Archive for the 'research' Category


Real Estate Advertising and Advertising Real Estate

Real Estate advertising is mushrooming faster than buildings. But the corny ads that stand in ovation to the utter lack of creativity are not the problem.

The problem is that most, if not all the campaigns speak to a microscopic elite in a country where over the two third of the population can barely afford a loaf of bread.
The problem is that clients lack so much marketing acumen that taking them for a ride and making them to spend an arm and a leg becomes child play. Besides lacking originality, their advertising speaks to an audience that reads the newspaper in the back of their limousines while being chauffeured to destination. An audience that does not even look outside the dark tinted glass of their cars.
I got news for those Real Estate companies: Your “target audience” as your agencies taught you to call them, will never look for a 2 million Dollars apartment on a billboard on the Zalka highway! This audience does not need advertising claiming “Paradise on Earth” (in Lebanon…) to trigger their purchase behavior!
Having said that, some potential buyers might shop for a flat on outdoor media, but then, who might those prospects be? Did you ever worry about dissecting your audience, not by how much money they carry in their mattresses, but by their propensity to fill your flats?
Because, in Lebanon, the short-term fast buck over-rules the long-term brand-investment, advertisers always choose to go for the easy route; note that it is the smartest one, or the actual golden goose.
If we want to build the country on mob money, and Gulf tycoons, then be it. But for heaven’s sake, stop bragging about patriotism, and stop using nationalistic and outdated slogans. Lebanon does not, and will not get any better with your tall buildings. The way it’s going right now, it only will get uglier.
The fact is that, by playing the ostrich, we are as morally corrupt as the mafiosi who buys the 2 million Dollars flat.
My dear real estate developers, here’s an idea to make money and sleep restfully at night. We need condos, we need thousands of flats for the average Lebanese, the honest one. We need small town houses for the thousands of daily commuters who, for a change, work honestly and hard to earn their buck. Now you do the math. But before doing so, use (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to admit that, since the late eighties, economies have undergone a paradigm shift, from a margin to a volume market. Hell! Even Apple realised it! You can make more money by selling more and cheaper, rather than selling less but more expensive. You can make more money by selling to the poor!
Here’s another insight: The rich buy your flats in good times, when economy is flourishing and the cash is safe. But when hard times hit – and they do often lately – the rich are the first to hold their horses back. The average consumers on the other hand, buy an apartment because they “need” one. Their decision to buy is not investment-based, it is need-based. And here once more I implore (what’s left) of your marketing understanding to answer the 101 question: what does marketing address? Yes, yes, “needs”.
By doing so, you win a favorable reputation, you build a better brand, you will be respected and loved by the society, your product will spread to cover the nation, and you will be one of the rare businesses where the very nature of your product is intrinsically a CSR program. You will need to advertise less, thus use your marketing cash on smarter programs, or simply stash it if you wish to do so.
No, I am not a communist! And no, I am not asking you to refrain from erecting those beautiful skyscrapers that adorn our capital. All I’m saying is that , in a country of endless paradoxes, it would be a stimulating change to see someone “think smart” about creating an equilibrium. But that’s just me.

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Women scare us… and I love it!

This is to men who “wear” manhood instead of living it.

So, we give visas to every nationality; we harbor every terrorist group you can imagine; we open our border to foreign workers who flock by the thousands; we sell 100% ownership of land and property to every citizen in the world (including aliens from outer space)…

But hey! If the Lebanese woman gives nationality to her children, our social fabric equilibrium is screwed.

We elect deputies based on how much money they have, which religion they represent, how corrupt they are, how much “donations” they can make, who they follow (including which “foreign regime”), how low they can bend over…

But hey! If we bring women to the parliament, the country is screwed.

She gives birth, she raises, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she runs, she follows, she manages, she represents, she satisfies, she beautifies, she smiles, she endures… so much.

We watch her give birth, raise, cook, clean, work, run… and endure… so much.

And yet, we have the guts (no, no balls… at all), to deny her the very basic rights that were equally given to mankind.

We brag about freedom, of expression, of religion, of choice, of marriage, of political affiliation, as if we are the gods of freedom, as if we have grasped the breadth of the word… And yet, we deny her the very basic rights that were equally given to mankind.

Yes, this is manhood. We are the proud Lebanese men, those who are in the know. We are the ones who know how to harness the best of the world’s laws and jurisdictions to erect a nation.

We picked women treatment from Afghanistan, women civil rights from Saudi Arabia, women human rights from Iran.

We forgot to look at India, Great Britain, Iceland, Bangladesh, Mongolia, Argentina, Bolivia, Switzerland, Philippines, Ireland, Sri Lanka, Finland, Lithuania… where women were not elected to parliament, they were presidents, heads of state.

I pity a nation with double-standards.
I pity a country built on prejudice.
I dread the men of Lebanon, and you know why?

Because they are afraid of the Woman. They are afraid of loosing their clout and hegemony. They are afraid of being stripped naked, revealing their ignorance, short-sight, lack of tact. They are afraid of facing a peer they consider a foe; someone who might for a change use a brain instead of balls to induce change; someone who would negotiate instead of argue.

Can man do better? I don’t mind, but then again, if he could, he would have accepted the woman as equal centuries ago.

©2013 – Ibrahim N. Lahoud

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I once tweeted asking if the kidnapping and counter-kidnapping thing works with mosquitoes… I had to make use of the learnings from the latest happenings in Lebanon.

We are beyond pathetic. We are beyond pitiful. We are beyond acting, let alone thinking. We are way beyond solving.

Did the Lebanese-Syrian trade treaties stipulate anything about importing and exporting revolutions? I will most certainly not get into analysis and speculations. I will leave that to the poor souls who think they are in the know, and those who have teleported their personalities straight onto the tip of their tongues.

I am not eloquent when it comes to politics, but defense strategy? Seriously? What strategy? To defend who, what?

The best defense strategy, tested and proven, is education and civic sense. Deprive people from both, and that’s you get: Lebanon. Speaking of education, teachers are one of the most under-payed categories. To make things worse, students are now a bargaining chip. If we get this far, no wonder families have their own armies!

So, I just wonder…

I wonder why since the new government came into being, theft and crime rate shot up.

I wonder why bank robberies suddenly skyrocketed to new heights.

I wonder why the electricity became inversely proportional to the pledge the government made to fix it.

I wonder why gas prices go up when worldwide oil prices go down.

I wonder why only the mentally challenged earn a place in the government.

I wonder how they could devise a long-term planning strategy when they can’t even implement a simple traffic law.

I wonder why can’t they defend the country with the same fervor they defend the “neighbors”

I wonder how they dare to speak and give lessons in patriotism when their allegiance is invested everywhere but in their nation.

I wonder where do the inter-religious feuds fit If Israel is the common enemy.

I wonder if Syrians fought amongst themselves during the Civil war in Lebanon.

I wonder where did the 10452 Km2 go if the North is an Emirate, the South is off-limits, the Bekaa is an enclave, and most of Beirut is a military barrack…

I wonder how can they lie so bluntly to themselves before lying to us.

I wonder how do they still believe that they are actually lying to us.

I wonder what they tell their children when asked about what they do.

I wonder what to say to my own children when asked why are we still here.

I wonder why I am still here.

But beware, we all can wonder this much. We soon will ponder, and when we do, your lies, schemes and petty strategies will rule our leftovers. Our leftovers.

The thing is, we live in a rat hole where every family can have one army instead of having one army for all the families…


History Repeating

My father passed away when I was 12 years old, and he was only 42. He succumbed to a brain stroke. He was having an afternoon nap. I was alone at home with him.

40 years later to the year, my mother almost died of the very same illness and in the same circumstances. I was alone at home with her, and she was sleeping. This time, I noticed and managed to call an ambulance on time and save her life. My Red Cross days training helped diagnose the symptoms and act swiftly.

She spent 12 days in hospital and ultimately recovered. God offered me a closure.

Three miracles happened in less than 20 minutes:
One, I was sleeping at her place, something I very rarely do.
Two, I woke at 06:00am, with no apparent reason. She had the stroke at 06:15am
Three, she fell next to her bed and I noticed. Had she had the stroke in bed, I would have not noticed at all and she would have died in one hour.

Everyone tells you that the day you become a parent, is the day when you realize the importance of parenthood, and understand why your own parents behaved the way they did with you.

I disagree.

You only realize the importance of parents the moment you loose one of them, or come too close to do so. Age does not matter, you might be 12 or 50, the feeling is the same, the trauma is the same, the fear is the same.

I know we all love and cherish our folks, but moms and dads are far more than people to love and cherish. When you think that you say the same thing about your dog or favorite pair of shoes, you understand how meaningless and clichés the words love and cherish are.

When I lost my father, I was a little too young to grasp the breadth of the damage. Life continued. I missed him and still do, but life continued.

Today is different. Today is about maturity and the way we look at our parents. Today is about looking at yourself in the mirror.

Today is about understanding the true meaning of a mother and father. Today I understood that it is not about need or protection, feeding or clothing, schooling or safety.

Today is simply about the tremendous amount of emotions and feelings behind the fact that you can still say a simple word: Mom… Without having to ask anything after you say it.

This post is dedicated to the moms and dads with children as old as I, where all can live in the simple bliss of calling each other “Mom”, “Dad”, “Son” and “daughter” without having to say anything else.


All I Want for Christmas – The Last Post of 2011

For this Christmas, I want the driver of that modified Subaru Evolution with a loud exhaust as wide as his empty brain cavity, to beat him till he begs for mercy.

I want the driver of the tinted-glass Picanto, to humiliate him till he decides to spend the rest of his days walking, and I want his car to set on fire.

I want that woman in the black Range Rover with a four digits plate number, to tie her hands behind the wheel, put a brick on the accelerator and watch her fly and hit a wall, and I want her cell phone to dial a long distance number and leave it on for a week, and her lipstick to… you know what!

I want that policeman playing G.I Joe on the intersection under my office with a finger up his nostril and a beer belly down his pants, to glue him in the middle of the road, hands shackled behind his back, and watch him scream like a baby girl watching the Subaru Evolution guy rushing straight at him.

I want the electric generator guy to teach him manners, the hard way and make him understand that his generator has more power that all his neurons combined.

I want the bank teller… To tell him who the client really is, hold him by the necktie and hang him from the top of his ego.

I want a gum-chewing clothing shop saleswoman to be sentenced to chew the same gum for a year while smiling and saying “how can I help you”.

I want that disgusting ugly castrated macho with mustaches like a floor mop to stick his lit shisha up his… you pick a hole!

I want the owner of the double parked Mercedes in the hospital parking to stand on the white line divider of the parking lanes, take the space of two cars, and get a first-row show of the insults he usually gets but doesn’t hear.

I want that Neanderthal bastard who pushes through the line at the ticketing counter of the movie theater to be squeezed between two gays till he feels something hurting his throat!

I want that bunch of botox-filled women talking loudly in the restaurant to have their ears stuffed with hearing aids with the volume pumped to the max till violent noises and squeaks melt what’s left of their brain.

I want the group of nouveau-riches, talking politics, drinking expensive Scotch and smoking fake cigars they never knew they are fake, to put each and every theory of theirs to work, and make “only” them live through it.

I want every Facebook user who presses the “Like” button on a group to swear they really like it. I want them to prove to me that their 1432 friends are really friends.

I want a restaurant owner to eat from his own restaurant kitchen.

I want a Muslim to read the Holy Quran and a Christian to read the Holy Bible, and then dare to talk about true tolerance.

I want an illiterate politician, any politician, to make him listen for a whole day to his own speeches on loud speakers.

I want every “Patriotic” Lebanese who lives in abroad to come back to Lebanon, stay there, and then tell me they’re patriotic.

But I’m easy… So I will just settle for a pair of ear-plugs, and one of those blindfolds they provide for free on long flights. That’ll do.

Happy Holidays!

p.s. I don’t really hate this country. I just hate it’s geographical coordinates, and the fact that unlike a zoo, the animals are on the loose and the visitors in the cage.

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©2011 – Ibrahim Lahoud



Shame on the country where religion is politics and politics are religion.

Shame on the country that doesn’t protect those who protect it.

Shame on the country that doesn’t advertise from what it creates.

Shame on the country that doesn’t say what “it” thinks.

Shame on the country that doesn’t believe in what it preaches.

Shame on the country that doesn’t respect what it forces others to respect.

Shame on the country that doesn’t aim as high as those who carry it far up.

Shame on the country that doesn’t breed from within.

Shame on the country that doesn’t put rights above privileges.

Shame on the country that doesn’t punish those who punish for the fun of it.

Shame on the country that doesn’t force respect instead of respecting force.

Shame on the country that doesn’t dare look me in the eyes when speaking to me.

Shame on the country that exports what it should retain and retains what it should expel.

Shame on the country that brags about it’s grottos instead of its flag.

Shame on the country that puts civil servants above their employers.

Shame on the country that uses the illiterate to educate its intelligentsia.

Shame on the country that uses inertia as its way forward.

Shame on the country that buys its dignity instead of earning it.

Shame on the country that yields to threats and cheers its oppressors.

Shame on the country where I am me on if I am someone else.

Shame on the country where politicians are hired, creeds are slogans and “I” is “Him”.

Shame on the country where you’re as important as your plate number says you are.

Shame on the country that still debates the rights of women to full equality.

Shame on the country where civil marriage is a political bargaining tool.

Shame on the country where schooling fees are a hundred fold the salary of teachers.

Shame on the country where criminals are free and the free are criminals.

Shame on the country where your opinion is owned… but not by you…

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Shame by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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© 2011 Ibrahim Lahoud



“You suck!”
“No, you suck!”
“No no, no, You suck!”
“No, it’s you who sucks! And your family, and neighborhood, and whole damn town!”

This was a political debate between two Arabs in the know, brought to you courtesy of Arab Spring TV.

Now, here are the options:
1- Either one of the two sucks, and that’s 50% of the population.
2- Both suck, and that’s 100% of the population.

In either case, we’re screwed.

We are a race driven by pure emotions. This renders us inapt to judge, be objective, and consequently, speak about politics. We either do what we’re told, or act upon our own emotional judgement. And both scenarios are scary. Yet, we proudly claim how patriotic we are.

Or is it? It’s amazing how branding can create a revolution. It is amazing how much momentum an embryonic idea can gather when it gets a face and a voice.

Ask the Soviets!

Revolutions are the brainchild of basic emotions. No “real” revolution was erected upon a rational idea. Although rooted in rational beliefs, “revolutional” triggers are ignited by an emotional fuse, one that rallies the deprived, the oppressed, the change-makers, and of course the mentally blind followers, around a basic “feeling”.

Indeed, ask the Soviets. Their legacy of propaganda is still praised today as more art than politics. Yet, how rational was it?

I ask: Whether you live life, or love it in colors, what have you done about it?

A message remains embryonic until, just like in a fetus’ cells, it starts multiplying itself, creating clones of its own DNA, until an entity is born. And that’s what happened all over the Arab world. Having said that, not all newborns are healthy… or alive…

I love the coined term “Arab Spring”. Another branding slash media tour de force.

No, really, spring? What spring? Let alone “Arab”…

Poland had a spring. Arabs have nothing. They never will, and for a simple reason; they can’t agree on a real unified brand positioning for their “Arab” or “Spring”, let alone the 2 combined words.

We’re Arabs when need be, and we’re not when need be. Egypt’s spring shifted from bringing down a corrupt regime to a Christian-Muslim conflict. How cheesy is it to get married in Tahrir square among your “brothers” from the opposite religion at noon, and go get a mosque or a church burned down to rubble at sunset?

It is indeed about priorities. The question is “who’s” priorities.

I’m not defending those regimes, as a matter of fact I’m quite thrilled they vanished, but I am starting to get the feeling that they represent more our inner fears and psychological complexities, than they do the physical nation’s situation.

Why did the Syrians have to wait for 3 revolutions to trigger theirs? Oh yeah, they where learning the ropes… Did it take Tunisia, Egypt and Libya to wake them up? Or was it another case of everyone’s partying, let’s party too?

Spring? What Spring? It really sounds more like Fall…

Everyone is jubilant, but let me tell you this, we Arabs, were never, and still are not ready, to rule ourselves. Comes to me? We never will! We’re still just novices, mediocre apprentices. We’re like that tail of the class student that loves to brag about his or achievements only because mom and dad said so… A pure exemplification of a famous Arab proverb (A monkey is a deer in his mother’s eyes)

We call for help, we wait for it, and when it comes, we shoot everywhere, mostly in the air to express joy, and end up performing the weird ritual of walking on or burning leaders’ effigies and posters.

Oh come on! How childish is that?! Please.

– If the intelligentsia runs revolutions, intelligentsia does not stampede posters.

– If the illiterate mass is running the revolution, what revolution would it be?

– If the intelligentsia runs the revolution using the illiterate mass, they’re not intelligentsia anymore, they’re freakin’ Machiavellian dictators in the making.

Do you have any other scenario for Arab Springs?

You want a real Arab Spring? I’ll give you one:

Nations are made of humans. Not educated, poor, illiterate, rich, Christians, Muslims, blue, red, green, or yellow…. Humans; full stop. Classification is the first ingredient of division, and division will never make a revolution… Look at Lebanon…

Get the humans to revolt. Get the emotions to speak. Be subjective, be real, be you. Only then, Mr. PhD will accept to mingle with Mr. delivery boy, Peter and Mohammed will meet, not for a photo-op, but meet, really meet.

Tyrants and dictator are afraid of unity, nothing else. Divide and conquer was not a ballad title. It works. And we’re so idiotically stupid to listen to politicians manipulating us like Kermits and Miss Piggys.








You tell me…

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Arab S”T”ing by Ibrahim N. Lahoud is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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© 2011 Ibrahim Lahoud


May 2020

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