This News Site’s Fun Ads Remind Us Everything Is Political, Not Just Government

Take this beauty salon, and this handball team

Headshot of Angela Natividad

People like to say politics is personal.

Sure, profoundly so. But the personal is also political—something “Micropolitics,” a new campaign from Egyptian news organization Mada Masr, expresses with wily wit. To show how the bilingual news site distills the murky complexity of governing, two ads by JWT Dubai zero in on the politics humming around us all the time.

The first, “Suzy’s Beauty Salon,” draws us into a welcoming rose-colored hive, but color’s about all the rosiness you’ll find here.

Its best hairdresser has vanished indefinitely. Salma, whose smile waxes on and off at will, cuts hair … but doesn’t shampoo. Instead, Loulou does it, so Salma ignores what the narrator ironically calls Loulou’s “inventory misappropriation.”

Karl Marx-reading Samira thinks everyone should share tips, putting her in direct opposition to Gihan, who reads Ayn Rand (of course!). Two women avoid working the same shift entirely—a result of the War of the Hair Dryers, which sadly remains unexplained.

We all know what office politics are like. But there’s a rubbernecky pleasure in seeing how far the ones in someone else’s workplace truly ripple.

“The campaign aims to renew the quickly diminishing interest in political affairs in once-committed and involved citizens,” JWT Dubai creative director, Gautam Wadher, tells AdFreak. “It sarcastically elaborates how bureaucracy and corruption has crept into everyday lives,” leaving us to imagine worse scenarios in parliamentary affairs.

The second ad drills into a boys’ handball team. This literal boys’ club is run by head coach Muhammed Al-Husseini, whose nepotism extends not just to the team captain (his son, Ahmad Al-Husseini) but to the referee, Ibrahim, his half-brother “and the only explicable reason as to how this lot made it to the finals.”

You’ll also meet Abdul, who’s held down right wing status for 15 years (!); left wing Hatim, whose speed and discretion extend to his side hustle in hormone-stoking; and Khaled, sole heir to a doorknob empire (worth many millions).

Like the last ad, this one ends, “Such are the politics of the under-14 handball team. Imagine the politics in politics,” before rolling to Mada Masr’s logo.

The Mada Masr news site launched in 2013, when a number of its founding journalists were let go from a previous publication, smack in the middle of Egyptian political unrest. It started as something resembling a blog, and rapidly evolved into a platform for young progressives, at home and abroad, as well as citizen journalists.

In fact, it’s tempting to compare Mada Masr to Vice in its early days, with all the pros and cons that come with that—it’s youthful and ambitious, but can also feel rough around the edges. The organization prides itself on journalism “untouched by political biases and affiliations.” (You decide.)

“The two films capture the unseen power struggles and immorality in seemingly innocuous organizations,” Wadher explains, “[touching] upon topics like bribery, pilfering, sleaze, biases and affiliations. The insights are poignant and strike an immediate chord. The humorous, witty tone of voice also agrees with the happy-go-lucky, jovial nature of Egyptians.”

That remains to be seen. But if nothing else, it’s rekindled our desire to watch policy debates while playing “Pick the Rand reader.”

(We’ve read Rand. It’s … potent.)

Client:Mada Masr
Agency: J.Walter Thompson Dubai
Chief Creative Operations Officer: Chafic Haddad
Managing Director: Mohammed Sabry
Executive Creative Director: Marco Bezerra
Creative Director: Gautam Wadher
Creative Director: Akhilesh Bagri
Art Director: Gautam Wadher
Copywriter: Akhilesh Bagri
Agency Producer: Aly Seifelnasr
Director: Nalle Sjoblad
Executive Producer: Manasvi Gosalia
Producer: Wadih Safieldin
Producer: Steve Gergess
Editor: Neelay Shah
Production Company: Dejavu Productions

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.