On the Symbolic Dimensions of Lebanese Rallies

Update (19-10-2006)
Due to the fact that my eyes are not working properly anymore, and because I don’t have the time to amend the whole post, I would like to add a note at the top of this post, on what has been written below. In the Tayyar’s picture the umbrellas seem to be oranges, and in the Tashnag picture the flags whatever the colors are (because I still can’t figure it out) is not in the same vein of the “independence05” format (or the “Nasron mina allah”, for the Hizballah rally). But basically instead of basing my argument on the fact that all of these groups use the same color/font I just want to point out that they use the same methods/techniques to voice their demands. This in a way brings them closer to each other, as in their search for symbolic representation they search in the same way, although in reality, their political differences are huge.

Now although this is flagrant in the comparison between “indepdence day05” and “nasron min allah”, and here for obvious political reasons, where the latter retaliate with the exact same tool as the former, my argument holds for the all parties on Lebanese soil. Any group that will want to express itself on political issues will (I would presume) use the same techniques from now on. It is today’s marketing strategy.


As the days pass in Lebanon it seems that the most popular form of social gathering is the demonstration or the rally. Since the 14th of March (and even a couple of days before that), people in this country think it’s worth going massively to the streets with general slogans and shout “Lebanon”. The problem is that you have until now 3 or 4 different demonstrations shouting their vision of Lebanon. But this is not the interest of this post rather it is the tools used to express the message that have attracted the attention of the blogger.

If you look at the following pictures you’ll see that they all have something in common: The flag, banners, etc. used are all using the same color (red with a bit of green and scripture in white) and the same font for the slogan. This ‘trait’ I will call it, is present in all demonstrations along with the flag of the party demonstrating and of course the Lebanese flag.

Those who started it all are the “14th of marchers”. I heard that it was Saatchi & Saatchi who did the whole “branding” campaign “Independence05”. So these dudes at Saatchi gathered and thought well we need to crystallize an image for the movement on the streets (and make money out of it). Red is fine, it’s a strong color. Red is the color of upheavals and revolution. Although there are no revolutions whatsoever in this case we need to create that there is a semblance of one. Anyway, whatever reasoning the Saatchi people went through in order to choose the final template (I did not take advertising classes and have very poor working experience in it), the result is that all the groups that have demonstrated in the past two years have ended up using the same templates.

Yes last picture is a bit weird, it’s Nadim Gemayel (son of Bashir Gemayel) with the Tashnag party (Christian Armenian party in Lebanon) protesting against the presence of Turkish soldiers in Lebanon. Now we’re not here to discuss the lame trials of this guy to try to get some Christian goodwill here and there, but to notice that even the Armenians, when they want to protest, well, they protest by the rules!

The third picture from the top is from the latest Tayyar rally (Michel Aoun’s party). Please can somebody tell me when did they have the time to manufacture red umbrellas? Is it still Saatchi working for all these parties or just the different political groupings copying each other? So it’s either Hezbollah working with Saatchi or the ‘copycatting’ drive. In this case I may think it’s the latter. In any case, the resemblance between the first and second picture template is striking don’t you think? You wouldn’t say by looking at these pictures that these represent rival groups.

One more paradox to add on “Lebanon’s ” curriculum. Same methods, same way of expressing things, same symbols used, same mobilization processes, yet so divided. It’s as if they were saying (the lebanese), and forgive my oversimplification: “we are “lebanese” all of us, but we hate each other and that what makes us Lebanese. We are Lebanese because we do most of things the same way. So here you go there are Lebanese. But we still base our similiarities on common hatred”. The Lebanese demonstrate when we want to point out an enemy (14th of march: the syrians, Hezbollah: Israel, Tayyar: the current government and 14th of March, the Armenians-Lebanese: Turkey), that’s what makes them Lebanese. All they need to do is find a common enemy. then they will be all united in hating one entity instead of hating every other group’s enemy/ally.

Start from the colors, well, you have here a terrain d’entente…


9 Replies to “On the Symbolic Dimensions of Lebanese Rallies”

  1. let them identify themselves as their own enemies.

    oh, and they should give up on “pre-packaged” demonstrations. The minute an ad agency tries to brand something, you know it has become nothing more than a commodity.
    Where’s the spontaneity when everybody brandishes the same banner made with the same color and the same font.

    These are “just show up” demonstrations. People do not have to think about it and what they want to say or convey. Just show up, pick up your “demonstrating-kit” and try to put the cute chicks up front so we can get on magazine covers.

    I rant too much and too incoherently.

    There should be an agency to manage those ad agencies and keep their dirty paws off demonstrations. Branding a political campaign is fine by me, but this kind of stuff makes me sick to my stomach.

    I can’t believe I studied advertising and, yet, hate it so much. Except social marketing.


  2. no the Tayyar banners here are red. the logo (the V thingy) is on it. But At each of this demonstrations you have the flags of the parties too. So the orange flag was there along with the reddish ornament.

    and on another note: allah ykhalilnah callipyge!

    shit, did i just invoke the Muslim god out loud?

  3. Umbrellas are Orange as all other banners except the lebanese flags in the background. You can notice the difference between the flag colours and all the other colours of the picture. In the Armenian protest as well only the Lebanese flags are red.
    The only resemblance is between the first 2 pictures.
    Even then I don’t really see the interest of this post.

  4. See the difference in color between the umbrella and the T-shirt of the guy holding one.
    the umbrellas were red. as are the lebanese flags behind them. It’s the same color.
    As for the Armenian protest, I don’t I may have eye problems but as far as i can see are red flags.

  5. Just checked Tayyar’s website. can’t find pictures of the umbrellas. But I can’t find anything typically red either in other flags.
    I must apologize to those whom I offended then.

    I will re-articulate my post shortly. But I wish to stress the fact that the crux of my argument has not changed.

  6. ok friends, i think i have a problem… i am not able to clearly distinguish red from orange in pictures. I am looking at the Tashnag flag on another site, and i can’t see the difference with the red of the lebanese flag. yet i looks a bit like there’s orange. help!

  7. OK, I think we need to move on from the red & orange. Except to say that maybe someone needs to literally paint the town red (or orange if you will). This might bamboozle the people into thinking their in a permanent revolution of their own making, & everyone would be happy. When in doubt, always go with the absurd. Goodnight.

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