During the Lebanese parliamentary elections of 2009, the different political camps were facing a very tight competition to gain over Lebanese votes. In order to better target voters, the latter were divided into different categories (sects, age groups, and even gender).
In an attempt to win as many female votes as possible, the Free Patriotic Movement created the Sois Belle et Vote billboard with the help of creative Sami Saab.
As seen in the picture above, the design features a beautiful woman taken up-close. Next to here it reads: SOIS BELLE ET VOTE or translated into English as Be Pretty and Vote!
Sois Belle et Vote Review:
I have mixed feelings towards this outdoor advertisement.
POSITIVE: On one hand, this billboard smartly twists a famous French expression Sois Belle et Tais-toi (Be pretty and keep silent) that stereotypes pretty women as being most of the time unintelligent. Here, beautiful women are invited not to remain silent, but quite the opposite, to express themselves and vote! It is a very smart way to appeal to pretty women and show them that the party acknowledges they could be pretty and smart at the same time.
It is quite refreshing and very much original; usually political ads are very strict and austere. Most of the time, they also showcase the politicians boring and uninteresting portraits. This ad created a clear break with the classical trend in political advertising.
The ad targets women and their instinctive coquetry. Most women feel they are beautiful or would like to believe that they are. And because of that, most women are trendy and fashion oriented (Lebanese women more specifically) would feel concerned by this ad and its invitation for them to take part in the voting process. The fact that The FPM received the largest number of female voters is proof that this ad campaign was effective and successful in its goal. This is why, other parties soon followed with a similar ad such as the Sois Egale et Vote (Be Equal and Vote), also targeting women voters. However, those other ads were not as creative(manipulating a famous proverb).
NEGATIVE: The main problem that faced this campaign was that the target audience was extremely narrow; To relate well to this ad one had to be a Woman + that speaks French fluently+ with a modern lifestyle(unveiled)+ educated and smart enough to grasp the wittiness of the slogan and to value its creative aspect.
Not only that, but the ad was being shown at the same time to the whole public (men+ English educated viewers+ lower illiterate classes etc…), with the high risk of misunderstanding or misinterpretations. Either that or those who conceived the ad overestimated the intellectual capabilities of the Lebanese public. Creativity in an advertisement is a double sided blade.
A lot of people misunderstood the ad, and felt it was demeaning and insulting to women. The concept therefore backfired.
This Article was prepared by Robert Bouclaous
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