Remarkable images have been coming out of Beirut of the past few weeks. Yesterday the Lebanese opposition parties managed to get another huge turnout. Today, the Hizbollah led pro-Syrian rally was even bigger (between “a few hundred thousand” to a million people were on the street, depending on who you want to be believe).
We are probably witnessing a birth of a new era in this part of the world. “Democracy Stirs in the Middle East” declares this week’s cover of the Economist. The photo on the cover really says it all: It’s the image of the Cedar Revolution.
Leaving the politics of it all aside, there is an interesting media image phenomenon going on here. It’s the ‘branding’ of a revolution. And it’s not all accidental.
Let’s consider the branding elements at play here:
Brand name: The Cedar Revolution. That’s one strong brand name. It references the national symbol of Lebanon, the cedar tree.
Logo: The Lebanese flag. It’s the overwhelming symbol used in the demonstrations. Notable is the absence of the flags of the different opposition parties participating. There is definitely a clear decision to unify efforts, for now, under the national symbol of Lebanon.
Corporate design: Have you noticed the professionally designed ‘Independence 05’ posters. Designed in Arabic and English, these are visible in many of the photos of the demonstrations. Very powerful design: white, bold type on a solid red background and two green leafs. The ‘05’ logo also appears on an assortment of posters that have obviously been designed by some professional designer. The Lebanese are good at this!
This reminds me of the Solidarnosc logo used in Poland mid 80s revolution against the communists. The small demonstrations in Egypt are also branding themselves with word ‘Kefaya’ (English: Enough) written in spiky lettering inside a yellow circle.
Bilingual communication: the demonstrators are acutely aware that they are playing to both local and international audiences. The bilingualism of the banners is another aspect of branding and communication being employed by the Cedar Revolution.
Photographic language: Masses of people, peacefully demonstrating. Seas of Lebanese flags. FEMALES!! This last image aspect is extremely important. It is the single most powerful image coming out of Beirut. Young, energetic, emancipated women with Lebanese flags. This image has been reproduced hundreds of times over the past few days. The iconic picture used on the cover of The Economist is an example of that.
The image of cool girls demonstrating has not been lost on Jordan’s most famous cartoonist Emad Hajjaj, who produced some interesting work over the past few days. Emad Hajjaj is trying hard to find some middle ground between the Lebanese opposition and Syria. His position reflects the dilemma of many Arab artists and intellectuals. There’s something very appealing about people power toppling an Arab government. Then again.. Bush is supporting this particular revolution so maybe we should be against it and stand by Syria. So you see Emad Hajjaj’s position is not easy. His solution: make fun of the whole thing. His character Mahjoob plays the role of a Jordanian student at the AUB who’s salivating at the sight of the sexy Lebanese girls of the opposition. He just LOVES this opposition and wants to become a member of the Jordanian opposition. Next frame: the poor guy is totally turned off by the grim, ugly people in the Jordanian opposition. He runs away in disgust. Hajjaj’s depiction of the Jordanian opposition is right on! Apart from the typical Islamists and Arab Nationalists characters there’s also the cigarette-drenched-communist-feminist type! Truly hilarious.
In any case: The Lebanese have done it again. Proving that they are at the forefront when it comes to design and communication in the Arab world.