Ever noticed how the Australian ms media never seem to run out of instant Middle East experts to grace their opinion pages? And how sold on Israel they all are?
Now in case you hadn't noticed, no sooner had instant Middle East expert David Burchell mysteriously departed from the pages of The Australian (or, to recall his signature simile, "vanished like a wraith" - see my 25/4/11 post Spooky!) than up popped another, name of Rowan Dean, to take his place.
Billing Rowan merely as "a regular panellist on ABC1's The Gruen Transfer and a social media commentator," as The Australian did, really doesn't tell us much about the man. A quick scan of his ABC bio reveals so much more:
"Rowan dropped out of the Australian National University in 1978 and headed to England. As a junior copywriter, he launched Fosters lager (and Paul Hogan) onto an unsuspecting British public. He worked for London agencies Ogilvy and Mather and Collett Dickenson Pearce, winning many awards. In the industry, he is best known for co-writing 'Photobooth' for Hamlet Cigars, an ad regularly voted among the best of all time. He has also run his own production company and been Chair of AWARD (the Australasian Writers & Art Directors Association). In 2006 he joined Euro RSCG as Executive Creative Director." (abc.net.au)
Pretty impressive, eh?
So impressive that our opinion editors have been fairly beating a path to Rowan's door - resulting thus far in three bold-as-brass polemics on the Middle East in The Australian (30/4), Quadrant (7/6), and the Sydney Morning Herald (22/6). Seems everyone loves Rowan.
Now in case you were off exploring the craters of the moon and missed these priceless contributions to the sum total of our knowledge on today's Middle East, I've decided to devote this and two coming posts to each of the adman's gems, beginning with the first:
Rowan's opening number is suitably big picture, in inverse proportion to his knowledge maybe, but befitting the length, breadth and depth of his chutzpah.
In How an ad campaign can solve the crisis, the genius behind the Hamlet Cigars ad (Happiness is a cigar called Hamlet) boldy informs us how he's finally "worked out how to solve the Middle East conflict..."
And yes, it's "... with advertising."
But of course, why didn't we think of that?
In Rowan's ingenious prescription, the Arab states and Israel would each mount an advertising campaign, "selling the benefits of living in their countries to each other." And then, "based solely on the ads," the oppressed masses of the area could apply "to come and live" in the country of their choice. To give but one example: "If you're at your wit's end with life on the West Bank, apply to ilovesaudi.com and you're off to a life of luxury in a high-rise in Riyadh."
Of course, you're not supposed to ask why said West Bankers might be at their wit's end - that'd impede the adman's narrative flow somewhat, know what I mean? - but you get the idea, no?
"There's only one catch," however, cautions the man who "launched Fosters Lager (and Paul Hogan) onto an unsuspecting British public." It's got to be an ethical campaign: "No propaganda. No spin. Just the truth." Oh, and "you're not allowed to demonise the competition."
Rowan himself, however, is bound by no such injunction, and demonises to his heart's content. "Numerous Arab states," he asserts, have spent "squillions" on "literature and news programs claiming Jews are all pigs who will drink the blood of your babies." He also advises the Arabs to "go easy on the blood and gore when advertising the benefits to the community of limb amputation for thieving, gang rape for apostasy or death by stoning for adultery." And, after ruling out any references to religion, he simply can't resist this little jab: "If your product's any good it will sell itself without relying on threats of eternal damnation or unsubstantiated claims of frolicking with virgins in the afterlife."
No surprises then to find that Rowan "bags working on the Israel account."
Or that this is how he sees the outcome of the campaign:
"[B]ased on humanity's universal and insatiable desire for personal freedom, opportunity for your offspring, liberty and equality, virtually every man, woman and child in the Middle East will want to move to Israel. Impractical, I know. But it might make them a little less keen to blow up the place."
Pretty neat, eh?
But flawed, fatally flawed.
Sure there's the hint in his sentence "Impractical, I know," but no explanation of why it's impractical.
Not that Rowan has any idea, mind you.
You see his painstakingly constructed house of cards collapses in a heap when you learn that all of those freedom-seeking Arabs, particularly those in refugee camps dotted around the Middle East who still call Palestine home after 63 years, haven't a snowflake's chance in hell of ever living in Israel as presently constituted, regardless of their wishes.
And why not?
Simple: they don't have Jewish mothers.
'Israel: For Jews only!' Now how are you going to sell that to the Arab world?
Back to the drawing board, Rowan.
Stay tuned for the next fun-filled episode of Everyone Loves Rowan.