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<nettime> Cairo: the revolution will have been televised
nettime's_roving_reporter on Mon, 6 Jun 2011 00:43:42 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Cairo: the revolution will have been televised


   Cairo advertising agency unleashes firestorm by taking credit for revolution

   Sarah Carr

   Thu, 02/06/2011 - 19:48

   A Cairo-based advertising agency has come under heavy fire for a
   video suggesting that one of its advertising campaigns contributed
   to the occurrence of the Egyptian revolution. The video, which has been
   circulated online, refers to a campaign created by advertising agency
   JWT for telecom giant Vodafone Egypt prior to the revolution.

   The JWT agency won an award on Wednesday night at the MENA Cristal
   Awards for a brand campaign it created for Vodafone Egypt. The glossy
   centerpiece film that launched the campaign in January of this year
   features veteran Egyptian actor Adel Imam describing the "power of 80
   million people" against scenes of ordinary Egyptians in everyday life.

   The campaign's tagline "the power between your hands" was lent an
   uncomfortable irony on 28 January, 2011 when Vodafone, together with
   Egypt's two other mobile phone operators Mobinil and Etisalat, cut
   mobile and internet services as Egyptian authorities desperately tried
   to undermine the massive street protests that broke out on Friday's
   "Day of Anger".

   Egyptians were almost completely cut off from the outside world as
   mobile phone, SMS and net services were stopped. Former President Hosni
   Mubarak, former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and former Interior Minister
   Habib al-Adly were last week fined US$90 million by a civil court for
   their role in the blackout.

   Now, JWT have unwittingly re-ignited the anger some mobile phone
   customers harbour against telephone companies via a video that appeared
   online yesterday.

   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

   "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.

   One commentator on Youtube writes, "Are you guys seriously planning on
   leeching something out of this after you cut the phones and internet...
   after protestors who were being shot at could not call others and warn
   them about being shot at by snipers because of you? SHAME!"

   JWT CEO Amal al-Masry rejected accusations that the implicit claim of
   the video - that the Vodafone advertising campaign contributed to the
   occurrence of the revolution - was crass and insulting.

   Masry said that the video was about "understanding the aspirations of
   your customers" and that JWT "are very upset" by the reaction. She
   added that the unauthorized publication online of the video "infringes
   on our intellectual property rights."

   In a statement, Vodafone Egypt said that it "does not have any
   connection to this video and had no prior knowledge of its production
   or posting on the Internet."

   Vodafone CEO Hatem Dowidar added that Vodafone Egypt "is part of a
   global company that has strict policies refraining [sic] associating
   the brand name with any political or religious affairs of any country
   in which it operates".

   In a statement issued on Saturday, 29 January 2011 Vodafone defended
   its decision to cut services.

   "We would like to make it clear that the authorities in Egypt have the
   technical capability to close our network, and if they had done so it
   would have taken much longer to restore services to our customers," a
   statement posted on its website reads.

   "It has been clear to us that there were no legal or practical options
   open to Vodafone... but to comply with the demands of the authorities."

   The defence has rung hollow with many users who regard Vodafone and
   other mobile companies as being complicit with the authorities.

   "Vodafone could have ignored the order to shut down services," said
   Ramy Raoof, an activist and online media officer with NGO the Egyptian
   Initiative for Personal Rights.

   "If they really wanted to take our side and help us, they could have
   ignored the order and let the authorities cut off services themselves.
   If all three mobile operators had taken the same position and stood up
   to the government, it may not have taken the decision to cut off
   services itself."

   According to Raoof, Vodafone and other companies will in any case
   receive compensation for loss of profits during the period when the
   authorities ordered that services be cut. However, customers have yet
   to be compensated for the interruption to services.

   Raoof was one of six activists who had their phone lines cut off on 25
   January, the first day of protests throughout Egypt, and who were part
   of a group offering legal and medical support to protestors, publishing
   their phone numbers online.

   "Vodafone and other mobile companies cut the lines off before major
   protests began on 28 January. They were in collusion with the
   authorities from the start," Raoof said, adding that his phone line was
   only restored on 2 June, over four months later, after he threatened
   legal action.

   In Feburary 2009, Vodafone's head of global standards Annie Mullins
   said during an e-forum held in London that the company had to hand over
   information about customers to security bodies during "food riots" in
   Egypt in March 2008 - a claim denied by Vodafone Egypt.

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