2020/2021 Winners & Shortlists


Short List
CategoryFan Engagement / Community Building
Media Placement 2 MSL BEIRUT, LEBANON

Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

August 2019 - Religious fundamentalists attack Lebanese band Mashrou’ Leila on the grounds of “blasphemous/satanic lyrics” and apply social/political pressure on the Byblos Festival to cancel their upcoming concert. To preserve our freedom of expression, we launched a Guerilla campaign rallying the public/media/influencers through lobbying, social content, and ground stunt to make sure that the music still played on the night of the concert. In a matter of a single week, we engaged Lebanese from across the globe and our efforts culminated on Aug 9 with ML’s music blasting across Lebanese Media, 400 venues, countless influencer pages, and UGC.


Mashrou’ Leila is Lebanon’s most renowned Rock band giving a voice to the youth through their powerful lyrics and liberal values promoting gender equality, freedom of speech, and boasting two openly gay members in a country where homosexuality is criminalized. Lebanon had been experiencing a rise in censorship of personal/artistic/political freedoms due to the growing hate speech propagated by certain conservative political/religious groups. Aug 2019, Mashrou’ Leila were scheduled to perform at the Byblos Festival however fundamentalist groups began a powerful lobbying/intimidation campaign against the band and the festival, threatening with violence if the concert were to take place. They accused the band of blasphemy, Satanism, and the promotion of homosexuality. Extremists across religions joined, applying social/political pressure on the Festival, with personal and public threats for violence forcing the Festival to cancel the concert for public security reasons.

Describe the creative idea

Recognizing that threatening the freedom of expression of one band meant setting a dangerous precedent for the entire nation, we launched a guerrilla campaign entitled “Lil Watan”- “For the Nation", the same title as one of ML’s iconic songs. The campaign called on the Lebanese to exercise their precious right to freedom of expression and “play” Mashrou Leila's music loud and proud on Aug 9 so that the date where we were supposed to listen to Mashrou’ Leila, we would still listen to Mashrou’ Leila. Although the concert was cancelled, we would make sure that Mashrou’ Leila’s music blasted on Aug 9, making sure that our voices were not silenced, because a people without a voice is not a people, and a nation without freedom is not a nation.

Describe the strategy

In under a week, we had to move quickly to rally the Lebanese into participating. It was also important to capture the Lebanese diasporas across the globe as they were likely to share our liberal views. Our challenge was to show people that the LiL_Watan campaign transcended Mashrou’ Leila’s music and represented a much greater fight of preserving our freedom of expression regardless of their personal beliefs, so that they could always express them freely no matter what. We immediately mobilized teams to engage the media/political/journalistic/artistic figures/influencers/activists/venue owners across Lebanon with the challenge here being that most preferred avoiding the topic in order not to alienate a major part of their fanbase. We explained the significance and the importance of their participation as part of a national cause far greater than the music of Mashrou’ Leila, thus ensuring the proper reach and amplification.

Describe the execution

We launch a manifesto across social media featuring opinion leaders and citizens alike, inviting all Lebanese to play Mashrou’ Leila’s music on Aug 9. In a matter of days, UGC from 40 countries+ pours in with song covers/interpretive dances/streaming parties/dj mixes, and messages of support. Meanwhile we lobby for the support of Lebanon’s leading TV station which takes on our cause playing our manifesto and hosting a talk show entitled Lil_Watan. Activists plan a tribute concert, artist Yoyo Ma covers a Mashrou’ Leila song at the Byblos Festival, and band Within Temptation cancels their show in the Festival, all in support of our campaign. Aug 9: Mashrou Leila’s music blasts in every bar/car/home/street with major TV stations and radios joining the fight. When fundamentalists thought they could silence the voice of one band, millions of voices rose in the name freedom of expression, and the music played #Forthenation.

Describe the outcome

In a single week we were able to reverse the censorship imposed by the extremist religious groups: • Lebanese in over 40 countries participated • 1,500+ User Generated Content • Trending on Twitter and Apple Music • Over 400 venues joined • Over 600 million impressions • Total earned media value $6.3m Most importantly, we unsilenced what they tried to silence.


Name Company Role
Bechara Mouzannar Leo Burnett Beirut Conceptualization
Malek Ghorayeb Leo Burnett Beirut Conceptualization
Nada Abi Saleh Leo Burnett Beirut Conceptualization and amplification
Jo Chemali MSL Beirut Amplification
Rana Khoury Leo Burnett Beirut Conceptualization and amplification
Lama Bawadi Leo Burnett Beirut Arabic Writing – Production
May Chaker Leo Burnett Beirut Conceptualization – Amplification – Project Coordination
Youmna El Asmar Leo Burnett Beirut Conceptualization
Farah El Beaini MSL Beirut Amplification – Project Coordination
Mahmoud Jaber Leo Burnett Beirut Community Engagement – Monitoring
Karen Maroun Leo Burnett Beirut Production
Layane Makhlouf Leo Burnett Beirut Creative Execution
Michele Baz Leo Burnett Beirut Creative Execution
Alissar Daher Leo Burnett Beirut Creative Execution
Cedric Comair Leo Burnett Beirut Project Management - On Ground Execution
Jennifer Harb Leo Burnett Beirut Community Management
Samer Chamata Leo Burnett Beirut Project Management - On Ground Execution
Bana Ghandour Leo Burnett Beirut Project Management - On Ground Execution
Christopher Nehme Leo Burnett Beirut Project Management - On Ground Execution
Philippe Ghannam Leo Burnett Beirut Project Management - On Ground Execution
Layla Gaussin MSL Beirut PR Execution
Maia Sahyoun MSL Beirut Monitoring
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