The word is spreading….

Nice to come back to the office and already see the Nandos work spreading . It’s going to be very interesting to see the reactions of this coming week, and the response we will get. Our media department just informed me we are airing it in KSA on Tuesday 17th @ 21:00 KSA Time during C.S.I. Miami on TV Land+ @ 23:00 KSA Time, same day, same program, and on Wednesday 18th October during the rerun of C.S.I Miami @ 14:00 KSA Time on TV Land.

….. “Alea jacta Est” -The dice have been thrown.

Ramadan Kareem from Nando’s

Ramadan is less than two weeks from ending…
For those not familiar with this Islamic pillar It’s a month of fasting practiced by all observant Muslims. Eating, drinking, smoking are not allowed between dawn (fajr), and sunset (maghrib). The creatives developed a nice campaign for Nando’s, a South African company that serves fast-food chicken prepared the Portugeese way. A very popular brand in the ME and Africa it has a wide acceptance with both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities here in Dubai. As Ramadan is in everyone’s minds it was a great move to develop this TVC idea. Most advertisers and media apply some form of Ramadan thematic, but it usually lacks any form of creativity or bigger thought. They all fall into some cliché or will just use the standard phrase of “Ramadan Kareem” over the same generic ad they use during the year.

Vincent wrote an interesting piece on this creatively lacking holy month in this coming Campaign issue.

” After reading your article last week, we too feel the frustration when seeing all the Ramadan ads in circulation at this time – the amount of media money that is spent on creative work that just becomes wallpaper is absurd especially when Ramadan can inspire so many fresh ideas. This stirred us to produce an ad in the spirit of Ramadan that would stand out amongst the clutter and an ad that would put a smile on peoples faces no matter where in the world they happen to be celebrating the holy month of Ramadan.

For once Ramadan advertising is entertaining. It’s a nice break from the clichéd formula of “crescent + stars + lantern equals a Ramadan ad”. It’s simple and will bring a smile on the face of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Not only that but it will trigger curiosity among non-Muslims who are living outside the Middle East, such as South Africa. They will start to wonder about the idea and start asking questions about the religious practices of Muslims.

This TV commercial with it’s smart simplicity will register in the minds of those who are fasting. It will jump into their heads everyday as they wait for the sun to set in order to break their fast.

The idea came about when we were on our balcony watching the sunset and just thinking about all the people in Dubai who were about to break their fast “Iftar”. It’s an ad that was well liked by everyone who has seen it and the ad was well received by Nando’s head office in South Africa. After getting permission from Muslim organizations in South Africa, they wanted to run the commercial regionally including places like Saudi and Lebanon. The commercial will also run in South Africa which for a Dubai based agency is fantastic news. It shows we are more than capable of producing creative International campaigns in a very short period of time. This is also thanks to the quick turn around time of Tim Smythe and his fantastic crew at Filmworks who have bent over backwards to make this film happen.

We hope that this level of creativity will inspire more agencies to produce better work the next time a Ramadan brief comes their way.”


Client: Nando’s
Agency: Tonic Communications
Creative Director: Vincent Raffray and Khaled Gadallah
Art Director: Peter Walker
Copywriter: Vincent Raffray
Production Company: Filmworks
Executive Producer: Tim Smythe
Producer: Rob Neuhold
DOP: Anthony Smythe
Directors: Vincent Raffray and Peter Walker

Suicides on the rise

Suicides are increasing in Dubai according to Monday’s Emirates Today. The main reason for suicide according to experts is severe depression and other psychological disorders. There are currently around 20 suicides reported every month. We developed an ad campaign a couple of month ago for one of our clients, BAFCO, portraying office furniture committing suicide. Our intention was never to ridicule the act of suicide which is a sad and disturbing act. What’s interesting thou is touching the taboo topic in this region, that usually likes to stay away from this more touchy subjects. After the launch we got a lot of attention, both in media and by readers. Some criticized it, some some praised it. What’s positive to know is that we never got a call from any censor organ or ministry to pull the ad of circulation. Which leads to two possible conclusions: 1.They were too busy trying to find naked women’s pictures in other publications. 2. The censorship laws are slowly getting more tolerant and letting a more open opinion circulate. Who knows they might call tomorrow…

Relevant safety campaign for drivers in Dubai!

This morning I encountered an odd scenery when reaching the office entrance. Judge this picture and you can imagine what speed the driver was doing to end up like this. I would like to remind the viewer that our road is a smaller, single lane road in the Barsa industrial zone were speed limits are at 60 Km/h. A speed limit no one respects! To my mind came one of the Ads the creative have developed for Wyeth proclaiming better road safety. They couldn’t be more right on this one…

SONY Kick it! Gets out there

I just got some good news today. Apparently the SONY Kick it TVC is getting some excellent reviews in the Media. Here are the latest comments from Boards magazine. I’m looking forward to get some reactions on the forthcoming two new TVC’s that were shot in South Africa just two weeks ago.

Find here the Boards magazine review written by Piers Ford:

“You’d hardly think of Dubai as a hotbed of creativity, but Vincent Raffray and Arnaud Verchère, creative director and managing partner respectively of two-year-old agency Tonic, are working on changing the perception.

Since its inception, Tonic has already collected a One Show Gold for its print ad “Paper Clip” for Sony as well as a Cannes Gold Lion – the first to be won by a Middle Eastern agency. In 2006, Tonic repeated its success for Sony with showings at the One Show and D&AD for its Vault campaign.

Still, Raffray says getting good work done in the Middle East is hardly an easy victory. There isn’t a well-established production infrastructure in Dubai, necessitating shooting abroad, and the youth market is a bit of a cultural desert with creative outlets like theatres being outnumbered by malls.

So why then would a South African and Frenchman set up shop in such an inhospitable environment? Opportunity. The larger agencies had bought a local presence without really trying to understand the market; Tonic could offer a more customized approach as a consultant rather than simply an agency, intending on doing so on a global rather than local level. And after four years in Dubai, the time seemed right.

The first year wasn’t easy, though. “We worked hard to develop some proactive print campaigns and sell our way of thinking. Now we want to do the same for film,” says Raffray, noting he’s focused on becoming the first agency in the region to win a Cannes Lion for film.

“Kick”, a South African-shot spot for Sony directed by Adrian De Sa Garces of Velocity for some African and Middle East regions, featuring a television subjected to some skilful drop-kicking, is a great start.

“We had a very small budget, but it is simple and clever,” says Raffray, noting the agency has two more Sony spots in production. “It’s helped to establish us as a creative brand with fresh ideas. We learn as much as we can about the client, and we buy into their thinking rather than try to sell them something they don’t understand.”

A client like Sony has also helped Tonic’s founders find their place in “the wild west of advertising” and has had a hand in shaping their future. “I only came for a year; I thought I would commit creative suicide or go back with a good book,” says Raffray. Somehow we think he’s glad he stayed.

New office, new view… And new clients!


As for yesterday (Tuesday the 26 of September 2006) we finally finished putting the last bits and pieces together of our TONIC office move.

We now have a full-size 400 m2 office for our five different departments with new designed creative spaces, a newborn media library and a little production room. We currently are twenty-four thinking souls from more than twelve different nationalities, all working together under one single roof.

The move was much anticipated as our old Karama 2 bedroom apartment was putting some serious strain to everyone. Finding a new office wasn’t the easiest thing to achieve. (For those unfamiliar to Dubai, the current rent prices match any European capital city). So after almost ending up next to the DXB airport we finally found this new complex called the “Gold and Diamond Park” next to Sheik Sayed road which is located by the Mall of the Emirates over viewing the Burj Al Arab through our office windows. Nice.

With the move came some new clients as well. Actually they came before we moved… It’s been great fun to welcome Smirnoff, Diageo, Magrudy’s, and SONY to our most recently list of clients. It’s been hectic and fun and we are looking forward to post here the future work that we are currently developing for them.

Now in retrospective it has been two amazing years since TONIC saw the first light and how we have been able to grow and have the chance to get where we are. This upcoming two years will be twice as interesting and we hope this blog will capture every new stage we reach.

-Enjoy !