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Gayyash Al 'Aatifa

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Amani w Dasani

There's a Dasani (tfoo) mineral water ad on Nile FM (104.2) where the voice of Allison Esprit of the Nile FM family begins with the phrase "Water, the most natural of natural resources..."

La ya sheikha.

This is why advertising is so important. Important, that is, to those of us who in our overwhelmedness by the crises in the various realms of our lives (moral, aesthetic, social, etc.), have fallen into a state of perpetual curiosity, fuelled largely by a feeling of disenchantment with many of the values, concepts, structures and categories with which mainstream society functions. In advertising we see so many of these values and concepts reinforced and propagated, all this being the by-product of a process, the central aim of which is to stimulate consumption. Look at Nile FM.

To say that water is the most natural of natural resources is just unforgiveably stupid. It is however effective in that the word 'natural' is said twice, helping to emphasise the special status of water and thus sets up the product, Dasani, quite nicely. This is a language that speaks to a cruder part of the mind. It is the same part that has so many Cairo listeners, one imagines, spellbound with dumb light grins as their ears fill with the authoritative and effortless Britain-flavoured ramblings of the Nile FM team. The joy of hearing Allison speak the way she does has value and the advertisers know to use it in promoting products. If I say "water...most natural...Dasani..." most listeners would likely react with a mental "bas yala, balash kalam faudi". But when Allison speaks, I imagine a mighty chorus of responses from Madinet Nasr to Helwan to Imbaba with thoughts like "la2, begad?", "hmmm, bet2ool eih di?" "sheek awi Dasani", "ba7eb awi-l mayya ana, dana 3ayz ashrab 7atta", etc."

Nile FM means a lot to a lot of people and I think that it speaks a language similar to that of advertising in many ways. It is a language that often plays on insecurity, aspiration, and the satisfying pull of certain superficial markers of coolness. I feel this needs more elaboration but I'm really not up to it right now. I'm thinking this would be a good theme to explore here. I can even quote little items from their programming. That would be fun.


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