JWT and Vodafone anger Egyptians over revolution claims

JWT and Vodafone Egypt are facing a huge backlash in Egypt after a video was released implying that the telecoms company had helped inspire January's revolution.

JWT: Egypt film is slammed by bloggers
JWT: Egypt film is slammed by bloggers

Such was the level of anger, that JWT MENA was forced to apologise via social media sites last night, with the network saying via Twitter that the "video circulated is not related to @VodafoneEgypt, but done by #JWT Cairo for presentation purposes & NOT AN AD. We apologize to everyone."

The apology followed the posting of a video on JWT's website that combined its award-winning Kowetna campaign with events in Tahrir Square. The end tagline reads: "We didn't send people to the streets, we didn't start the revolution … We only reminded Egyptians how powerful they are."

The posting of the video led to the almost instantaneous creation of the website ihateVodafoneEgypt.com and to bloggers such as Mohamed El Dahsan slamming both the agency and Vodafone, which has since said it had nothing to do with the video.

El Dahsan said: "Take the time to watch the outrageous Vodafone ad that has sparked public outrage in Egypt this week. Vodafone, the company that complied with the Mubarak regime's demands to shutdown communications networks is taking credit for what happened in Tahrir Square."

A comment piece on the homepage of ihateVodafoneEgypt.com said: "It is really quite sad, and pathetic, when an advertising agency helps a client ride the revolutionary wave and manipulate it, but it's an entirely different ballgame when they dare to even hint at the idea that their client had anything to do with it.

"It is not only arrogant and obnoxious and offensive, it is delusional, when that agency is advertising for one of the mobile companies that took part in the communication blackout that Egypt experienced; Vodafone, the very one that sent us those pro-government messages, seems to think they can play around the timing of an ad that had nothing to do with anything but pure market competition."

Vodafone issued a statement distancing itself from the video, stating that it denied responsibility for the video.

Hatem Dowidar, CEO of Vodafone Egypt, confirmed that "the company does not have any connection to this video and had no prior knowledge of its production or posting on the Internet".

He added that Vodafone Egypt is part of a global company that has strict policies refraining it from associating the brand name with any political or religious affairs of any country in which it operates.

Watch the ad on Campaign Middle East

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