Tuesday,18 December, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1368, (9 - 15 November 2017)
Tuesday,18 December, 2018
Issue 1368, (9 - 15 November 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Creating a buzz

The World Youth Forum’s promotional material starts a wide-ranging conversation, writes Ahmed Morsy

Creating a buzz
Creating a buzz

Less than three weeks after its launch the promotional video of the six-day World Youth Forum, held in Sharm El-Sheikh from 5 to 10 November, had been viewed more than 15 million times. The forum’s promotional hashtag #WeNeedToTalk has also become a fixture on social media platforms where both video and hashtag have raised controversy.

“The forum is a chance for you to engage with top policymakers and network with youth from the region and the world determined to create real change,” reads the forum’s website. 

The organisers launched the #WeNeedToTalk hashtag in early October to help promote the forum. The video was published on 21 October to highlight major topics on the forum’s agenda.

The 58-second video was aired on local TV channels in English with Arabic subtitles.

“If there are streets you can’t cross and clothes you can’t wear, we need to talk. If your ideas could change the world, develop a country, cure a patient or help a child, we need to talk… If your parents think you are still too young to make a difference, we need to talk…If you face discrimination because of your race, gender, colour or beliefs, we need to talk,” intones the English voiceover.

“If you have a voice and you want to be heard by world leaders, join us at the World Youth Forum in Egypt, where the conversation begins.”

The video was filmed by FP7/CAIRO, part of MCN (Middle East Communications Network), a major marketing agency.

Some viewers complained the state-backed promotional video with its English language voice-over, Western scenes and foreign models, had little relevance for Egyptian society. 

“The video’s language and content are not appropriate to Egyptian society and it doesn’t address Egyptian public opinion,” Hisham Kassem, founder and former CEO of Al-Masry Al-Youm, told Al-Ahram Weekly.

Kassem believes “the campaign accompanying the conference addresses foreign public opinion in an attempt to improve Egypt’s image in the West.”

“The aim of the campaign was to promote the forum online to young people internationally,” Sondos Effat, FP7/CAIRO’s group account director, told the Weekly.

The video is not targeting Egyptians exclusively which is why the scenes used are international and the voice-over is in English, she said, adding that the ad was launched with five different language subtitles — Russian, Hindi, German, English and Arabic — in 11 countries.

“The promotional video addresses young people around the world and invites them to the forum, positioning the World Youth Forum as a platform for youth to give their input on global issues and have their opinions and ideas heard by world leaders.”

About the forum’s hashtag #WeNeedToTalk Effat says it was intended to underline that “the world needs people to get together and talk about all the issues we are all facing.”

Some used the hashtag to praise efforts to advance the position of young people.

“Egyptian culture has a lot to offer for the world #WeNeedToTalk,” posted Manar Fadi on Twitter. Ayman Walash praised the thinking behind the forum, posting: “Egypt is bringing together youth, decision-makers and influential officials from all over the world, #WeNeedtoTalk”.

Others, though, simply quoted from the video to express their ovation: “If there are streets you can’t cross, clothes you can’t wear, #WeNeedToTalk,” wrote Shaista.

On the other hand, other social media users used the hashtag for mockery. “#WeNeedToTalk about not being able to talk in Egypt,” Mena George wrote on his Twitter account. “#WeNeedToTalk about police brutality,” wrote Mohamed Ismail. “#WeNeedToTalk about the illegal travel ban against activists in Egypt,” Amr Bakly wrote. 

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