Presidential Campaigns: Hamdeen Sabahy

Let me make a few things clear; first, my only knowledge of advertising is one chapter I took in high school. So these series are not by any means written from an expert's point of view, it is just a mere opinion of a "consumer" if we can say that. Since this is also the first time we have presidential campaigns here, I have to say that I don't know much about these campaigns, so these posts are also an opinion of a person who cares about campaigns being as clean, pure and truthful as should be, and not like how it is in the rest of the world. And last, liking or hating somebody's campaign is not at all related to liking him or his program. I've chosen the few candidates whose posters are almost everywhere and those who we could think of as potential. In these series I will be comparing between Hamdeen Sabahy, Abd El Moniem Abo El Fotooh, Khaled Ali, Seleem El Awwa, Mohamed Morsy, Amr Moussa and Ahmed Shafiq in this same order.

One of us: although it makes us feel that he's closer to us than any other candidate, it doesn't say much. It does mean that he'd feel our pains because he's one of us, which of course gives his campaign some sort intimacy. Yet, I keep thinking how a taxi driver is one of us, but would probably not make a good president.

The colors are very  nice; green is a sign of friendliness and comfort, which goes very well with the slogan. The fact that the part below is black and the part above is white gives a feeling that he'll take us from the dark ages to a better one. The font used for his name and the Qur'anic verse is also a good choice that says so much about him being connected to the Arab and Islamic world and heritage. The other font that is used for the rest of the sentences is also friendly and comforting, and the three sentences summarize his program very well. Focusing on his smiling face rather than his body and his suit gives the same kind of comfort. Using Qur'an in the poster though is not a good choice, he is a moderate leftist who believes in a secular government, so I'd rather he leaves religion out of his poster, especially when this verse does not add something to it. I mean of course victory is from God, but why should this make anyone choose to vote for Sabahy?

** A tiny update, I was given another perspective of the Qur'anic verse, and I think it makes a lot of sense and is totally worth mentioning: victory is only from God, whether you call yourself an Islamist or otherwise, God will help people choose whomever deserves to be president and only that person (who is not necessarily an Islamist) will be victorious.

TV Commercial

This commercial has two disasters, and the first is even worse than the second. Sabahy's electoral sign is the Bald Eagle, the commercial chose to focus on that as if this eagle is a sign of power flying over a sea of freedom. The problem is that this eagle does not exist anywhere in the world except in the Americas. But not only this! It is also the U.S. government's logo; it was chosen because its white head represents the white man: power and authority that give orders, and its brown body represents the African man: slaves that do all the work. He was given this stupid sign by the elections committee, but he should have not focused on this eagle that signifies all this and also one that has nothing to do with us! The idea of the eagle flying over the sea is a good one, and it is not just about power and freedom, it could also mean swiftness, sharp sight, flying high among the first world countries. But this could all be done by showing one of our eagles, which are as strong and good looking as the American one. I understand that only a few would know the story behind the Bald Eagle, yet the advertising agency should have done its homework anyway for the commercial to be as truthful as can be.

The second flaw is that the commercial is a bunch of pictures and him talking in TV shows or some campaign conferences. We don't see him at all in the commercial talking directly to us, and unlike the poster, this makes a barrier between him and us. If he had said the same words that have been said in the commercial directly to us it would have made a huge difference.

The common thing with all TV commercials of all candidates is that none of them shows the uniqueness of the candidate. If we put the same words on Abo El Fotooh's or Amr Moussa's pictures, we wouldn't feel any difference. This probably comes from all of them having different programs with the same words.

*Update: New commercial

I have many different feelings about this commercial. It being all about religion is something that I can't understand. I get that we're in a time of great divisions depending on religious views, but who is the commercial targeting? If it's moderate Muslims (not Islamists) and Christians, then we already know his stance about that matter and that he's very far from being an Islamist. If it's targeting Islamists then it is far from the way they see politics and religion. The idea of Islam's justice and Christianity's love and affection is nice, these being the first and main steps toward renaissance makes total sense. It would have been much better if he used this one sentence and talked about something else in the rest of the commercial. Maybe this commercial would have been acceptable if he had other commercials for example, but since the campaign is not as big as Moussa's, then he shouldn't have given half his focus (one of two commercials) just for one idea. I like that he learned from the mistake of the first commercial and that he talks directly to us in this one. Although it's from behind a huge desk that makes him look small for the position.

On The Ground

Of course this depends mostly on the amount of money a candidate has, but also on what the campaign focuses on. This campaign has decided to focus on having some billboards rather than an endless number of posters. In my opinion this is a very very good choice because those tiny posters that they stick everywhere are too small to be read and make the wall look DIRTY and are very hard to clean. His posters, banners and billboards are not as many as other candidates, but they're spread very well. Yet, of course I'm talking about the places I go. I have no idea how many posters or banners he has in Bullaq for example, and of course I have no idea what things are like outside Cairo.

The conferences and events he makes are not as many as other candidates, but then again this depends mainly on money. I still do think that since he calls himself one of the "candidates of the poor" he should go to those very small villages that have the poorest people in the country a lot more often than he does now. Otherwise his chances of winning would be too small.

**Update: on a one way trip from Roxy to Smart Village I have seen five billboards of different sizes for Sabahy. The billboards are greener and uglier than the lovely posters unfortunately.


When he was asked, he said that the campaign only depends on some help from his friends and of course on the donations. Yes, the campaign is not that big, but knowing that the rent of one billboard starts from 30,000 pounds per month and that one TV commercial costs at least 3000 pounds, I think we should know more details about the money they're getting, and its sources and the money they're spending.


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