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How Memac Ogilvy won in a new democracy

Not often does one come across a piece of communication which invokes the worst and the best in its receivers. This was one of those times.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 01, 2012, 11.32 PM IST
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How Memac Ogilvy won with creativity in a new democracy
Not often does one come across a piece of communication which invokes the worst and the best in its receivers. This was one of those times.

A few days before Tunisia's first free elections, passers by at a busy square in the capital of Tunis were appalled at the sight of a colossal bill for Zine El Abidine Ben Ali covering an entire side of a building.

Mere months after the country revolted against the dictator and successfully gave him and his regime the boot, this was an unimaginable travesty titled The Return of Ben Ali!

As crowds gathered near the site, clearly agitated, within twenty-minutes some decided to take matters into their own hands and get rid of Ali all over again. When the giant poster was torn to the ground, another sign revealed itself. This one read: 'Beware: Dictatorship Can Return. On October 23rd, Vote.'

The video of citizens tearing down the poster and reacting to the signage underneath spread online and made news everywhere and not just in Tunisia. Social networks were buzzing with debates and comments calling for action. Many substituted their social network profile pictures with the poster. But the best result came on Election Day. Voter turn out, previously estimated to be around 55%, hit 88%.

"It was a blast," says Nicolas Courant, creative director, Memac Ogilvy Tunis, the agency that created this campaign for Engagement Citoyen, a non-profit organization, with the goal to raise awareness among the voting population.

Particularly with certain elements of the old regime showing signs of returning in a more organised fashion and the country divided between conservatives and progressives, people needed to be reminded that their vote counts and could shape their future.

And if there's one thing all have in common it was the fact that no one really wanted Ben Ali to pull off a Schwarzenegger.

Courant remembers the day the team at Memac Ogilvy Tunis thought of the idea. "During the revolution there were these videos of ordinary citizens pulling down posters of Ben Ali. But he was around for so long that every time they tore down one there would be another picture of him underneath."

 
While not Tunisian by birth, Courant has deep ties with his adopted country. He moved from Paris to the North African nation over six years-ago to work at the agency, married a Tunisian woman and has a growing family. Despite the apparent dangers at the time, Courant had no doubts about his and the country's future.

"In school you always knew the concepts of freedom, democracy and equality. But for the first time in my life I actually had the opportunity to experience freedom and democracy. People want to change things. It's a great time for creativity."

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