Hello, Tomorrow???


Few days back, Emirates published the opening of its new commercial and had the world anticipating and guessing what could be its amazing continuation.

“Who was this enigmatic Sir?” was the question being asked all over social media, all over the world.

Some speculated it was an old ‘Friends’ cast; some were even convinced it was ‘Brad Pitt’.

Imagination flowed, as it should have.

Stories were built…beautiful ones.

I, from my side, was expecting the start of an Epic, à la Nespresso campaign, featuring George Clooney and Jean Dujardin.

I was expecting Emirates to leap into awesomeness, and make us dream. Something only Emirates could do.

I could not expect less from the world’s best airlines.


Then came 5pm yesterday, the much anticipated reveal rendez-vouz.

I was on the road and as soon as I stopped at traffic lights, I reached for my phone with such a ridiculous enthusiasm and…

Here was the ‘KID’.

The enthusiasm that started few days back, turned 20 seconds later, into a jaw dropping disappointment.

The Epic I had in mind turned out to be a trip into lame-land.

This much anticipated ad stank of ‘ticked marketing boxes’.

I could almost hear the brand teams shouting out in the background:

‘Let’s add a kid, it would be so cute…and emotional…oh and let’s make him dream of becoming a pilot…. an Emirates pilot!’

‘Where is my family…. Families constitute 56% of our passengers, WE NEED TO HAVE A FAMILY!’

‘What about Economy Class??? We need to highlight that our Economy class is comfortable…”


What I was hoping to be one of the best ads of the month, turned out to be a trip into the mundane, a story where ‘Jen’ is so comfortable in Economy that she doesn’t want to return to her First Class Cabin….

Seriously Emirates? Who will buy this?

I have been flying Emirates for the past 20 years. It is my favorite Airlines, and probably the worlds’ too.

You had a chance to build an epic and become the World’s best advertiser and inspire us a bit more. Make us dream like only you could. But instead, you succumbed to these boxes that needed to be ticked.

I will keep hoping that one day, your communication will be as good as the amazing experience you offer…

Maybe, tomorrow???


A Half-Baked Reflection On Influence

The world is teeming with people we refer to as “influencers”.  Marketeers and advertisers will befriend influencers when launching a new product or a campaign in order to gain access to their entourage. We try to gain their favor in order to reach out to those who look up to them.

The word ‘influence’ comes from an Old French astrological term meaning “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny”. It’s no coincidence that ‘influence’, originally exerted by the stars, is nowadays exerted by ‘stars’ of a different kind.

Influenza’ comes from Medieval Latin influentia, meaning  “a flowing in”, which also refers to the stars, since influenza was believed to have occult or astral influence.

It’s the similarity between influencer-the-star and influenza-the-disease that strikes me as interesting — the concept of influence as an epidemic, in the etymological as well as metaphorical sense.

Are we influenced out of conviction or out of contagion? Do influencers convince us, or do we only want so desperately to be like these stars that we succumb to (and fall ill with) their opinions? The mechanics of ‘influence’ are worth a deeper study, perhaps elsewhere.

The ‘Socialmediazation’ Of Life

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“You should tweet that!”

You’ve probably received this advice from someone in response to something you said; something admittedly not as profound as your friend made it seem. It’s only normal to ask someone to tweet what they just said, of course. It’s akin to the knee-jerk reflex when the doctor taps your tendon with a hammer.

“You should tweet that!” That’s the new, natural ending to a conversation. That’s evolution, baby.


Your napkin sits lightly on your lap. Crumbs on the table tell of your skirmishes with the bread sticks and butter. In your peripheral vision you spot the waiter approaching with a tray. You turn to your friends to express your joy about the food’s arrival.

But then,

As the waiter comes closer, three out of the four people at the table have already pulled out their phones to Instagram their plates. It’s the new saying grace, the new “بسم الله” before you eat.


Were you at the Metallica concert? Did you check in on Foursquare? Did you then upload photos of yourself to Facebook, standing in a sea of ebbing humanity, with the stage (and maybe even James Hetfield) behind you, miles away, the size of a pinhead?

If you did, then inspect those photos for a moment. Inspect the background, notice smart phone screens in the air as hundreds, thousands (who’s counting, right?) of people are taking videos of the concert with one hand as the other hand flashes the sign of the horn.

Your photos document this convergence of an outdated “heavy metal” hand gesture with the more contemporary addiction to documentation.

An addiction to the ‘socialmediazation’ of life.

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Kik it, Vine it, upload it to YouTube. Or pin it, GIF it, tag it, share it. Send it out like a ripple; a digital echo diffusing into the vast virtual space. It’s all exhibitionists and voyeurs out there. Feed them.

But when you’re finished, right before your phone battery runs out, or just as your dried-up eyes start begging you to go to sleep, ask yourself these:

Were you really there in that moment? Did you ‘experience’ it?

Or were you too busy reporting it to the internet? Did you really want to be there, or did you just want to be able to say you were there; to show off  how much life you’re living? Did you feel anything or were you too preoccupied with publishing the fun you were ‘having’?

Come back. The moment needs you.


PS: At a public art exhibition on JBR two months back, a lovely European violinist performed on the sidewalk in a flowing red dress, her melancholic melodies riding on the night’s lazy seaside breeze. As people passed by, they snapped photos or took videos of this rare presence. They stood there just long enough for the photo/video before moving on to the next ‘thing’. No one stopped to actually listen or watch her perform.

A Chef is not just an expert on saucepans.

I interact with a few of my very favorite brands (and thinkers) on various social media networks. These are brands that kind of hold the same values and world view as myself. I enjoy receiving useful bits of information about various topics from them. What distinguishes these brands from other brands I merely follow is that I like to show them my support – I ‘like’ things they post and I sometimes participate in conversations they initiate by posting comments and answering questions, retweeting and repinning.

But recently I’ve started to question this ‘loyalty’. Because if I’ve taken the time to ‘like’ and comment and interact with a brand, then I believe the least the brand can do is recognise this relationship/support.

I believe that good brands should act like good friends. Is that the way good brands would treat their friends? By ignoring them?

I think that social media has been used as an updated form of push marketing rather than a genuine attempt to connect with people (albeit brands push their messages out to people who have opted into the messages). Social media is such a great way to connect with people but when not used properly, it just highlights a brands opportunistic and selfish tendancies. Any brand / employee can be given the tools to connect, but very few brands (and employees) really understand how to talk and how to treat people.

Here are my issues:

Why don’t brands link their customers online and offline interactions?

Why don’t brands reward customers who support them online?

Why don’t brands use social media as a form of customer support and customer service?

If I was a brand owner / custodian I’d make sure that I connected the people who most commonly interact with me to some sort of loyalty or ‘appreciation’ program. I would send them a little note “Dear friend, next time you’re *at the cafe / at the mall / shopping for shoes* we’d like to shout you a coffee, because you’re special to us!”.

I think it’s time we built smart database or eCRM programs that connect people’s social media activity to the real world. Databases that value people not numbers, interactions not merely transactions.

That’s how I’d treat my friends and supporters.

But that’s just me.

~ Brenda.

Don’t ask for permission, beg for forgiveness.

That’s what most apps that attach themselves to your accounts do.

So, clean up your apps permissions on this site below.


In 60 seconds

A lot of things happen around the web every 60 seconds!

A great infographic by Shanghai web designers – Will definitely come in handy to use in presentations.

Over-socialed? where does it stop?

I am relatively new to Twitter. I admit it.

But what started as an exploration, developed into a love affair…

It kept me awake at night,

Anticipating unexpected surprises,

Taking my undivided attention.

It was the first thing I woke up to and the last thing I kissed goodnight.

It made me happy.

It was love at first tweet.


Until few days back, we decided to take a long road trip to a base camp close to nowhere….

600km, 8 hours drive and 20 degrees away from Dubai.


The company,

the setting,

the scenery,

the pleasantly cold 18 degrees,

the jacket and cap feeling in the middle of ‘Summer’,

the billion stars across the pitch dark sky,

the camel spiders elegantly crawling on the walls,

the camp fire,

the laughter of the kids,

the smiles of the misses,

the ‘Russian Standard’ flowing till 5:30 am,

the break of dawn in this beautifully deserted place…

…were all so amazing that we felt so disconnected from everything else on this planet.

We hanged on to those moments you almost forgot existed!


It was so overwhelming and so fulfilling that I lost contact with the world…and forgot all means of communication…Twitter included.

Same as when you’re having a great conversation with close friends at home and time flows, then you pleasantly realize that the TV has been off for few hours, and you’re so happy about it. That same exact feeling, only much more intense.


And then, like everything great in life, it ended. We had to come back, 2 days later, each one of us to his daily ‘to do’ list (or lists in most cases).

We arrived home late at night. I checked the Ipad. clicked the Twitter icon.

I was overwhelmed to see my timeline filled with a thousand unread tweets….

I panicked…

Have I been away too long?

What happened during my absence?

What do I do?

Do I have to read them all?…But I am so tired!

Should I really?

I closed the ipad…and thought for a moment.

One word kept recurring in my mind: ’Balance’

Then it hit me.

No matter what you do, you can never catch up with all your social networks – even if you’re facing your screens for 24 hours non-stop.

Same as you were never able to watch all TV channels 24 hrs a day, few years back.

So what would really happen if you let go of few tweets, posts, updates or comments?


Worst case scenario, you will get them again a day later or god forbid…2 days later!

Does it make you outdated?

Have yesterday’s news become obsolete…so ‘passé’?

Well, news is news and it will still be ‘news’ when it reaches you, no matter when or how.

In fact, it’s not about being the first to get the news and tweet it back. There is no pride in that.

It’s more about what you will be doing with this news, how is it relevant to you and how you will use it to make a difference or improve your life.

(To you, self-proclaimed ‘Social media experts’: the fear of not being the first to retweet news is a ‘Virtual’ fear…get over it. It doesn’t make you any less interesting to follow. But not having interesting things to add on these news or use the knowledge to create new stuff/ideas is what makes you irrelevant, redundant, boring and mediocre – but that’s the subject of my next post)

Tons of ideas, posts, updates, relevant and irrelevant, hit the social networks every minute. No matter what you do, you will never be able to keep up with what’s happening.

It’s therefore important to work out your balance.

Staying tuned to your social channels trying desperately to know everything will stress you…so chill, relax, discover, tweet, post, browse, update as you go and when you can. Don’t over do it.

Important things will come to you, eventually. If not the same minute, probably the same day or maybe the same week.

If not through social channels, probably though more conventional ones, like a chat with a friend or a colleague.

A physical live conversation is healthy and recommended  from time to time…


Remember you still have your offline life…and this is where amazing stuff happens.

This is still the place for open and meaningful conversations with real smiles and beautiful winks and sometimes sad faces.

This is where the magic happens.

So next time you’re on top of a mountain, try to disconnect. It feels good.

I know I will…and next time, I’ll be leaving my phone behind.

Constant communication doesn’t necessarily mean open communication.

Saying the right things, in the right context, in the right tone.

We can all learn from this university President’s advice, “People don’t want more messages; they want more interactions. There’s no perfect memo where you can press send and get connected, or Facebook group you can join to be committed.”

Click here to read his story.

The Sunday Times’ Social List

‘Social media users will no longer have to guess blindly who among them is the Number One social networker. UK-based newspaper the Sunday Times has unveiled “The Social List”, which determines a social networker’s “worth” through an algorithm designed to calculate social media across four major sites: Twitter, Facebok, LinkedIn, and Foursquare.’

As described on the site:

‘The Sunday Times Social List determines your wealth, not by how much money you make but by how rich you are socially. It does this by taking a look at your social networking activity and how much interest it generates amongst your friends and colleagues. It then uses this information to work out your worth and your place on the list.

[…] Once a day the system counts up your social networking activity (as well as your friends and colleagues’ responses to it) and assigns points to each interaction. The more you do and the more interactions you have, the more socially wealthy you’ll become.’

Join the Social List here

Social flights

A hint at the future of air travel or another Groupon/LivingSocial/GoNabit concept – with a twist? A hype?

Basically, Social Flights taps into your (most popular) social networks (Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook) and allows you to organize flights on private jets with a group of your friends. The trip can cost as little as $400 a person, depending on the luxuriousness of the plane, the number of passengers and the destination. People can also hop on a flight with strangers that has unfilled seats; these jaunts can cost as little as $150 each way.

Why use Social flights?

How does it work?

Learn more about Social flights and sign up here