3Cs for Lebanese Communication
(First Published in ArabAd magazine - October 2013)
“A nation's culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”
Lebanon and Communication
A lot said and written about the Lebanese Miracle and the imaginary bird that rises from its ashes. We have not left any birds except those in supermarkets and the only miracle is that we still have an imaginary country and a passport for those who wish to return for retirement.
Why? – We can give you at least 128 reasons and more but this is not the intention today.
Lebanon and Advertising have a perfect fit made in heaven. If we want to define communication and advertising as using ideas and language to promote and facilitate business and trade, we can trace this practice back to the invention of the Alphabet by the Phoenicians in order to communicate with other peoples and to promote their business and trading activities. Do you think this stretched too much? – No. This is just being Lebanese.
In the modern times, Lebanon and communication had again a very strong fit that manifested in so many ways. We can also use branding and communication terms to give our diagnosis for Lebanon’s ongoing dilemma. It is a brand with “confused identity” and lack of “unifying purpose” and “rallying promise”.
The Ingredients of SuccessThe current overall situation in Lebanon is affecting every single aspect of life and in particular an industry that relies heavily on a healthy economy and stability.
Let us try to forget for a moment the famous cliché about how we invented advertising in the Middle East and how we use to rule it and try to understand the real market situation in Lebanon and how can we still develop and boost the communication industry in the country. Is the Lebanese success in communication related to an era that is gone or to a number of necessary conditions that can bring this success again to life?
We have to admit first that the “Lebanese personality type” has a special talent for communication of all sorts and this is a real piece of Lebanon in every one of us. However, this is not enough to have a healthy and successful industry that can grow and compete.
The proof of the above is the phenomenal success of other cities and countries in the region that managed to gather the right recipe and the right ingredients to create a very successful communication industry at a world-class level.
Let us explore these “ingredients” with the hope that we can use them to “reconstitute” our success in advertising and communication, a success that will last and grow in Lebanon and beyond.
The 3 Cs: Culture, Context & CreativityIf we examine the ingredients of success, we will discover 3 main areas that we need to focus on and we are going to call them the 3Cs.
#1 – CultureA good advertising and communication industry needs a good culture, a culture rich with ideas and storytelling.
Culture is about the shared language and understanding that makes communication so easy and interesting.
Culture is about the values and the fights that rally groups of people if not the whole nation around certain ideas.
Culture means good education, better universities and more specializations related to advertising and communication. It means new specializations every day to be up to date with global development and to be ahead of the market so our story will be more interesting and attractive.
Culture is about instilling the spirit of entrepreneurship in the new generations so early in life they can learn to start a small business, such as creating a mobile application that can make them millionaires at 14.
Culture is the rich “national cloud” of ideas, stories, jokes, songs and slang expressions that connect people and make them smile and take action.
Culture is freedom to think and to express ideas through all media of all types: traditional, new and social.
Culture is watching much less of the poisonous local news and see international channels to learn and discover.
#2 – ContextContext is a healthy economy that can attract, generate and pump a good flow of capital and resources in the country’s system. The communication industry’s role is to be a catalyst for business. For this industry to grow, it needs other industries to keep creating and selling new products and services.
Context is infrastructure, good roads, good telecom services, excellent internet that connects people and companies inside and outside the country.
Context is favorable legislations to encourage business and favor an easy establishment of new companies and startups.Context is Free Zones, business incubators and all the widely tested and proved formulas that encourage individual and institutional investors to put their faith and money in new projects in Lebanon.
Context means security, political stability and visibility for business to start, grow and develop.Context means excellent foreign relations for Lebanon, starting with the all the Arab countries.
#3 – Creativity
Creativity is ideas. Ideas that make or break businesses, brands, countries and political parties.
Creativity is talent. First grade talent nothing less.
Creativity is expression without fear from any form of oppression.
Creativity is motivation. Motivation to change, to come up with new ideas, new services and products that can change the world.Creativity is innovation that gives us an advantage over the competition. Whoever was this competition.
Creativity is about knowing ourselves, our country, our strong assets and our limitations and how we are going to change the world.
The Way Forward
The list can go on and on; but if we want to change and regain the shine of the Lebanese communication industry, everyone can start in her and his area and the collective effort will eventually cover all 3Cs and take us forward.By the way, the Lebanese communication industry can also lose few Cs for a better future and better business.
The 4th C
The 4th C is a small Cedar tree, a virtual one that is in the heart and soul of every Lebanese, in Lebanon and outside. This is the “country” that is inside every one of us, and that we take with us everywhere we go. This is not about poetry, but about a solid reality built by all the Lebanese success stories around the world and in every industry. This is the very “Lebaneseness” that make us so good in communication, in creativity, in business, in arts, in culture, in survival, and in so many other things. The same Lebaneseness that can succeed everywhere except in building a real country in our homeland.
Jean-Claude Saade (firstname.lastname@example.org)