Syria’s commercials: Technical creativity not enough for consumers

Actors Ahmed Azab and Amal Arafa in the Darnieto chips advertisement (YouTube)

Actors Ahmed Azab and Amal Arafa in the Darnieto chips advertisement (YouTube)


Enab Baladi – Hussam al-Mahmoud

Over the past years, Syrian commercials have taken on a different pattern and style than they used to be, affected by the development in the method of presentation and advertising mechanism and the change of methodology and tools and its development, at least in form, if not in content, despite the clear distance from the bitter living reality of the recipient.

Coffee, potato chips, milk, soft drinks, and many other commodities whose advertisements were presented to the consumer, and their display was distributed between television screens and social media, using songs, influential words, and the famous personality beloved by the audience, which comes divided into at least two types.

One of which is a young man trying to attract the consumer to experiment and discover, and the other is more mature, presenting the product from the perspective of a profound experience that gives the product greater credibility in quality and value.

Commercials fall within the framework of communication processes, as it constitutes a message awaiting the audience’s reaction, which in this case, is supposed to influence purchasing behavior and prompt the consumer to buy the product.

These theoretical concepts collide with the consumer’s psyche and his reading of the product according to his living conditions and the amount of trust that he can build with the product.

Hiam, a housewife based in the coastal Latakia city, told Enab Baladi that the advertisements do not generate a desire to buy the product, pointing out that there is a case of exaggeration presented by the advertisement for the product, which amounts to lying and fraud.

“We no longer have confidence in the products as before,” she says, noting at the same time that high-quality products are at a high price at the same time.

Hiam indicated that she rarely watches Syrian commercials because her family does not watch Syrian TV channels outside of the Ramadan drama season, in addition to long-time power outages that remove watching TV from the routine of daily life.

Inconsistent effect

Nour, a young woman from Latakia, focuses on the lack of influence in Syrian advertisements, explaining that watching the advertisement does not have an effect on her beyond memorizing it when it is lyrical.

Nour usually waits for the ads to end to return to following the series or program that she is already watching, a situation that major companies such as YouTube are aware of, which allows their users to obtain paid content free of advertisements.

At the same time, Fatoun, a university student from Damascus, is more responsive to ads, as she told Enab Baladi that she responded at some point to a local advertisement for a type of chips, which prompted her to buy the same product every time she wanted to buy chips.

Some companies in Syria were able to attract names with a street presence to promote their products. During the past five years, actor Ayman Zidan participated in an advertisement for coffee, and actress Sabah al-Jazaery participated in another advertisement for the same company.

Actors Abdel Moneim Amayri and Fayez Kazak also appeared in one ad for a “natural chips” company.

Companies paid more attention to the presentation method, as one of the soft drink companies hired director Al-Sadeer Massoud to implement one of its commercials. He is a young Syrian director who put his directorial mark on the series “Anonymous,” which he presented to the viewer as a young director with a different creative outlook than usual.

Actor and singer Shadi al-Safadi also appeared in a brightly colored advertisement for a milk company to present the advertisement through a short song after he had previously presented the song “Ya Weel Weely,” which brought him closer to fame when it was highly accepted by the audience.

Creative terms

The activity of advertising companies in working on advertising falls within the creative aspect, which is the most important in advertising, according to what was mentioned in the book “Advertising Creativity, Strategy and Tactics” by Abdel Baset Ahmed Hashem Shaheen, Ph.D. in Media and Mass Communication.

In his book, Shaheen points out that major companies spend millions of dollars annually to develop advertising messages that reach the heart and mind of the consumer, in addition to buying time and space in the media to convey these messages. Although these companies sell excellent products, they realize that creative advertising is an important part of their marketing success.

As for the Arab viewer in general, and the Syrian viewer in particular, some large companies with regional reach present an annual advertisement during Ramadan, in which they try to achieve as many aesthetic and creative standards as possible, such as telecommunications companies.

According to Shaheen, advertising creativity has two main determinants, the first of which is distinction, which means the extent to which the advertisement contains new, different, and unconventional elements, and to reach this idea, several factors must be achieved, such as originality, that is, the advertisement contains rare and surprising elements that are far from the usual and obvious, and flexibility.

The advertisement should also have a diversity of ideas, the transition from one perspective to another, the introduction of unexpected details, and the complexity and composition of ideas.

There is also a mixture of advertising elements, and the advertisement contains artistic verbal impressions, attractive shapes, and colors, or the use of humor, imagination, emotion, and analogy.

Advertising boom but not domestic

Halla al-Mallah, Ph.D. in media, referred to what she considered a “boom” in the way the ads were filmed in terms of drama, plot, well-studied scenario, and the use of celebrities, all of which are vital factors in the success of the ad.

Al-Mallah told Enab Baladi that each company, before submitting the advertisement, develops a strategy and defines the segment of consumers it addresses. And although the environment of the recipient and consumer must be taken into account, such as the living conditions and purchasing power, this element is not being considered today, according to al-Mallah, given the economic crises that are experienced by various countries of the world, not just Syria, for different reasons.

Regarding the ability of advertisements to change the consumer’s purchasing behavior, al-Mallah explained that the issue depends on the type and value, as the product that is at the heart of people’s needs is already in high demand, and the advertisement here comes with the purpose of reminding to protect the consumer from competitors.

The advertisement may arouse the follower’s curiosity and desire to buy the product, but it collides with the purchasing power, especially since the advertisements are usually for commodities outside simple daily consumption, such as chocolate, juice, and coffee.

Al-Mallah pointed out the absence of advertisements for a simple product in Syria, given that any commodity is necessarily expensive for the Syrian citizen, due to a sharp decrease in the monthly income, in contrast to the Egyptian experience in advertisements, which falls into two frameworks, one of which is populist presented in a lyrical and dramatic manner for products accessible to the general public, and another directed at a different economic class, such as advertisements for make-up and effective washing powders.

It seems that the Syrian advertisement is directed to abroad and not to the general public, and although this will not provide the advertiser with financial profit, the issue has turned into an image exported abroad to say that we have high-quality products.

Halla al-Mallah, Ph.D. in Media

The harsh living conditions of the Syrian citizen prompts today to think about basic commodities that are often not available, such as the family’s sustenance and food, before trying to respond to an advertisement that offers a commodity that falls within the framework of luxury and welfare in the face of “living oppression” that Syrians suffer from, according to al-Mallah.

No less than 90% of Syrians are below the poverty line, according to UN estimates, severe poverty for workers, poor productivity, and a sharp rise in the prices of goods, products, services, and medicines, in exchange for the depreciation of the value of the local currency against the US dollar, reaching more than 9,000 SYP for $1.

Difficulties and crises delineate the features of an oppressive living situation that has made the issue of humanitarian aid present in the political discussions that are trying to decide the fate of Syria without regard to the aspirations of its people.


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