Tired of Togetherness? This Hypnotic Ad Incites You to Unleash Your Greed

Forget glad tidings this holiday

“Greed: No one admits to feeling it, yet it is the purest of emotions. We had to be taught to be selfless.”

The Middle East is renowned for its extended sales and shopping festivals, which makes standing out at this time of year a challenge. With help from Impact BBDO in Dubai, department store Centrepoint tried something off-theme. “Unleash Greed” is a primal treatise about giving in to your inner green-eyed monster.

It’s kind of a faux-pas to so directly incite selfishness during the holiday season. Harvey Nichols’ “Sorry, I Spent It On Myself” from 2013 comes to mind (it did rake in the prizes, though).

But there’s also something magnetic about “Unleash Greed,” which unravels its proposal in a way that feels mythological. Warriors stalking into battle juxtapose with pouting dancers, tribal kings, a man cycling across desert with money flying out of his jacket, a boy stuffing his face with cake … and a smug little girl, clutching way too many dolls under a tight smile.

Then there’s that voiceover. It’s seductive, the kind of voice that crawls inside your mind and resonates.

“Truth is, we want the moon, the crown and the spotlight,” he murmurs. “We want an endless tirade of jealousy disguised as compliments.”

What he says colors what we see. There’s intimacy to observing people release themselves to hubris, whether it’s raising arms to prostrating tribes or stuffing candy into one good pocket. It’s a darkness that beckons, and something inside us answers.

Who doesn’t relish the moment we can stop being good little boys and girls?

“This is a bold new moment for Centrepoint as we look to take the brand forward. The film tackles the motivations and modern contradictions behind consumer decision-making,” says Simon Cooper, head of Centrepoint.

To be honest, it’s disappointing that all this builds up to is a sale, even if it makes sense. Centrepoint is the largest department store in the Middle East, with 140 locations in the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia. But competition is high, and there’s lots at present vying for our hard-won earnings.

With that in mind, an appeal to not so much be selfish as surrender to your primal self—in the midst of hysterical togetherness-pandering—isn’t a dumb idea. A good sale is in itself an emotional trigger. A friend once said bargain hunters remind him of actual hunters—they have that same crazed look in their eyes, and if you touch something they saw first, they grab.

“The Centrepoint sale comes with up to 70 percent off; it would be a crime if you weren’t greedy,” executive creative director Fadi Yaish of Impact BBDO sardonically adds.

Of course, “Unleash Greed” wouldn’t work at all if not for the captivating unspooling of its story, which ends with that greatest of mythological images—an apple in the hands of a woman, her eyes confident; the shame attached to Eve is nowhere to be found. Here is original sin, more natural to us than algebra, or even sharing, as our Luciferian narrator so smoothly observes.

“The first thing people asked when they saw the film was, ‘Where did you shoot this?’ Their jaws dropped when they learned it was in Beirut,” say Cynthia Chammas and Michelle Abou Zei, executive producers at Truffle Films. “We are immensely proud that a film shot in Lebanon is raising the bar in the Middle East.”

The film allegedly racked up over 1 million views in less than 24 hours. We’re not sure if that’s truth (or just greed) talking, but below are some pretty epic behind-the-scenes images that yield a tiny glimpse into how much fun this must have been to shoot.