in an earlier post i have already pointed out (see "nancy ajram: life in the circus") the large stake that coca-cola has placed in nancy ajram trying to help the sales of coke in market that is dominated by pepsi. coke has been a large sponsor of her videos and spun the videos directly into commericials. here we see another example. notice the more traditional nancy ajram storyline-style video has been replaced by a sea of red and her name in large letters using the coca-cola font (and indeed in the commericial version it says 'coke' not 'nancy'). the song is no less enjoyable for its use as a marketing tool. sit back and enjoy "oul tany keda" and its accompanying commerical.
Nancy Ajram, "Oul Tani Keda" ["Tell Me That Again"] (2005)
Nancy Ajram, "Oul Tani Keda -- Commercial" (2005)
on the other side, nancy's main competition for queen of arabian pop, elissa (see "elissa: queen of pop"), is the vehicle of choice for pepsi in the middle east. in this well conceived commercial, elissa sings part of a song that had not yet been released at the time the commercial went to air. this both promoted the pepsi product and served as hype for the forthcoming album. this is "arrably", shot as a commericial... enjoy.
Elissa, "Arrably--Commercial" (2004)
pepsi is very aware that part of what they are selling is a piece of american culture, and that part of the appeal to the buyer is this ability to buy a bit of america. in recent commercials elissa has been paired with christina augilera. here the fusion of arabian and american cultural images is a central theme. augilera, while singing in english, belly-dances, while on the other hand a very international and cosmopolitan appearing elissa sings her arabic hit "bastannak". the arabian elissa ultimately ends up with the can of pepsi.
Christina Augilera and Elissa, "Pepsi Commercial" (2006)
this final pepsi commercial is in fact a full blown music video, and its content is probably deserving of a full blog of its own (unfortunately you will have to settle for coming and hearing the conference paper on it instead). the video features american pop stars brittany spears, pink and beyonce, and the undisputed king of arabian pop, amr diab, and is performed entirely in english. despite this though, pepsi is not offering a vision of happy fusion. while in the previous video (filmed much more recently) augilera and elissa were portrayed as on the path toward some manner of cultural convergence, in this video the message seems to be one in which arabia is able to master the pop-culture of americanism and ultimately conquer it. amr diab rules as the caesar, the americans are enslaved and there for his entertainment. the apparent disruption of his power by americanism is really nothing more than an appearance, a momentary abberation. ultimately amr diab reasserts his authority and reveals the situation was within his control all along.
but here one has the capitalist myth that consumption is mastery. and it is no surprise, then, that in order to tell such a myth the setting is not arabian at all but roman. to go down the consumerist path already places one within the myth-history of what we have been here calling americanism (which is only accurate insofar as the united states has dominated capitalism since ww2): one is overtaken by the very roots of western culture; one has already surrendered to the invading power before the war begins. so a commercial that at first glance appears to promote easy mastery of americanism by consuming it, in truth envisions the consummation of the exporting of americanism by subsuming arabia with its mythic field. one can already see this playing out in the ajram video insofar as it completely elides any distinctions between performance, rehearsal and spontaneous moments from "real life". no part of reality falls outside the capitalist reduction. capitalism is not primarily about the occupation of land, but about the occupation of minds and society. prepare to be rocked!
Amr Diab, Brittany Spears, Beyonce and Pink, "We Will Rock You -- Commerical" (2004)