There's been much chatter about this Vodafone case study, which looks at an ad campaign created by advertising agency JWT for telecom giant Vodafone Egypt prior to the revolution. The study implies that the revolution happened.. due to this ad. With a straight face. While the case study is the usual chest-thumping we see so often in advertising, and the campaign has won a MENA Cristal Award just the other day, the tagline "the power between your hands" was uncomfortably ironic for those who recall that Vodafone shut off the network services back when they were really needed.
For anyone who doesn't work in advertising: a case study is created by the ad agency in order to enter a campaign into award shows and win ugly heavy prizes we can use as door-stoppers at our fancy agencies. This detail is important the advertising client does not sign off on a case study, nor are they involved in creating the case study. It's strictly a prancing dance done by agencies to ad award juries in the hopes of winning some fancy metal, which in turn attracts other clients.
The video – which JWT CEO Amal al-Masry emphasised to Al-Masry Al-Youm is for strictly internal company purposes as a “case study” and not meant for public viewing – opens with the words, “For 30 years, Egyptians have felt powerless. On 1 January, 2011 Vodafone launches 'power to you' in Egypt.”
It goes on to explain that the idea behind the campaign “was to inspire and remind Egyptians that everyone has power.”
JWT then says that after the advert was aired, “social media took over.”
“Three days later, 100,000 hits and over 500,000 fans on Facebook… Three weeks later, 25 January, 2011.”
After showing iconic scenes of the Tahrir Square protest, to the sound of soaring violins and a voice announcing Mubarak’s resignation, JWT says, “We did not send people to the streets. We did not start the revolution. We only reminded Egyptians how powerful they are.”
The video ends with a quote from Wael Ghonim, the administrator of the influential "We are all Khaled Saeed" Facebook page, in which he says that the Vodafone advert is “Inspiring... It talks about a generation able to change their country.”
Ghonim on Thursday tweeted a condemnation of the video, saying, "It gives the credit to Vodafone for the revolution! And they used my name/posts without permission!"
The response from social media users has been furious, and since the video was misunderstood by many as an advert, most of the anger has been directed against Vodafone.
The many angered comments on the case study are also reported in The Guardian, who are also mistaking the case study for a business to consumer advert: Fury over advert claiming Egypt revolution as Vodafone's
Vodafone is facing a backlash in Egypt over an advert suggesting it helped inspire this year's revolution in the country.
The three-minute commercial featured excerpts from a Vodafone ad campaign entitled Our Power, which was launched three weeks before an anti-government uprising swept the country. The video goes on to show images from protest rallies in Cairo's Tahrir Square before claiming: "We didn't send people to the streets, we didn't start the revolution … We only reminded Egyptians how powerful they are."
The short film features screengrabs of Facebook and Twitter messages posted by Egyptians approving of the Vodafone ad campaign, then an audio recording of Hosni Mubarak's resignation as president being announced on TV.
In fact, many pro-change activists blame Vodafone and other mobile phone companies for following Egyptian government orders and implementing a communications blackout at the height of the revolution. They have condemned the advert as a "sickening" attempt to push up sales by "riding the revolutionary bandwagon", and an insult to the hundreds who died in the struggle to bring down Mubarak.
Can we give this an award for "braggiest" case study?
Also, it can't hold a candle against the awesome June 16th 2014 idea that moved Tunisia case study.
@Tim Bradshaw tweeted: Official comment from JWT: "was not intended for public display. We confirm that this video does not relate in any way to Vodafone Egypt"
@JWTMENA spelling it out loud and clear:"Video circulated is not related to @VodafoneEgypt, but done by #JWT Cairo for presentation purposes & NOT AN AD. We apologize to everyone."