2019 Winners & Shortlists


Short List
EntrantFP7/BEY Beirut, LEBANON
Idea Creation FP7/BEY Beirut, LEBANON
Media Placement FP7/BEY Beirut, LEBANON
Production 2 CAVIAR TV Beirut, LEBANON


With the emergence of talented artists in MENA, the Arabic music industry is growing. And while Arabic musical genres aren’t as widely loved worldwide as those in other languages, the regional music scene has immense potential. Mashrou’ Leila are an indie band of four Arab men from Lebanon. Their music is provocative in nature and anti-establishment, taking on socio-political issues affecting the Arab World: such as prejudice and stereotypes, sectarian divides, political and governmental corruption, institutional inefficiencies, economic disparity, gender inequality, environmental crises, restrictions on societal progress, and many more such anxieties and inequalities. Owing to the provocative nature of their songs, while they are popular in the alternative music scene and in regional and international music festivals, their appeal is limited to a cult following. Their songs and messages haven’t travelled as much as they’d like. But, they’re talented and their music and their messages deserve a wider appeal. The band tasked us with launching their new album, the deluxe edition of Ibn El Leil (“Son of the Night”), staying true to the band's core ideologies of taking on cultural tensions and anxieties.

Describe the cultural/social/political climate in your region and the significance of your campaign within this context

The western "roman" media’s narrative of feminism and women empowerment, does position itself as incompatible with Islam and the Arab world. And with Islamophobia rising in the Western world, the western media does not fairly showcase the progress by women in the Middle East. Instead, they continue to exploit the cultural and religious prejudices that people and governments are using to victimize Arab women.

Describe the creative idea

CREATING A MUSIC VIDEO THAT CHANGED THE MEANING OF “ROMAN”. (AN UNRELEASED SONG COMPOSED MANY YEARS BACK): Instead of promoting the album with a traditional campaign, we identified an unreleased song, composed 5 years back, called, “Roman”. Now, its lyrics were about “betrayal in love”. But, the way they were written, they could work to address the prejudice, bias and betrayal towards Arab and Muslim women, by western media and the world-at-large. NOT JUST ANOTHER MUSIC VIDEO, BUT AN ODE TO ARAB FEMINISM. We didn’t want to create yet another music video; all bands do that. We chose to give the lyrics of “Roman” a new meaning through the music video’s visual treatment; transforming the original song’s lyrics from being about “betrayal in love” to “dancing in rebellion against prejudices”.

Describe the strategy

GALVANIZING SUPPORT BEHIND MASHROU' LEILA BY TAKING ON A DEEP-ROOTED TENSION IN THE WORLD TODAY: Stay true to the nature of the band’s stance against socio-political issues, focusing on anxieties and tensions in the world, We wanted to promote the album by focusing on the band’s core ideologies of taking on socio-political topics affecting people in and from the Arab world. There has been a rising trend against Islam but there’s also another trend countering the hate and bigotry. We needed to show Arab and Muslim women expressing a power the world didn’t think they had. And this representation and narrative would influence perceptions from all those who were against Islamophobia and hatred towards Muslims. Earlier, no one would've imagined a music video showing Arab women, in traditional and religious garbs, dancing. But, with Mashrou’ Leila, we made one happen, creating the ultimate conversation driver.

Describe the execution

With an Arab woman director, we created a stereotype-shattering music video featuring Arab women doing things one typically sees Western do in a music video: Dancing. The visuals gave the song “Roman” a new meaning; from being about “betrayal in love” to “dancing in rebellion against prejudices”. The video revolves around the lyrical pivot in the chorus: ‘aleihum (charge!). It shows the power within Arab women to a world that didn’t see them as empowered. The traditional dresses weren't presented as an oppressive tool, imposed by men or religion, Challenging the misperceptions of the hijab and the abaya being an oppressive tool from a male dominated society, as shown by "Romans" (western media), we portrayed them as symbols of grace, determination, strength and liberation. Challenging the objectification of women in music videos (before #MeToo became a movement), we also got the male artists (the heroes) to take a back seat.

Describe the results/impact

Influential media platforms endorsed the music video, such as NBC News, CNN Politics, The New York Times, NewNowNext, Voice of America, The Stable, Adweek, Scroll, Native, Egypt Today, StepFeed. Travelled across 50% of the world, in multiple languages. Became the most trending content on feminism. Influenced perceptions across foreigners: “Life-affirming and joyous rather than the timid, “oppressed” vision the West is used to from media reports.” (Alex Clifton, The Singles Jukebox). Was ranked the most popular Arabic song worldwide on music platforms. 3.7 earned media value. 580 million impressions. 100,000+ shares from women who endorsed the music video as their voice against prejudice. The Saudi government used a part of Roman to promote their more ‘open’ view on their city with women finally driving. This also helped the band become more popular, with +36% iTunes downloads and +24% album sales, encouraging further messages from them to the world.


Name Company Role
Jessy Moussallem Clandestino Films Director
Jessy Moussallem Clandestino Films Creative Director
Emile Atallah FP7 McCann Beirut Managing Director
Karim Kazan FP7 McCann Beirut Executive Creative Director
Tahaab Rais FP7 McCann MENAT Regional Head of Strategy
Wissam Smayra Clandestino Films Producer
Ray Barakat Clandestino Films Producer
Katie Dolan Caviar TV Producer
Carl Bou Abdallah FP7 McCann Beirut Regional Strategy Manager
Anna Sadykova FP7 McCann Dubai Associate Strategist
Ashraf Muhammedunny FP7 McCann Dubai Editor and Visual Artist