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NON-SMOKING SIGN IN A TAXI IN JORDAN

Last week some idiot completely blocked off my car and I had to take a taxi to work. By the time I got there, I had a nice acquired tobacco aroma from the driver, as expected! However, on my way back home, I had a very interesting encounter, that made me remember this photo I took in a Jordanian cab. When someone smokes in the car, or in any closed space for that matter, I always remember the techniques used to smoke fish & meats.

Anyway, the cab driver I was driving with on my way back home, though a smoker himself, ask his passenger not to smoke in the car and wait till he gets to his destination. Now that was an unexpectedly refreshing act as opposed to the usual cab drivers taking it as an opportunity to grab a free smoke and puff up in a good company 🙂

Have you ever taken a ride with any similar Beiruti cab drivers?

… and speaking of Beirut & Amman, don’t forget to attend Twestival Beirut-Amman this Thursday, March 25.

via ivysays.comToday, IVY was giving dating advice on twitter and asking people for feedback on her make a move rose giveaway and planning a tweetup dinner.

Yesterday, at the table, we sat arguing for around 20 minutes whether IVY is real or not.

The whole week before, people were passionately interacting with IVY on twitter…

Two weeks ago, Ivy registered to attend a tweetup and blogged about it.

And the truth of the matter is that we shouldn’t care if IVY is real or not. We should be happy that companies have finally understood the language of digital natives and is creating campaigns that resonate and interact with us, as well as the other poor mere mortals. After EXOTICA’s  unexciting Different Christmas campaign, that even failed to point us to the blog on their billboards, Leo Burnett, Exotica’s ad agency,  reviewed all of its mistakes and came up with something with a phenomenal snowball effect. Yes, as I said before my friends, social media marketing is sparking to life in the middle east and you are either with us, or eaten by the competition.

Things to learn from Exotica’s IvySays Project.

1- Give and you shall receive

The IVY we have come to know and love is a giver. She started by giving us dating advise, which though we may not all apply, but we all loved and we felt compelled single people everywhere felt compelled to try out Ivy’s moves and then… Ivy slipped a rose into our hands and made it all the more easier. Think about your clients, think about what they need. And even if you are B2B business, think: Do your they need education, help, comfort, care, empowerment? All of us do, don’t we? Now how can you use all that your expertise to help them, regardless of your product?

2-Engage and you shall be engaged

Before IVY got to her first post, she got a twitter account and after that, she did not just re-tweet her own posts, she replied to people, she talked to them, shared her opinions on outside issues, gave them advice and encouragement. There was no pushing her message or asking for anything for herself. That is why, when IVY asked questions she got enormous feedback, even from those who were in doubt about her true identity. And that is value you will not be able to leverage unless you create a genuine online persona [not to be confused with a retweet bot].

3-Go where they go, do what they do!

Ivy blogged about various creeks and corners in Beirut, be in Kayan, Greedy Goose or Le Grey, and that is what made her connect and resonate with her audience. Ivy did not blog about flowers she blogged about fashion, make-up, glamor, plastic surgery, national pride, chocolate- SUGAR, SPICE and EVERYTHING NICE – and we all like nice things.  Then again, she went to twitter to reach digital natives and, mind you,  she even guest blogged and re-blogged it on her own site. Did IVY ask girls to go to EXOTICA to get the flowers? No, they went out to  the most up and coming place – Gemmayze, Achrafieh and Hamra. The only thing that could’ve been done differently would be  giving out roses all around Lebanon, and not just Beirut.

4-Empower and you shall be empowered

Even if they did not comment, retweet or send emails, thought they actively do, with every dating tip IVY empowered ladies to take actions. Girls, being the gossip machines they are, would discuss it – which means GOING VIRAL offline. And then again with every rose given out to a guy Exotica created a positive sentiment, that is teh first step to along lasting relationship, not with the guy, but with the brand. And come 2011 I expect more girls to send out flowers to beau’s, and now, not because they[roses] are free, but because it makes them feel good. And this is the golden key to any successful brand. And did I mention the publicity, Ivy’s campaign is getting from mainstream media?

5-Going against the current and bringing the currents together

There are two stakeholders in any relationship – MAN & WOMAN. Exotica’s outdoors visuals empowered men, by teasing them with images of women they could have had in 2o09 if only they were brave enough. While Ivy, took a less traditional approach, and she looked to empower women. Mind you, women are not traditionally the ones we think first of when we think about selling flowers, right? But then again, I have seen countless times flowers being delivered to men at our offices from girlfriends, wives or wanna-bes. And then again, think of it, if a girl gives a guy one rose before valentine, and the guy likes the girl, on Valentine he will get her no less than a bouquet and what will his 1st choice be? Certainly EXOTICA. So you see, by bringing people together and spreading love Exotica may actually have record sales on February 14.

Finally,  I want to congratulate Exotica on the Brilliant Initiative and hope that IVY , whoever she is, continues blogging even after February 14, otherwise the digital natives all around, both those who think IVY is Real and Fake, will feel beguiled and disappointed.

Googling I found this song called IVY SAYS, I wonder if it had anything to do with the origin of the campaign.

It has been a long time since I have published a tangible post and a lot has been happening in the media scene in Lebanon. And a lot of exciting things have been taking place in the Lebanese Social Media Scene…

I have got the best news for you: the educational sector is finally catching on on the gap between the dogmas and the realities. This Spring Ayman Itani will be giving a course in LAU on Media, Culture and Technology. The course will provide an in-depth overview of everything out there for complete beginners and focus on teaching  not only the how & why of  using these tools, but also the New Media Mindset empowering them with real case studies and practical work shops. Ayman also has a couple of surprises up his sleeves for the lucky students taking his course and will be updating us on their progress all through the way, so stay tuned!

Media Culture & Technology course at LAU spring 2010

Another fabulous thing is that traditional media has now also acknowledged the new media channels and with the help of Social Media enthusiasts like Amer Tabsh it is starting to get the coverage it deserves. Below are Video Clips from a Live show on Lebanese Future TV interviewing Maya Zankoul, Samer Karam and Ayman Itani regarding their twitter addictions. Hopefully this will encourage new active Lebanese twitter users as well as companies to experiment with twitter and other media.

In other news, you can check my Bloggers FaceOff on Chanty’s blog.

So what’s new in your lives my dears?

bowling throw

My friends Social Media Marketing may still be fresh in the Middle East, but Social Media Activism is ON!

This Wednesday you have a chance to attend the first Fun(d)raising event that aims to raise money for buying toys for underprivileged children!

All you have to to is come to Link Antellias (starting 6:30 pm and seeping through) and indulge in bowling, darts, air hockey, arcades…. and much more. But , of course, you can go an extra mile and bring your own toys, which you are willing to part with, as well as craft materials and drawing supplies.

And all the procedes will go to funding Christmas gifts for needy kids. You can RSVP through the Funraising Facebook or Twitter events pages. If you can’t make it, you can still support the cause by Sporting a funraising banner on your site or blog, or donating some new or used toys to the little ones (pick up of the toys will be arranged :).

But what is really remarkable about Fun(d)raising is the way this initiative has started and grown in literally three weeks, proving that online social activism and collaboration are a reality! Fun(d)raisers are a group of bloggers and other social media natives that came together through social media channels and a very enthusiastic call from Mireille to make it a reality. And anyone can join in and contribute with whatever he does best!

So come and bring your friends with you! If you can’t live without your internet connection, don’t worry, same will be made available on the spot, and you can provide full media coverage! Plus Funraising will be providing complete transparency, through blogging about all the contributions and documenting the donations.

I have been practicing, our swings this weekend, so come and face your fiercest bowling adversary! Would be great to meet all of you guys there!

P.S. I apologize for my online absence, though I am still active on twitter, anything needing creative exertions and work, is proving to be impossible. New developments in my life are emotionally draining, though all well worth it!

Beirut-Rock-Festival-november- 09

35 pubs and bars on Gemmayze Street in Beirut participated in the non-smoking night* that took place on Wednesday 28 October. Nevertheless, many of these establishments did not uphold to their promise to the organizing NGO, Rotaract, and were blazing with glittering buds and retortful puffs. I know I am late on the posting train** about that, but I have been analyzing it backwards and forward thinking: “What would’ve been done to make it a success and give non-smokers a night to ENJOY?”

One one of the pubs we passed had a 'bright' marketing ploy - an anti-campaign - "Smoking Friendly environment".

One one of the pubs we passed had a 'bright' marketing ploy - an anti-campaign - "Smoking Friendly environment".

The answer is very simple: Education, Promotion, Reward and Punishment!

Admittedly, all nights are busy in Gemmayze, and from my new born addiction to Dinner Dash I can now see how hard it is to cater to all the client’s needs. Nevertheless, on this special night an extra effort by the Ushers, Managers and Waiters in welcoming the guests and explaining the event their establishment is participating in would’ve gone a long way. Just Putting the leaflets on each table, would ‘ve served the purpose. For instance, the vile smokers in our restaurant did not know / have not been told that the night was a non-smoking night (or so they told us).  This is something Rotaract needs to educate all the pubs about for next year to avoid any mishaps.

A further step to be taken, is finding out who the smokers are and thanking them in advance for making this effort and providing a happy environment for all. Maybe some brochure or leaflet which included a thank you, the accomplishment they are making, ways to quit… would’ve helped if physical time was unavailable.

Now for reward. In my world a LOT is focused on giveaways, and promotional materials. What could help smoker’s through the night? Some nicotine patches and nicotine gum distributed at entry would have further enhanced the night’s theme and would’ve made any smoker beyond shameful to light up inside. and if smokers were to go outside for a smoke, why not thank them by a mini-desert or a free drink? Smokers could also be given extra privileges like a 10% discount for their next visit, or even faster service.

And now for PUNISHMENT, shaming is a good punishment. And here I have a great story to tell you!

This weekend we came back home to some poop on near our flat’s entrance (which is also shared by our neighbors). What simply stepped over it and ignored it (I’m not cleaning that!). But what our two neighbors did was INGENIOUS, and I have to  give them so much credit for thinking of this! They wrote on an A4 the following: ” Please clean after your DOG, our entrance is not a TOILET!“***  and pinned it to the door. And when we came back in the afternoon, the poop was gone and the A4 was snatched from the door. Justice has prevailed!

The pubs and bars that participated in the event have benefited immensely from the free publicity and the extra amount of visitors who wanted to relax in a smoke free environment. But what about negative publicity? What about Rotaract binding them to some penal clause in case of breach and monitoring them more effectively? And a last word on shaming, what if those vile smokers from our story were faced off by the ‘metre’ after they lit up, who would have with a smile reminded them of the policy and offered them a desert / drink on the house  (had they been informed about the policy in the first place)? You see the reward – punishment (in our case shaming) – reward is a very effective and simple manipulation tool that or parents have used on us, and at heart we’re all children!

Dear Rotaract! Us non-smokers really need this night to be a full success next year!

__________________________________________________________________________________

* You can check out The Star Scene photos of the Night

** Check out these great posts by Lilliane & Maya.

*** turns out one of our new neighbors has a dog :S

Did you know that smoking in public places was banned in Syria?

And it is about time we stop chain smoking, or second hand smoking, in Lebanon as well.

rra10

Over 1700 have already signed this petition, but that is not enough, join in the forces!

On another note, 35 bars & pubs in Gemmayze will be having a non-smoking day tomorrow, 28 October.

[Image Courtesy of Maya Zankoul’s Amalgam.]

What I love about Beirut is the Multitude of various cultural events that happen haphazardly and are free to the general public.  For the second year the League of Lebanese Graduates from Greek Universities are organizing a Greek Film Festival at Empire Sofil, with a Free Entry. Isn’t that cool?

 

 

You can check the program below, but the names of the movies and the actors, would not say much to you:) The organizers are also promising round table discussions, and film critique at the event.

 

 

Wednesday 28 Octobre
20h:00 “HOUSE OF THE OLIVE TREES de Thouly DOSIOS”
20h:40 “THE MAN WITH THE CARNATION de Nikos TZIMAS”
Thursday 29 Octobre:
20h:00 “WHEN FISH FLY de Vilka TZOURAS”
20h:40 “THE FOUR SEASONS OF THE LAW de Dimos AVDELIODIS”
Friday 30 Octobre:
20h:00 “HAPPY NEW YEAR,MOM! de Irina BOÏKO”
20h:40 “EL GRECO de Iannis SMARAGDIS”
Saturday 31 Octobre:
16h:00 “HAPPY NEW YEAR,MOM! de Irina BOÏKO”
16h:30 “HOUSE OF THE OLIVE TREES de Thouly DOSIOS”
17h:00 “THE MAN WITH THE CARNATION de Nikos TZIMAS”
19h:05 “EL GRECO de Iannis SMARAGDIS”
21h:05 “THE FOUR SEASONS OF THE LAW de Dimos AVDELIODIS”

Source: League of Lebanese Graduates from Greek Universities

Tabbouleh & Hommos ( World's largets plates

There has been a lot of criticism towards the reasons behind this Guinness record, but, as frivolous as they may be, I’d rather see Lebanon making the headlines on such lighthearted grounds rather than news of bombings, wars and terrorism. That is why, regardless of the stubborn competitiveness of the Lebanese Industrialists Associations I say: “Make Tabbouleh, humus, kebbeh… or anything you may, but DON’t make war!” And maybe we all should look at it that way.

Our country needs the extra positive promotion, now more than ever, and despite all of our political differences, food always brings the Lebanese together.

The Tabbouleh

Yesterday, I passed by the Largest Tabbouleh, very shortly. I do not think Chef Ramzi was very proud of this Tabbouleh. The parsley was anything but finely chopped, and the remaining ingredients were floating inside the lemon, olive mix. Hence, I called it Tabbouleh Soup.

I can say that a lot of good ingredients went to waste, 1600 kg of parsley to start with. You can check out all the ingredients that went into the giant Hommos & Tabbouleh plates, as well as classical tabbouleh & hommos recipes here. What I did not understand how 1600 kgs of parsley plus 1500 kgs of tomatoes plus all the other ingredients, make for only 3000 kgs? Is there so much waste?

Some nice photos of the ‘making of ‘ on Star Scene.

Final Words of wisdom off the record

Waseet: It is great that you are planting trees, but its un-cool to distribute flyers, printed on virgin paper (without ecological certification) to promote it.

People: Littering is un-cool, even if you know there will be someone cleaning after you. Would you act like that in your homes?

I am developing a particular liking to the fact that not a week passes by, when there isn’t one or two twitter related events. Twiendships are formed on the basis of like-mindedness, and geographical coexistnce allows for the next step! I hope to see one day the extend twiendship goes as being a support system, but so far we’re having a great time, aren’t we?

Well this time we met over at Cafe Younes.

 

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Then a small fraction of us went on to Pecha Kucha.

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This is LaraZ taking her picture of the day! [that is how magic is born]

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And let me tell you something, well you already know that, but I’m gonna say it anyhow – Maya in the comics is really Maya!  I do not know how she does her magic, she has tremendous introspection to convey every bit of her, including her mimics ( yes really the body language of Maya the cartoon is Maya’s), onto her character. It startled me a lot this time around… it really startled me and I developed a new found fascination! So she’s really a communication artist!

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Well anyway, here’s Maya’s take on all of this:)