Saturday, February 6, 2010

Burj-eoning cliches...

Its hilarious how the marketing industry works most of the time.

When patronising something, go all out, but if the subject you're patronising suddenly becomes the object of ridicule, go all out ridiculing it, and once its the darling of the masses again, patronise once more.

Burj Dubai was the darling of the masses - and hence marketing folks - in Dubai and worldwide for the better part of 4 years. Enter Mrs. Recession, with her excessive shopping on credit which she never intended to pay back since what she was buying never existed in the first place.

Burj Dubai became the muse of pipe-dream stories attributed to the Emirate of Dubai. Everytime there was a new story about old loans related to Dubai, the image in the news article would inevitably be of the Burj.

You could spin it any way you want, but the atmosphere was evident: people loved hating Dubai, and Burj Dubai was their bulls-eye.

Enter January 4. Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum unveils what can easily be described as the greatest opening ceremony in construction history. It was as if Babel was built once more, and succeeded. Naming it the Burj Khalifa was even more of a marketer's dream and PR guy's worst nightmare, but it worked.

Overnight, every article on the planet would - even if it couldn't say a nice thing about the Emirate itself - drool on the Burj and its opening.

And then, the facebook status.

Without naming the executive of Publicis in Dubai who did it, the status was simple: 'Burj Khalifa, Dubai's middle finger to the world'.

This status, from a single facebook entry, became the hottest status on the planet related to Dubai, and even entered the Financial Times' editorials. It began a tweeting frenzy, and countless others copied it. It trended like hell. Got folks talking, became the new Dubai buzz.

One status changed the mindset of millions.

Marketing at its best. And free at that.

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