Tell me which country you live in, I’ll tell you which ad to broadcast
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Advertising in Saudi Arabia is a billion euro market - the biggest in the Arab world. In order to get a piece of the cake however, agencies have to customise productions so that women are covered up, and do not use their left hands - even if it's passing a sandwich to their young son. Read more and see an example...
Advertising in Saudi Arabia is a billion euro market - the biggest in the Arab world. In order to get a piece of the cake however, agencies have to customise productions so that women are covered up, and do not use their left hands - even if it's passing a sandwich to their young son.
There are two versions of the following ad, created by Independent Productions. The first is for most Middle Eastern Arab countries; the second, for Saudi Arabia. Watch carefully when the mother hands the sandwich to her son; in Saudi Arabia, it's considered dirty to wave, shake hands with, give or receive something with your left hand.
“It’s inconceivable to represent God as floating on a cloud”
Mathieu Guidere is a professor of international advertising from Geneva, Switzerland. He's published a book on the subject (in French), "Publicité et traduction" ("Advertising and translation").
The rules for advertising in Saudi Arabia are some of the strictest in the world: nudity, seduction and using the female body is strictly forbidden in Saudi Arabia.
There are three ways in which the representation of a woman is restricted. Firstly, her ‘being': her appearance and manner. Secondly, her ‘doing': she cannot speak to a man, when alone, if he is not a member of her family; she cannot drive a car. Thirdly, her ‘active doing': she cannot give orders - something reserved to men only.
There are two other types of bans. There are universal prohibitions which refer to God and the universe: for example, it's inconceivable to represent God as floating on a cloud. There are also rules about animals - it's formally banned to show pigs or boars, or to see dogs inside a house."
“If it’s publicity for a shampoo, we’ll film the woman’s head from the back”
Samir Traboulsi is general director of Independent Productions, in Beirut, Lebanon.
Over half of our productions are aimed at the Saudi market; around 30% go to other Gulf countries, and around 20% stay here in Lebanon. Obviously we have to follow the religious rules in Saudi Arabia: no racy scenes, keep the women covered, no using the left hand etc. If the ad is set indoors then the woman can wear coloured clothing, but outside they must wear black. If it's publicity for a shampoo, we'll film the woman's head from the back; we see her hair, but not her face.
No symbol from any other religion can figure in a clip. And it's also banned to show a representation of a human or animal in picture, painting or sculpture form."