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Bahrain: Much Ado About An Ad That Says Nothing!

The short film, INFINITY, that had almost half a million viewers in two weeks and was supposed to be an advertisement for a telecommunication company in Bahrain, Batelco, says nothing about them! Beyond the wonderful illusion of play and adventure, lies turbulence where services and products are undermined, and a lack of credibility prevails, say netizens.

The video, INFINITY, An Epic Journey Through People's Ideas, a production of Spy Films has been received with great enthusiasm from most of the 431,096 viewers of YouTube. It takes us through the incredible imagination of a boy walking the streets of a futuristic city in Toronto, with an overcast of Middle Eastern features, much adventure and fantasy. In the end of the film, the message says: “What are you thinking right now. Keep thinking. Batelco bringing ideas to life.”

Besides its artistic ingenuity as a short film, it has provoked other types of discussions as to its effectiveness as an advertisement that informs the world about Batelco, their products and services, and a question of to what extent should advertisements address more substancial issues and social needs.

Batelco, previously a monopoly, but now withstanding much competition from other telecommunication companies in Bahrain, has recently rebranded themselves with a logo that has both B, for Bahrain, but slightly tilted so it looks like the infinity sign.

And with the launch of the short film, it had caused much of a stir not only in Bahrain where it had attracted 135,000 Facebook fans but also from the international community who had 359 comments in Youtube, and a few more technical observations on the producer's blog.

Overshadowing this publicity is a history of complaints about Batelco's services and its new brand image where gulfexpress responds:

“Indeed. They burnt that card a long time ago with their terrible and overpriced services (same goes to Zain, but everyone knows that both are two sides of the same coin). I'm very much anti-batelco, so any kick in their … by VIVA is welcome by me I mean how much could they have been ripping off if all of a sudden they can afford to roll out a discount of 92% on international calling costs??? 92%!!! They can try all they want to keep their customer base using misdirected advertisement, but what they fail to understand is what will count is the bill that comes to the customer at the end of the month. Stupid governmental idiotic mentality seems to still be running strong amidst the halls of Batelco offices.”

More controversial responses were found here and here. And in some extreme cases, a call to boycott batelco.

So Batelco's Vision seems to be farfetched,and contradictory to the Bahraini audience, so much that a Batelco Lover site was created, with 32% supporters and Batelco Hater with 68%.

Leaving Batelco aside, the movie making was brilliant, reflecting both CGI, and human creativity and genius!

And here some comments from the audience who loved the Utopian, heavenly vision of life:

tenrazo215: “An optimistic future!”
WARDOG325: “I wish life was really like this :P”
yuna1591: “Wow… I mean WOW”
Dreamwalker07123: “Delicious dream!”
Regedi7: “@pXlor /signed, it's absolutely stunning!”

Others who appreciated the creativity and innovation:

SimonEiri:
“@rg0057 The kid's like 10. I think the idea here is that, if you keep thinking, what will he think of when he's 20, or 30, or 40? It's about innovation, understanding and knowledge and how creativity is the foundation of all new thoughts. The kind of creativity we all had when we were kids, and we thought every stupid idea was cool. Creativity is not letting go of that, and applying it to the wisdom (and knowledge) we earn only with age.”

DaDesperado: “My mind is blown, this video proves that the mind has unlimited potential!”

ncoutlander
“This was great to watch! The imagination certainly has no boundaries and the ability to share those thoughts in a video is just plain awesome! Keep Thinking and we will most certainly keep watching.”

And a few who commented on Middle Eastern tradition/religion:

tyreisland
“@xzibillionaire yes my point is that in Muslim countries, not wearing a burqa is considered more than against “common decency” (whatever objective meaning that has [none]). And regardless of who wore my pants first, I do have the right to wear anything and so should they. They aren't doing it out of fashion but rather psychological tyranny from a nonexistent diety”

Xzibillionaire

“@tyreisland If u were informed a bit you would know that those laws are non existent in most Muslim countries. Most Muslims are non-arabs, and are from green tropical countries like Malaysia,bangladesh,Indonesia,­India containing most Muslim population(80%) . And the biggest surprise of all is they all are democracies with even WOMEN PM. Infact not a single western country has achieved women being PM(20 years) like a Muslim country(bangladesh) did. Tyranny (whatever objective meaning varies)”

Moreover, some who posed a reality check:

rg0057
“Fiddling while Rome burns. Imagine if, instead of thinking about J/O, these people actually did something productive, like figure out how we're going to grow food 20 years from now, or how to keep our health care system from collapsing under the weight of the baby boom seniors, or how to improve energy efficiency by a factor of 10.”

mynameisguygal
“probably at a budget of 1 million +, eye candy, only achievable with huge budgets and large production teams question is… what's the point? maybe they're playing it on every theater screen in the middle east right now to raise awareness of their brand as they enter new markets however, given the 4 minute run time, i would have also taken the opportunity to communicate something more substantial … especially since the call to action is buried deep at the end”

BUT NOTHING ON BATELCO, ITS PRODUCT AND SERVICES, which left the audience absolutely oblivious to the main point of this short film!

A few comments communicate that:

theRealEthering
“What is this an ad for? I didn't know what Batelco was before I watched this and I still don't know. Do they make hallucinogenic drugs?”

meSticks
“So… cool as that is, I have no idea what this company actually does. Therefore, the advert doesn't really… well, advertise what it's supposed to. All I know is it's some company who have paid out for an extravagant ad :-p

3 comments

  • If giant apes, star fighters, and formula one races in city centre is the future, kill me now.

  • Oh and how did that guy who played football defy the freaking laws of physics? Sure its imaginative but you simply must but reason behind your logic, you can’t expect to sell mobile numbers and internet service by showing some dude kick a thousand balls into the air without touching 999 of them.

  • And please don’t get me started on that suicidal skateboarder. Or the sand that was alive that was surrounded by grass, which Bahrain does not have and Batelco can do nothing about that, But the metro was a good touch. Because is symbolized a will to develop, modernize, and achieve quickly and efficiently, it was actually logical, but that bubble of logic disintegrated when the driver of the train but on a roller coaster safety device and made the train spiral through an impossible vision of live sand, giant ape, suicidal skateboarding, Manama, which apparently has no laws of physics, and no line between: logical advertising to sell broadband and mobile numbers, and a science fiction universe centered around the coexistence of man and King Kong as they defy the laws of physics, while formula one cars drive through the streets, as the BIC has somehow vanished from existence, and then they decide to flip 360 degrees just over people’s heads. For funzies. Therefore, noting with deep concern where Batelco thinks were headed, I will proceed to facepalm myself.

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