Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Singing Carrots

Exciting things happen outside Dubai too. Like this dubious animal rights group declaring this equally dubious musician, the sexiest vegetarian in the world. Reportedly some other vegetarians(as seen in the photo) expressed their disappointment for having missed out.
This is the same man whose overflowing intelligence prompted him to change his name to a unpronounceable symbol to take "The first step towards the ultimate goal of emancipation from the chains that bind me.." in his own words. Sick.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tale of two cities

Good news for frustrated drivers spending half their life in Dubai traffic and the other half looking for parking space. The Road Transport Authority of Dubai is framing policies to encourage bicycles on Dubai roads to reduce traffic woes. Now you dont need to spend endless hours in your car manouvering, honking and cursing; you can enjoy pedalling in the 45 degree summer heat in all it's glory. And incase you plan to pass the dreaded Dubai-Sharjah border, make sure you gear up for some weight-lifting too since bicycles are banned in the land of no return.

To du or Etisalat?

It is a bit like ‘The Black Eyed Peas’ arriving where Westlife has been singing ‘Seasons in the Sun’ for 25 years. Not a revolution but a welcome change nevertheless in the UAE telecom sector from a company whose greatest innovation was to paint telephone cards in green and red besides its commitment to rescue us from nefarious websites like MySpace, Flickr and Babelfish Translation(something to do with fishy babes perhaps?) .

The start couldn’t have been better for du, atleast in terms of branding but it is highly unlikely that it will cause a price war between the two and the customer benefiting out of it. The simple but interesting name - du, minus the gimmicks and their message of being ‘friendly’, ‘honest’ and ‘service-oriented’ is everything what Etisalat is not.

Etisalat must be feeling a little edgy, so much that they felt they needed a new identity. It is still early days to judge how it will work for them assuming they will not change their overall approach. But my first impression was that that ‘reach’ is not going to help Etisalat much in the long run.

Open Adobe Illustrator -> Choose a nice shape from a downloaded shape library - > Distort the shape -> Choose 2 colours from the ‘youthful’ colour palette -> Ask the copywriter to write two paragraphs of bullshit about the logo and bingo you got an identity. There are agencies which does research, put some thought and then ask the designer to work on a logo based on their inferences. There are others which ask the designers to make a ‘nice looking’ logo and then ask the copywriter to give an explanation to the design. It is obvious who took each of these approaches.

All credit to Turquoise (And not Leo Burnett, as I thought previously) in executing a fantastic branding idea while in their typical dodgy fashion Etisalat has failed to identify their creative agency in the press release where they claim "The new identity reflects Etisalat's values of transparency, optimism, openness, simplicity and reliability. The green colour in the logo signifies life, growth and renewal. Green is the national colour of the UAE, and Etisalat has a long and close association with its home nation- the UAE."
Transparency and openness for god's sake.
FYI: in case you are interested, the Etisalat rebranding was done by Fortune Promoseven in association with Rareform London
(after a four-way pitch against JWT, Impact BBDO and Team Y&R in April). Looks like Fp7's new creative director Marc Lineveldt, who joined the agency last month after leaving Team Y&R will have lots of challenges ahead of him.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Vanity Fair's take on Dubai

The latest issue of Vanity Fair has some interesting insights about Dubai. From it's logic-defying real estate projects, the 'Cyclone experience' to the labour(or labor as they say) issues , it would have caused a flutter, or perhaps even be censored, had the people in Dubai spent some more time reading.
Some good photos as well, like the oft-used tennis on the Burj-Al-Arab helipad.
Click here to download the the 21-page article(pdf) or just drop me an email( if the link doesn't work.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Con Land

A few months back while I was admiring a large hoarding of 'The World' in Shekh Zayed Rd, the taxi driver driver turned to me and said "Do you know who is going live in these palms and islands?".
When I did not offer any answer he remarked with a straight face, "All the world's richest criminals and drug dealers".
"Well, can you think of a safer place for people like that to live where nobody (Interpol, FBI etc) can hunt them down?".
If there was no hint of surprise in my face, it would probably because Dubai had a bad reputation of being a safe haven for criminals; and really rich ones at that. But times have changed, and Dubai has more responsibility being in the spotlight for much better reasons. So I was quite surprised after seeing this article in magazine.

It briefly talks about the Sales and Marketing Director of MED(Middle East Development), Mr. Nigel K Russell who apparently ' brought the concept of Apartment Residences in the UAE' and and was 'a pioneer in selling condos in the US during the 80's'. Pioneer he was, according to this website which states he is a wanted man for non-payment to his clients, deception, assault and other cases. There is even a Yahoo group set up by people who has been cheated by this pioneer. For all those who are planning to embrace MEDs concept of 'Apartment Residences', I wish you all the luck in the world; especially since he got fired from another reputed real-estate company in UAE an year back after they found out about his illustrious career.

UPDATE: Apparently Nigel has been fired from MED last week and has disappeared again. Probably to the UK.