How NOT to advertise

Smoke and Food complaint number

Smoke and Food complaint number, originally uploaded by malyousif.

New placards have appeared over the last few days on the lamp posts on the Budaiya highway telling people to call a number if they have a complaint about violations of tobacco smoking or food hygiene.


Apart from the grotesque design and bad placement, the placard just has too many words on it to be easily read while driving, apart form the fact that unless you’re blessed with an excellent photo-memory, there is no way you can remember that number!

I’m sure that it’s not intended; but this bad design and the difficult to remember assigned response number does nothing but distance people from taking the department up on its offer.

I don’t know how much the design of this poster cost or how much the government department spent on placing them on lamp posts, nor do I care. What I do care about though, is for the responsible government department to understand (as should other advertisers) that if they want people to take up a cause and effect an action, they should at least make it easier for people to do so!

  • Ebtihal
    22 December 2010

    I also had difficulties in understanding what do they mean by food violations. I started thinking haram food? (that’s me..) , eating in Ramadhan? – but we are not in Ramadhan , and after a while I thought “maybe” they mean expired food and so. I think they should make it clear what do they mean by food violations.

  • Ebtihal
    22 December 2010

    also, if* they mean expired food, I see no connection between that and smoking violations and I think it shouldn’t be in the same Ad even if we will be calling the same number!

    * still have doubts!

  • mahmood
    22 December 2010

    I’m sure had they printed a simple short sentence of three or four words and a nice 800 number, that ad would have much more impact, add a website and they’d have a bang!

    What they do with this one however is simply confuse people.

  • seybernetx
    23 December 2010

    The cynic in me wonders if the problems with that sign might not be deliberate.

    With those signs up all over town, the bureaucrats can argue that everyone knows who to contact, and they still aren’t getting any calls. That means that maybe there is nothing for them to do, and they can just sit in their offices collecting dust and paychecks.

    Just a thought.

    • mahmood
      23 December 2010

      Nah, I think it’s just down to plain old incompetence. Someone thought that they can do it on their own and save money while doing it.

      Image, content, message and location efficacy be damned!

  • Lisa
    23 December 2010

    Hmmm, govt trying to control everything. They are watching you, turning neighbor against neighbor, socialism/communism at their worst.

    • mahmood
      23 December 2010

      I don’t this particular instance warrants conspiratorial underpinnings.

  • Anno Domini
    23 December 2010

    I’m a smoker and I find this whole anti smoking campaign a violation of my personal freedom.

    Ah the good ole days! When whiny non-smokers had their own section in restaurants and coffee shops!

    Now, not even a smoking section any-frikkin-where.

    It’s just not right I tell you…

    • mahmood
      23 December 2010

      You have the freedom to kill yourself, by all means, but please don’t involve us non-smokers in your quest!

  • Anno Domini
    23 December 2010

    Nobody’s asking you or any non-smoker to join any quests, Mahmood.

    In fact, I fully agree with keeping certain areas smoke-free and, as a father of 3, I most definitely am against smoking around them.

    All I’m saying is that specific areas for those of us who do wish to puff away should be allocated.

    Besides, is alcohol any better than tobacco? Where does one draw the line on RESPONSIBLE personal freedoms?

    As for these idiotic placards, today it starts with snitching on a smoker… tomorrow it’s an Orwellian 1984.

    Anyway, take it easy brother and seasons greetings.

    ” Smoking takes 10 years off your life. Well, it’s the 10 WORST years, isn’t it folks? It’s the ones at the end! It’s the wheelchair, kidney dialysis, adult diaper fucking years! You can HAVE those years! We don’t want ‘em alright!”

    -Professor Dennis Leary

    • mahmood
      23 December 2010

      I understand. I support freedoms. But one’s freedoms transgressing on those of the others become a nuisance at best, and criminal at worst. I understand smoking, I did it for more than 20 years and know that smoke doesn’t restrict itself to one location, it’s pervasive and coats everything and everyone in the vicinity. I don’t have to go into the dangers of second hand smoke either as I’m sure you know that already, choosing not to subject your children to its effects. So forgive me for being completely anti-smoking now regardless of its location if that location is shared by non-smokers.

      As to the Dennis Leary, it’s not those 10 years we’re concerned with, it’s the 20 or more before those which the smoker is a burden on the health system and society that we’re worried about.

      • Anno Domini
        23 December 2010

        Mahmood, they say there’s nobody worse than a reformed smoker! 😉

        I agree with you though. an individual’s personal freedoms should not transgress the other.

        But whatever happened to choice?

        I choose to smoke. I certainly don’t want to force my habit on others, but neither do I expect them to force theirs on me.

        There are perfectly easy and efficient ways to keep smokers and non-smokers happy without resorting to Big Brother tactics or Draconian measures.

        As for smoking not restricting itself to one location. I can say the same thing about alcohol…a perfectly acceptable, smiled upon and media friendly vice.

        How many adults and children have been killed, hurt and abused because of it? Directly and indirectly.

        What have the governments done about it? Nothing.

        I’m not a religious person, but I choose not to drink. Do I go around preaching people to do the same? No. Do I refuse to walk into a restaurant that serve it? No.

        I know what anti-smokers say, smoking is airborne while alcohol is not. True.

        But after I smoke, I am not liable to kill somebody while driving because I’m intoxicated on Nicotine.

        Anyway, I don’t want to turn this into a my vice is better than yours debate.

        My point is, the guvs and the anti-smoking brigade should give us smokers a break and let us enjoy our addiction in peace!

        If Bahrain had a decent weather all year long, I would not give a damn. But those summer months are brutal on my lungs!

        • mahmood
          23 December 2010

          Mahmood, they say there’s nobody worse than a reformed smoker!

          Guilty as charged! 🙂

          I choose to smoke. I certainly don’t want to force my habit on others, but neither do I expect them to force theirs on me.

          Problem is that smoking doesn’t restrict itself on the smoker himself, all those around him get directly affected. And there’s the rub. Drinking – on the other hand – though itself a menace in several ways, it’s only the person who drinks gets drunk (if he chooses that is), and not those within the vicinity.

          I would accept your premise of a drunk going out and killing people while driving if you would accept the argument that smokers also cause deliberate fires and kill people.

          Anyway, enjoy your smokes responsibly my friend. But please do it with regards to those around you. And please don’t get too mad if we happen to be in the same restaurant and I demand that you be thrown out for doing so! 😉

  • Anonny
    23 December 2010

    Anno Domini,

    I remember thinking that the smoking ban was unfair when the brought it into England’s entertainment venues. Then I went over and had a couple of nights out.

    What bliss! No haze in the air, no red, stinging eyes, no waking up with a sore throat and too much catarrh, no stink of tobacco in clothes and hair.

    I was going to say I’m sorry you are inconvenienced by a smoking ban. But I’m not. Not at all.

    Smokers smell bad. They make the air around them unpleasant. They are also screwing their own health in a way that makes them look like foolish mugs.

    Personal freedom? Do you know how desperate you sound? You’re an addict. Sort yourself out. It’s pathetic.

    • Anno Domini
      23 December 2010

      Oh get off your high horse Anonny!

      Please read my post properly. I am not advocating the old free-for-all smoke everywhere trend. No need to be extremist either way.

      I assume the entertainment venues you’re referring to are pubs? Let me ask you, who smells worse? A smoker or a pickled up individual who’s downed a pint or six? And have you seen how idiotic they sound and look?!

      If you are so concerned about other people’s health and well being, why don’t you also advocate banning alcohol at these fine establishments? It’s just as toxic to the human body, if not worse, than smoking!

      If you don’t like to be around smokers or places that allow smoking, please feel free to go elsewhere. That’s your personal freedom.

      No need to act like a Global Surgeon General with a holier than thou attitude.

      THAT is pathetic!

  • Anonny
    23 December 2010

    Anno Domini,

    I did read your post properly. I expected you to divert the topic on to alcohol as soon as you could. What else could you say?

    Drinking in moderation isn’t bad for you. And when people get to drunk at a party, I’m free to leave without any ill-effects. And I can’t smell them on me the next morning – which is nice 🙂

    Oh, and if I want to act like a Global Surgeon General or sit on my nice high horse that is my right and my free choice 🙂 Unlike your addiction to smoking. You can tell me it’s a choice, but it’s just a compulsion. Sort it out, stinky, instead of changing the subject to my attitude. 🙂

    Love and non-smoky kisses,


  • Anonny
    23 December 2010

    The signs are interesting in that they show no fear of a surveillance society. I come from a generation that read Orwell as teenagers (well, those of us who weren’t smoking behind bike sheds, anyway). We have a little more healthy disrespect for totalitarian urges than do many of the generations that follow us, I think.

    This is a trend that is happening in many places in the world. In England, the police and social services are encouraging people to report their neighbours for various anti-social behaviours that weren’t crimes but are being criminalised by nanny-state legislation. Americans and Europeans are going through this too.

    Interesting times.

  • Toady
    23 December 2010

    It’s the litter issue which really goads me. Cigarette butts piled around the entrances of building where smoking is forbidden. Intersections where the slovenly toss the cig remains out the window. Parks with butts all over the grass. I worked at a place where smokers chucked the butts on the lawn even after repeated pleas by the management to use the ashtray at the door. The lack of consideration resulted in a brush fire that destroyed a conference room.

    It’s Suck, Chuck, and Forget for too many smokers. Then they act offended when they’re subject to disapproving glares.

  • Steve the American
    23 December 2010

    I suspect the signs are a pose to provide a show of interest in the public welfare without actually doing the labor of actually doing good. Businesses are disciplined by the hard reality of returning a profit for their efforts, so wasted effort is soon stopped. Not so with government, where effort need only be plausibly for the public good.

  • exclamation mark
    26 December 2010

    To be frank, this kind of advertising is actually a mess, if not a problem and hazardous…

    And I wonder why put small font sizes, in a small board on a speeding highyway ! Its a challenge !

  • Anarchist
    28 December 2010

    With the debate about the signs being a conspiracy, I think that incompetence is being mistaken for intention. They just don’t know what they are doing or how to do it. I agree that they probably organised it on the cheap and quickly without any thought to how it would look. Considering their first language probably isn’t English it’s not surprising that it came out confused. Many people don’t bother, or are too proud to get it proofread.

    With regard to the ongoing debate about smoking in restaurants. Before the ban was enforced in UK and Ireland, naysayers predicted the demise of the bar and restaurant scene, especially in Ireland where drinking and smoking were deeply ingrained in the culture. It just didn’t happen. Bars and restaurants were smoke free and nicer places to eat and drink in and smokers socialised outside and smoked outside. I recently saw them freezing for their addiction in the snow in UK. Inside was very pleasant without the smoke.

  • Pt
    9 February 2011

    Returning to the topic of bad ads ideas. I’m sure many of you have seen those trucks with ad screens (Particularly Zain ads come to mind) roaming arounds the streets:

    (1) They’re slow, slowing down traffic
    (2) They’re high and wide blocking the view
    (3)They prompt you to call or text now and dial a number (dangerous while driving!)
    (4) They force you to stare and read while driving (another haphzard)
    (5)They look ugly

Beyond the 5-star hotels