Flying in the face of the US electronics ban, Mideast airline ads get funny

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Within hours of the ban coming into effect, Dubai-based Emirates Airline released a cheeky clip. (File photo: Reuters)
Updated 27 March 2017

Flying in the face of the US electronics ban, Mideast airline ads get funny

DUBAI: The Middle East’s largest airlines have played their trump card, turning the recent US electronics ban into viral marketing ploys that fly in the face of adversity.

On Tuesday, the US government stated that passengers on nonstop, US-bound flights from a handful of Middle Eastern and North African countries would have to pack any electronic devices other than cellphones in their checked baggage, leaving many tablet and laptop users at a loss.

Airlines flying directly to the US from 10 airports in eight countries have been affected by the ban, including Emirates and Royal Jordanian Airlines.

Although all airlines complied with the measures, they soon took to social media to respond in spectacular fashion, poking fun at the ban in a flurry of funny adverts.

Within hours of the ban coming into effect, Dubai-based Emirates released a cheeky clip on its social media platforms.

“Who needs laptops and tablets anyway?” the advert reads, before cutting to a shot of Hollywood star Jennifer Anniston playing video games on the in-flight entertainment system.

The clip of Anniston is not new, having aired in an earlier campaign in October 2016, but the repackaged commercial is.

The advert goes on to hype the airline’s 2,500-plus channels of entertainment and ends with an image of an Emirates plane flying high, with the caption “let us entertain you.”

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways chose to take a direct jokey jab at US President Donald Trump himself, with an advert captioned “Make Flying Great Again,” a reference to Trump’s campaign tagline “Make America Great Again.”

The airline pushes its various services, such as an in-flight “nanny” to take care of children and 3,000 channels of entertainment.

Not one to be left out, Saudi Arabian Airlines — also known as Saudia — tweeted out an image inviting prospective passengers to “take a break with 1,500 hours of entertainment.” The airline also encouraged flyers to bring their own USB, which they can plug in to watch personal entertainment.

Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc played on the British government’s iconic World War II advice to “keep calm and carry on” and urged passengers to sit back, relax and enjoy a movie.

The advert also asks: “Who really needs laptops and tablets?”

Despite the advertising field day, no airline made a more pointed set of remarks than Royal Jordanian Airlines, the flag carrier of Jordan.

Joke-by-joke, Royal Jordanian released via its social media platforms a slew of adverts and posts that make light of the ban.

The company kicked it all off with a satirical poem.

“Every week a new ban, travel to the US since you can, we are now poets because of you son, no one can ruin our in-flight fun, we have good tips for everyone,” the poem read.

It then took things up a notch with a 12-point plan for what to do on a 12-hour flight with no laptop or tablet.

The amusing advice includes such words of wisdom as “appreciate the miracle of flight” or “say hello to the person next to you.”

Not your cup of tea? Well, the airline also suggests you “spend an hour deciding what to watch,” or “engage in primitive dialogue from the pre-Internet era” to pass the time.

Never one to quietly accept a ban, this is not Royal Jordanian’s first comedic response to US travel measures.

On Jan. 27, President Trump issued an order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries in a ban that was soon overturned by the US court system.

Proving that comedy is all about timing, Royal Jordanian stepped into the furor and tweeted an image in which the word “ban” had been scribbled out and amended to read “Bon Voyage.”

“Fly to the US with RJ now that you’re allowed to,” the slickly-timed Feb. 5 advert read.


7D News looks to add new dimension to Middle East affairs

Updated 24 April 2018

7D News looks to add new dimension to Middle East affairs

LONDON: Do you have a camel at home? Is there an oil wheel in your garden? These are some of the least-informed questions that Dr. Ali Rashid Al-Nuaimi, editor-in-chief of the new media platform 7D News, has encountered on visits to the West.
Al-Nuaimi, a UAE national and member of the Executive Council of Abu Dhabi, said he spotted a gap in the online media market for an outlet “that is a force for good, not just reportage.”
This begins with unpicking stereotypes about the Middle East, Al-Nuaimi said during an interview at the 7D News launch party in London on Thursday.
“What people here in the West know about the Arab world is terrorism, wars, discrimination against women … we want to change it,” he said.
Serving up daily news blasts complemented by background pieces that aim to show “the stories behind the headlines,” as the news service’s slogan reads, the site plans to provide a fresh perspective on the region, beginning with coverage showcasing the “achievements of the UAE.”
Al-Nuaimi said that the London-based news site — which is owned by Emirates Media and Research — was initially envisioned as an Arabic platform.
But Al-Nuaimi decided that English had a more international reach, and said the site will be completely impartial. “There won’t be any no-go areas,” he said.
Basing the site out of London, with reporters in cities around the world, he hopes to have a global impact by targeting an “elite audience” of readers and viewers with the scope to “impact their community.”
This means politicians, public figures, community leaders — those in a position to make a difference, Al-Nuaimi said. Issues including tolerance, integration, extremism and peace-building will be high on the agenda, with a focus on spotlighting leaders contributing to their community.
“I came from a background where I saw the added value of media in countering extremism,” he said.
“We want to look into news, incidents, events with angles that bring people together (rather than) dividing them, bridging the gaps between different cultures, different religions. I think this is a vacuum that needs to be filled.”
Humaira Patel, a reporter who recently joined the 7D team said the platform will feature “news that brings out the best.”
“I think 7D will be different,” she said.