis Graphics and another who works in Leo Burnett. I often help them when they have creative blocks when working on projects for new ads. When I ask them why they don’t think outside the box and use [i]really[/i] creative ideas for their campaigns, they both answered, “You have to dumb down the marketing in order for the companies to understand it. Then you dumb it down again for people to understand. Any additional wit is lost on them. Those ad agencies that take the jump to advertise something differently are those agencies that can afford to. But they’ll only do it the once because they can’t always take that jump.”

    *sigh* Sad, truly sad how stunted we are to look for the same kind of scheme.

    I hate the advertisement for Zait 3afiya (or whatever it was) oil during Ramadan this (Hijri) year. That was truly pathetic! The man decides to marry the girl because of the cooking?! How is he to know that the maid and not the daughter didn’t do it?? Or better still, her mother who is already married to her father. It just shows the age old rule, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach”!!!!!

  6. anonymous

    Re: Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    Sorry the above comment was mine, Sast.

  7. anonymous

    Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    I love the idea Mahmood .. I’m usually a passive reader of your blog but this idea inspired me to type away…so here it goes..

    Something in me snaps every time I see the following adds:

    – The “Foul California” add .. where you have a meeting of different Arab women to discuss whose bean dip tastes better…the Syrian, Egyptian, and Lebanese women are all dressed in sleeveless shirts and have soft flowing hair and pale skin then you get the Saudi/Gulf women representative on the same table with dark curly hair, dark skin and she chooses to sit in her abaya for some mindless reason…Please Mahmood! post it somewhere so it can get abused…and maybe the company will stop running it after 3+ years…

    – The “Americana Frozen Vegetablesâ€? advertisement .. where you see a bunch of vegetables being tossed into the air and then somehow you have strawberries floating next to them?!? I have my own theory about this one…some idiot thought the advertisement needed color so just add some red fruit …they probably have the “no one will noticeâ€? attitude…the problem is this add was running on every channel every few minutes for a couple of years..

    – I also love how Pepsi has made a two in one advert for the middle east by replacing a sex god like Enrique Iglesias with Amer Diab and having him be Cesar with the trio Brittney, Beyonce, and Pink singing to him… what was that all about? Can’t they see the weirdness of the idea…but Pepsi is known for using celebrities as the main idea and no thought is ever put into the plot..

    The list can go on…the bottom line ya jama3a is the blame is not on the advertising companies that produce these racist/sexist/mind numbing adds but the real blame lies on the company who pays for these adds to represent their product…lets start the ass kicking!

    Dhahran babe

  8. jajo2000[deleted]06/22/04

    Re(1): Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    Welcome to the wonderful world of advertising. In the U.S.A. I’ve been appalled at our TV ads for years. It makes you think that their intended audience is the moronic, inbred, audience seen on Jerry Springer shows. Occasionally there are really funny ads and I’ll go out of my way to take a close look at their products. But, here’s the kicker, if their ads didn’t work (sell products), they would change their format and content. What a sad commentary.

  9. anonymous

    Stupid adverts, or targetted at stupid people?

    Advertisers think everyone is stupid, not just Gulf Arabs!

    The first time I went to the States, I was horrified by all the scare-tactic medical care adverts. As I Brit, I’d rarely seen any ads like this before. Suddenly I’d discovered, through the power of advertising, all these hideous new ailments that I never knew existed. For weeks I lived in mortal fear of something called “Embarassing Toenail Fungus”, an affliction I had previously been happily ignorant of. And then there were the cancer adverts – soft focus, with sentimental music playing, and a voice-over that said “When you get cancer ….”. [i]When[/i]? What’s wrong with “[i]If [/i] you get cancer …”

  10. anonymous

    arab media: for idiots, by idiots.

    what i love is the “Americana” ads, where they end by stating they are “100% arab produced”. Another pet hate is the tastless arab subtitling of films, where they completely disregard any other translation in the movie, causing many to not understand crucial moments. Furthermore, the subtitling is “dumbed down” for the arabs, whereby films, documentaries and tv episodes lose all form of impact and meaning. i won’t even start on the ‘typical arab family’ ads that are pumped to the unquestioning sheepish audience. standards have to be raised, it’s like we’re an arab version of 1950’s America, women who’s only place is in the home and who’s only possible interests are cooking and tupperware evenings!!!

  11. mahmood

    subtitling, isn’t it end-of-life already?

    I completely agree with you, and I think MOST if not ALL programs are completely damaged beyond repair with the stupid subtitling. Look at National Geographic on Showtime for instance, the last subtitle “sticks” through commercials etc until the program comes back on air and only if something else that needs to be translated does that change. On National Geographic in particular, and on other channels and programs in general, that 1/3 of the screen real-estate is lost, most of the time containing crucial visual information.

    Most of the world I believe left subtitling way behind (on television broadcasts) and went to close-captioning. That works only if the viewer selects it on the remote control, hence, if you understand the program’s language, you can get the full screen, rather than just 2/3rds which completely destroys the visual media.

    In the Gulf we’re about 4-5 generations behind the world in this regard, in Bahrain we’re about 30 – 40 generations behind, and it’s not going to change fast.

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