Ramsey Naja is chief creative officer at JWT MENA
For many political commentators, US policies post-9/11 have been mostly built on fear. It is only normal, in the aftermath of one of the most shocking events of our time, that people would develop an extra level of wariness and that politicians would latch onto it. One blog recently put it that “fearocracy is replacing democracy”; it is a term that makes you sit up and take notice because fearocracy doesn’t stop at politics but has carved itself a pretty comfortable pad in marketing and advertising.
You see it everywhere in the West these days: “Smoking kills!” screams a huge sticker on cigarette packets. “Caution: flammable!” says another on the accompanying lighter. Then there is the crisp packet that suggests you’re already fat enough as it is, the absurdist vodka ad which somehow manages to ask you to drink responsibly, the TVC for snacks that advises you with delightful hypocrisy not to eat between meals, the coffee cup that waives all responsibility if the coffee is, erm, hot, and, best of all, the peanuts pack that informs you with great fanfare, that the product contains nuts. Fear. Not just the kind of little niggle that you create to sell a product, but the greatest fear of them all in our corporate world: fear of litigation.
For many of us in the Middle East, used as we are to that terrifying temple of officialdom that is the Censor’s Office, a little disclaimer here and a bit of unreadable small print is just luxury, compared to the tsunami an irritable censor can cause. And yet as we watch the West increasingly nanny-ing consumers with the most inane and infuriatingly condescending advice, perfumed with Eau De Corporate Responsibility that hardly manages to camouflage the pungent smell of legal sweat, we should thank our lucky stars for what we don’t have: we don’t have a need for armies of legal advisors, nor do we have overprotective ombudsmen – yet. Ask anyone working in the US and they will tell you: cherish the freedom this gives you – and make full use of it – while it lasts.
Filed Under: 3.Blogs & Comment
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