Advertisements and billboards are the most common visuals you get to see daily in Lebanon, either on your way to work or on your way back home. While we do certainly acknowledge the commercial value behind these titanic ads, there are some that are really annoying and even nerves' wrecking, giving us a bad start of our days.
We know that with a small size country like ours, advertizers have to go even beyond the usual creativity to make their clients' billboards stand out. While some are lovely, there are also the worst possible eyesore and frustrating ads.
These ones have strategies that I do recommend changing, simply because they haven’t been convincing enough or because they tend to objectify women and disempower them. Let’s take a look and see what the worst kind of ads is to you!
#1. Pesticides' Billboards
Advertising for pesticides and other relevant substances can be fine. What cannot actually be is to have that 3D cockroach on the city’s largest billboards. Should we throw our stomach up in order for the advertisers to feel satisfied and for us to be convinced with the efficiency of their product?
One of my worst experiences was actually when I was driving to Beirut in the early morning while having my Labneh sandwich and saw this kind of billboard for the first time! Yes, it was truly awful!
#2. Sexist ads
Supposing that women in our societies are all housewive's materials, there’s nothing that can truly mess with my day other than those ads that promote gender roles. There are indeed plenty of them picturing women as moms and housewives and limiting all their potentials to that and only that!
One of the most disturbing billboards I have seen, for instance, is the photo of a woman holding a cooking pot and choosing the “healthiest” sunflower oil among other brands. Did anyone say 2019?
#3. Objectifying women ads
Let's take a look at the above billboard ad and have a 1-minute of serious reflection. What are our local advertisers trying to tell the public here? When we say public in the streets, we say every one of both genders and all ages; kids including. Would this kind of ads really encourage people to play loto? Because this is embarrassing to women and of bad influence on the kids we are raising in our country, as they would come to grow up thinking that "this is normal and okay." Yet, it isn't normal nor okay.
So, when has our traditional culture come to deem it "okay" to picture women as sex symbols and using them to promote their advertisements on the streets? Actually, other than being offensive to our women, these also reflect a lack of creativity so objectifying women become their last resort. This kind of ads needs to be banned!
#4. Female Servitude's ads
I have been looking at that ad for a while before publishing it here in this listicle as a blatant example of this type of public advertising messages we've been seeing around in Lebanon. I tried to absorb the constructive marketing idea behind that nonsense billboard, at no avail. They are simply infuriating.
This billboard actually goes even beyond everything related to patriarchal norms. It speaks of our women being slaves, submissive and weak creatures at the feet of men, pleading for male attention... Just because of a "nice" suit? Because that's the message this advertisement conveys to the public. And, to tell you the truth, it seems they thought that our men are dumb enough to believe that that is what they'll get if they buy that suit.
Looking at that billboard, you get the clear impression of stepping hundreds of years back into the harem of a sultan, as the advertisers went at length to reinforce that image in the minds of our public, daily, promoting female servitude and meekness to male dominance. SOS, get me out of here!
#5. Bikini and Underwear Ads
In reference to how endless the sexist ads have been around in our roads, there comes another kind of sexism and materialization of women, picturing them in underwears, and at the beach in bikinis, and so on.
Well, of course, while using women to very commercial ends can be annoying, noticing that you’re still way too far from achieving that “ideal” perfect beach body can be even more nerves' wrecking.
#6. Jewelry ads
I have once seen a billboard saying “necklaces starting at 1000 USD” and I was like, oh really? I may need to deprive myself of food and water to be able to get that necklace STARTING AT 1000 USD.
Truth is, people who can “easily” afford that do not actually care about the starting price, nor about discounts, and are not even in need of a billboard! They will just go at their leisure pace and grab whatever pieces they want.
#7. 0% interest cars ads
Well the 0% itself can be appealing until you actually take a step further and go to the car company. It’s common sense for an over-priced car to come with 0% interest until you know that this is just the very beginning and that you will need to pay your fortune either to the company or to the bank before you call that “attractive” car yours!
#8. Plastic food Ads
It’s mainly that giant burger that is not even close to being giant in reality. Yet, we still get attracted by the price and dimension of that burger. All until we actually go to dine in, or the delivery guy shows up at your door.
These folks know how to upsell on us and how to make the price escalate from 10 USD to 20 USD. And guess what? We still get surprised by how small that burger is in reality… It's like we never learn, or just don't want to learn.
#9. Before and after services
Whether it’s about hair removal or slimming sessions they’re advertising for or even hair transplantation services (that they claim to be pain-free), the Photoshop and marketing skills on these billboards are epic that they always manage to successfully trick us!
We stumble upon those ads and get fascinated by the depicted results that are most of the time unreal, and we keep talking about it excitingly to all who care to keep hearing us... until we take those appointments and figure these tricks out by ourselves!
#10. Political slogans
While we do understand, patiently, that this type of billboards boom overwhelmingly during electoral seasons, praising political and religious leaders with slogans that give you “goosebumps” can be pretty much annoying and even irritating. It can also get very creepy to see how some communities are even divinizing their "advertised" political leaders.
#11. Hit Music Ads
If you don't read Arabic, let me tell you that this announces the release of a new song, and it reads: "You Are My Belonging (mine only)." Basically, and once again, a male song objectifying women as an article to own. What’s ridiculous here is that we criticize those songs and lyrics, yet we dance our heart out to them whenever they play at a night club.
#12. Network Bundles' Ads
I have never come to understand what 500 MBs/week could possibly do. While this example of bundles can be one of many, there are plenty of “useless” services that our mobile networks do “creatively” come up with.
Back to the 500 MBs/week, if I have ever dared to watch a YouTube video, I would end up with 100 MBs left or even less, knowing how expensive the internet data is in Lebanon!